Looking for ideas for a fun day out around Brisbane with your dog? Whether you want to head to the beaches or the mountains, visit the Gold Coast, the Sunny Coast or stay closer to home, I’ve got plenty of ideas for fun day trips to do with your dog, all within 2 hours of the centre of Brisbane. How many of these have you ticked off with your dog?
1. Visit Bribie Island for the Day
The best dog-friendly beach that you can visit within Brisbane (without requiring a ferry) is certainly Woorim Beach South on Bribie Island. This beautiful long stretch of golden sand with gentle waters is just a 90 minute drive from the centre of Brisbane, handily connected to the mainland by a bridge.
At Woorim Beach South you could just relax on the sand and enjoy a dip in the water with your pup, or if you’re feeling energetic go for a long stroll. The off-leash section of the beach stretches for 4km between Lowry Street in Woorim and Red Beach, an extra long dog walk if you want to complete it all and then return!
I recommend parking at the end of Lowry Street, where there’s just a short access track to start of the off-leash beach section, as well as a handy wash-down station, while if you park at Red Beach the initial part of the beach is on-leash only. Combine your day out at the beach with a lunch of fish’n’chips from one of the takeaway shops on Bribie Island, or head to the Bribie Island RSL which has a dog-friendly dining area.
Discover more dog-friendly beaches in Brisbane
2. Climb Mt Coot-tha with Your Dog
For a fabulous dog-friendly walk that’s closer to the centre of Brisbane, look no further than the Mt Coot-tha Forest, just 15 minutes drive west of the Brisbane CBD.
In particular, one of the most popular dog-friendly trails in the park is the Summit Walk, which starts at the JC Slaughter Falls Picnic Area and then climbs for 1.9km to just below the Summit Lookout.
The Summit Lookout at Mt Coot-tha offers superb views across Brisbane. It also has a cafe – the perfect spot to buy a takeaway ice cream or coffee and enjoy while taking in the view, before ascending back down to your starting point.
The Summit Walk is a moderately rated trail and includes an ascent and descent, but should be doable in under 2 hours at a relaxed pace. If you’re looking for something else to fill your day, there’s no shortage of other walking trails at Mt Coot-tha Forest, with over 50 to choose from.
3. Catch a Ferry on the Brisbane River
While dogs aren’t allowed on most public transport in Brisbane, one dog-friendly option are the Brisbane River ferries and CityCats. While there are some rules that need to be followed, in particular wearing a muzzle and avoiding the peak morning and afternoon period on weekdays, it’s still a great experience to enjoy with your dog.
While there’s multiple ferry routes to choose between, one of the most convenient options for a sightseeing cruise is the CityHopper service. Running roughly every half an hour between North Quay and Sydney Street, best of all this service is free!
I recommend parking close to the Sydney Street ferry terminal, where there’s easy on-street parking. The trip to North Quay takes 40 minutes, and it’s then possible to wait on board for the return trip, a total journey time of 90 minutes. Alternatively, get off along the way and go for a stroll with your pup.
The ferry is perfect for combining with a stroll along the New Farm Riverwalk or along Southbank, or a visit to the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens.
Read more about visiting inner city Brisbane in my dog-friendly guide
4. Or Cruise the Noosa River with Your Small Dog
Another dog-friendly cruise option that’s just under a 2 hour drive from the centre of Brisbane is a trip on the Noosa Ferry. Unfortunately this cruise option is restricted to smaller dogs that can fit on your lap, although no muzzle is required. Dogs are also not permitted on the sunset cruises.
On a sunny day, it’s a beautiful trip along the Noosa River, sitting on the open-air top deck with your pup on your lap. The ferry runs between Tewantin and Noosa Heads about every half hour. A $25 ticket entitles you to a return journey along the entire length, or else it’s $15 for a trip between Noosaville and Noosa Heads. Dogs ride for free.
It’s possible to stay onboard the ferry for the entire return trip, which takes about 90 minutes. Alternatively, get off and stretch your legs at Noosa Heads. Walk along the boardwalk to the Noosa Spit reserve, where you’ll find an off-leash exercise area and the popular Noosa Spit Dog Beach.
5. Head to Palm Beach Dog Beach
For another great beach outing on a sunny day that’s closer to Brisbane, instead consider heading to Palm Beach on the Gold Coast. Just over 1 hour south of Brisbane City, Palm Beach is home to the very popular Palm Beach Dog Off-Leash Beach.
