THINGS are changing so rapidly in Brisbane these days, blink and you might miss all the funky happenings in the Queensland capital. From cafes, to shops, restaurants, bars and all the quirky spots in between, here’s an Insider’s Guide to some cool things to do in Brisbane – corners of the city that you simply have to explore for yourself.
1- Charlotte’s Web – Charlotte Street
Wandering around Charlotte Street and surrounds is a wonderful web of some of Brisbane’s most intriguing experiences.
Start in Charlotte Street with John Mills Himself – a café and bar – which uses all-local and organic coffee and produce where possible.
At the same address, you’ll find Archives Fine Books which stocks specialty tomes.
Head towards adjacent Albert Street for a host of Mediterranean dining experiences at Jeremy’s, Pane e Vino, Café Mondial and Gelattissimo.
In nearby Albert Lane, you’ll find cheap and cheerful eateries such as Little Singapore.
Albert Lane also boasts the uber cool Skatebiz where hipsters can eyeball skateboards and roller blades to their heart’s content.
A little further up, in Elizabeth Arcade, discover Violent Green, a boutique which specialises in local and international fashion, with a bit of a dark twist.
For something more upmarket and in the other direction towards the river, Restaurant Two is Brisbane fine-dining on a plate.
Work off some of the award-winning dishes served here across the road at the Botanic Gardens where you can partake in a free guided walk or hire a bike.
After dark, head down to The Laneway, a cocktail bar hidden away in Spencer Lane off Margaret Street.
2- Wicked Wickham – Wickham Terrace
The hills up and around Wickham Terrace are alive with the sound of music, and from one of the most incongruent venues imaginable.
Just recently, clever creative souls decided to open up the old Spring Hill Reservoir to Opera in the Reservoir, a pop-up event which takes advantage of the supreme acoustics here.
For authentic Lebanese cuisine head to Al Beik Lebanese and Holy Moly Espresso sits up here too.
Also up on Spring Hill is the Spring Hill Café Deli, which serves such delights such as a peaches and cream milkshake. Or grab some of their delectable deli produce and wander down to the Roma Street Parklands for a picnic.
Be sure to check out the tropical gardens and languid lake here before stopping at Melange Café for a coffee or High Tea.
For a caffeine hit with a splash of theatre continue on towards Ann Street and to the pop-up Glen’s Espresso. First-timers here receive a cuppa for $1 if Glen thinks you are good looking.
Shake shoulders with Brisbane’s big wigs a little further along George Street at Cicada, a café, restaurant and bar, frequented by the city’s legal eagles.
3- Queen Bee – Queen Street Mall
A visit to Brisbane isn’t complete without a stroll down the Queen Street Mall and surrounds.
Wear your walking shoes, as this is a shoppers’ paradise, with everything from the mainstream to high-end stores which epitomise Queens Plaza at the bottom of the Mall.
We’re talking the likes of Louis Vuitton, Paspaley Pearls and Tiffany & Co here. Australia’s first Forever 21 store has just opened in Queen Street and Zara is slated to open soon.
Also check out Brisbane Arcade, Rowes Arcade and Tattersall’s Arcade for a variety of shopping experiences.
To sustain this fashion frenzy, grab a sugar hit at the upmarket Chocolate Moments, which has a store in both Queen Street and adjacent Albert Street, and serves some of the finest chocolate in the land.
For an afternoon caffeine injection, head to Brew, tucked away in Burnett Lane, between Adelaide and Queen Streets.
Burnett Lane is also home to SuperWhatNot, which opens from mid-afternoon until late and serves craft beer, wine and an impressive cocktail list.
Jamie Oliver’s Jamies Italian will also be opening in mid to late November in nearby Adelaide Street.
4- Astor La Vista Baby – Astor Street
Astor Street sits on its high horse up on Brisbane’s terraces, and deservedly so. It is also the ideal perch from which to wander in search of some of the best caffeine in the Queensland capital.
Trundle down the hill towards Creek Street and you’ll discover Bikini Red Salad Bar which oozes a variety of healthy offerings from salads, omelettes, juices, yoghurts and fruit.
For a taste of the Mediterranean, check out Saffron on Creek bistro.
Sated and pious, head to nearby Adelaide Street and Brisbane’s first coffee roastery, opened in 1970, for a cuppa which has stood the test of time.
For something more modern, head further down Creek Street towards the river and stop in at Bar Linea Espresso.
Further down towards the river at Queen Street, you’ll find Cremosa Espresso Bar, one of three in the city, which touts itself as a true Italian espresso bar experience boasting some of the best baristas as well as paninis, pastries, and coffee, of course.
5- Crossing Macrossan – Macrossan Street
Perched in pole position within walking distance of the CBD on one side and Fortitude Valley on the other, Macrossan Street has something for everyone from its riverside location, including the upmarket Ecco Bistro.
During daylight hours, wander along the waterfront and you’ll soon hit the Riverside precinct with arguably the best dining in Brisbane.
Choose from some of the headline acts such as Esquire, Sake, Jellyfish and Pony for a wide variety of chefs and cuisine.
A huge range of coffee shops, offering multi-million dollar views of the Story Bridge, also frequent this precinct.
After the sun sets, head in the other direction to Fortitude Valley, Brisbane’s best nightlife location with everything from The Beat Megaclub to the more intimate Bowery bar.
Cloudland, along Ann Street, is a destination in itself, with 5000 plants climbing 14-metre walls and its trademark bar constructed from 19,000 crystal balls. There are floors and floors of booths, bars and restaurants here.
6- 50 Shades of Grey – Grey Street
The name of this street is a little misleading, as it’s all about colour and life along Grey Street and its surrounds.
Sitting along South Bank, there’s plenty to do whether it’s shopping in boutiques such as Akuti, Izabel Shoes and Nancy King, or fine dining along the riverfront at places like Stokehouse, Poppolo and Cove.
In the other direction along the river, head to Brisbane’s cultural precinct comprised of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Museum South Bank, Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), and State Library of Queensland.
In one day, you can investigate your family history, explore the dinosaurs, see a show, admire Australian artists, dine and shop while indulging in pretty park surrounds with city views.
For a really cool experience, the Soleil Pool Bar, at Bacchus in nearby Glenelg Street, is one of the hottest new hangouts.Back on Grey Street, check out The Charming Squire, James Squire’s new brew bar which focuses on craft beer and delicious dishes.