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Gold Coast - Things to do on the Gold Coast with Kids

There are so many things to do on the Gold Coast with kids that you’ll either need to stay for a few months or come back for many Gold Coast family holidays! Home to the best theme parks Australia has, stunning beaches and gorgeous hinterland, you won’t be short of fun things to do on your Gold Coast holiday with kids.

The Gold Coast is a massive place, stretching from the northern end of the Spit to the southern beach of Rainbow Bay just north of the New South Wales border. Many beaches make up the area with some of the more popular Gold Coast tourist destinations being Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Burleigh and Currumbin. The entire region is made up of long sandy beautiful beaches, inland canals/waterways, surfing spots, theme parks, hiking trails and national parks. There is also a stack of shopping centres, boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, and sporting events.

Whether you’re looking for a jammed packed holiday filled with all the best Gold Coast activities or looking for some of the quieter Gold Coast experiences, we’ve got it all covered in this comprehensive kids holiday Gold Coast guide. Regardless of whether you are heading to the Gold Coast with toddler in tow or teenagers, we’ve got the details you need for your family holiday to Gold Coast.

In this guide, we cover:

  • When to visit the Gold Coast;
  • Details on the various Gold Coast beaches so you can decide where to stay;
  • How to get to the Gold Coast from the Brisbane or Gold Coast Airport; and
  • All the top Gold Coast attractions for kids, including the Gold Coast natural attractions.

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Things to do on the Gold Coast with Kids

Throughout the Gold Coast sightseeing section, I have tried to provide as much information as possible to make planning for the places to visit in Gold Coast super easy. I have provided locations, opening hours and ticket prices.

You’ll see that I often recommend you purchase your tickets in advance from Experience Oz or Klook. Yes, I will receive a small commission if you do purchase from either of them – but as you will see in most cases, you will save yourself a stack of cash if you book through them. I use them myself to book tickets – sometimes I have been known to sit outside the ticket booth of an attraction and book tickets on my phone from them as they often have some great Gold Coast activity deals. Doing lots of the kid’s activities Gold Coast has on offer can be expensive, so any savings you can make are well worth it.

Sometimes it is cheaper to book tickets elsewhere, and I will let you know under each attraction if that is the case.

All the prices and information in this post are correct at the time of publishing and are in AUD.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
 Currumbin Wildlife Park

One of the favourite Gold Coast attractions for families who love Australian wildlife is the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Here you get the opportunity to get up close with a range of animals.

Be sure to arrive nice and early for the 8am lorikeet feeding where you may be lucky enough to have a lorikeet or two sit on your arm while they eat breakfast. The Sanctuary actually opens at 9am, however, the Lorikeet Feeding and Café are open from 8am – so you can eat breakfast whilst the lorikeets do! Then wander through the park checking out a range of Australian wildlife as well as other exotic animals from across the globe.

Of course, the Australian favourites are here including the cute and cuddly koalas as well as kangaroos and emus. You can even hand feed the kangaroos and emus; a Gold Coast must do!

There is a range of shows throughout the day where you can learn more about the animals. Presentations include the pelican and eel feeding, snakes, crocodiles, birds, Australian show (see sheep shearing) and the Blinky Bill show. One of the best shows would have to be the bird show. It is fantastic seeing a range of different birds as they fly right above the heads of the audience. So close in fact that the wedge tail eagle had it’s tail feathers brush across my head!

The shows are the highlight, so I recommend checking out the show and times either online before you arrive or as soon as you get there and making a plan to ensure you don’t miss anything. Then just fit the animal enclosures around this. For a good spot, arrive 5-10 minutes before each show start time.

The wildlife park offers some of the best Gold Coast toddler activities, as the park is the perfect size for a family with young children. You can easily get through everything in the park within the day. There are also plenty of playgrounds scattered around the park so the little ones can have a break throughout the day to play.

So for Gold Coast family attractions that the whole family will love, we recommend the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – it has something for everyone!

Location: 28 Tomewin St, Currumbin QLD 4223 
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 4pm
Price: $49.95 Adults | $39.95 Kids | $149.95 Family Pass (2A+2C) – Kids under 3 FREE – Click here to book your tickets online.

