Tourist Highlights of Cairns CBD City centre
Cairns in tropical North Queensland is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. Most people who visit Cairns specifically go to see the Great Barrier Reef (2.5 hour boat ride from Cairns) or visit the Daintree Rainforest (about 2 hours drive north of Cairns). So what is there to do within the Cairns City area? The short answer is lots!
Here are the Tourist Highlights within the Cairns City Central Business District:
Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome
Located right in the heart of Cairns city centre, on top of the Cairns Reef Casino and Hotel, is the very cool wildlife park called Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome. This is only a small, family run wildlife park but still has a good selection of Australian wildlife including native birds, reptiles, mammals and marsupials. It is also home to a massive Salt Water Crocodile called Goliath.
The ‘Zoom’ in the name refers to the rope obstacle course which hangs through the roof of the Dome, great activity for kids.
Read more about Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome
Cairns Lagoon is a free activity great for kids and the whole family. The Cairns City Council have done a great job creating this massive salt water pool, down on the Cairns waterfront, next to the Esplanade. There are nice grass sections where you can sit and there are free BBQs near by where you can cook up a BBQ feast.
Read more about Cairns Lagoon
Cairns Aquarium is a must visit for anyone who loves marine life. This is an awesome aquarium, and I have visited my fair share of aquariums around the world. This has many different tanks with marine life from all over Far North Queensland, including the tropical marine life on the Great Barrier Reef to fresh water ecosystems in the rainforests.
Read more about Cairns Aquarium
There is also a very cool restaurant at the Aquarium called Dundees at the Aquarium which has awesome Australian food and a massive fish tank at the back of the restaurant to dine with the fishies. Read more about Dundees at the Aquarium.
Cairns Esplanade Boardwalk
The Cairns Esplanade is the road that runs parallel to the waterfront. There is a park in front and then they have built an excellent pedestrian only wooden boardwalk right along the water front. Another free activity in Cairns, this is very popular in the mornings with people taking a walk or a jog along the boardwalk.
Right along the boardwalk, you will find a number of activities including Muddy’s Kids Playgrounds, free gym equipment, BBQ areas with free gas BBQs, skate park, basketball half courts and volleyball nets. There is also the best cafe in Cairns called Muddy’s Cafe.
The Cairns Esplanade is also one of the best dining precinct in Cairns, with the road lined with some of the best restaurants in Cairns. For the best burgers in Cairns, check out Hello Harry – The Burger Joint on the Esplanade.
Cairns Night Markets
Cairns Night Markets is a shopping arcade loaded with stalls selling traditional Australian products, arts and crafts. Open every day from 4.30pm – 10.30pm. There is also a food court located at the front of the markets and some food shops at the back entrance on Abbott Street. There is an entrance to the Cairns Night Markets on the Esplanade.
Read more about Cairns Night Markets
Cairns Marina is where you get the boats out to the Great Barrier Reef or to the islands close to Cairns like Fitzroy Island. There are also fishing tours and a very cool company that takes you on a jet ski down the Cairns harbour to look for salt water crocodiles in the marshlands. At the end of the Marina is a helicopter port where you can take a joy ride out to the Great Barrier Reef to see it from the sky.
The Cairns Marina is lined with a wooden boardwalk which links up to the Cairns Esplanade. Along this boardwalk are some great restaurants and cafes for dining along the waterfront. Check out Dundees Australian Waterfront Restaurant for some excellent fine dining Australia cuisine of steak or seafood.
Scenic Railway from Cairns to Kuranda
For a nice half day or full day trip from Cairns, I highly recommend getting the old Historical train from Cairns Station to the picturesque town of Kuranda, in the hills just north of Cairns.
Read more about Kuranda Scenic Railway Cairns
Dining in Cairns City Centre
There are loads of great restaurants all throughout the Cairns City Centre. The 2 top locations to dine are at the Esplanade and the Cairns Marina but all through the streets of the city centre you will find awesome restaurants and cafes. From cheap eats to fine dining, every type of cuisine including Chinese, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Australian cuisine, Indian and some classic fish and chips.
Check out some recommended restaurants in Cairns City Centre.