The Gold Coast is a touristy city loved for its long sandy beaches, unique waterways and inland canals. It is found south of Brisbane, on the east coast of Australia. The weird thing is that the Gold Coast is an area but also a city. If you are heading to Queensland, probably the first thing you will google is ‘Gold Coast Things To Do’ as you prepare for your vacation. Whether you are flying in or planning a road trip, you will love this sunny destination.
The Gold Coast boasts many theme parks, rare species of flora and fauna, world-famous beaches, loads of nightlife and restaurants, as well as hiking trails – that all helps to make it extra special. You’ll be so pleased you selected the Gold Coast for your next vacation. Exploramum is considered one of Australia’s top family bloggers and is now based on The Gold Coast, so our tips are up to date, and tried and tested by us.
Here are some of the top places to visit and our list of Gold Coast Things to do.
Gold Coast Things to Do
Probably the number one listed item for Gold Coast things to do is to learn to surf or go surfing. Because this area has amazing beaches along its long coastline. These include the Kirra Beach, Mermaid Beach, Main Beach, Kurrawa Beach, Palm Beach, Burleigh Heads, and of course the Surfer’s Paradise.
You will be amazed by the beautiful view of the ocean as you take in some cool breeze. Feel free to bring along your surfing boards and ride along with the waves. You and your family could also have a picnic on the beachfront and have some fun time playing games and reflecting on life in general.
Do not be afraid to help your kids build castles on the sand. It could be the final glue that strongly binds the family together and helps make fun family memories too.
The peacefulness and beauty of this place are attributed to the luxurious marina that surrounds it. You will be amazed by the great number of luxury boats docked at the marina. Stroll beside the water as you admire the beauty of nature and the ingenious inventions of humans.
Sanctuary Cove also has a golf course for all golf lovers. International boat shows, wine and food fairs, motor shows, and international film festivals are also held in the area every year.
Sanctuary Cove has a number of restaurants that you might want to hop into for some delicious cuisine. There is everything from fish and chips, pizza to a five-star dining experience as you sit overlooking the water.
Mt. Tambourine – Skywalk Viewing Platform
You will get a beautiful view of the Gold Coast while at the top of this mountain.
Mt. Tamborine is a great place to go for a weekend away. One of the favourite attractions is the Skywalk Viewing Platform. Here overlooking the tropical rainforest, beautiful butterflies may be seen.
Hang gliders take off from this height to have an even better view of the Gold Coast. You will probably spot some of them flying high in the skies as you approach this mountain.
Do not hesitate to pop into the wineries in the area for some wine tasting experience.
Other attractions to be seen include a glow worm cave and waterfalls at the Curtis Falls. Be fascinated by the beautiful flora and fauna of the tropical forest as you continue with your hike.
Feel free to stop and take a bite at any of the quaint cafés and pubs in the area.
Emerald Lakes French Quarter
Gold Coast Things to lists rarely include this incredible hidden gem. Tucked away in Emerald Lakes is the beautiful French Quarter. The feel of Europe comes to the Gold Coast with its own rustic-style building, lakefront restaurants & cafés, and even a piazza.
Their wonderful Thursday afternoon – evening market is also a perfect time to stroll around and forget which continent you are in. Finding their own Statue of David is the icing on the cake!
Budds Beach is a hidden gem that is actually a small area of the Gold Coast that is often the stomping ground for the Spanish and Portuguese speaking tourists and residents. It’s a popular place for fishing, kayaking and sunset picnics. There are also free BBQ’s in the park along the sandy shoreline.
We had a really fun day in a round motorboat from Coasting Around. They hold up to ten people and you can hire and Esky or BBQ for onboard too. We brought our own picnic banquet and wine and love the time on the water. Highly recommend this for family fun or some quality time with friends.
Gold Coast is home to several waterfalls. Some of these are actually safe to swim under. It is an experience you probably never wish to miss. So don’t forget to carry along your swimming gear and take a journey to any of the sites hosting the waterfalls.
The Twin Falls at Springbrook National Park could be a great place to start. You can also make a splash at the Cougal Cascades in Currumbin Valley, Elabana Falls in Lamington National Park, Killen Falls in Tintenbar, Purling Brook Falls and Warringa Pool in Springbrook National Park, Unicorn Falls in UKI, Northern NSW and Cronan Creek Cascades in Mount Barney.
The choice is all yours for the taking.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary has numerous bird and animal species both from Australia and from around the world. These animals include red panda, wombats, and koalas, which offer a good opportunity for photo moments with the family. This sanctuary has a waterpark that is likely to excite the whole family.
Try hard not to miss the bird shows or the crocodile feeding shows. You could probably confirm with the management the right time to visit the park to avoid missing such moments.
The lorikeets are the most famous, and hand-feeding is a fun thing to do for all the family.
Also, note that the sanctuary is on a very expansive land. So keep walking deeper into the woods since the fun gets greater with every step made. Hoping you get amazed by the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital that’s located towards the back of this park. Visitors are allowed to watch the activities going on in this hospital through a glass wall/window. Give it a try and have fun.