Sea World

Sea World: Queensland Theme Park

No family trip to Gold Coast is complete without a visit to Sea World. Sea World is one of the Gold Coast theme parks that the whole family to enjoy. Here you will see some of Australia’s most beautiful marine life including Polar Bears, Stingrays, Dolphins and Penguins. There are rides and shows as well as educational presentations and an interactive splash zone for the little ones, hands down one of the best things to do in Gold Coast with the kids.

While this Queensland theme park does seem to cater best to families with young children, there are a few thrill rides that the older kids will love and come on, who doesn’t love seeing a cute Polar Bear! Older kids will love rides such as Vortex and the Storm Coaster, while little ones will love seeing Paw Patrol and Spongebob… and everyone will love the Thunder Lake Stunt Show! With great action and adventure to thrill all ages and differing levels of humour to make the whole family laugh!

If you’re look for Gold Coast family activities to appeal to all ages, we recommend adding Sea World on your Gold Coast things to do bucket list!

Tip: Check out the times of the shows first and plan your day around these, so you don’t miss any.

And if you didn’t know, Sea World have a resort on site with great family accommodation and night time entertainment. If you would like to be close to the theme park and stay in family friendly accommodation click here for some great Gold Coast family holiday packages.

Location: Seaworld Drive, Main Beach, Gold Coast 
Opening Hours: Daily 9.30am to 5pm – times do vary throughout the year, check here for up to date opening hours and attraction hours
Price: SAVE by purchasing a multi pass for either 3/7/14 days to visit various them parks. Pricing starts from $159 per person – Click here to book tickets online.

Warner Bros. Movie World Gold Coast

Movie World

Movie World is another one of the awesome Gold Coast amusement parks. Here there are plenty of rollercoasters and rides as well as some great shows. Shows include the fantastic stunt show and the superhero parade where the kids can meet their favourite characters. Said to be like a Universal Studios Gold Coast, there are rides suitable here for all ages from toddlers through to teenagers to be enjoyed on family holidays to Gold Coast.

Rides for the thrill-seekers include the DC Hypercoaster, Superman Escape, Batwing Spaceshot and Green Lantern Coaster while the younger kids will love Looney Tunes Carousel, Road Runner Rollercoaster and the Junior Driving School.

Tip: Check out the times of the shows first and plan your day around these, so you don’t miss any.

Location: Pacific Motorway at Oxenford, Gold Coast 
Opening Hours: Daily 9.30am to 5pm – times do vary throughout the year, check here for up to date opening hours and attraction hours
Price: SAVE by purchasing a multi pass for either 3/7/14 days to visit various them parks. Pricing starts from $159 per person – Click here to book tickets online.

Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast

If you’re visiting the Gold Coast during the peak of Summer a visit to Wet’n’Wild is an absolute must! This Gold Coast water park is suitable for families with children of all ages. Here you will find some of the tallest and fastest waterslides as well as the Wet’n’Wild Junior area and family favourites such as the Wave Pool and Calypso Beach.

Gold Coast activities for families don’t get more fun than this! You’ll be shrieking down the Double Barrel, finding your competitive spirit on the Super 8 Aqua Racer and having a splash-tastic time at the Junior Splash Zone. There really is something for everyone to enjoy at Wet’n’Wild whilst on Gold Coast holidays.

Location: Pacific Motorway at Oxenford, Gold Coast 
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 4pm – times do vary throughout the year, check here for up to date opening hours and attraction hours
Price: SAVE by purchasing a multi pass for either 3/7/14 days to visit various them parks. Pricing starts from $159 per person – Click here to book tickets online.

Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Sometimes tourist attractions and beaches just aren’t enough and you want something more on family holidays. Gold Coast Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centres offers just that… learn about the Aboriginal history of the Gold Coast through guided tours, dreamtime stories, bush tucker and more.

Kids will love the hands on interactive tours – and learn something at the same time!

There are a variety of tours at different times and price points – Click here for more information and to book your tickets.

Location: 1711 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads 
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 8am to 3pm

Tropical Fruit World
 Tropical Fruit World

While not technically on the Gold Coast, Tropical Fruit World is an excellent attraction for the family which is located just over the New South Wales border in the gorgeous Tweed Valley.

