Things to do in Cairns for kids

Cairns is a fabulous city for kids of all ages.

Things to do in Cairns for kids include many fun things to see and do.

The central city area is flat and perfect for young ones to get around. Walking through the streets, checking out the stores, or stopping for ice cream and other snacks is accessible and entertaining.

Great Barrier Reef

The ultimate attraction is a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, which will make lifetime memories for the kids. Whether it is a half-day, full-day or overnight trip, they will never forget the chance to see, snorkel or swim in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Most operators are well-equipped to help families have a great experience, with custom equipment for the kids and child-friendly facilities such as pontoons, swimming nets and water slides.

Tours to famous reef islands such as Green Island are also a great way for kids to have a reef experience without being out on the water the whole time. Ferries depart from Reef Fleet Terminal in the city’s heart near Cairns Esplanade Lagoon.

Cairns Aquarium

Major attractions in the city centre for children are the Cairns Aquarium, Wildlife Dome and Cairns Esplanade and Lagoon.

Getting up close to the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef is also possible on dry land at

Cairns Aquarium. This new facility is a fantastic world-class venue packed with interactive educational fun. The young ones can also see rainforest plants and animals, which is excellent if you are short on time or looking to make the most of one attraction.

Add a little more excitement with a Behind the Scenes tour, the Sea Explorer 5D virtual submarine tour, or camp out for the night at the aquarium for a Shark Sleepover. Open 365 days of the year. This aquarium is a must-see attraction for kids.

Once finished under the water, head to the Wildlife Dome on top of the casino near the waterfront. Wander through the Australian animal wildlife and take in free presentations and interactive sessions, including feeding shows.

The Cairns Zoom attraction has been custom-built inside the wildlife dome and provides various ropes and zipline challenges for all ages. There are few better holiday stories than zipping through the air over Goliath, the crocodile!

Cairns Esplanade

When it is time to relax in the city, head for the Cairns Esplanade and Lagoon right in the heart of the town.

There are boardwalks, paths and open green spaces where children can roam freely. Hit the paths with bikes or scooters, or check out the custom-built Cairns Skate Park. Choose from beach volleyball courts, basketball courts and tennis courts.

Or take advantage of the open spaces and play a ball game, throw a frisbee, or fly a kite. Don’t forget to check out the free exercise activities such as ‘aqua Zumba and yoga.

Take a chance for some parent relaxation and grab a coffee from the cafe while the kids are on the playground, including the safe and fun water splash section at Muddy’s Playground.

The Lagoon is one of the most popular places on the Cairns Esplanade for people to hang out. There are sloping sides and grassy areas for the young to run around and splash in the water’s edge or head into the Lagoon for swimming.

The Cairns Esplanade is also a popular place for a family meal. Pick up supplies from the nearby supermarket and take advantage of barbecues on the foreshore to cook up a family feast. This attraction is a popular activity, even for breakfast! A cafe and restaurant strip is running along the Esplanade as well.

Head out of the CBD to complete the must-see kids’ attractions checklist.

A visit to the region is incomplete without learning about its history and identity. Take the kids to discover indigenous Australian culture at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Experience dance, theatre performance, and art play the didgeridoo or throw a boomerang. Don’t forget to sample some bush food.

Long-time family favourite Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is a hit for kids and adults. As well as the famous croc show, children can feed and interact with other iconic wildlife, including snakes, cassowaries, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and quokkas.


A ride on the Kuranda Scenic Railway is a must-do experience for families. Depart from Cairns Station in the centre of the city and wind your way through the rainforest, past spectacular waterfalls on this historic rail line which itself is an engineering feat from the coast to the Tableland.

At the end of your train ride, on top of the mountain, is the quaint village of Kuranda. This peaceful hideaway in the rainforest offers family-friendly markets and animal attractions, including Birdworld Kuranda, the Kuranda Koala Gardens, and Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, for a perfect family day out.


Complete one leg of your visit to Kuranda on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

This spectacular 90-minute journey takes you over the top of the rainforest and stops at two stations on the way, providing a chance to explore the scenic lookouts from boardwalks.

Embrace a sense of adventure and head to AJ Hackett Bungy nestled in the rainforest. Thrill-seekers aged ten years and over can take on the iconic Bungy Jump, and the whole family can experience the Giant Jungle Swing that can take 1, 2, or 3 people. There is free entry to the tower climb and lookout, cafe facilities on-site, and live music on Sunday afternoons.

For something a little more relaxing north of Cairns, explore the strip of beaches that wind their way up the east coast, from the quiet and close Machans Beach to relaxed local favourite Trinity Beach to the trendy vibe of famous Palm Cove.