At Palm Beach, choose between paddling with your dog in the calm waters of Currumbin Creek, or head to the ocean-facing beach. Dogs are permitted off-leash all day long on the northern side of the Currumbin Creek entrance, then around to lifeguard tower 13 – check out the handy sign at the large adjacent carpark.
Afterwards, it’s a 10 minute drive back up the motorway to the dog-friendly Burleigh Brewing Company. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, enjoy a tasting paddle at their outdoor tables, perhaps with some burgers or tacos from the Burleigh Eats stand. I particularly recommend the Wildflower beer!
Find more ideas for visiting the Gold Coast with your dog
6. Visit Coochiemudlo Island with Your Dog
While there’s multiple dog-friendly islands close to Brisbane that you can catch a ferry to with your dog, the best spot to visit for a fun day trip is Coochiemudlo Island.
Coochiemudlo Island is just off the Redlands Coast, a quick 10-minute passenger ferry ride on the Amity Trader from Victoria Point. Buy your tickets onboard the ferry, with dogs allowed onboard for free and no muzzles required. There’s also a less frequent vehicular barge.
Once you arrive at Coochiemudlo, I recommend walking along the footpath to your left, leading to the beautifully sandy dog beach, just a 5-minute walk away. The dog beach starts about 100m after the boat ramp and is clearly signposted.
It’s actually best to visit this beach on a sunny day over wintertime, with dogs allowed off-leash on the beach all day long between May and August. During the summer dogs are only allowed off-leash before 9am or after 5pm. While due to the presence of migratory birds, dogs need to remain on-leash during March, April, September and October.
Find out more about visiting Coochiemudlo Island and other dog-friendly islands in Queensland
7. Head to Tamborine Mountain
The Gold Coast isn’t just about beaches and high rises. A great destination for a dog-friendly day trip is Tamborine Mountain, tucked away in the mountains and forests of the Gold Coast Hinterland, and only an hour from central Brisbane.
While dogs aren’t allowed on the walks inside the Tamborine National Park, there’s still plenty of dog-friendly activities to keep you busy. I recommend walking along The Gallery Walk, a strip of cafes and boutiques stocking local products, where some of the owners welcomed our pup inside.
Just south of the Walk is is Fortitude Brewing, which has a section of dog-friendly outdoor tables, or if you’d prefer to taste the local wine, head to Witches Fall Winery. However, my top pick for lunch is the delightful Tamborine Mountain Coffee Plantation. The cafe has a huge outdoor area, with a variety of tables where well-behaved dogs are welcome. It even offers a coffee tasting board, as well as breakfast and lunch.
Afterwards, head to Rotary Lookout, a dog-friendly lookout with stunning views over the mountains of the Scenic Rim. And if you simply can’t pass up visiting one of the waterfalls in the national park, I recommend Curtis Falls. It’s just a short walk to this pretty cascade and the carpark is outside the national park, so you could take turns looking after your pup.
8. Celebrate the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers
A day trip to Toowoomba, just a 1hr 40 minutes trip west of Brisbane, makes for a refreshing change during the cooler months of the year. In particular, try to visit Toowoomba in September, when the annual Carnival of Flowers is held. During 2021, the celebration extended over the entire month, but check the latest dates.
The highlight of the Carnival are the mass plantings of flowers in the city’s many gardens, with leashed dogs welcome to join you at many of them. In fact, the festival receives so many four-legged visitors that organisers in recent years have put together a Petals and Pups program.
Make sure you visit the Queens Park Botanic Gardens, the centrepiece of the festival. After taking a stroll through the colourful garden beds and stopping for plenty of photos, make a beeline for the off-leash dog exercise area close by in the larger Queens Park, where small signs marking the boundary.
While not all the gardens featured in the festival allow dogs, I also recommend visiting the dog-friendly Laurel Bank Park, Ju Raku En Japanese Garden and Peacehaven Botanic Park.
Find out more about visiting Toowoomba with a dog, including dog-friendly cafes
9. Visit the Dog-Friendly Maleny Botanic Gardens
If you enjoy visiting botanic gardens, another dog-friendly botanic garden that you can visit on a day trip with your dog are the Maleny Botanic Gardens, tucked away into the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and a 90 minute drive from central Brisbane.
While dogs are naturally not allowed in the aviary area, they are allowed to join you on leash for a stroll around the beautiful gardens. An entry fee applies for human, but not dog, visitors. One of the highlights of a visit are the spectacular views from the top levels of the steep site, with the Glass House Mountains visible in the distance. There’s also countless waterfalls and ponds dotted throughout the gardens, taking advantage of the sloping site.
