29 Best Things To Do in Cairns, Australia (Family Vacation Ideas)

Tucked away on Far North Queensland’s tropical northeast coast, Cairns falls under the Cairns Region local government area. The tropical atmosphere makes it a popular vacation spot, assuring best things to do in Cairns, Australia. Its popularity is due to its proximity to lush rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef. The economic foundation of Cairns is tourism. After Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, it is the fourth most popular vacation spot in Australia. Most tourists from other countries visit the city to see the two magnificent natural wonders. Moreover, there are other things to see in this city. The city’s tropical environment makes it accessible year around. The lush woodlands are an excellent escape from the humid summers.

What is There to Do and See in Cairns?

The fact that Cairns is among the most well-liked tourist spots in Australia is not a secret. Adventurers and adrenaline seekers will love their days here. It offers everything, including helicopter rides and scuba diving. 

Cairns attracts a lot of tourists since it serves as a gateway to the internationally renowned Great Barrier Reef. Visitors may also discover stunning rainforests and other natural gateways. You may organize fantastic day trips and overnight stays in the suburbs. 

1. You Will be Amazed by the Cairns Aquarium

Cairns Aquarium

Australia’s most impressive aquarium is the Cairns Aquarium. The Wet Tropics Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef’s spectacular aquatic animals are uniquely featured in this aquarium. It is truly one of a kind across the entire world.

This one-of-a-kind center features more than 10 remarkable North Queensland ecosystems. Around 71 exhibits are home to extremely unique species of the largest coral ree. 

You can even attend special lectures to learn about marine life. At the reptile touch tanks, you get to watch animal feeding sessions. At the restaurant Aqualuna, start your day with breakfast and end it with lunch or dinner.

Address: 5 Florence St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

2. Lounge by the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

The best way to enjoy some sun and comfortable swimming is to spend the day at Cairns Esplanade Lagoon. You get to enjoy the breathtaking views of Trinity Inlet and the mountains that stretch into the distance.

  • The swimming lagoon is surrounded by neighboring restaurants and coffee shops. 
  • There are numerous picnic tables located beneath the enormous Banyan Trees.
  • So, you may even set up a picnic there. 
  • There are around twelve BBQ locations scattered along the Cairns Esplanade.
  • For the lagoon, don’t forget to carry your sunglasses, shorts, and sunscreen.

Address: 52/54 Esplanade, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

3. Summer Hike to Crystal Cascades

A stretch of Freshwater Creek contains Crystal Cascades, a collection of waterfalls, and water holes. From the Cairns CBD (Central Business District), it is about a 20-minute drive. This area is cool all year, even in the hottest months. 

  • The rainforest canopy and the huge granite rocks keep the temperature low.
  • Several bathing holes are accessible through a brief (1.5 km) paved route. 
  • Additionally, there is a picnic and BBQ area with restrooms.
  • In the river and on the banks, maintain a lookout for native animals. 
  • This is a great place to cool yourself on a hot summer day.

Address: Redlynch Intake Rd, Lamb Range QLD 4870, Australia

4. Breakfast at Snoogies Health Bar

Snoogies Health Bar

In order to provide a cafe that encourages healthy eating choices, Snoogies Health Bar was developed as a cozy corner with stool seating. The menu offers dishes ranging from hot curries to cold salads. 

Excellent vegan and gluten-free lunch options are available here for a fair price. Locals like this cafe because of its fantastic breakfast menu. Try their breakfast bowls when you want to give your stomach a vacation from heavy meals. 

Despite the emphasis on healthy eating, the flavor is never sacrificed. So be sure to get your daily serving of wholesome calories here.

Address: Main Arcade, 82 Grafton St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

5. Muddys Playground: Best For Kids

You may simply stroll all along Esplanade’s boardwalk to reach here, which is roughly 1 kilometer north of the Esplanade Lagoon. Muddy’s playground and splash park are without a doubt the best in town. This adventure playground offers a bunch of activities for kids to do in Cairns.