Visit Q1 Spa, Viewing Restaurant or Climb the Q1 Viewing Platform
Some people believe that this is Australia’s tallest residential building as the building seems to stretch to the skies. Q1 has spacious rooms and comfortable beds that make it a home away from home. Relax your mind by taking a dive into Q1’s large pool during the day or in the dark at nightfall.
If you can, make sure to head to Skypoint where the view is the closest thing to flying over the city. You will get to feel like you are having a drone inspection of Surfers Paradise from behind the safety of the glass windows.
We always ‘splash out’ and purchase the ticket that includes the food and drinks option. This allows you to have the ultimate experience as a guest. Enjoy a mouthwatering buffet breakfast at the rooftop of the building as you have the most extraordinary view of this beautiful city.
Cavill Avenue Mall & Surfers Paradise
There are numerous attractions in the area of Surfers Paradise, including the Cavill Mall, which is famously known for its restaurants. Buskers play at night, there are often performers and it’s a great place for an evening stroll.
At the end of Cavill Avenue is the famous Surfers Paradise Arch that leads to the Surfers Paradise white sandy beach. Here you will experience the breathtaking view of the ocean.
Along Cavill Avenue and the beachfront, you may also want to spend a minute helping one of the street folk that now call this place home. With almost perfect weather, the sandy beaches often become the destination for those on a tight budget, and a great place where you can perform a random act of kindness.
There are heaps of shops in and around Cavill Avenue in Surfers Paradise. There are great arcades to explore and lots of things to do in the city. Often there will be pop up art exhibitions, art lessons and more – check out the city guides for what’s on when you visit.
Attend Gold Coast Events and Festivals
Numerous events and festivals are held in the region every year. They range from sports to art and music events. What’s more is that some of these events, such as the famous Blues on the Broadbeach, are absolutely free to attend. If you didn’t know, Blues on the Broadbeach is Australia’s biggest free music festival.
Sample some of the musical works of Australia’s musical icons as you get wowed with the raw talent showcased on this stage. The event happens for four consecutive days during the month of May. So choose your best day and turn up for a time of your life. If you are fascinated by art and culture, then you might be interested in the Bleach Festival.
Check out events at HOTA – just over Chevron Island bridge. Sunday mornings boasts a market, and there are free concerts from time to time. A new multi-million dollar walking bridge now connects Chevron Island to the HOTA property.
Other events on the Gold Coast include the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show and Quiksilver Pro Surfing Event, which are sporting competitions meant to fill you with nostalgia as you watch both men and women battle it out for a top spot.
Go Whale Watching
Humpback whales are frequently spotted in the Gold Coast waters from the month of May to October. During this time, adult whales and calf are seen moving in the water. Getting closer to these animals gives the kind of thrill that could probably last a lifetime. So, never hesitate to bring along the whole family. You should consider hiring the services of a reputable agency for a whale watching tour.
However, you can still go whale watching at absolutely no fee. All you need is binoculars and some good zoom lenses, then head to an elevated point such as the Currumbin roads, Greenmount, or Point Danger.
These among many other points offer a good opportunity to view whales.
Night Markets at the Beachfront & Miami Marketta
The Miami Marketta is a must-visit for foodies. The place has over 20 food vendors with each selling uniquely prepared delicious cuisine from different parts of the world. Try sampling an Italian, Greek, or Japanese food and wash it all in with a cocktail. Food prices are generally cheap as opposed to what is charged on drinks.
Regardless, don’t rush into buying anything. Instead, you should first take a tour of the whole market. This gives you a clue on the food varieties and available offers, allowing you to make the best choice. The market is on several late afternoons and evenings each week, so check the visitor centre to find out when.
Or there is the night market that is at the end of Cavill Avenue along the foreshore. Take a stroll along the mall, and then turn left or right through a myriad of market stalls.
And if the weather is inclement, then Chop Chop is a great permanent undercover food eatery in Surfers Paradise.
Whether you’d like to try your hand at fishing for the first time as a beginner or head out on a chartered boat, there are plenty of places to fish. Head to the Nerang River, stand along the foreshore, relax at Lake Coombabah or sail out beyond the broad waters.
Visit Theme Parks & Thrilling Entertainment
This is a must-do for the family with kids. Gold Coast has some of the best theme parks in the country. These include Dreamworld, Sea World, and Wet’n’Wild.
Seaworld close to Surfers Paradise offers a number of animal adventures. You could do the Shark Bay or Sea Aqua adventure. Maybe take a tour of the Bear Shore and have a thrill of a lifetime. If you have done Seaworld before, then you can try the remaining two –Wet’n’Wild or Dreamworld.
And if you can’t get to the theme parks, there is also some entertainment in the city on Cypress Avenue which includes a Bungee ride, and mini-golf amongst other things.
Questions and Comments
If you are planning a holiday, what are the things to do on the Gold Coast that you’d be tempted to see and do?
It is always nice hearing from our readers.
Hope you will share your experiences with us once you visit any of these places. All feedback and ideas are appreciated.