If you think you’ve ‘done’ the Gold Coast – think again. Tonya Ward uncovers the top local spots for family time, whether it’s eating out, getting active outdoors, or even just the best beaches around.
• Hike the Cougal Cascades Walk through world heritage rainforest in the Currumbin Valley, with viewing platforms, explanation boards, and impressive range of flora and fauna.
• Explore the magical Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm Caves at Cedar Creek Estate, a real spectacle of thousands of unearthly creatures glowing together.
• Take a horse trail ride at Numinbah Adventure Trails in the Gold Coast hinterland.
• Stroll the Ocean Walkway, a beautiful paved thoroughfare and bikeway along the Gold Coast foreshore.
• Discover the tree top walk through the rainforest canopy at O’Reilly’s in the Gold Coast hinterland, where kids can feed the lorikeets.
• Pick fresh berries from Pimpama Strawberry Farm, just north of Surfers Paradise.
• Visit the volunteer run research program at David Fleay Wildlife Park, Burleigh Heads, to see a huge variety of native animals.
• You’re guaranteed to catch a fish at Ecopark Fishing World in Luscombe, though don’t forget to throw it back!
• Hire a boat for the day and cruise the Broadwater, pull up on your own patch of private sand for a swim and picnic at South Stradbroke Island.
• Stroll above the trees at Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, Mount Tamborine.
• Let the kids get arty at Energy Art in the Park on most Tuesdays at Apex Park in Burleigh Heads.
• Take older kids down to the Varsity Youth Precinct in Surfers and watch the skateboarders hit the ramps every second Friday night.
• Catch the ferry out to North Stradbroke Island for snorkelling and scuba diving.
• Go go-karting at Kingston Park Raceway with its own dedicated kids section.
• Take on Adrenaline Park in the heart of Surfers Paradise for trampolines, a giant slingshot, fly coaster, bungy jump and more.
• Roll up and have a ball zorbing at Zorb Gold Coast, Coomera.
• Of course, don’t forget the big theme parks: Sea World, Wet’n’Wild and Movie World. See our dedicated tips to conquering these behemoths here.
• Hit the alleys at Strike Bowling in Surfers, with karaoke rooms, pool tables and holiday deals.
• Ride one of the world’s fastest elevators 230m up the Q1 tower to QDeck, also in Surfers, for spectacular 360 degree views from Brisbane to Byron Bay.
• Trip out at Infinity, a futuristic maze of about 20 multi-sensory environments, which use sound and light to create surreal optical illusions.
• Over-12s can test themselves at Off Road Rush, Alberton, the most extreme V8 race cars around.
• Step back in time and take the kids to a movie at Yatala Drive-in Theatre, just off the Pacific Motorway.
• Check out a show by the Queensland Theatre of Puppetry in Macintosh Island Park.
• Take a scary trip through the Vampire Lair, Mirror Maze and Phobia level at Dracula’s Haunted House, Surfers Paradise (and see the famous cabaret while you’re there).
• Learn a thing or two at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, Surfers Paradise.
• Meet movie stars, scientists, explorers, villains and world leaders at the Surfers Paradise Wax Museum, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
• Treat the kids at one of the beachfront ice-cream parlours in towns along the coast, followed by a walk along the beach.
• Head to the Seaway Kiosk by Main Beach for freshly made crab sandwiches. This a favourite local haunt for whale watching, so be sure to take a look.
• Buy fresh seafood direct from the person who caught it at the Fisherman’s Cooperative, SeaWorld Drive, Main Beach.
• Picnic at O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards on the banks of the Canungra Creek, enjoying a glass of award-winning wine and with plenty of room for the kids to play.
• Try Southport Sharks Australian Football Club, Southport, with its Wobbygong’s Kids Fun Zone including an indoor rock climbing wall, basketball hoop, Playstation zone, movie room and activities for all ages.
• Get stylish at Dragonfly Burleigh Heads Café, a cool café and funky kid’s boutique for those into fashion and flavours.
• For an easy fish and chip lunch, Charis Seafood is right beside the kids’ play park at Harley Park, Labrador.
• Browse the wares at Burleigh Art and Craft Market, Paradise Point Parklands, or Broadbeach.
• Take a night time stroll through the Lantern Markets every Friday night at Broadbeach Mall and Surfers Paradise esplanade.
Parks and Swimming Spots
• Billed as the best kids’ playground on the Coast, Laguna Park in Palm Beach offers a huge array of interactive and fun equipment to suit all ages. Try out the huge adventure playground, pirate ship, slides and rockers, a pedal power monorail, funny faces interactive boards, and heaps more.
• Washington Waters Park is a terrific playground for all ages by the beautiful Broadwater. Bring your bike and try out the mini bike circuit, have a go on the huge flying fox, pedal around on the monorail, or swim in the safe enclosure.
• Currumbin Rock Pools is a popular freshwater swimming hole in the Currumbin Valley.
• Harley Park, Labrador, has a dedicated stillwater swimming area with sun shades over the shoreline. There are picnic tables, barbecues, beach showers, and heaps of open play equipment.
• Surfboard and bodyboard hire is available at Cavill Mall in Surfers Paradise is your swimming park is the ocean.
• Tallebudgera Creek is a patrolled area on the southern side of the estuary, popular with young families for its sandy beach and shallow swimming space. Novice surfers head to the section closest to the river mouth.
• Mt Barney Lodge offers abseiling, rock climbing and trekking.
• Binna Burra Lodge in Beechmont has plenty of bushwalks and a fabulous flying fox.
• Gumnuts Farm, Canungra, offers real Aussie farm stays. You can milk a cow, crack a whip, throw a boomerang and go horse riding.