Gold Coast

Ultimate guide to things to do on the Gold Coast with kids

Think surf, sun and adrenaline. The theme park and beach capital of the country, the Gold Coast has these in spades. Prepare for a perfect family holiday with wild water fun, beautiful bushland, animal experiences and plenty of sea and sand.

No matter where you wander there are stacks of activities and attractions for the kids. Thrill seekers can get their kicks jetboating, parasailing, kite surfing, diving and snorkelling. Families can slide, ride, coast and splash at the Gold Coast’s world-class theme parks. Lovers of all things feathered, furry and finned aren’t forgotten either. There are many great animal parks where they can cuddle a koala, get friendly with a dolphin or hand-feed a kangaroo.

Surfers Paradise Gold Coast
City break meets beach break on the Gold Coast. Credit: Shutterstock

Just 40 minutes’ from the coast is a hinterland of subtropical rainforest, dotted with quaint mountain villages, bushwalks, waterfalls and swimming holes. Take a hike above the trees at Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk into the rainforest. You can also check out the Thunderbird Park, a collection of unique attractions that includes fossicking for treasures in the world’s largest thunderegg mine.

Read more: adventures in South East Queensland for every age

When it comes to where to stay, the beachside suburbs of Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Main Beach and Coolangatta are popular with families. They offer a variety of accommodation including apartments, hotels and resorts, as well as plenty of holiday parks with self-contained cabins.

Top things to do on the Gold Coast

From its surf and sand to its theme parks, the Gold Coast is packed with plenty of unmissable family attractions. Here are 10 not to be missed.

  1. Tackle the big five theme parks Sea World, Dreamworld, Wet’n’Wild, Whitewater World, and Movie World. 
  2. Meet the local animals at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
  3. Watch the whales from late May to early November
  4. Learn to surf on one of the Gold Coast’s iconic beaches
  5. Hunt for thundereggs at Thunderbird Park
  6. Take to the treetops at Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk.
  7. Enjoy bird walks, animal shows, Segway tours and accessible trails at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
  8. Meet movie stars and monsters at the Surfers Paradise Wax Museum, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
  9. Trip out at Infinity, Surfers Paradise, a maze of multi-sensory environments and optical illusions.
  10. Learn about the one of the oldest living cultures in the world at the Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

Things to do on the Gold Coast with...

Visit in warm weather to make the most of water-based attractions such as Sea World. Credit: Shutterstock

Best time for families on the Gold Coast

With more than 300 days of sunshine every year, it’s always a good time to explore the Gold Coast’s 70 kilometres of unspoiled coastline and 100,000 hectares of World Heritage-listed rainforest.

While the Gold Coast’s consistent weather is one of the reasons it is a popular family destination every month of the year, April and May is the best time to beat the crowds and enjoy the most comfortable temperatures. On the flipside, huge holiday crowds and high UV ratings make December and January less ideal.

It’s also worth noting that there is an increase in pricing during school holiday periods. You’ll need to book early if you are travelling during these peak times.  It is also a wise idea to avoid the area from mid-November until the first week of December, when the Gold Coast plays host to the nation’s largest and wildest Schoolies week celebrations.

Food trucks and markets will help you stock up for a picnic lunch on the beach! Credit: Shutterstock

Where to eat on the Gold Coast with kids

The food scene on the Gold Coast is ever changing and evolving with many established and new venues offering great dining options for families. With its beautiful weather, expansive coastline and a farm-filled hinterland, you can expect produce that is fresh and fabulous.

You’ll find kid-friendly cafes, buffets, hotels and pubs that serve up kids’ meals with a side of playgrounds, arts, crafts and games. And the region positively buzzes with food and farmers markets, night and day. The weekend Night Quarter market is a particular favourite with families as it offers great food and fun entertainment for all ages.

On Friday and Saturday nights families can also head to the private laneway precinct at Miami Marketta to taste food from all over the world as they listen to local musicians play. Don’t forget to hit the designated dessert hall, which is filled with gelato, crepes, homemade cakes and slices.

And if you like a little entertainment with you meal, check out the Hard Rock Café at Surfer’s Paradise and The Australian Outback Spectacular – where you’re served a 3-course meal while being entertained by impressive horse riding stunts.

Things to do on the Gold Coast for free

  • While Surfers Paradise is one of Australia’s most iconic beaches, The Gold Coast coastline stretches for an incredible 57-kilometres and boasts 19 other fantastic beaches where families can enjoy a dip between the flags, surf and soak up the sun.
  • Beyond the beach, Currumbin Valley Rock pools’ slippery rocks and waterfalls provide natural slides into the freshwater and are another popular free swim spot for local families.
  • If you’d rather stay dry, pack a picnic and drive to the hinterland to hike through the lush Gondwanan rainforest, along the rim of an ancient volcano or on one of the all all-abilities trails at Cedar Creek Falls.
  • In town, head to The Broadwater Parklands, located in Southport, for fantastic free outdoor activities to amuse all ages. Younger kids will love playing in the mini water-park and the giant bouncy pillow while older kids might prefer to swim out to the floating play pontoon.
What’s on?

Best annual events for families on the Gold Coast

February – Surfers Paradise Sand Safari

The Surfers Paradise foreshore becomes a sand and sea inspired art gallery during this weeklong event.

March – Quiksilver and Roxy Pro

Witness world-class surfing at Snapper Rocks on the first stop on the World Surf League Championship Tour.

June – Cooly Rocks On

Coolangatta hosts the biggest 50s and 60s nostalgia festival in Australia with two weeks of rock ‘n roll, and classic cars.

August – Broadbeach Jazz Festival

The Broadbeach Jazz Weekend boasts a fringe and family feel with free entertainment, eclectic street markets and activities for all ages.

September – SWELL Sculpture Festival

Currumbin Beach becomes an outdoor gallery with Queensland’s largest, free outdoor exhibition along with master classes and children’s workshops.

October – Gold Coast 600

Main Beach is the spot to watch V8 Supercar Championship drivers battle through one of the world’s toughest street circuits to claim the race title.

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