While in Maleny, there’s an off-leash area at the local showground, plus the Maleny Trail is a pretty on-leash walk along Obi Obi Creek. The trail starts at the showground and continues for 4.8km to Fairview, but you can also just walk the first section to the centre of the village and the creekside boardwalk.
10. Take a Drive Through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Maleny isn’t the only scenic spot in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Another fabulous day out is taking a drive through the Hinterland, perhaps along the Blackall Range Tourist Drive, which starts near Maleny.
One of the highlights of this drive is the colourful village of Montville. Its main street is lined with interesting galleries and boutiques, while in between you can catch glimpses of the beautiful vistas towards the coastline. It’s a great spot for taking a stroll with your pup, with many of the shops having dog water bowls, and even “pet parking” areas.
While in Montville, perhaps stop off at Wild Rocket at Misty’s a combined micro-brewery and bistro that’s pet-friendly. Alternatively, the European-style Poets Cafe has plenty of outdoor tables and is perfect for a coffee or light lunch.
While driving along the Blackall Range Tourist Drive, don’t miss stopping at a few of the lookouts along the way. Our favourite was Dulong Lookout, located just behind Nambour. There’s also gorgeous views while driving along the road, at least for whoever isn’t behind the wheel. Note that Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve in Maleny, a popular vista spot, doesn’t allow dogs.
11. Go Swimming at Stumers Creek Beach
If you’re in the mood for a beach day instead of a scenic drive in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, instead head to one of the many dog-friendly beaches dotted along the Sunny Coast. One of the most popular is Stumers Creek Beach, just over 1.5 hours north of central Brisbane.
The Stumers Creek Off-Leash Area is located on the northern side of Coolum, in between beach access 67 and 72. Search for “Stumers Creek Dog OffLeash Area” on Google Maps and you’ll be directed to the carpark, the best access point and also home to a handy dog wash down area.
The highlight of a visit to Stumers Creek is the lagoon at the creek entrance, the perfect spot for your dog to have a swim, particularly if they’re not used to breaking waves. Although your pup can also go for a paddle at the edge of the sea, or just a run along the wide expanse of beach.
Once all the sand and salt is washed off, enjoy a late lunch or just a coffee at one of the cafes in Coolum, many that have dog-friendly outdoor seating areas.
Find out more dog-friendly ideas for visiting the Sunshine Coast
12. Hire a Dog-Friendly Picnic Boat
For a different kind of watery adventure, instead consider hiring your own dog-friendly picnic boat for a self-driving outing on the Brisbane River.
Picnic boat company GoBoat has two locations in Brisbane, on the eastern side of Kangaroo Point near Dockside, and further downriver at Breakfast Creek. Their boats seat up to eight people and don’t require a boat license.
There’s the option of hiring the boats for one, two or three hours, with the longer hires perfect for combining with one of their catered picnic options. It’s best to email them in advance to see if you can also reserve a suitable life-jacket for your dog.
13. Visit the Redcliffe Markets
Redcliffe feels a world away from the centre of Brisbane, but is just an easy 45 minute drive. And one of the best times to visit is on a Sunday, when the Redcliffe Markets take place.
The markets are held each week between 8am and 2pm, or at the slightly earlier time of 7am to 1pm from December to February. Leashed dogs are welcome to join you on a stroll through the markets, home to a bustling array of stalls selling arts and crafts, local produce and a tasty range of meals.
If you’d like to sit down and enjoy a coffee or meal, stop off at the extra dog-friendly Cafe Diversity, which fronts onto the markets. The cafe has a dog menu, featuring puppa chinos, scrambled eggs, braised beer mine and doggy ice-cream. Our pup loved his ice-cream!
A visit to Redcliffe is also wonderfully combined with a visit to the off-leash Queens Beach North, just one suburb to the north. The off-leash area is located north of the stairs near Griffith Road, with dogs also allowed on-leash on the southern section of sand.
14. Or Visit the Eumundi Markets
Another wonderful market to visit near Brisbane that is also dog-friendly are the Eumundi Markets, in the town of the same name on the Sunshine Coast, 90 minutes north of Brisbane. These markets take place every Wednesday and Saturday, between 7am and 2pm.
Allow at least a couple of hours for a stroll around these gigantic markets, situated on both sides of Napier Road. There’s some two-hour parking spots on nearby streets, otherwise head to the paid parking lot. If you visit later in the day around lunchtime, there’s plenty of food stalls located just off Memorial Drive.
