Sandgate, Brighton and Shorncliffe:
Things to do

18 JANUARY 2023

Remember walking barefoot through a beachside village, the sound of the ocean shifting in the air and a sea breeze washing over your skin? You can channel that nostalgic feeling along the gorgeous bayside stretch of Shorncliffe, Sandgate and Brighton on Brisbane’s northside, a 25-minute drive from The City. The quaint seaside vibe remains but bustling bars and cute cafes have injected fresh energy into the area. You’ll want a day to explore, so reserve your weekend and tick these top attractions off your list.

01. Snap the sunrise over the sea

The mix of purples, pinks, oranges and yellows and the mirror image reflected in the water when the tide is in entices an army of keen photographers to set up their tripods to catch the perfect Sandgate sunrise. The best vantage points are anywhere along Flinders Parade from Sandgate to Brighton and beside Shorncliffe Pier.

02. Walk or ride along the waterfront

Hit the bike paths and walkways early morning or early evening and you’re guaranteed to get stunning skies, bay breezes or a combo of the two. The tracks are completely flat and play areas abound so the kids can cut loose while you stroll.

03. Drink coffee with the locals

There are plenty of great cafes popping up all the time but we recommend the coffee at Satori Organics (it also does turmeric lattes for those skipping the caffeine), Myrtle & BlossomBangin BeansCafé Bohemia3 Blind Mice CaféCypherMug Shots Espresso and Baaia at Sandgate; The Wired OwlMatthew Thomas and Preece’s on the Park at Shorncliffe; and Eclectea and Wunderbar Coffeehaus at Brighton. Special mention goes to Coffee Warden in Sandgate, which opens its doors at 5am daily.

04. Eat all the fish and chips

Along the Sandgate waterfront, you’re spoilt for choice with Sandgate Fishmonger’s critically acclaimed calamari and gluten-free batter, Doug’s huge portions and the popular Flinders Seafood and Bar. Just around the corner at Shorncliffe is Shelley Inn which has cracking calamari and a lovely view of Cabbage Tree Creek.

05. Pull up a seat at a local bar

The local bar scene is all about quality over quantity. Check out a live gig at Cardigan Bar and BYO food for a bar-based picnic at Mr Henderson. Open seven days a week, Bluenose Betty is home to possibly the prettiest little beer garden in Sandgate. Eclectea at Brighton is packed with locals and visitors on weekends, lured by its craft beers on tap and solid eats. For pub-seekers, the Full Moon Hotel is a local institution with an impressive menu, expansive drinks list and cracking water views.

06. Get fresh seafood at Shorncliffe

The fishers selling straight from their trawlers along Sinbad St at Shorncliffe deliver some of the freshest, sweetest and best value prawns in Brisbane. Get down there early. Take cash. Buy in bulk. Feast for days.

07. Seek thrills and surf the sea breeze

When the winds pick up, the sky at Sandgate fills with kite surfers taking advantage of the gusty conditions. Get in touch with local company Surf Connect for lessons and gear hire.

08. Seek chills and go paddling

Surf Connect also organises everything you need for a spot of stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking if your vibe is more chiller than thriller.

09. Play golf at a genuine 1920s golf club

Sandgate Golf Club is flat and straight, has nine holes and the icy cold schooners at the end of a game are worth walking the green. Tee it up.

10. Eat delicious food 

IlForno Pizzeria brings the Italian goodness you’re craving with the duck and hoisin pizza rightly dominating orders. Also try the Full Moon Hotel for premium pub food, The Sands Social for big family dinners, Eclectea for Friday night burgers and beers and the abundance of fish ‘n’ chippers for seafood feasts. Food trucks often frequent Mr Henderson and Cardigan Bar on weekends too. 

11. Let your pooch roam free

The off-leash dog area at Decker Park in Brighton is a popular pooch haunt and it’s right by the water if you fancy a swim at high tide.

12. Refresh your wardrobe with sustainable fashion 

The area’s op-shop game is strong with vintage, retro and second-hand stores dotting the streets across Sandgate and Brighton. Bring a tote bag and set aside half a day to get lost among the racks and shelves.

