12 FUN and FREE THINGS TO DO IN TOOWOOMBA
Toowoomba is Southern Queensland’s charming garden city with a surprising amount of outdoor adventures suitable for all ages. We’ve selected the most fun things to do in Toowoomba with your family.
Queensland’s largest inland city, Toowoomba, is located in the Darling Downs, only 126 kilometres from Brisbane. Driving from Queensland’s capital will take you past the farmlands of the Lockyer Valley and up the famous Great Dividing Range to reach Toowoomba city.
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Although a visit to the welcoming Toowoomba region could be made as a day trip from Brisbane, we recommend staying for 3-5 days. And even longer if you’d like to visit the nearby national parks such as Bunya Mountains National Park.
Use this guide to plan your Toowoomba itinerary with trains, self-guided trails, and child-friendly greens spaces, including Queens Park and the Japanese Gardens.
Read how to have a fun weekend in Brisbane on a budget.
The Traditional Owners of the Darling Downs region are the Jagera, Giabal and Jarowair people. Some sources suggest Toowoomba’s name originated from the Aboriginal word meaning ‘place where water sits’.
Toowoomba offers something for the whole family
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Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers
The Carnival of Flowers is the annual event that gave Toowoomba its title of “Garden City”. Launching in 1950 with a street procession almost five kilometres long, the Carnival of Flowers was created to promote economic growth after World War II.
The carnival is held every spring with 150,000 seeds, seedlings, and bulbs planted in preparation. There are free and ticketed events featuring the Grand Central Floral Parade, Sideshow Alley, Cinema Under the Stars, and a food and wine festival.
Local tip: To avoid missing out on the Carnival of Flowers, book ahead for accommodation and paid event tickets as these can sell out early.
Where: Visitors can find displays of vibrant flowers at the Botanic Gardens, Queens Park, and Laurel Bank Park, as well as throughout the Toowomba CBD, Picnic Point, and Spring Bluff Station.
When: 30 days during Spring. Check the website for upcoming dates for the next Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.
Don’t worry if your trip doesn’t coincide with the carnival – the Toowoomba gardens are a delight year-round. Starting with the crown jewel, Queens Park is a flourishing oasis walking distance from the city centre.
The entire parklands sprawl across 25 hectares with family-friendly sections, including the heritage-listed botanic gardens, Vera Lacaze Memorial Park with water fountain and picnic tables, off-leash dog park, and greater park area with sports fields and children’s playgrounds. Visit Queens Park at least once during your trip.
Where: 43 Lindsay Street, East Toowoomba
When: Open 24 hours
Toowoomba Farmers Market
What better way to spend a Saturday morning with the family than at the Toowoomba Farmers Market? This small-scale market offers a bountiful selection of seasonal produce, freshly-baked bread, locally-made artwork, homemade condiments and jams.
The Toowoomba Farmers Market is a great way to support local food artisans and farmers by purchasing direct. Stay for breakfast and a hot cup of coffee while listening to live music.
Local tip: After visiting the Farmers Markets, treat the kids to Cobb+Co Museum. The interactive museum contains the National Carriage Collection, science centre, dinosaur display, hands-on workshops, and Binangar Centre with local stories from the Traditional Owners of Toowoomba. Parents will appreciate Cobb’s Coffee Shop for family-friendly service. Open daily from 9.30am to 4pm with tickets available online or at the door.
Where: Corner of Lindsay and Campbell Streets, East Toowoomba. Look for the stalls under the windmills at Cobb & Co.
When: Saturdays from 8 am – 12 pm
Picnic Point Lookout and Parklands
Get your camera ready for the prettiest panoramic views in Toowoomba. Picnic Point is perched on the Great Dividing Range at around 700 metres above sea level. There are three areas that provide unique perspectives of the Lockyer Valley landscape – Tobruk Memorial Drive Lookout, Lions Park Lookout, and Picnic Point Lookout.
Families with children will appreciate the playgrounds, 160 acres of Picnic Point Parklands and soothing waterfall area with stepping stones. If you are feeling especially energetic, there are grade three walking tracks ranging from 900 metres one way to 6.5 kilometres return. The Picnic Point Bridal Trail can also be used for mountain biking.
Where: 162-202 Tourist Road, Rangeville QLD
When: Open 24 hours
Table Top Mountain
Table Top Mountain is a challenging adventure for active families to experience together. This is a grade five hike that requires uphill scrambling on rocks. Therefore it’s not really suitable for young children.
To hike Table Top Mountain, we recommend starting early in the morning and planning for at least three hours to make the return journey. After parking at the end of Table Top Drive, the walk starts at Camel’s Hump. This 150-metre high hill is the first ascent and warm-up for the main mountain. Make sure to stop and take in the stunning scenery.
Walking down Camels’ Hump will require climbing over boulders, but the path is easy to make out. Then you’ll be faced with another steep climb up Table Top Mountain but this time requiring an almost vertical scramble up loose rocks. The feeling of making it to the top will be well worth it, and you’ll be blown away by the natural beauty of this flat-capped mountain.
