The Gold Coast is Australia’s theme park capital and it’s the number one destination for schoolies. But would you go with a baby? Is it worth it?
My husband and I road tested the Gold Coast with our 11 month old daughter and discovered a chilled, natural and super baby-friendly side to Australia’s sixth largest city.
Here, in no particular order is my list of the best things to do on the Gold Coast with a baby or toddler.
Grab a coffee at Dune Cafe, Palm Beach Parklands
Dune Cafe at Currumbin Lagoon is possibly my favourite spot on the Gold Coast. Not only can you get a great coffee, but the cafe is super conveniently located between the lagoon and the surf beach. What’s more it’s only a five minute drive from the airport so it’s a great place to let littlies crawl and explore after being cooped up on a plane.
There’s a large playground with a giant pirate ship as well as the obligatory swings and slides. Plus there’s a big grassy area for games and general running around.
At the cafe there is plenty of shaded seating and there are high chairs available to borrow. There’s also a kids corner with toys and blocks if you don’t have your own with you.
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The water in the lagoon is protected and fairly shallow, so it’s a good temperature for swimming with a baby. And if you want to venture to the beach, just walk across the sand dunes and you’re on the sand.
A quick word of warning, Lillson Beach (at the mouth of the lagoon) is a dog beach. So if you’re not a fan of dogs, we’d suggest heading north rather than south when you hit the sand.
Spend a day at Dreamworld
I’d never really thought of taking a baby to a theme park. Unless of course they were along for the ride with an older sibling. But we took our daughter to Dreamworld for a day and she loved it.
I think what makes Dreamworld a good day out with a baby is that it’s not all about the rides. The rides are fun, but the animal, cultural and entertainment experiences are things that babies can enjoy too.
The favourites with our 11 month old were:
- The train ride from Central Station
- The Wiggles show
- The sheep shearing show in the Woolshed
- Looking at the tigers on Tiger Island
- Watching the older kids learn an Aboriginal dance at Corroboree
Lunch and pelican feeding at Charis Seafood, Labrador
Another fun thing to do on the Gold Coast with a baby or toddler is have lunch at Harley Park.
While you’re there, Charis Seafood is a Gold Coast institution. The fish shop sells fresh seafood and there’s a large fish and chip counter where you can buy take away. But what makes this spot a great pick for families with babies and toddlers is the free pelican feeding.
Every day at 1.30pm, close to one hundred pelicans gather on the side of the broadwater to be fed by Charis Seafood staff. It’s a spectacle that draws a crowd of locals and travellers. So get there early and pick your spot on a park bench to watch the large birds fill their neck pouches with fishy treats.
After lunch there’s plenty of space for kids to burn off extra energy. There’s a sandy swimming spot, a bike path, lots of grass for running around and the Harley Park playground is well equiped with slides and swings.
Breakfast with the koalas at Paradise Country
Paradise Country is the Gold Coast’s farm experience theme park where you come face to face with cows, horses, pigs, sheep, farm dogs, chickens and ducks. It was one of our absolute favourite things to do on the Gold Coast with a baby or toddler.
When you’re travelling with a baby, spending time looking at farm animals is a great day out. But we recommend booking in for the koala breakfast, so that you get to spend time with Australia’s favourite marsupial before meeting the other farm animals.
In the Farmhouse restaurant we were joined by Darrau, who sat in his eucalyptus branches watching us enjoy our buffet breakfast. Meanwhile his very knowledgable keeper was on hand to answer all our questions.
After breakfast we got to get up close with more koalas and their joeys, before having our photo taken holding a koala.
Splash in Tallebudgera Creek
Another great thing to do on the Gold Coast with a baby or toddler is to have a cooling splash in the waters of Tallebudgera Creek, voted Australia’s best swimming spot in the 2019 Wotif Uniquely Aussie Awards.
This super family-friendly waterway is located between Burleigh Heads and Palm Beach, just off the Gold Coast Highway. It’s got soft white sand, sparkling water and fantastic park facilities, including change rooms, toilets and showers.
We rented a stand-up paddle board for an hour and took turns cruising up and down the creek, watching people kayak and swim in the calm waters. There were also lots of people fishing – both from tinnys and off the shore.
Once you’re finished in the water, there’s lots of space to chill out with a picnic on the grass use the shelters, barbecues and tables. But if you’d rather someone else do the cooking, head to the nearby surf club (known as Club Talle) for a meal.
Two quick tips:
- There is a carpark with plenty of non-metered parking beside the park, however it pays to get in early as these spaces are filled quickly on weekends and public holidays.
- If you want to camp or stay in one of the villas at Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park, make sure you book in advance as spots go quickly, especially during school holidays.
Feed the birds at Currumbin Wildlife Sancutary
Make a stop at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on your way to or from the Gold Coast airport. Aim to be there for either 8am or 4pm when you can feed the wild lorikeets.
Feeding the colourful birds from your hands is fun for all ages. These lorikeets are the creatues that led to the founding of the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary over 70 years ago, and generations later they still know the exact time and place to come for a feed.
This is a fantastic thing to do on the Gold Coast with babies and toddlers and itis free to watch, or a gold coin donation if you want to feed the lorikeets. And what’s more, you don’t need to buy entry to the Sanctuary so it’s possible just to stop in for this super baby-friendly experience.
Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.