Cairns is a beautiful tropical garden city with lots of spacious landscaped gardens and parklands that are free to enjoy for a picnic, to play or just to relax with a book.
Whether you enjoy visiting the wetlands to watch and photograph the birdlife or you get more excited about tropical plants or even kid’s playgrounds, you will love exploring the free parks and gardens in and around Cairns.
Munro Martin Park
This is by our favourite park in Cairns.
It only opened in August 2016 after a year of development and it is just beautiful with tropical plants, vine-covered pergolas and lots of lawn to stretch out and enjoy a picnic or throw a frisbee.
It has a huge outdoor performance space with a large stage that has hosted ballet, opera, theatre, orchestras and music events.
The park is located right in the middle of Cairns and is locked at night.
It has public toilets and when the park is hosting events, there are often food stalls in the gardens. In the evenings the trees are lit up with fairy lights and Munro Martin Park becomes the most magical place to visit.
Cairns Botanic Gardens
If you want to learn more about the lush tropical foliage of the Far North Queensland, the Cairns Botanic Gardens in Edge Hill are the place to go.
And even if you’re not that into plants, the gardens are worth a visit just to soak up the peaceful atmosphere or to find a spot under a tree for a family picnic.
There are lots of little pathways to explore and an indoor orchid centre that’s definitely worth visiting too.
The grounds also include a café, toilets and an information centre.
Opposite the gardens you can also walk through a really nice wetland/mangrove park area. Just follow the boardwalks through to the Chinese gardens.
If you’re feeling a little more active, the Botanic Gardens are also close to the Mt Whifield walking tracks (red, green and blue arrow trails).
Plus a little further along you’ll find the Tanks Arts Centre, which hosts exhibitions, workshops, festivals, jazz, music events and monthly markets.
There are a few great parks and play areas along the foreshore of the Cairns Esplanade.
These including Muddy’s Playground, the Skatepark, the Pirate Ship Playground (at the end of the Esplanade closest to the airport) and The Treehouse Playground (opposite the Reef Casino and next to the Cairns Cruise Terminal).
The Esplanade Lagoon is also popular with the free swimming pool and lots of lawn area to spread out.
There is also a great walking track along the foreshore that starts at the Cairns Lagoon and goes all the way down towards the airport.
This is about 15-20 minutes south of Cairns city centre in the suburb of Edmonton.
Sugarworld Gardens is located beside the Sugarworld Waterpark (waterslides and swimming pools) and is a great place to ride bikes and scooters, have a game of frisbee, have a barbecue or play in the enormous fenced playground. It has plenty of play equipment to interest toddlers all the way up to teens with swings, climbing frames and much more.
There are also a few resident peacocks that wander around the gardens so if you are lucky you might see them. There are also toilets and plenty of parking available.
This picturesque park has a large lake brimming with birdlife and a spacious wildlife viewing platform for birdwatchers.
It’s a really beautiful parkland with a Chinese influence which can be seen in the sculptures and architecture around the park. It’s a great place to visit as the sun goes down.
Just be mindful of the ducks and geese, sometimes they can be a little too friendly.
This is in the northern beaches about 10-15 minutes north of the Cairns city centre.
There are a few large wetland lakes and a few pathways and walkways through the rainforest and around the lakes with beautiful views.
The wetlands is thriving with birds and wildlife and is a beautiful spot to visit early in the morning or in the late afternoon. There are plenty of viewing platforms and places to sit and soak up the surroundings. There are also toilets near the carpark.
This park in Brinsmead is a favourite with local families as there is plenty of room to ride bikes, take the dog for a walk or have a swim at the waterhole.
It’s not a landscaped park like most of the others, but its very spacious with lots of large trees providing good shade and its great fun for kids to explore.
There is also an adventure playground, picnic tables, toilets, picnic shelters and barbecues.