We found the markets wonderfully dog-friendly, with plenty of water bowls scattered around for dogs. Our dog also sniffed out the two pet stores that were open at the markets on the day we visited, Made in Noosa and 4 Your Petz. There’s also plenty of other stalls selling dog-related homewares and gifts, that are hard to resist!
15. Spend the Afternoon at Kedron Brook
One of the most popular off-leash dog beaches near the centre of Brisbane is the Kedron Brook off-leash swimming area in Nudgee Beach, just north of Brisbane Airport. While the nearby trial off-leash dog area on Nudgee Beach itself was discontinued, these mud flats are still a popular spot for a dog paddle and run, particularly on sunny days.
On the Sunday afternoon that we visited, there was even a combined coffee-and-dogwash van set up in the adjacent carpark, perfect for an after-swim freshen up. If the carpark is already full, there’s parking available along the street.
To find the off-leash beach, it’s easiest to search for “Nudgee Beach Dog Park” on Google Maps. This is the pin for the adjacent fenced Tuckeroo Dog Park, a great spot for an off-leash run on days that you want to your dog to stay dry and mud-free.
16. Splash at the Flagstone Dog Park
It’s not necessary to head all the way to the beach for your pup to enjoy a cooling splash in the water. There’s also other options available in Brisbane, including the Flagstone Dog Park in the City of Logan, on the southwestern edge of Brisbane.
This isn’t your typical dog park, as it also includes a water play area with water jets, the first of its kind that I’ve hard of in Australia. The park is also fully fenced and includes a second area for smaller dogs.
We didn’t get a chance to visit, but it’s a handy option on warm days for those living away from the coast. Search for “Flagstone Regional Park” on Google Maps, with the dog park located to the north of the children’s playground and water park, near Walker Circuit.
17. Explore Toowoomba’s Street Art
While Toowoomba may be best known for its many gardens, this inland city that’s just 1hr 40 minutes west of Brisbane is fabulous destination for street art.
While not quite at the levels of Melbourne, there’s still an impressive collection of street art murals covering many of its inner city streets and laneways. Many of the murals date to the street art festivals held in the city between 2014 and 2017, although there are also more recent additions.
It’s best to explore the street art on foot, the perfect activity to enjoy with your dog. To uncover the artworks, pick up a brochure from the local visitors centre, or check out this online map. Some of the works that you can’t miss include the stunning Indigenous work by Adnate next to the Neil Street Carpark, plus the elephant mural by Fintan Magee around the corner on the far end of Union Street. Don’t also miss Domestic Lane.
While wandering around the city admiring the street art, stop off along the way at Ground Up Espresso. The cafe is located right in a laneway full of murals, with dogs welcome at the outdoor tables.
18 Spend a Dog-Friendly Day at the Southport Spit
While the Southport Spit may be best known as the home of Seaworld, this stretch of sand just one hour from the centre of Brisbane is also home to two of the best off-leash dog beaches on the Gold Coast.
The ocean-facing dog beach of the pair is the Spit Dog Beach, located on the northern stretch of the spit, from the seaway rock groyne south to Muriel Henchman Park. Park in the large carpark behind the sand bypass system, then take the access path to the beach past the handy dog wash down area.
However, if the waves are too big for your dog’s liking or the beach is too busy, you can also head to the calm waters of the enclosed Marine Stadium waterway. The off-leash section is located along the eastern side of the Marine Stadium, in between Doug Jennings Park and Muriel Henchman Park.
Don’t also miss stopping off at the Seaway Kiosk, close to the access path to the Spit Dog Beach. They offer a range of doggie ice creams – the perfect post-beach treat!
19. Visit Eat Street Northshore
While there’s plenty of dog-friendly cafes around Brisbane that are perfect for enjoying breakfast or lunch, the pickings aren’t as varied for an evening out with your pup. However, if your pup is okay with crowds and music, consider heading to Eat Street Northshore in Hamilton.
This lively option is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 4pm, combining a street food market with live entertainment, for a small entry fee. People-friendly pets, however, are welcome for free. Before visiting, check out the clear pet policy on the website, which recommends that you avoid congested areas with your pup, or else carry them.
There’s also a similar night market option on the Sunshine Coast, the NightQuarter Markets in Kawana, that are open on Friday and Saturday nights, and have a similar pet policy.
20. Soak Up the Rays at Sunshine Beach
The Sunshine Coast is home to some beautiful beaches, but one of my favourites was Sunshine Beach. Located just south of the Noosa National Park, this beautiful beach may not have the calmest waters, but is a popular destination for sun bathing, particularly when the wind is from the west and it remains largely protected.
