Top 5 free things to do with kids in Cairns

Cairns is all fun and sun and perfect for a family holiday. If you want to get a heap of travel bang for absolutely no bucks, check out these free, family-friendly travel ideas.

Steel Fish Sculptures, Esplanade Lagoon on the foreshore in Cairns, Australia.
  • Jetstar
  • October 2018

Cairns has a year-round holiday vibe, with its warm weather and pretty beaches. Here are some of our favourite activities suitable for the whole family.

Display of fruits at stall in the Market
Tropical fruit stall

Hit Rusty’s Market

Tasty, colourful and lively, Rusty’s Market has been a Cairns fixture since the mid-70s. Open from Friday to Sunday, kids will love the bustling rows of market stalls heaving with technicolour tropical fruit, the tasty street food and the knick-knacks. Let the kids choose a few things to curate a beachside picnic.

Our favourite link: Rusty’s Market’s official site

Swimming hole
Swimming hole

Splash around in nature

Like a scene out of an idyllic, tropical movie, Cairns has an abundance of cooling, beautiful swimming holes. North Queensland can get pretty steamy, so you and the kids can cool off in panoramic surrounds at a swimming hole or creek. Often surrounded by lush greenery, they’re like little private pools – but totally free to swim in.

Our favourite link: Travel NQ’s favourite swimming holes

Little girls having fun with a small water fountain in Cairns Esplanade public water park.
Cairns Esplanade

Explore the Esplanade

The Cairns Esplanade is a beautiful stretch of waterside strolling, complete with a weekend market, free fitness classes, boutiques and restaurants, beach volleyball, a salt-water lagoon, and Australia’s biggest skate park. Make a beeline for this beautiful patch where you and the kids can pick your own beachy adventure, from a picnic under the palm to Pilates by the beach.

Our favourite link: Cairns Esplanade official site

Muddy's Playground in Cairns, Australia.
Muddy's Playground, Cairns

Get muddy

Muddy's Playground is a boon for families. This massive playground is divided into three sections to suit differing age groups (including a café to keep the grownups happy). Kids can splash around in the water park, clamber on rope bridges, fling themselves on Flying Foxes, you name it. There are also nearby areas for barbecues and picnics, making Muddy’s a great all-rounder for the day.

Our favourite link: Muddy’s Playground guide

Morning view of Botanic Garden.
Cairns Botanical Gardens.

Be flower children

Grab the kids and head to the Cairns Botanic Gardens for a stunning showcase of the state’s photogenic, sculptural tropical plants. Lush and relaxing, you can lounge on the grass if you need to rest tiny feet. There are also free birdwatching tours and the fortnightly Little Taccas program for under-fives, with garden-related activities ranging from art and craft, storytelling, sing-alongs and garden discovery walks.

Our favourite link: Cairns Botanic Gardens