School Holiday Activities in Cairns Summer 2023

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In the search for holiday fun with the family, it can be difficult for parents to think of great school holiday activities in Cairns. Fret none – we have you covered! With all the hard work that goes in during the school term, it can be so easy to lose track of time and miss out on fun kids school holiday activities. We have prepared this list of things to do in Cairns with kids for you, to save time searching for the best activities to do in the school holidays in Cairns!

Cairns has got so much to offer, and the time is coming to make the most of it. Get out your backpacks, slap on your hats, and bring on the fun while you try out as many of these ‘must-do’ December & January 2024 school holiday activities as you can!

No matter what age your kids are, whether they are toddlers, primary or high school kids, or what type of school holiday fun you most enjoy, there is definitely some fun for you to have. Instead of staying in these holidays, get out and make the most of the beautiful Cairns weather and all the school holiday activities in Cairns!

We have compiled the complete guide to the best school holiday activities in Cairns over the summer school holidays to help make your life so much easier!

State schools finish on Friday 21 June and return to class on Monday 8 July 2024.

Winter school holidays in Queensland are Saturday 22 June to Sunday 7 July 2024.

Fun things to do for the Cairns school holidays

We have broken our list of Cairns school holiday activities into sections to help you:

As with everything at the moment, please check with the venue directly (either by their website or social media pages) to ensure they are open during the times you wish to attend. You should also check their current policy around advanced bookings, entry requirements and timings.

Ideas for 10 fun free school holiday activities in Cairns summer

Holiday fun doesn’t need to be expensive… in fact, it can be completely free! From strolling through all the natural wonders this beautiful city has to offer, to taking the kids on adventure playgrounds, these free school holiday activities won’t cost you a cent!

Cairns Botanic Gardens

Take your family out for a day at Cairns Botanic Gardens. These gardens – renowned as one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants in Australia – always has something for the family to do. View the upcoming workshops, talks, or classes, or choose from the variety of different walks and tours including a bird watching walk.

Visit here for more information about Cairns Botanic Gardens

Muddy’s Playground

Muddy’s is a fun splash playground and parkland which also includes a flying fox, track ride, rope bridge, and more – a great place to take the kids on a sunny day! Be sure to stop off at Muddy’s Café too if you didn’t already bring a packed lunch to enjoy together!

Click here for more information.

Cairns Art Gallery

As the 2020 Archibald prize winners, Cairns Art Gallery will always be the host to a day of beautiful masterpieces for you and your family to admire. Keep an eye on their ‘what’s on’ page to see what family fun events are coming up.

Go to Cairns Art Gallery’s website now!

Crystal Cascades

Hidden in this tropical rainforest is a secluded freshwater swimming hole, surrounded by nature and waterfalls. There are also picnic benches, BBQ’s and a walking track! Take the family for a day out exploring nature at Cairns’ very own Crystal Cascades.

Find out more here!

Centenary Lakes Nature Play

Take your family to Centenary Lakes these school holidays! By integrating creative play elements with the natural lakeside environment, this unique nature play space is unlike any other playground your family has seen before. Make sure to pack a picnic, use the BBQ facilities, and go on a walk through the trees while you’re there!

Head to their website for more details

Josephine Falls

The majestic Josephine falls is located just 1 hour south of Cairns, and is a day you won’t regret having. This tiered cascade waterfall trickles into a swimming hole which is safe for a swim! Make sure to fins the lookout for some incredible views! We wrote a detailed review about Josephine Falls here.

Plan your trip to Josephine Falls today!

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

What better way to cool off from the Cairns heat than by taking a dip in the Esplanade’s pristine, blue lagoon. The popularity of this pool is clear from all the families seen daily spending their time there. Surrounded by a walk along the Esplanade and fig tree playground, your day here will never fail to put smiles on your families faces!

Take a look at Cairns’ lagoon

Jungaljungal Walk

Get your walking boots on and your backpacks filled, ready for a walk through the wet tropic’s world heritage rainforest! This 8.2km circuit is on a grade 3 walking track and takes approximately 3.5 hours of walking. Stop along the way for a family picnic, and enjoy all the family-fun photo opportunities to keep the memories forever.

See all that’s on offer on the Jungaljungal walk

Morning out at Gallo Dairyland

Chocolate, cheese, and baby farm animals… Gallo Dairyland welcomes visitors to their working farm. Located between Atherton and Malanda, it is a 1 hour 20 minute drive from the centre of tow, and so worth the visit with kids.

Open from Weds – Sun, you can drop in to taste-test the farm’s boutique cheeses and stock up on handmade chocolates, before awwww-ing at the cute alpacas, piggies, goats and calves at the animal nursery.