The off-leash dog section of this beach is at the northern end of the beach, starting at Seaview Terrace North, near the small carpark. Search for “Sunshine Beach Dog exercise area” on Google Maps. Naturally the northern border is the National Park boundary.
Allow nearly 2 hours for the drive from the centre of Brisbane. Plus be aware that the carpark is quite small, and on street parking is limited. If no parks are available, instead head further south to the long stretch of off-leash beach running for nearly 4km along Castaways Beach and Marcus Beach.
21. Climb to the Top of Mt Ninderry
The Sunshine Coast is dotted with mountains, and if you’re tempted to climb one of them to the top, I recommend the dog-friendly hike up Mt Ninderry. The Mt Ninderry Walking Track starts from Eucalyptus Crescent in Ninderry, an easy 90 minute drive from the centre of Brisbane, just off the Bruce Highway near the Ginger Factory.
The track climbs up 1.4km to the summit, with plenty of rocky stairs along the way, for a total return walk of 2.8km. On the mountain’s summit is a loop track connecting two lookouts, one on each side. The eastern lookout was my favourite, offering superb views towards the coast and ocean.
I recommend to allow about 90 minutes to complete the hike at a steady pace. The sign at the entrance recommends allowing 3 hours, but we were actually passed by multiple other dog owners. Dogs are required to be leashed, although this isn’t strictly followed.
22. Amble Along the Caloundra Foreshore
If you’d prefer a more sedate walk with your dog without many stairs, instead head to Caloundra, at the southern edge of the Sunny Coast, and follow the Caloundra Foreshore Walk.
The walk runs for 4km between Bulcock Beach and Shelly Beach, a combination of beachside footpaths and boardwalks. Unfortunately dogs need to be kept on a leash on the walking path and there are no off-leash dog beaches along the way. However, leashed dogs are allowed on a number of sections of the beach, except for Bulcock Beach and Kings Beach – check out the signs.
A handy spot to park is at Happy Valley, near the ferris wheel. The park is also home to the Happy Turtle Cafe, a handy spot to grab a takeaway coffee or smoothie, breakfast roll or bowl, then enjoy it at the beachfront picnic tables with your pup by your side.
23. Stroll Through the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
For another relaxing walk destination, head to the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. While the larger Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens doesn’t permit pets, the botanic gardens in the city centre welcomes leashed dogs.
Some of the garden highlights include the palm-surrounded lagoon, the bamboo grove and the rainforest section at the southern edge. Perhaps follow this self-guided walk. Alternatively, it’s a great spot to enjoy a picnic, whether on a sunny grassy lawn or alongside the Brisbane River.
The gardens were established quite early in the city’s history, initially as a farm, before being declared a botanic reserve in 1855. For another taste of Brisbane history, wander alongside the western edge of the garden, where the Old Government House and the Parliament House were built in 1862 and 1867 respectively. While naturally pet dogs can’t enter inside, you can still admire their impressive exterior facades.
24. Or Visit the Ju Raku En Japanese Gardens
For a very different garden, head west of Brisbane to Toowoomba and the Ju Raku En Garden. Part of the University of Southern Queensland, these Japanese gardens were opened in 1989. The gardens are one of the largest and most traditionally designed Japanese gardens in Australia.
These gardens are designed for strolling, and it’s a pleasure to stroll across the many red bridges crossing the garden’s water features. We visited in September during the annual Carnival of Flowers, when the blossom trees were blooming, but the gardens would also be a delight to visit in the Autumn months, when the leaves change into a rainbow of hues.
Dogs are permitted in the gardens, which are free to enter, although make sure you keep your dog on a short leash, especially around the ducks, and clean up after them.
25. Explore Dog-Friendly Point Cartwright
One of the most dog-friendly spots on the Sunshine Coast is Point Cartwright, next to the Mooloolah River, and a 90 minute drive from Brisbane.
It’s best to visit Point Cartwright before 8am or after 4pm, when the majority of the area becomes off-leash. However, if you visit during the middle of the day, part of the reserve is still off-leash, as well as the adjacent ocean-facing Buddina Beach, in between beach access 198 and 201 (near Gulai Street).
However, it’s after 4pm when the point really becomes a paradise for dogs. Far more of the reserve becomes off-leash, as well as the foreshore along the Mooloolah River, in between the the river mouth and the far end of La Balsa Park. It’s a gorgeous stretch of calm water, just perfect for dog paddles next to the sand bar.
It’s best to park at the carpark at the end of Pacific Boulevard, and check out the sign at the start of the reserve showing which areas are off-leash all day long, or just before 8am or after 4pm.