Vibrant colors fill every inch of the park. Here, kids can completely immerse fun things to do in Cairns. This playground features a special storytelling area along with the following attractions:

  • Climbing Ropes
  • Hamster Wheel
  • Sound Chimes
  • Rope Swing
  • Slides
  • Playhouses
  • Puzzle Games, 
  • Enormous Mudskipper play area

Address: Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

6. Cairns Wildlife Dome Offers Unique Adventure

Cairns Wildlife Dome

Cairns Wildlife Dome is a magnificent outdoor animal display. It is situated on the roof of the Reef Hotel. The structure is covered by a 20-meter-high glass dome. Parrots, lorikeets, and other birds of the Wet Tropics move around freely in a rainforest atmosphere.

  • This immersive exhibit is called the Wildlife Dome. 
  • It permits the majority of the animals, including the birds, to roam freely inside the enormous atrium area. 
  • This goes a step further with the Cairns Zoom. 
  • Zoom fosters interaction between humans and birds. 
  • Here, visitors may enjoy a challenging rope course inside this dome.

Address: The Reef Hotel Casino, 35-41 Wharf St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

7. Birdwatching at Cairns Botanic Gardens

A wonderland of tropical flora is the Cairns Botanic Gardens, which is Australia’s top display of tropical plants. Discover beautiful gardens, from the Zhanjiang Friendship Garden to Aboriginal Plant Use Garden. 

  • Take one of their free excursions to learn more about the flora and fauna there. 
  • In addition, the lovely flowers attract equally beautiful birds.
  • Every day from 7.30 a.m. until 5.30 p.m., Flecker Gardens and the Watkins Munro Martin Conservatory are open. 
  • The rest of the garden is accessible at all times.

Note: It is among the free things to do in Cairns with the family in Cairns.

Address: 78-96 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870, Australia

Nature lovers can find more such activities to do in this city. It has some of the best places to visit in Australia.

8. C’est Bon French Restaurant Cairns

C’est Bon French Restaurant Cairns

Consider stopping by this restaurant when planning your trip to the Cairns Historical Society Museum. C’est Bon has merged local fresh products with the best of classic French cuisine. 

They are proud of their versatile tropical dining and focus on reasonable costs.

Discover the greatest tastes of North Queensland while maintaining a French-style elegance.

Duck confit, braised beef cheeks, and belly pig are the bestsellers on their delicious menu. The heavenly desserts on the menu are the crème brûlée, chocolate soufflés, and chocolate mousse. Choose either indoor or outdoor dining and savor your meal in a welcoming environment.

Address: 20 Lake St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

9. Creative Playtime at Centenary Lakes Nature Playground

Situated in Edge Hill, the Centenary Lakes Nature Playground is only 8 minutes from the Cairns CBD. It has a beautiful play area for kids and is a part of the Cairns Botanic Gardens. 

They have included components of creative play. Allow your kid to explore as this is beneficial for cognitive and physical development. Even a fairy’s garden with a little entryway might be found. 

There is a sensory garden here. Children can see plants with vivid colors, scents, and textures. Kids can even participate in robe climbing. You can even take them to the small lake within the playground.

Address: Greenslopes St, Edge Hill QLD 4870, Australia

10. Squeeze in a Short Hike to Red Arrow Circuit

The Red Arrow Circuit is a steep track that is situated on Edge Hill, near the Cairns Botanic Gardens. Despite being difficult, the whole route is paved. You’ll receive breathtaking sights in exchange. 

  • The Red Arrow Circuit splits off into the Blue Arrow Circuit around halfway along. 
  • Along the way, you’ll probably notice a bunch of bush turkeys. 
  • If you’re lucky, you could see echidnas and pademelons. 
  • The greatest cafes are located all along this area. 
  • Come down to the neighborhood restaurants after a nice run or jog.

Address: 46-62 Collins Ave, Whitfield QLD 4870, Australia

11. Explore Rusty’s Market on Weekends

 Rusty’s Market

One of the most prosperous and well-known marketplaces, both in Australia and overseas, is Rusty’s Market. It is now a well-known Cairns tourist attraction and is well worth a trip. Any Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, just drop by.

  • Over 180 stalls of exotic fruit, veggies, and flowers can be found at Rusty’s. 
  • You may sample a variety of fresh bread, dairy products, and seafood. 
  • Even international food and drink vendors are present there. 
  • There are several specialty goods in addition to local produce. 
  • So, you may find anything from clothing to jewelry to coffee to home goods to crafts to chocolate.