At Tropical Fruit World, families get the opportunity to taste a range of different tropical fruits from around the world. I hadn’t even heard of most of these fruits – including Black Sapote which is basically chocolate mousse in a fruit!

Entry into the attraction also includes a tractor tour around the gorgeous property, where along the way your guide will share interesting facts about the various fruits as well. It’s not all about fruit either, here are some great family-friendly activities:

  • Crack macadamia nuts straight from the tree
  • Feed and pat the animals at Old McDonald’s Farm
  • Ride the miniature train around Treasure Island
  • Take a boat cruise down the property’s stunning river

Of course, you mustn’t leave without having some delicious fruit ice cream. Choose your own fruit and the guys in the café will turn it into the most delicious ice cream you have ever had!

The fruit tasting and tractor tour takes 2.5 hours, but you’re quite welcome to spend as long as you like at the property. The kids might enjoy playing at Treasure Island a little longer than what’s allowed for during the tour, so you’re welcome to come back afterwards. Here there is a variety of games here, putt-putt, playground and flying fox.

So whilst technically not one of the things to do Gold Coast has on offer, we do highly recommend the quick trip across the border to visit Tropical Fruit World. And for all those parents with picky eaters… they may not be so picky after eating some of these delicacies, healthy and delicious!

Location: 29 Duranbah Rd, Duranbah NSW 2487
Opening Hours: Thursday – Sunday 9am to 4pm
Price: $50 Adults | $30 Kids | $125 Family Pass (2A+2C) – Click here to book tickets online.

ArtVo

Get arty on the Gold Coast at ArtVo! Not your traditional museum, ArtVo offers everyone the chance to experience art in a whole new way! Not only do you get to touch the art, you get to ‘be’ the art by simply striking a pose in front of your phone or camera.

Slay a dragon, come face to face with King Kong or hang ten on the ultimate pipelines! With 6 huge rooms and multiple zones to choose from – get creative at ArtVo, the whole family will love it!

Your Gold Coast to do list just got longer with this exciting experience!

Location: Inside Robina Town Centre, Ground Floor
Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm
Price: $23 Adults | $15 Kids | $65 Family Pass (2A+2C) – Kids under 5 FREE – Click here to book tickets online.

Surfers Paradise Attractions

There are so many places to visit in Surfers Paradise that I have a completely separate post on things to do in Surfers Paradise with the kids. Click here to read my full guide. The guide provides further detail (such as locations and opening hours) on the below Surfers Paradise attractions.

Infinity – Surfers Paradise
 Infinity: Things to do in Surfers Paradise with kids

If you’re looking for activities in Gold Coast that are completely different… Infinity is it! Infinity is an absolutely mind-blowing experience into a futuristic and spectacular maze-like world of wonder and fun. It is made up of around 20 multi-sensual environments where you’ll be transported into the world altogether. This is, undoubtedly, one of the more unusual things to do in the Gold Coast with the family.

Location: Towers of Chevron Renaissance, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
Opening Hours: Daily from 10 am to 10 pm
Price: $27.90 Adults | $18.90 Kids | $78.90 Family Pass (2A+2C) – Click here to book tickets online.

Time Zone – Surfers Paradise

Time Zone - What to do in Surfers Paradise with kids

At Time Zone you will find the latest interactive games and rides. Games include old favourites such as pinball machines and Pac Man as well as car racing games, dance games, air hockey, shooting hoops and a zillion more! There are also dodgem cars, ten pin bowling, mini-golf, laser skirmish, and a little kiddies area.

Whilst you may not think of an amusement arcade as one of the must see attractions whilst on family holidays in Gold Coast… Time Zone is great to have up your sleeve in case of rainy weather!

Location: Level 1, Paradise Centre, Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 12am

Ripely’s Believe it or Not – Surfers Paradise

Ripley's: Surfer Paradise Tourist attractions

Ripley’s is full of amazing stories of history and adventure, magic, illusions, mystery and life-size figurines. There are over 300 hundred exhibits, and there are plenty of interactive displays as well that the kids can get involved in. You can compare your height to the tallest man, walk through the spinning vortex or just like the movies make your way through the laser room without being touched by a laser beam.

Ripley’s is one of the touristy things to do in Surfers Paradise – that you won’t want to miss. It’s also perfect if you want to escape the sun for a bit, and are looking for one of the indoor things to do with kids Gold Coast has on offer.