It is free to visit and the cheese samples are free but if you want more than a sample, you will need to bring your wallet.

Find out more and plan your trip here.

Palm Cove Beach

What’s more Aussie than a day at the beach?! We all love spending time at the beach because there’s so much fun to be had. Sandcastles, boogie boarding, ice cream and more! Take the family on a day out to Palm Cove beach for a classic, fun Aussie day.

If you love free things to do in Cairns, then check out our detailed guide to even more free school holiday activities in Cairns here.

10 fun cheap school holiday activities in Cairns

Holidays can be great fun, and something the kids really love, without having to burn a hole in the bank. Check out these cheap school holiday ideas to find some great, cost-effective activities to do in Cairns this summer school holidays!

Bird World Kuranda

Visit one of Australia’s biggest collection of free-flying birds at Bird World! Located in Kuranda, with over 350 birds to be seen, it’ll keep the family busy for a few hours. You might also like to take one of the 45 minute riverboat rides while you’re there!

Have a look at all that’s on offer at Bird World Kuranda

Book your trip now by clicking here!

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

Visit the worlds first ever challenging ropes course in a wildlife park at Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome! Meet Australian wildlife, cuddle koalas, and zip line over a crocodile! There is so much fun to be had here, so don’t miss out!! Book your discounted tickets here now!

Visit their website to find out more!

Cairns Central – Event Cinema

Sit back and relax while you enjoy the newest films on the big screen with your family. This convenient holiday idea is a perfect indoor activity for a rainy day, but is also the perfect air-conditioned environment to escape the Queensland heat.

Find out what’s showing these holidays

Kuranda Koala Gardens

Located in the Kuranda Heritage Markets, Kuranda Koala Gardens is home to an amazing array of Australian animals, including wallabies, wombats, quokkas, gliders and freshwater crocodiles! Opportunities are also available for photos holding a Koala, and with a Python! So bring the family to Kuranda Koala Gardens today!

Click here to get your entry tickets!

And click here for more details about this amazing wildlife park.


Does your family love bowling?! For an evening that’s always enjoyed by everyone, head down to Go Bowling with the family, and let loose on the fun! Located at 93-95 Pease Street, Manoora in Cairns North, it is fun for the whole family and especially in very hot or wet weather.

Visit their website, and book your lane today!

Cairns aquarium

Located in the heart of Cairns, is the incredible aquarium, home to over 15,000 aquatic animals! Take your family exploring the underwater world on a day full of fun and adventure where there’s even the opportunity to swim with the sharks! No matter what age, all the children will be amazed by the what they see at Cairns aquarium. Grab your entry tickets now!

Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure Park

A day of adventures awaits at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure Park! Get up close to the crocodiles who can be found all over this holiday attraction park. With approximately 2,100 meters of boardwalks and pathways that visitors can walk through, be sure to visit all the different zones throughout the park with your family on a fun day out!

Get your tickets to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure Park today!

Cairns Kart Hire

Go Karting? Laser tag? Both these things are available at Cairns Kart Hire, so come down with the family, and let loose on the fun!

Visit Cairns Kart Hire to find out more

Kayaking at Babinda Creek

Take on the mini rapids in your kayak as you travel through the waters of Babinda Creek. Ride amongst the fish, turtles and platypi! Take one of either a half or full day tours, both perfect for the whole family.

Find out more about Babinda kayaking here

Timezone Cairns

Just an 8 minute walk from Cairns Central Shopping Centre is Timezone: where the fun doesn’t stop. Bumper cars, escape rooms, karaoke, glow golf and many more activities are available to fill your night – the kids will never want to leave!

Find out all that’s on offer at Timezone!

10 BIG days out in Cairns these school holidays

Sometimes it’s worth paying a bit more to create those memories that last a bit longer. Not everyone can say that they’ve been to the Great Barrier Reef, on a jungle swing, or on a hot air balloon ride, so why not make sure your family can!

Take a tour of The Great Barrier Reef

Enjoy 5 hours on the Great Barrier Reef and explore two exclusive sites with this tour from Cairns. Whether you’re a beginner snorkeler, or an advanced diver, everyone will have a blast on this tour! So click here to book your trip now on a luxury boat, complimented with a free glass of wine, cheese, and fruit platter on the return journey – there’s even live music on board!

Daintree Rainforest track tour

On this memorable rainforest tour, you and your family will join expert naturalist guides in the morning before heading out from either Cairns or Port Douglas along a wonderful coastal route. Arrive at the Daintree River for a morning tea break after taking in the breathtaking views of the Coral Sea. Finally, jump onboard a vessel for an informative guided river cruise straight into the heart of this incredible rainforest! Sounds good, right?!

