Looking for the best family day trip from Brisbane by car?

No need to look far because Queensland’s capital city is in the perfect position for day trips of any kind.

With a wide choice of great destinations near Brisbane, if you have a car, you’ll have a fun day out.

You can take your pick from picturesque beach escapes for the outdoor lovers, or theme parks for the thrillseekers!

Here are the top 10 Brisbane family day trips just a short drive away.

1. Girraween National Park

Only slightly over a three hour drive from Brisbane, Girraween National Park is one of the best places for a family day trip.

You’ll see dramatic landscapes, gorgeous wildflowers, and plentiful bushwalks.

For the wildlife lovers, there is an abundance of flora including golden wattles, yellow, red, and purple pea flowers, dainty orchids, amid forests of red-gum, stringy bark and blackbutt.

Girraween has 17km of walking tracks.

They range from a 280m stroll beside Bald Rock Creek to an 11km return walk to Mount Norman.

There’ll be a track suitable for all types of families

How far is Girraween National Park from Brisbane?

  • Girraween National Park is about 3.5 hours by car from Brisbane, approximately 250kms away.

Official site


2. Springbrook National Park

Springbook National Park dominates the skyline west of the Gold Coast.

It is a perfect place for families looking for a taste of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

It is a close 100km (approximately a two hour drive) from Brisbane, making it the perfect day trip for nature lovers.

The park is divided into four sections – Springbook Plateau, Mount Cougal, Natural Bridge, and Numinbah.

Spectacular waterfalls, panoramic coastal views, and lush rainforest makes this nature reserve a wonder to visit.

The sanctuary is known for its diverse flora and fauna and wonderful views – be sure to check out bushwalking tours that are available so you don’t miss a thing!

How far is Springbrook National Park from Brisbane?

  • Approximately 1hr and 40mins by car from Brisbane, 110kms away. Gold Coast would make a nice detour if you want to check out this buzzing city as well.

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3. Australia Zoo

The world-famous Australia Zoo was founded by the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.

It is dedicated to conserving wildlife through education and research, and is a perfect way to spend a day with your family.

The conservation centre aims to educate visitors about wildlife and help preserve endangered species for the future.

Experience up-close animal encounters including snakes, crocodiles, and free-flight birds.

Watch live feeding and demonstrations, including the always exciting Wildlife Warriors show at the Crocoseum!

All animal encounters are walked through by expert handlers, so those with young children do not have anything to be concerned about.

With almost twenty encounters, where else in the world can you experience so much hands-on wildlife action in one day?

How far is Australia Zoo from Brisbane?

  • Approximately 1hr and 10mins by car from Brisbane, 75kms away.
  • Most comfortable way to get there is to catch the Croc Express bus which departs at Brisbane Transit Centre (Roma Street) 9am, but make sure you book your seat.

Book Tickets Official site


4. Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island is the second largest sand island in the world.

It is located just one hour by car from Brisbane, and it’s a guaranteed family fun day out.

While you are on Stradbroke Island, you can relax, soak up some sun, and forget the mainland for a day.

The island is easily accessible by water taxi or ferry, and when you get to the island there is a regular connecting bus and taxi service.

Upon arrival, swim in the surf or freshwater lakes.

Take a hike, view whales and other marine animals from the beach and coastal lookouts.

Visit small historic towns, or even go in search of the island’s population of wild kangaroos and koalas.

How far is Stradbroke Island from Brisbane?

  • You’ll have to drive to Stradbroke ferries first to catch a water taxi (near Cleveland). This is approximately 45 minutes by car from Brisbane. From here, the water taxi will take you to Dunwich on Stradbroke Island, which is a cruisy 25 minute trip. Check the timetable and plan your day trip from Brisbane.

Book Tours Official site


5. Fraser Island

Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island.

It was World Heritage Listed in 1992 after a bitter struggle between conservationists, sand mining and logging interests.

It is composed almost entirely of vegetation covered sand, with over 40 freshwater lakes and dense rainforests.

Like many of the locations on this list, there is an abundance of precious ecosystems, abundant wildlife, and natural beauty to be explored.

You will be able to experience seemingly endless golden beaches encompassing towering hardwood forests, pristine rainforests, crystal clear freshwater lakes, shipwrecks, and prehistoric ferns.

Fraser Island is certainly for those who enjoy the great outdoors.

So make sure you bring along swimmers and lots of sunscreen, especially in the warm summer months!

How far is Fraser Island from Brisbane?

  • You’ll need to catch a ferry from River Heads or Kingfisher Bay Resort, both approximately 3hrs and 40mins from Brisbane by car, 300kms away. From here, its a brief cruise across to Fraser Island. Check the timetable and plan your arrival.
  • It’s a long journey from Brisbane, so it’s best to join a tour in case you get lost along the way. It’s good to have a local guide on this tricky trip to Fraser Island.