Location: Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 10pm
Price: $30.90 Adults | $20.90 Kids – Kids under 5 FREE

Q1 SkyPoint – Surfers Paradise
 

Top things to do in Surfers Paradise include a visit to the top of Q1 at the SkyPoint Observation Deck. Here you can stand on the Gold Coast’s highest building at 77 floors and 322 metres in the air to get the best possible view of the city.

For those who are super brave, you can get outside level 77 and climb even further to a peak height of 270 metres above sea level, with uninterrupted 360 degree views of greater Gold Coast. Holidays with kids never seemed so thrilling!

Location: Level 77, q1 building/9 Hamilton Ave, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
Opening Hours: Mon 7.30am – 6.30pm | Wed + Thu 10am – 6.30pm | Fri + Sat 7.30am – 8pm | Closed Tue
Price: Entry to observation deck: $27 Adults | $19 Kids – Kids under 3 FREE – Click here to book tickets online
The SkyPoint Climb starts at $77 and is available on selected days and times – Click here for further details

Gold Coast Wax Museum – Surfers Paradise

This Wax Museum is home to the most extensive collection of authentic wax figures in the Southern Hemisphere. Here there are Wax figures of famous faces that the whole family will recognise as well as other features like the gruesome and gory Torture Chamber.

Location: 56 Ferny Ave, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 6pm
Price: $33 Adults | $26 Kids | $96 Family Pass (2A+2C) – Kids under 3 FREE – Click here to book tickets online

Aquaduck Tours – Surfers Paradise

Aquaduck tours are one of the perfect Gold Coast tourist activities for the whole family. On this tour, you will experience the Gold Coast on both land and water! Tours last an hour, and during that time you will be able to see gorgeous views of the Gold Coast from every possible angle… on both land and water!

Once on the water, kids are invited to see what it’s like to be the captain. They will love driving the Aquaduck in the captains seat and will even be awarded their very own Aquaduck Captain’s Certificate!

Location: Aquaduck Safaris Gold Coast, 36 Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise
Opening Hours: Daily 9.45am to 4.45pm
Price:  $42 Adults | $32 Kids – Kids under 2 FREE – Click here to book tickets online
Alternatively, if you’re going to do the iFLY (below) as well, check out these combo passes where you can SAVE – Click here for Aquaduck & iFLY combo pass

IFLY Indoor Skydiving – Surfers Paradise

iFly Indoor Skydiving offers one of the awesome Gold Coast adventure activities where you can experience the thrills of skydiving without having actually to do the terrifying jump! You will experience what it feels like jumping 14,000 feet free fall only, you are in the safety of a glass wind tunnel with experienced and talented flight instructors.

Location: 3084 Surfers Paradise Blvd, Surfers Paradise
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 10am to 7.30pm | Sat + Sun 8.30am to 7pm
Price: Starting from $65.80 – Click here to look at ticket options
Alternatively, if you’re going on the Aquaduck (above) as well, check out these combo passes where you can SAVE – Click here for Aquaduck & iFLY combo pass

Sling Shot – Surfers Paradise

Get strapped into the Sling Shot and slingshot at 160 kilometres per hour with this thrilling and exciting ride!

Over 40 tonnes of energy is stored in a gigantic box called the Spring Machine, this tension is needed to catapult you vertically in the air – so make sure you don’t eat just before the ride!

If you’re looking for Cavill Avenue things to do, the Sling Shot is perfect for the adrenaline junkie family… also if you’re out late, this is one of the things to do in Gold Coast at night – as it’s open until 10pm!

Location: 32 Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise 
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 10pm
Price: $35 per person

Holey Moley Putt-Putt – Surfers Paradise

The whole family will love having a game of putt putt with these 18 unique and crazy holes. Swing your club through shark infested waters and have fun identifying the pop culture references such as the Sampsons Couch and the Nine Iron Throne.

There is also Bowling, an Escape Room and Karaoke at the same venue. So if you’re looking for some competitive family fun and entertainment on your holiday to Gold Coast – you just may have found it!

