Top 10 things to do in Toowoomba for kids and parents
If you are looking for some fresh mountain air, spectacular parks, incredible street art, emerging foodie culture and events, then Toowoomba is well worth exploring. From what used to be a sleepy country town, Toowoomba is now a vibrant regional centre and you’ll be surprised by some of the great things to do in Toowoomba.
Situated on top of Australia’s Great Dividing Range, 125km west of Brisbane, there are so many fun things to do in Toowoomba for families looking to getaway from it all.
I spent my school years in Toowoomba but the day after school finished I left, thinking I would never return. Well I travelled the world and Australia, only to find myself nearly 20 years later returning to Toowoomba to bring up my own family.
Toowoomba has come along way since we moved here in 2010. It’s trying to shake off its reputation as a big country town, which you will see by the growing number of trendy cafes, the building of a major airport, its street art, and the huge re-development of its major shopping complex, Grand Central.
Take a look at the best things to do in Toowoomba for kids and parents.
Things to do in Toowoomba
1. Park Life
There is a good reason why Toowoomba is called “the Garden City”. Its multitude of parks and gardens are spectacular, and a trip to Toowoomba wouldn’t be complete without a visit to atleast one of these.
Our favourite park to visit is Queens Park. It has so many different sections to explore including an all-abilities playground off Lindsay Street (my boys call it the music park), a huge playground catering for a variety of ages off Margaret Street, various ovals and walking tracks, a dog off leash area, and the stunning botanical gardens off Lindsey and Campbell Streets where the kids ride their bikes and scooters amongst the flowers. There are lots of picnic tables, shaded areas, barbecues and toilets at Queens Park.
To take in the panoramic views from the top of the mountain, head to Picnic Point Park and Lookout. There you will also find a playground, restaurant, café, picnic areas, toilets and walking trails to nearby waterfalls. Don’t miss the adjacent Heller Park (on the southern side of the restaurant) with the witches house play equipment.
If you are up for exploring an impressive garden (and your kids will comply) then head to Australia’s largest and most traditionally designed Japanese garden. Spring and autumn are the best times to witness the changing colours of the trees and plants. Take along some bread for little kids to feed the fish, swans, ducks and other birds. There is no play equipment there but it’s a beautiful place to explore. The Japanese Gardens are located at the University of Southern Queensland campus on West Street.
2. Climb Table Top Mountain
If you’re up for a challenge then get the kids ready to climb Table Top Mountain. Now this is no walk in the park. It’s more of a clambering/scaling of rocks. You do however get a great sense of achievement when you reach the top, plus there are spectacular views to take in. I wouldn’t recommend the climb for kids under 6, or if you have really bad knees, back or ankles.
3. Mountain Biking
If you love mountain biking then Jubilee Park is the place to head. There are several bike tracks throughout the park for all different levels of riders. These tracks have been developed and maintained by the Toowoomba Mountain Bike Club, so take a look at their website for all the necessary information.
4. Tick Tock Escape Room
A relative newcomer to Toowoomba is the Tick Tock Escape Room where your aim is to escape from the locked room by solving puzzles and mysteries with a themed story. With rooms like the submarine escape and Da Vinci, it sounds like something fun and different to do.
5. Street Art
Street art has brought life to a large number of alleyways and buildings throughout the Toowoomba CBD. What were once dull and dingy, are now interesting and fun to explore. Often you’ll now find cafés down alleyways where once there was nothing. Thanks to the First Coast Festival which began in 2014, Toowoomba now boasts one of the largest outdoor galleries in Australia with over 80 murals throughout the city. The Festival is generally held each May.
6. Cobb & Co Museum
If you are after a bit of history or some interactive activities for the younger kids, then head to Cobb & Co Museum in Lindsay Street. The museum houses the National Carriage Collection with 47 horse-drawn vehicles on display, plus the Energy for Life Discovery Centre. There are several visiting exhibitions each year as well as holiday activities for the kids, and heritage trade workshops like blacksmithing. The little ones will love The Coach Stop play area, where they can dress up in old fashioned clothes, ride a life-sized replica horse and carriage, and run the old General Store.