Get your tickets now here!

Kuranda Skyrail

Spend your day exploring the gorgeous Kuranda region with this must-do day tour pass. With your Kuranda boarding pass, you and your family will travel to the base of the Kuranda Scenic Railway, and enjoy a relaxing, winding journey up one of Australia’s most scenic rail routes! So jump onboard with the kids these school holidays, and book now!

Adventure to Green Island

Embark on an exciting and scenic journey to the Great Barrier Reef with this Green Island and Outer Reef Platform Cruise from Cairns for one great price. This unique reef is overflowing with things to see and do, providing guests with access to the islands facilities including a swimming pool and cafés! Get the family out here, and don’t miss out on your adventure to Green Island!

Book your adventure pass to Green Island and the Great Barrier Reef!

Cairns Giant Jungle Swing

Cairns’ Giant Jungle Swing is one of Australia’s most unique adrenaline attractions which allows you – and up to 2 others – from heights of 45m, at speeds up to 120km/h! If you and your family are after an adrenaline rush these holidays, you can’t miss out on this giant Jungle Swing!

Book your ride now by clicking here!

Kuranda scenic railway

Discover the beauty of the Australian countryside on a fun-filled trip on Kuranda Scenic Railway – one of the most unique rail journeys in Australia, with over 120 years of history!

This ticket buys you the journey in the train’s classic Heritage Carriage where passengers can listen to educational, audio commentary and learn about the locations you and your family are riding past. Get your tickets now for this unforgettable day out!

Jet boat ride

Hop onboard the ‘bad fishy’: a turbo-charged jet boat, for 35 minutes of thrilling, high-speed fun! Keep your eyes peeled for marine and bird life – passengers have even seen crocodiles on their journey before too! As long as the family doesn’t mind getting a bit wet, this jet-boat ride will leave smiles glued to your faces! Book now for your families ride!

Horse riding tour

Just 10 minutes from Cairns, is a sugar cane farm where you and your family can enjoy your surroundings from on the back of a horse! Lasting for an hour and a half, there is so much to be seen on this riding tour. Plan your horse riding adventure, and book your tour now!

Day trip to Fitzroy Island

A tropical paradise only a 45 minute ferry ride from Cairns awaits you. Where the rainforest meets the reef lies this island jam packed with plenty to do! Visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, trek up to the Lighthouse for unbelievable views, snorkel and swim off the award-winning beaches, play on the ocean trampoline or hire out a kayak or stand up paddle board for hours of endless fun! Use this link (click here) to book your ticket, inclusive of the ferry ride and up to 6 hours of exploring at Fitzroy Island!

Hot air balloon flight

Fly over Port Douglas in a hot air balloon for the reef and rainforest views from high above! There’s nothing like flying in a hot air balloon with your family, taking in the panoramic views. It’s sure to be an experience you’ll all remember forever. To book your flight now, click here!

5 things to do at home these school holidays


Jump into the kitchen, put that chefs hat on, and whip up some sweet treats for the family to share! (Make sure to help your parents with the dishes afterwards too!)

Make a cubby house

Reorganise the couch cushions and blankets to create a secret den in the house! Get the whole family involved to build the ultimate play area.

Garden Sports

Family sports tournaments are a must-do event at least once in the school holidays. Parents vs kids or brothers vs sisters… bring on the competitive fun. 

Set up an obstacle course

Find out your hula hoops, skipping ropes and everything else you can find to set up the best obstacle course for all the family to try.

Board Games

You can’t go wrong with a good old board game. Whether it’s a big family game of Scrabble or Monopoly, or just a two player game of Chess or Connect Four, the fun just doesn’t stop!

Theatres with kids shows on in Cairns these school holidays

Cairns Performing Arts Centre

Enjoy the newest releases on the big stage with your family this summer . This theatre is family friendly, with shows to be enjoyed by the kids and adults! Their events guide is updated regularly so keep an eye on what’s coming up.

Find out what’s showing these holidays

Queensland kids holiday ideas

If you’re looking for more things to do in Queensland, click here.

Soooo…. what do you think? Plenty of Cairns days out ideas here to keep you and the kids entertained for the whole school holidays? These Cairns holiday ideas are updated every term, so remember to bookmark this page.

Let us know if we missed your favourite or if you would like us to add your venue or event!

Even more QLD school holiday ideas:

If you are heading south these Queensland school holidays check out our other articles:

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of school teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, an expert Queensland publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children including things to do with them over the school holidays. Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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