Location: Circle on Cavill, Surfers Paradise Blvd, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
Opening Hours*: Sun – Thu 10am to 11pm | Thu 10am to 12am | Fri + Sat 10am to 1am
Price: Prices start at $14 for Adults and $10 for Kids for 9 holes

* Under 18’s are permitted in the venue till 9pm Sunday – Thursday & 8pm Friday – Saturday.

Holoverse – Surfers Paradise

Holoverse is the first Holographic entertainment centre in the world! This is an excellent activity for the family to enjoy as it is completely safe and fun for everyone. Holoverse uses advanced holographic technology to project many different objects that float all around you, so it appears you are there. This attraction offers perfect Gold Coast entertainment for the entire family.

There are a variety of different experiences to try like the dinosaur adventure or the aquarium where you are surrounded by sea creatures and even a holosports where you can verse each other in a variety of sports including weightlifting, running, diving, fencing and more!

Holoverse is something completely different to experience on your family holiday. Gold Coast just has the coolest stuff!

Location: 8 Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise
Opening Hours: Mon – Thu 10am to 5pm | Fri 10am to 6pm | Sat 9am to 6pm | Sun 9am to 5pm
Price: $29 per person for one holographic experience approx. 50 minutes

More Gold Coast Attractions

Dreamworld

Top 10 things to do in Gold Coast include a visit to the various theme parks, and Dreamworld is arguably one of the best theme park Gold Coast has (read out full guide here). Dreamworld is a fantastic theme park with plenty to do and see, including rollercoasters and rides suitable for the whole family. There is also plenty for the tiny tots too.

Dreamworld offers some of the most exciting rides on the Gold Coast and is home to some of the most epic Thrill Rides including the Giant Drop, the Steel Taipan and The Claw. But there is plenty for the little kids too including the Play School Wheel and Bananas in Pyjamas Fun Maze.

As far as theme parks go, Dreamworld is one of the best places to visit Gold Coast has, as it has rides, entertainment and wildlife… there will be something for everyone!

Location: Dreamworld Pkwy, Coomera QLD 4209 – book theme park transfers starting at $18 per person –Click here for more information
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10.30am to 4pm | Weekends 10am to 5pm
Price: $99 Adults | $89 Kids – Kids under 3 FREE – Click here to book tickets online

WhiteWater World

Another kid-friendly Gold Coast attraction during the warmer months is WhiteWater World. There are water slides and activities suitable for all ages so the whole family can enjoy the day. From Wiggle Bay for the little ones to the Triple Vortex for the older thrill-seekers, while the entire family will love the massive wave pool.

I’d recommend to save money you pack yourself an esky full of food as food and drink prices tend to be expensive. However, food and drinks are available inside the park to be purchased.

WhiteWater World is located on the same site as Dreamworld, so you could make a day of it and explore both parks, however this would be a lot! If you wanted to take advantage of all the offerings at both theme parks you would need a day at each. However, WhiteWater World is only open in the warmer months so check out their website below as they may not be open when you’re on your holidays in Gold Coast.

Location: Dreamworld Pkwy, Coomera QLD 4209 – book theme park transfers starting at $18 per person – Click here for more information
Opening Hours: Check the WhiteWater World website as the park closes throughout the cooler months
Price: Tickets are seasonal, so check their website for latest availability

Paradise Country

Paradise Country is full of animals and shows that the whole family will enjoy. There are a variety of farm animals you can come face to face with as well as a range of glorious Australian Wildlife that you can get up close with. You can also see the adorable babies in the Animal Nursery, one of the best kid-friendly activities Gold Coast has.

And for the ultimate immersion in country living on your holidays to Gold Coast, why not book in a Paradise Country Farmstay. There are great eco tents onsite with a queen bed and bunk bed – Click here for more information and pricing.

Location: Production Dr, Oxenford QLD 4210 
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 3.30pm
Price: $40 Adults | $39 Kids – Kids under 3 FREE – Click here to book tickets online.
Alternatively, if you are headed to the theme parks, SAVE money by booking a Super 7-Day pass which includes Paradise Country – Click here for further details and pricing.

Outback Spectacular

Outback Spectacular is a fantastic place to visit for the whole family. Enjoy a captivating journey to the high country with a dinner and show package that features Australian animals, stunning effects, songs and bush tucker. This is the perfect experience for families wondering what to do in Gold Coast with kids for a real Australiana experience.