7. Cooking for boys (and parents)
Do your boys need some help with their cooking skills or would you like to dish up something new? Sauce Kitchen run some fantastic cooking classes like the Hungry Boys Cooking Class (10-16 year olds), Children’s Cooking, Asian Bites and Classic French Desserts. I hope my boys will be able to cook for me soon!
8. Family-friendly events
Toowoomba holds some fantastic events with the largest being the annual Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. What used to be a street parade and garden competition has now turned into a major draw card for the town, complete with the massive Flower, Food and Wine Festival and concert series including headline acts like The Birds of Tokyo. Take a look at our review on the fun for kids at the Carnival of Flowers.
Other notable events for families include the Have a Go Festival at Cobb and Co Museum, the Felton Food Festival, and one of our favourites, the Christmas Wonderland. Make sure before you visit that you take a look at what’s on at Toowoomba’s iconic Empire Theatre. They have some amazing performances there.
9. Farm Tours
If you’re looking to teach your kids about where their food comes from, then take a tour of the family farm Paddock to Potager. They host some great farm tours, workshops, and even children’s birthday parties.
10. Toowoomba Farmers Markets
Make sure you take home some of the seriously fresh and tasty produce of the region by visiting the farmers markets in Toowoomba. With fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, cakes, condiments and even fresh pasta, you’re sure to find lots of things to eat. My Local Feast Farmers Markets are held every Saturday near the windmills outside of Cobb+Co Museum.
Toowoomba is the gateway to a whole host of attractions in the Darling Downs region beyond, including National Parks, food and wine trails, farm stays, country race days, rodeos and many others. Take a look at our family guide on things to do on the Darling Downs.
Best places to eat in Toowoomba
One thing is for sure; you wont go hungry in Toowoomba. There has been an explosion of street food, cafes, and restaurants in the last couple of years with something to suit just about everyone.
Our favourite places to eat with kids in Toowoomba with kids are:
- Park House, Ortem or Cafe Valetta for breakfast
- The Finch, Ground Up, Impressions, Wendland Fine Foods, or Milk and Honey for coffee or morning tea
- Pump (for drive thru coffee)
- The Baker’s Duck for the most amazing pastries (only open Saturday mornings for takeaway)
- Muller Bros, Piccolo Papa Pizza, Sofra Turkish, Artisan Pizza and Sandwich, Fitzy’s, Federal Hotel for lunch or dinner
Top tips for families visiting Toowoomba
- Always bring a jumper just in case. Even on hot summer days, Toowoomba can turn cold at night if the fog rolls in.
- On a rainy day, head to Cobb & Co Museum, Kloud 9 trampoline park, iPlay indoor play centre, or the cinema at Grand Central Shopping Centre or the Strand.
- You can hire bikes at Johnny Sprockets
- If you want to visit in September you will need to book early as this is the busiest month of the year with the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.
- You will often find cheaper accommodation in Toowoomba over the weekend rather than during the week as it gets a high amount of business travellers.
Where to stay in Toowoomba
Take a look out our guide on the best family accommodation in Toowoomba.
When to visit Toowoomba
The best times to visit Toowoomba are Spring, Autumn and Summer, but by far the most beautiful time is September. Why? Because there are flowers in bloom everywhere. There is a very good reason Toowoomba is called the Garden City. My other favourite time is autumn when the leaves are changing colours and it’s cool enough to rug up but not too much that you want to stay indoors.
How to get to Toowoomba
Toowoomba is about 1 ½ hours west of Brisbane at the top of the Great Dividing Range. You can travel by car, bus and now by plane with the new Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport offering over 70 flights a week to Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Townsville and Western Queensland.
Updated March 2018
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