Where: Lot 101 Table Top Road, Rangeville
When: It’s recommended to begin this walk early in the morning.
Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery
We found ourselves in the cool interior of the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery on a sizzlingly hot summer day. Although we slipped in as a spontaneous way to escape the heat, we were warmly welcomed by staff and an impressive collection.
Established in 1937, The Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery is the oldest public art gallery in regional Queensland. There are permanent and temporary exhibitions, with children’s workshops often held over school holidays. The three permanent collections are:
- The Lionel Lindsay Gallery -print materials of national importance
- The Fred and Lucy Gould Art Collection – antique furniture and fine dining ware
- Toowoomba City Collection – work by artists who have a connection to Toowoomba and the surrounding region.
Where: 531 Ruthven Street, Toowoomba
When: Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10.30 am – 3.30 pm and Sunday from 1 – 4 pm
Laurel Bank Park
In addition to Queens Park, Laurel Bank Park is a key destination for the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. Outside of the spring season, it is still spectacularly beautiful with expansive lawns, creative hedges, manicured and fragrant garden beds.
Parents with kids can find a nice spot to relax under the shady trees by the children’s playground area. Pack a picnic or snag one of the free barbeque areas to enjoy an al fresco lunch.
Where: 50 Hill Street, Toowoomba
When: Open daily from 6 am – 6 pm
Street Art Walking Tour
A fantastic way to explore Toowoomba that’s suitable for all ages, is a self-guided street art tour. Through coordinated public art projects, this endearing city has been livened up with colourful murals dotted throughout. Bring your sense of adventure and comfortable walking shoes to delve into the laneways and back alleys to find each artwork.
Local tip: On Searles Walk, where you’ll find half a dozen murals, we recommend visiting Ground Up Espresso Bar for your caffeine hit. End your street art tour around the corner of Ruthven and Margaret Street, then enjoy incredible Korean barbecue at Kajoku – a Korean and Japanese restaurant.
Where: All around Toowoomba City. Use the interactive street art map.
When: Anytime during daylight hours.
Russell Street Historical Walk
Learn about Toowoomba’s history in the past 150+ years on the self-guided Russell Street Historical Walk. Like the street art tour, this can be taken at your own pace and spread out over multiple days if preferred. The difference is that the historical walk will take you to architectural landmarks dating back to the 1860s.
Where: Start the historical walk on Railway Street, Toowoomba. Use this itinerary.
When: Anytime during daylight hours.
Situated just 5km south of Toowoomba’s city centre are the Japanese Gardens managed by the University to Southern Queensland and Toowoomba Regional Council. The Japanese Gardens USQ QLD is one of the most tranquil things to do in Toowoomba.
Stroll along the three kilometres of pathways that wind around the lake, mountain stream, waterfall, and garden – all based on traditional Japanese design.
Where: 55 Regent Street, Darling Heights
When: Open daily from 7 am – 6 pm.
Spring Bluff Railway Station
Spring Bluff Railway Station is a historically significant location that was transformed into Southern Queensland’s “most beautiful railway”. The heritage-listed site has over 150 years of railway history and was decommissioned as a functioning station in 1992.
These days it operates year-round as a gathering place for family fun and picnics amongst the bright flowers.
Where: McCormack Drive, Spring Bluff
When: Open daily from 6 am – 7 pm. The train runs during the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers with tickets to purchase in advance.
Downs Steam Railway and Museum (by donation)
If the train enthusiasts in your family still haven’t gotten their fix at Spring Bluff Railway Station and National Carriage Collection at Cobb Co Museum, then head to DownsSteam Tourist Railway. Te volunteer-run railway museum houses carriages built in the early 1900s. A highlight of the museum is the Dreamtime Journey Coach which has been converted into an Indigenous art gallery to pay homage to the Indigenous railway workers.
Where: 16 Cambooya Street, Drayton
When: Open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm.
More fun things to do in Toowoomba for kids
Whether it’s a rainy day or you’ve run out of child-friendly things to do in Toowoomba during the school holidays, these play centres provide indoor entertainment at reasonable prices:
- Inflatable World Toowoomba – 31 Spencer St, Harristown
- iPlay Toowoomba – Grand Central Shopping Centre on Margaret Street, Toowoomba
- Chipmunk’s Playland and Cafe – Shop 11 Bernoth Centre, 663-667 Ruthven St, South Toowoomba.
Day trips from the Garden City of Toowoomba
Discover more of Southern Queensland’s regional areas with these scenic drives from Toowoomba:
- Ravensbourne National Park – 48 kilometres northeast of Towoomba
- Crows Nest National Park – 49 kilometres north of Toowoomba
- Bunya Mountains National Park – 110 kilometres north of Toowoomba
- Stanthorpe – 143 kilometres south of Toowoomba.
See our 2-day itinerary for Stanthorpe, including Allora and Warwick.
About the Author: Chantell Collins is a Pinterest Advertising Consultant, eco enthusiast, and occasional Travel Writer. Her work has been featured in Skyscanner, Yahoo, MSN, and many more. After living abroad for almost ten years, she’s renewing her affection for Australia through slow travel.
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