Included in the 90-mintue show and dinner ticket is a three-course meal, beer, wine and soft drink throughout the show, bush billy tea and an Australian Outback Stockman’s hat.

If you’re going on holidays with kids, Gold Coast offers up this Outback Spectacular which is both adult and kid friendly entertainment for the whole family to enjoy!

Location: Entertainment Rd, Oxenford
Opening Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 7.30pm | Once a month on Sunday at 12.30pm
Price: $99.99 Adults | $79.99 Kids (pricing subject to change pending day chosen) – Click here to buy your tickets online.  

Learn to Surf

Outdoor activities Gold Coast has to offer include loads of water sports, with surfing being an Aussie favourite. What better thing to do while on the Gold Coast than learn to surf at one of the beautiful beaches the Gold Coast has to offer from a qualified professional surf instructor.

There are a variety of places in the Gold Coast where you can learn to surf, and there is sure to be one near wherever you are staying. Here a few options to check out:

Why not Hang Ten with the whole family on your holidays to the Gold Coast! Ensure to check age limits and height restrictions for each lesson.

Jet Boating

Jet Boating tours will take you through the Gold Coast’s beautiful waterways in the most thrilling and exciting way possible. Experience reversing, turning and spinning on the water at high speed all while soaking in the scenery at the same time.

Prepare yourself for a wild ride of wave-hopping aboard a super-powerful machine all while enjoying an exciting adventure suitable for all age groups.

There are a variety of places on the Gold Coast where you can do jet boating, and there is sure to be one near wherever you are staying.  Click here to see what’s available. 

Sky Diving with Gold Coast Skydive

If you’re after a truly unique way to experience the magnificent views of the picturesque Gold Coast, then Sky Diving over the region will be worth every cent.

The guys at Gold Coast Skydive have got you covered. You will meet your instructor at their office where you be fitted with your harness, followed by training to get you ready for your jump.

Location: 18 Coyne St, Coolangatta QLD 4225
Opening Hours: Daily 9 am to 5 pm
Price: $395 per person – Click here for more information and availability.

David Fleay Wildlife Park

The David Fleay Wildlife Park is a wildlife park where you can see animals including crocodiles, emus, koalas, brolgas, dingoes, bilbies, kangaroos and platypus, in their most natural habitat. This park plays an important role in demonstrating the conservation initiatives of David Fleay, the founder of this park who established it in 1951.

You can explore the park on your own or join the rangers on one of the daily wildlife shows.

Location: Loman Lane, Burleigh Heads QLD 4220
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 4pm
Price: $25.50 Adults | $11.55 Kids | $65.25 Family Pass (2A+2C)

Whale Watching

Whale watching season runs from May to October, and during this time you can see thousands of humpback whales that are migrating north from Antarctica, passing up and back down the coast. Whale watching is undoubtedly one of the best activities to do in Gold Coast.

Several boats around the Gold Coast offer Whale Watching tours, click here to check out what’s on offer, there are one or two to consider.

If you don’t want to pay for a cruise, you can try your luck and spot whales from one of the elevated headlands along the coast as the whales do come in quite close to shore. Some of the most recommended spots to witness the whales are Point Dangar, Greenmount, Kirra Hill, Currumbin Rocks, Tumgun Lookout within Burleigh Heads National Park and North Burleigh/Miami Headland.

Jet Skis

If you haven’t tried jet skiing before, the Gold Coast Broadwater is the best place to have a go. Either go around the Jet Ski circuit or for the more experienced jet skiers join a jet ski safari. Please note that the minimum age to ride a jet ski is 12, to ride unaccompanied by an adult the minimum age is 16.

Circuits start at $105 and Safari’s start at $130 for 30 minute sessions – Click here for more information or to make a booking.

Gold Coast Cruise

Family holidays Australia usually involve some sort of water experience, and if you’re on the Gold Coast what better way to explore the tranquil waters of the Gold Coast canals than on a cruise. Pass glamorous Gold Coast mansions and boats as well as see Gold Coast main attractions such as Sea World, Marina Mirage, the Palazzo Versace and more.

Choose from a range of different cruises, including morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. Cruises start at $35 for adults and $25 for children with under three FREE. Family passes are available for $100 (2A+2C). Click here to for a variety of cruise options and pricing.