12. Catch a Show at Court House

Court House

The Court House has been a performance venue and art gallery in the heart of the city. The gallery offers lively and engaging programs. It comprises shared artistic visions in the performing and visual arts.

These programs were created with the goal of maximizing engagement for a broad audience. The dynamic schedule of activities and exhibitions continues to be relevant to the motto of the city’s culture and arts.

The heart of the Cairns Festival is this refurbished structure. There is usually something going on here. Don’t forget to purchase your tickets to discover the nuances of this region’s culture.

13. Date Night Reservation at The Ochre

As one of the top restaurants in Cairns, Ochre is recognized worldwide. They serve unique contemporary Australian cuisine made using regional ingredients and bush delicacies.

  • Offering the finest seaside dining, it is situated by the Harbour Lights Hotel. 
  • The views of the waterfront and densely forested mountains will mesmerize you.
  • Ochre provides a wide variety of food options. 
  • They use regional produce for sustainable Australia. 
  • Over 30 different native dishes are featured on the remarkable menus. 
  • For a special dinner, they are the top choice in town. 
  • Together with your partner, you can make reservations for a five-course dinner.

Address: Harbour Lights Boardwalk, 1 Marlin Parade, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

Cairns Art Gallery

Perhaps among Australia’s top public museums is the Cairns Art Gallery. It has a reputation for the quality of its exhibits. The focus is on the distinctive history and contemporary culture of North Queensland. 

  • This gallery has a vintage charm. 
  • They feature exhibitions that are always changing. 
  • Additionally, they arrange educational tours for curious visitors.
  • The gallery also features an elaborate store. 
  • Original art, textiles, prints, publications, and housewares are all part of the selection.

Note: The Cairns Art Gallery is open on weekends. It is also free to enter on all days.

Address: 40 Abbott St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

15. Interactive History Session for Kids at Cairns Museum

Kids of all ages will love visiting the Cairns Museum. Children will be engrossed for hours since it is so engaging and hands-on.

  • As soon as you step inside, children’s activity kits are on the counter. 
  • Super Sleuth Challenge Trail is one such package. 
  • Next, they can look around the museum for hints. 
  • Even younger children may participate in treasure hunts.
  • Similarly, older children can take part in a photography scavenger hunt.
  • Besides, adults can explore the four permanent exhibitions upstairs. 
  • They even host temporary exhibitions downstairs at regular intervals.

Address: Cairns School of Arts building, Cnr Lake and Shields St, 93/105 Lake St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

16. Vivaldis: Best for a Splendid Dinner

Vivaldis

Making a wonderful dinner involves more than just skillful cooking. At Vivaldis Restaurant, they think that a cozy setting and attentive service are what set a memorable meal apart from a good one.

Their food is prepared using ingredients from the local area and skills learned internationally. Every dish has a unique narrative. They always use seasonal ingredients to prepare their delicious dishes, regardless of the season.

They provide a broad menu that includes appetizers, entrées, and desserts. Even small plates are available. There are separate options for kids. Additionally, holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve include special menus.

Address: 53-57 Esplanade, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

17. Book Your Ride with Premium Catamaran Cruise

Catamaran Cruise

A trip to Cairns would be incomplete without going to the Great Barrier Reef. As a result, this tour can be the top fun thing to do in Cairns, Australia. These activities range from sailing to diving and more. One such well-liked excursion is provided by Premium Catamaran Cruise.

  • There is nothing more enjoyable than relaxing on a deck. 
  • This will be your experience throughout the 9-hour full-day excursion. 
  • The tour’s attractions include premium snorkeling gear and free snorkel trips. 
  • You get to choose whether you want to swim, snorkel, or dive at the Great Barrier Reef. 
  • Some snorkeling destinations promise better underwater visibility, based on the day’s weather. 

When you come to this city, you should fully enjoy its weather. As you find out the best time to visit Australia, it will be easier to plan great activities in the most favorable seasons.

18. Spend a Summer Afternoon at Cairns Wake Park

Cairns Wake Park claims to be the only cable water ski park in North Queensland. For the whole family, the park is a lot of fun. Both children and adults may enjoy a unique watersports experience at the park.

