The view of South Bank, Brisbane from the Victoria Bridge.
The view of South Bank, Brisbane from the Victoria Bridge. Liana Turner

The river city has plenty to appreciate from all angles

Brisbane might be renowned for its river and the stunning parklands along its bank.

And there's no doubt these are a huge attraction.

But nothing will drive you to find a city's best indoor opportunities than an inescapably wet summer weekend.

With more cultural happenings than you can poke a stick at, however, there's no reason to avoid the sunshine state's capital when it's, well, sans sunshine.

The skies have opened in a torrential downpour, and the Mercure Hotel is filling with sports fans preparing to brave the wet Suncorp Stadium.

Thankfully, the Brisbane Comedy Festival is well and truly covered, and at its base of Town Hall, it's literally just across the road.

The sold-out opening gala is packed out with fans filling the auditorium to see the likes of Tom Gleeson, Matt Okine, Celia Pacquola, Sam Simmons and more.

When the laughs eventually dry up, there's plenty on tap at the handful of pubs and bars in walking distance of King George Square.

In the rain-washed city lights, Town Hall's clock tower is a spectacular sight, as the heritage-listed Albert Street Uniting Church - built in 1888 - offers a beautiful contrast to the modern buildings that tower over it.

Saturday morning, the rain has eased somewhat. That's a relief, as the schedule allowed for a morning helicopter flight over the city.

The clouds remained grim as we made the 15-minute drive to Mount Coot-tha, where we met our pilot.

Brendan Parker, who flies for S&S Aviation, often runs charter flights across the city, offering an entirely new way to see the river city.

Parker says offering visitors a different view of the city, somewhere between the views from a skyscraper balcony and the small glimpse you might get descending into Brisbane Airport, is a rewarding gig.

Even as dark, ominous clouds hung over the city, we managed to get airborne, skimming the edges of the rain.

From above, the slowly snaking nature of the Brisbane River became all the more obvious, and it's no surprise so many people have built their homes and lives around it.

In Aboriginal Dreaming, the Rainbow Serpent is said to have created the river, among others.

While it no doubt has a different meaning for the many who live and work near its waters and cross it each day, the river, with its flurry of ferries, many bridges and early-morning rowers, is a sight to behold.

While our time in the chopper was smoother than expected, if it's not your cup of tea there are options aplenty.

The nearby Mount Coot-tha lookout offers its own stunning views from Brisbane across to Moreton Bay and is a favourite for locals and visitors alike.

A host of walking tracks mean you can get in your exercise fix on the way up, while you can refuel at the cafe and restaurant at the summit.

From bird's eye view to an intimate experience, the Wheel of Brisbane offers a more grounded view of South Bank, the CBD and surrounds.

The Wheel of Brisbane can be found off Russell St in the South Bank Parklands and offers 360-degree views of the city's cultural heartland. Rides last for about 15 minutes, and each pod is air-conditioned.

Located right next to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and barely a stone's throw from the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, as well as the Queensland Museum, the Wheel offers a moment to pause and plan your next move in this artistically rich city.

The 335-tonne ferris wheel has been operating since August 2008 and can carry up to 332 people.

While the views from helicopter and wheel were both breathtaking in their own ways, the opening night of Brisbane's latest musical offered something close to cultural overwhelm.

For those with a love of history, the Museum of Brisbane is worth a visit.

Not to be confused with the (also fantastic) Queensland Museum based in South Bank, the Museum of Brisbane can be found in the Brisbane Town Hall building in King George Square.

Book your place on a free town hall tour, which will shed light on the incredible history - and quirky details - of this historic building.

The tour takes attendees into a basement level where signatures of soldiers heading to war - all of whom, miraculously, returned alive - can be found on a corridor wall, while the Town Hall's auditorium, which features a programmable LED ceiling, can be seen in all its splendour.

Clock tower tours are also available, while there's plenty to enjoy inside the museum itself.

The museum's Mao's Last Dancer exhibition will be on show until April 29.

When you've built up an appetite, there is no shortage of dining options across the city.

Welcome to Bowen Hills is a fresh, new market offering with a huge variety, while South Bank's Gauge restaurant brings fine dining and simplicity together in a truly delightful dining experience.

The writer was a guest of Brisbane Marketing


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