13. Get fresh organic fruit, veg, meat and pastry treats

The Satori Boutique Farmers Market on Wednesday and Sunday mornings bring people from across the northside to get their organic fruit and veg. The sourdough loaves and pastries available on Sundays are epic. Also, check out Sandgate Village Markets on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month at Einbunpin Lagoon and for 100 per cent certified organic meat, head to Jason’s Quality Meats on Queens Parade.

14. Step back in time at Sandgate Historical Society and Museum 

Did you know the Sandgate Hotel opened in 1858 and was started by a bloke named Charles Davie? And that there was a soft drink factory in the suburb back in the day? All these facts and more are waiting to be discovered at the Sandgate Historical Society & Museum. It’s open on Wednesdays and Sundays from 10am-3pm.

15. Swim in or by the sea

Sandgate Aquatic Centre is right on the waterfront and has plenty of family-friendly areas for the kids to splash about. You can also take a dip at high tide down at the Brighton end of Flinders Parade, opposite Decker Park. There’s even a little beach there, so bring a bucket and spade to build your dream sandcastle.

Markets at Beitz Place in Sandgate.

Markets at Beitz Place, Sandgate

16. Inspect historical houses

Sandgate and Shorncliffe are full of Heritage homes and most happen to be located along the waterfront, which is a stunning stroll in its own right. Check out this awesome guide from Everywhere History on the best route to take to peep amazing abodes.

17. Pack a picnic 

Parks, barbecue facilities and shaded tables abound across all three suburbs but our picks include the waterfront at Sandgate, Decker Park in Brighton, next to Shorncliffe pier and next to Einbunpin Lagoon.

18. Hook a whopper

You can wet a line nearly the whole way along the waterfront at high tide but keen anglers prefer the Brighton end opposite Decker Park and off Shorncliffe Pier.

Small groups of people walking along Shorncliffe Pier.
Shorncliffe Pier, Moreton Bay Region

19. Wander along Shorncliffe Pier

The pier was completely refurbished in 2016 and is an absolute stunner. It’s well worth a stroll out to take in the sea breezes or even cast a line. For foodies, The Long Table Dinner each year is a chance to wine and dine on the landmark. Go on, give in to pier pressure.

20. Catch a show at Sandgate Town Hall

The heritage-listed Sandgate Town Hall was built in 1912 after its predecessor burned down. It’s a lovely little slice of Brisbane history with a clock tower and an adjoining library. It also hosts music and theatre, so try to line up your visit with a show.

21. Stargaze at one of the best vantage points in Brisbane

Visitors flock to Sandgate when astronomical events are high in the sky – think eclipses, full moons and stargazing. Clear skies, low light and a high vantage point in front of the Full Moon Hotel (it’s not just a clever name) attract plenty of folks and their telescopes.

22. Browse cute boutiques and knick-knack shops

Just behind The Wired Owl coffee shop is Old Favourites, a cute little antique and furniture store where it’s easy to lose yourself. Also try Atrium or Gate’s Edge for head-turning boutique fashion and Victoria’s Bling or Something About Audrey for fashion and bespoke homewares, gifts, jewellery, handbags and accessories.

23. Sail (or watch it)

Sandgate Yacht Club at Allpass Parade in Shorncliffe has races every second Sunday but if you prefer to keep your feet dry, Sandgate is an awesome place to watch the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race each Easter. It’s a majestic sight watching them jostle for a prime position as they leave Moreton Bay. Even more so when you can do it with a wine and hunk of cheese in hand, safely on shore.

24. Hear the siren song 

Music By The Sea is a monthly program of live music concerts at Sandgate Town Hall. Spend the first Saturday of each month immersing yourself in a new musical genre from classical and world music to folk and jazz. Performances in the 110-year-old hall feel more intimate than those in a large concert hall. 

25. Pat all the dogs

There are lots of dogs walking, playing and just being good boys and girls throughout Sandgate so those who feel the compulsive need to pat every doggo they see will find themselves in paradise.

A distant shot of a couple sitting on a tree trunk on a beach