The park is equipped with the best inflatable toys that visitors may jump, bounce, and glide on for hours. Ages 10 and above are welcome at the park. 

From wakeboards to kneeboards, as well as helmets and life jackets, all such basic gear is offered here. Make sure to check the park’s hours before going, and have a great day.

Address: Skyrail Dr, Smithfield QLD 4878, Australia

19. Autumn Evenings at Munro Martin Parklands

Munro Martin Parklands

One of the most well-liked parks in Cairns City is the Munro Martin Parklands. Muddy’s Playground is a little under a 10-minute stroll away. When it’s not holding festivals, concerts, or community activities, it is the ideal place to relax.

  • Beautiful tropical plants and an outdoor plaza can be seen in the Parklands. 
  • This promotes casual usage of the facility. 
  • On an autumn day, visitors may have a picnic with their friends and family. 
  • Even merely strolling past the arbors and pergolas covered with vines is allowed. 
  • Therefore, whenever you feel like taking a break from sightseeing, head to Munro Martin Parklands.

Address: 123 Sheridan St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

20. Salt House is Best For Seafood Lovers

Another renowned waterfront attraction is the Salt House. The amazing food that Cairns has to offer is highlighted here. Therefore, anything you eat will introduce you to regional cuisines. 

The Argentinean wood-fired grill, which was specially designed, is the highlight of the kitchen. Even more extensive is their buffet of regional seafood, including tiger prawns, tuna, and oysters.

They are typically packed to capacity due to their popularity. The service recommends making bookings well in advance. You can head with your family for a brunch spread. The fact that they are open every day of the week is the best part.

Address: Marina Point, 6/2 Pier Point Rd, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

21. Take Your Young Ones to Sugarworld Adventure Park 

Sugarworld Adventure Park 

Interestingly, the splash zone at Sugarworld Adventure Park is ideal for groups of friends and family. Hambledon Drive is the precise location of the park. A variety of fun activities are available for the entire family at this 17-acre park. 

  • They have all the latest amenities required for an enjoyable day out. 
  • A 9-hole mini-golf course and an interactive water play area are part of their amenities. 
  • Furthermore, among their super slides are the tandem tube, mat racer, and superjet. 
  • The Cairns CBD is just a quick 20-minute drive away. 
  • Hence, a cheap must-see attraction in Cairns is Sugarworld Adventure Park.

Address: Hambledon Dr, Edmonton QLD 4869, Australia

22. Explore the Lavish Stores of Cairns Central

The regional retail hub is Cairns Central. This center is the biggest shopping hub in the area and is home to several major department stores.

Numerous national stores are present there, including Coles, Target, Kmart, Event Cinemas, and Myers. It even houses a wide range of national specialty brands. Since 1997, many stores have provided services to the neighborhood.

Over 190 businesses are spread across two large floors. All of your favorite fast food joints, chain restaurants, and juice bars are also available. Now that you know where to go for the best vacation shopping, you can plan your trip.

23. Plan a Day’s Trip to Kuranda

Kuranda

The world’s biggest coral reef system is situated near Cairns. But the city of Queensland also serves as a gateway to some of the oldest and most stunning tropical rainforests. 

  • Since Cairns is the starting point for these natural gems, tourists frequently travel there. 
  • You may schedule a few days to explore the natural wonders.
  • Northwest of Cairns, among the tropical highlands, is the settlement of Kuranda. 
  • Both the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and Kuranda Scenic Railway are available for scenic exploration. 
  • A one-day excursion to the rainforest is the best thing to do in Cairns, Australia.

24. Order Your Favorite Cup at Caffiend

Caffeine, artwork, and music would call Caffiend home. Many residents consider this major hangout to be their favorite. The owners truly value what they do. They enthusiastically support the native Tattooed Sailor coffee roasters. 

  • The main focus of their cuisine is seasonal products. 
  • Interesting artwork on the walls and the meals both appear to be excellent. 
  • Some of the delicious alternatives include sandwiches and tropical french toast. 
  • In fact, you can create your breakfast. 
  • Traditional espresso, cold brews, latte, decaf, and many more beverages are available. 
  • When you want a quick dessert, you can even stop by.

