Malanda is the center of the Crater Lakes and Waterfalls district of the Atherton Tablelands. Rainforests and dairy farms cover the fertile volcanic soils that were formed at the same time as the pristine rainforest-fringed crater lakes.
Dairy farming and other agricultural activities form the backbone of the local economy, and the Malanda Milk Factory outputs around a million litres of fresh milk every week. Tours of the factory can be arranged at the Malanda Dairy Center, which also has a dairy history museum and restaurant.
Not far from the town are the Mungalli Creek Bio-dynamic Dairy, and Gallo Dairyland, both open to visitors. Mungalli Creek Dairy produces fresh organic, bio-dynamic milk, yoghurt, and soft cheeses. The cheesery teahouse offers lunch, coffee, and cakes, with views of Mt Bartle-Frere, the highest mountain in Queensland.
Malanda has a historic hotel built from magnificent forest timbers in the early part of the 20th century. It claims the title of the 'largest timber building in the southern hemisphere'. With a famous ball room, and elegant dining, the Malanda Hotel is famous for entertainment and hospitality.
The Majestic Theatre offers films in a style and tradition of the golden years of cinema dating back to the 1920s, including the original 'potato sack seating'. The historic theatre is also home of the Malanda Theatre Company who put on 2 or 3 productions per year.
The headwaters of the Johnston River flows out of the rainforest and enters the town at Malanda Falls, where it falls into a swimming pool at Malanda Falls Environmental Park. The Malanda Falls Visitor Centre offers a fascinating exhibit of the natural and cultural history of the area. Visitors can swim in the river swimming pool or take a rainforest walk on the trails that start at the visitor center.
Like most agricultural towns in Australia, Malanda hosts an annual agricultural show.
Accommodation can be found at the hotel, motel, and various bed and breakfast, homestay, and farmstay venues around the township and nearby district. There is also a caravan park at Malanda Falls.