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6. Moreton Island

Moreton Island is the world’s third largest sand island.

Most of the island is a protected national park without paved roads, so a 4WD is an essential mode of transportation.

The island is known for its gorgeous scenery and pristine waters.

You’ll also see giant sand dunes where you can partake in sandboarding if you are the adventurous type.

When sandboarding, you can reach speeds of up to 50km an hour.

However, everyone from beginners to experts can enjoy the activity and modify it to their comfort level.

After the excitement of sandboarding, be sure to head to the Tangalooma Shipwrecks.

You can snorkel around the 15 submerged shipwrecks, and watch a range of aquatic life swim around the vicinity (including parrotfish, clown fish, and blue-tang surgeonfish).

How far is Moreton Island from Brisbane?

  • Catch a ferry departing from Tangalooma Island Resort Ferry Terminal. It will take approximately 1hr and 15mins by car to reach Tangalooma Island Resort Jetty at Moreton Island. Check the timetable and plan the day ahead. You’ll see a number of day tour offers at various offices on arrival.

Book Tour Official site


7. Whale Watching at Surfer’s Paradise

Surfer’s Paradise is one of the prime locations for taking whale-watching cruises on the Pacific.

Be sure to join a day-cruise where you’ll be able to watch whales at play in their natural habitat whilst hearing commentary from a marine naturalist.

Many tours will cruise by the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

This is a protected piece of the ocean surrounding Australia that is part of the annual migration of humpback whales.

They make their way to these subtropical Pacific waters to give birth every May to October.

Here, you may see the whales showing off with jumps and splashes, as well as other marine life such as loggerhead turtles, orcas, dolphins, and seabirds.

This experience is truly breathtaking, and will be enjoyable for all families!

How far is Surfer’s Paradise from Brisbane?

  • Approximately 1 hour drive by car, 75kms away from Brisbane. It’s easiest to join a tour from Brisbane and enjoy the coastal scenery on the way.

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8. Gold Coast Theme Parks

The theme parks on the Gold Coast are renowned in Australia for their thrills and family entertainment.

From high-octane roller coasters to live shows and waterslides, kids will love all the fun activities.

It is known as the ‘theme park capital of Australia’, with various parks to choose from including Dreamworld, Movie World, Sea World, Wet n Wild, and WhiteWater World.

Pick one of the parks to spend the day with your family!

There are also multiple theme park passes if you plan on visiting more than one.

How far is Gold Coast from Brisbane?

  • Gold Coast is approximately 1 hour by car from Brisbane, 75 kms away. If you’re planning to visit most of the themeparks, its best to book a hotel there for a few days and save on travel time.

Check Packages Official site


9. Great Barrier Reef

One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system.

It is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres – and is even visible from outer space.

Although it is recommended to stay a few days exploring the Great Barrier Reef, it is possible to take a day trip from Brisbane if you are up for it.

Depending on the time of year, you can spot turtles and visit one of the world’s largest turtle research centres.

Learn about turtle conservation, or look for humpback whales out on the water.

One of the many popular activities besides snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef include taking a ride out on a glass-bottomed boat, or scuba diving or deep-sea fishing.

The iconic Great Barrier Reef is blessed with its breathtaking beauty.

It is home to countless species of colourful fish, molluscs and starfish, in addition to dolphins and sharks.

How to get to Great Barrier Reef from Brisbane?

  • Most travellers actually base themselves in Cairns or Port Douglas. It’s a pretty far trek from Brisbane, however, if you have no choice, but to stay in Brisbane, there is a tour that will organize a complete trip for you. Just make sure you spare 3 days out of your itinerary.

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10. Lamington National Park

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Godwana Rainforests of Australia, Lamington National Park is a delightful destination for taking a day trip to explore Queensland’s beauty.

Soak up spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean from atop Mt Tambourine, and create your own adventure at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

You will be able to encounter flocks of king parrots and other native bird species on the treetop canopy walk.

You can even try feeding the birds at a ground level bush walk.

There will be countless opportunities to take family photos with the scenery and wildlife as the backdrop!

How far is Lamington National Park from Brisbane?

  • Driving directly to Lamington National Park from Brisbane will take approximately 1hr and 40mins by car, 105 kms away. However, if you have time, take an extra 15 minute detour and visit Gold Coast. It’ll make a good stopover for breakfast or lunch.

Check Tours Official site


Besides the theme parks, you can see there are plenty of natural wonders to explore on family day trips from Brisbane.

If you’re a nature lover, you definitely won’t go wrong with any of these options.

So jump in your car, pick a place and get ready for a fun family trip away from Brisbane.

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For all new cities, I go overboard on my itinerary, just to see every major attraction. Countries I've visited include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand. Mostly Asian countries. Next target - Europe!