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.
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.
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.
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.
The Gold Coast’s fantastic wildlife sanctuaries have created habitats that offer littlies real-life experiences with native Australian animals. They can mingle with a mob of kangaroos, hand-feed lorikeets, nurse a baby crocodile and feed sharks and stingrays.
Dedicated to conserving Australia’s Indigenous and natural heritage, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary boasts a variety of animal encounters for littlies. Older brothers and sisters will love a visit the Wildlife Hospital Foundation and should also try the tree-tops ropes course. Paradise Country is another great spot for koala encounters.
David Fleay Wildlife Park also hosts a range of native animals. It is in fact the only nature park on the Gold Coast with platypus. It is also home to fresh and saltwater crocodiles, snakes, lizards, kangaroos, koalas, native birds and butterflies.
In the hinterland, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat offers excellent accessibility for wheelchair users and a fun Fire Engine Tour. You can also interact and see birdlife in action with their Birds of Prey Show.
And at Sea World the kids can steal a kiss from a seal, feed the Gentoo and King penguins or visit Polar Bear Shores, Australia’s only polar bear exhibit. If you’re also with older kids, they can enjoy animal experiences such as Seal Safari or the penguin Aquatic Adventure.
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.
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.
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.
There is more to do on the Gold Coast than just spend the day on a gorgeous beach, with a raft of new attractions arriving in the past few years.
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