Holidaying in new cities or foreign countries with the family can be so rewarding, but with uncertainty around travel still lingering, a family staycation in your hometown can be a great alternative. Truly! There’s no passport or VISA needed, no pre-travel COVID tests or health insurance required. Plus, there are ways that you can maximise the experience so that you really feel like you’ve had a refreshing change of pace and scenery. Be a Fun Mum writer Cath Johnsen recently enjoyed a staycation at Brisbane’s Crystalbrook Vincent Hotel. Here are her tips for organising the best family staycation possible.
1. Book a hotel you’ve never stayed at before.
Don’t be tempted to stay at home and do daytrips to see the sights. As easy and budget friendly as that seems, the physical activity of packing your bags and checking into a hotel is like a mental cue that checks you into holiday mode. Getting the kids to help pack the suitcase will also help them to feel excited about their holiday. For many people, half the fun of travelling is in the organisation and anticipation of the break, so take time to enjoy the planning process. Tip: check out the hotel you want to stay at online first, to ensure it is family friendly.
At the Crystalbrook Vincent, located at the trendy Howard Smith Wharves precinct of Brisbane, there are dedicated family rooms available (pictured). These rooms have views over the wharf area and can cater for a family of four, with one king sized bed and one queen bed. Alternatively, if you feel like surprising the family with ultra-luxurious accommodation, their two-bedroom suite with a large balcony boasts stunning river views.
2. Draft an itinerary for your staycation
Meandering around a city without an agenda and discovering hidden treasures can be a delight, but if you have small children in tow, it’s probably best to have a plan in place. When you’re drafting your itinerary, don’t forget to check what the hotel itself offers. At the Crystalbrook Vincent, there is a stunning rooftop infinity pool (pictured) that the kids will love, so throw in the swimmers and floaties. For independent swimmers, parents can kick back on the sun lounges and watch the kids in the pool, which feels as though you are swimming right underneath Brisbane’s iconic Storey Bridge.
For art loving kids, the Crystalbrook Vincent also showcases 500 artworks by renowned Australian Artist, Vincent Fantauzzo. Art tours are available, but even without a tour, children of all ages will enjoy marvelling at Fantauzzo’s painted portraits that look so lifelike, it seems as though they’ve been photographed. Tip: Check out what your hotel can offer, as many of these activities are free, and factor them into your itinerary.
3. Park the car and try other modes of transport
A lot of people say that the most relaxing holidays are the ones where you park your car, unpack your bag and then don’t move again until it’s time to go home. It’s possible to do this with a city staycation, as you can make use of the many public transport options available. For many kids, a train ride, bus trip or ferry/boat cruise is an exciting outing, and not just a mode of transport.
In Brisbane, the City Hopper ferry is free and runs every 30 minutes, seven days per week. It’s a relaxing way to see the sights from a different vantage point. There are also two free bus services in Brisbane City – route 40 which stops at popular locations around town including Queen Street Mall and QUT. The other (route 30), is called the Spring Hill Loop and stops at landmarks such as Post Office Square and the Old Windmill Observatory.
If you’re staying at the Crystalbrook Vincent, there are gorgeous, flat, riverfront walks in both directions – one way will lead you to New Farm Park, and the other will take you past Eagle Street Pier and towards the CBD and Brisbane Botanic Gardens. The Crystalbrook Vincent also has bicycles for hire, or you can throw in the kids’ scooters and rollerblades/rollerskates. Tip: Wherever you’re staying, it can be helpful to look up the public transport options in advance. You can also look at the location on Google Maps to get a feel for what’s nearby.
4. Make the most of free activities
Nearly all cities are home to a plethora of excellent institutions such as museums and art galleries, and entry is usually free. A number of these also offer children’s programs and activities. In Brisbane, our picks are:
- Museum of Brisbane https://www.museumofbrisbane.com.au/
- Queensland Museum https://www.qm.qld.gov.au/
- Maritime Museum https://maritimemuseum.com.au/
- Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art https://maritimemuseum.com.au/
You can also check out your local events calendar to find out what is happening in your city. In Brisbane, check out Brisbane Kids to find out what family friendly festivals and events may be scheduled during your staycation.
5. Go Green
Our cities are home to sprawling green spaces with excellent playgrounds that make a pleasant change from your regular neighbourhood park. This is a great opportunity to break up the excitement and bright lights of the city with a calmer, nature experience.
In Brisbane, the sprawling Brisbane Botanic Gardens offer lovely walks along the river and through the gardens, guided tours, an impressive playground and café.
Another must-see park is Roma Street Parklands. Again, this beautifully maintained expanse of gardens offers a playground, café, guided tours, walks and even a train ride that meanders throughout the grounds.
A little-known city park is Captain Burke Park at Kangaroo Point. The free City Hopper ferry stops here, and the park offers a playground and even a “beach” frontage onto the Brisbane River.
And of course, there is the award-winning South Bank Parklands, that are located only a city-cat ride away. You’ll want to pack a beach bag and spend some time at Streets Beach!
6. Eating out with kids
Planning and booking ahead for meals can be a holiday saver… there’s nothing that will dampen the holiday mood more than dragging tired, hungry kids around looking for somewhere suitable to eat. In Brisbane, the Crystalbrook Vincent’s position in the heart of the Howard Smith Wharves precinct (and a short walk to Eagle Street Pier) means there’s an abundance of dining options. At Howard Smith Wharves, there’s even a playground in the middle of the restaurant area, which can keep fidgety kids occupied while you’re waiting for your meal! If you’re keen to stay in, the hotel has a range of dining options, including the Polpetta restaurant (pictured).
7. Choose your own adventure
Depending on the age of your children, you may like to book an adventure activity. Nothing says family bonding more than teetering on the edge of a cliff together, ready to (safely) make the plunge down the rocky face with the support of your abseiling harness. Tip: Research what adventure activities are available in your city, such as indoor skydiving. In Brisbane, there’s a number of options, including:
- Rock climbing or abseiling https://riverlife.com.au/tours/
- Storey Bridge Adventure Climb https://storybridgeadventureclimb.com.au/
- Hire a boat and cruise the Brisbane River (no license required) https://goboat.com.au/brisbane/
There’s never been a better time to be a tourist in your own city!
About the Crystalbrook Vincent Hotel
The Crystalbrook Vincent prides itself on its environmentally conscious approach. Carved into a soaring cliff face underneath Brisbane’s historic Story Bridge, Crystalbrook Vincent offers sustainable amenities (100% waste-free bathroom), up-cycled fittings and a single-use-plastic-free environment. Guest key cards are made from recycled wood, coat hangers are made from recycled paper, and toothbrushes made from sugar cane and corn starch.
Six storeys high, Crystalbrook Vincent Hotel features 166 spacious rooms and suites with an in-room tablet control centre, 55” Smart TV with STAYCAST for video streaming, complimentary movies, a Nespresso machine with recyclable pods and free Wi-Fi! It also boasts two signature restaurants and bars; Polpetta Italian kitchen and bar, and rooftop pool and bar, Fiume. There is a 24-hour reception area, featuring original artworks and prints by Vincent Fantauzzo. A fully-equipped gymnasium and onsite parking complete the stay.