Address: 72 Grafton St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

25. St. Monica’s Cathedral: Hidden Gem

St. Monica's Cathedral

It’s interesting to explore this comparatively undiscovered treasure in Cairns. St. Monica’s Cathedral has a beautiful interior despite its understated exterior. Many magnificent stained-glass windows may be seen there. 

A total of 24 of these stained glasses are placed in a manner that follows the narrative of life’s creation. There is a suggestion of Australian influence in its historical significance. On a bright, sunny day, it is preferable to visit them.

Don’t miss the amazing choir performance at 10 a.m. on Sundays at the cathedral. St. Monica’s Cathedral is a well-kept secret that will amuse and surprise you.

Address: 181 Abbott St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

26. Bad Fishy Jet Boat

Bad Fishy Jet Boat

Prepare yourself for a fantastic Trinity Inlet adventure, Cairns-style. The Jet Boat is built for maximum speed, agility, and mobility. Spinners, slides, a water wall, and fishtails may all be found on the inlet. 

  • You will enjoy the general atmosphere of Bad Fishy and the thrilling trip.
  • Don’t undervalue the scenic views on this 35-minute journey. 
  • Your captain will be a native of Cairns. 
  • They are highly experienced in operating speedboats.
  • But they also share fascinating local information. 
  • This is the best opportunity to catch up on some local experience while taking in the Trinity Inlet’s magnificent surroundings.

Address: Marlin Parade Berth A1, The Marlin Marina, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

27. Taste the Premium Coffee of Blackbird Laneway

The staff at Blackbird takes great pride in roasting some of Cairns’ best coffee. Their devoted local following is proof of their excitement. A delicious cup is never far away in Cairns due to its two venues. 

Located in the city is Blackbird Laneway, while the Bungalow houses Blackbird Warehouse. Try their delicious mix, the Garana, or a cold brew that is vegan and fair trade. 

They provide a variety of dairy substitutes, such as almond and coconut milk. There are also a variety of sweet delicacies. Hence, they are truly inclusive when it comes to the preferences of their guests.

Address: Oceana Walk Arcade, 13/62 Grafton St, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

28. Spend Your Weekend at Palm Cove

Palm Cove

The most famous beach in Cairns is Palm Cove. The ideal beachfront community, Palm Cove, is situated between Port Douglas and Cairns. 500-year-old melaleuca trees and palm trees line the entire area. 

  • An enjoyable weekend getaway at the beach offers fun must-do activities in Cairns
  • You may dine at fine restaurants and stay at luxurious resorts. 
  • Typically, the early sea is calm. 
  • So the highlight of your trip could be a morning paddle to Double Island. 
  • This suburb’s nightlife makes it worthwhile to stay the night. 
  • You may even rent a bike to discover further hidden gems.

29. EcoFiesta: A Festival for Sustainability

EcoFiesta

Cairns’ main sustainability event is Ecofiesta. Ecofiesta is hosted in Munro Martin Parklands’ lovely tropical setting. It is an event that combines both food and music. Customers that care about the environment get to explore a vast selection of green technology and sustainable living options.

All ages can participate in workshops and other events. Local environmental organizations, climate groups, and authorities of the rainforest and reef actively engage. Experiencing Ecofiesta is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Here, you can interact with groups and people devoted to the preservation of the environment.

Accommodation Options for Tourists in Cairns

Tourists frequently visit this tropical metropolis. Visitors to the city have a variety of tastes. There are several different lodging alternatives available to suit everyone’s needs. Travelers on a budget can stay at:

  • YHA at Cairns Central
  • Cairns Queens Court
  • Bohemia Resort

Choose from Crystalbrook Riley, Mantra Trilogy, or Rydges Esplanade Resort, provided your budget is flexible. These mid-range choices offer top-notch service. There are a number of lavish options available for those who want to go all out. The Reef House Palm Cove features the most beautiful scenery and provides premium service.

Final Word,
The city of Cairns has secured its place as one of Australia’s top tourist destinations. The list of stuff to do in Cairns is long. Ranging from beaches to rainforests, from amusement parks to historical museums, you can do a lot. This tropical city is the whole package for a great holiday.

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