Aqua Splash

Aqua Splash is an inflatable water park on both the Broadwater and at Oxenford where kids can climb, jump and balance on a range of inflatable structures.  Kind of like a jumping castle, but on water. The minimum age is 5 years and those aged between 5 – 9 need to be accompanied by an adult.

Entry is based on a 50-minute session and the attraction is only open during the warmer months.

Location: Marine Parade, Southport & Maudsland Road, Oxenford
Opening Hours: Operation is seasonal, check online to see if open Aqua Splash
Price: Starts at $25 per person for a 50-minute session

The Best Playgrounds on the Gold Coast

Not everything has an entry fee on the Gold Coast. Visiting one of the awesome playgrounds is one of the best things to do in Gold Coast for free! There are so many playgrounds scattered around the Gold Coast, too many to list them all, but here are some of the more popular and cool Gold Coast parks that your kids will love:

  • Broadwater Parklands (Southport): This is the best playground in the whole of the Gold Coast – your kids will go nuts here! There is some great playground equipment here including a jumping pillow, flying fox, pedal power train, seesaw, water play as well as BBQ facilities. Located on Marine Parade, Southport.
  • Rockpools (Southport): Located within the Broadwater Parklands is the Rockpools, a great man-made splash area that the little kids will absolutely love. Located on Marine Parade, Southport.
  • Justin’s Park (Burleigh Heads): This is a mid-size playground on the Esplanade at Burleigh Heads perfect for younger children. Here you will find swings, slides, monkey bars and BBQ facilities.
  • Kurrawa Pratten Park (Broadbeach): Located on the Esplanade at Broadbeach this is a fantastic large playground with a stack of playground equipment including slides, swings, climbing equipment, flying fox as well as BBQ facilities.
  • Pirate Park (Palm Beach): This is one of Myla’s favourite parks on the Gold Coast, most likely due to the pirate theme of the park. In the centre of the park is a massive pirate ship which the kids can climb on and slide down as well as keep an eye out for the bad guys. There are caves to explore for hidden treasures, swings and lots of tunnels to explore. It is located at 945 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach. An upgrade to the park is taking place throughout 2022, so check online to ensure it has been completed before heading there.
  • Queen Elizabeth Park (Coolangatta): A good mid-size park perfect for little kids. Here you will find swings, climbing equipment and slides. With BBQ facilities nearby.

Markets

Provided you can resist all the wonderful items on sale, a visit to one of the many Gold Coast markets is also another one of the free activities Gold Coast has on offer. Or at least one of the cheap things to do on the Gold Coast anyway!

Here are some of the more popular ones: 

  • Carrara Markets has over 300 stalls with plenty of locals and tourists looking to score a bargain. Open every Saturday and Sunday. Families will enjoy the buskers, pony rides, baby animal farm and more.
  • Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets has over 100 stalls and is the perfect thing to do on a warm summers evening. Open every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 4pm to 9pm along the beach Esplanade at Surfers Paradise.
  • Famous Beachfront Markets are on every Sunday and change their beachside location from Broadbeach to Coolangatta to Burleigh each time. Over 150 stalls with Australian-made products, live music and fresh produce.
  • Marina Mirage Farmers Markets are located on Seaworld Drive on the Broadwater Spit, Main Beach, opposite the Sheraton Mirage Resort and are on every Saturday from 6.30am offering fresh produce.
  • Miami Marketta comes alive every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 5pm with live music, street food, craft beer and boutique wine.

Go Shopping

If you are the sort of family who likes to shop while you are on holidays, there is no shortage of shops at the Gold Coast. There are shops absolutely everywhere, but below I have listed the larger shopping centres with the biggest range of shops and restaurants.

For the most part, shopping centres are open from 9am to 5.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 9am to 9pm on Thursdays, and 10am to 4pm on Sundays

  • Pacific Fair Shopping Centre: With over 400 different stores, this is Queensland’s largest shopping, entertainment and dining precinct. You will find all the major brands here, restaurants, food outlets and cinemas. It is located on Hooker Blvd, Broadbeach a short walk from the Broadbeach G:Link station.
  • Australia Fair: This is a mid-size shopping centre with over 200 stores, cinemas and a food court. It is located at 42 Marine Parade, Southport.
  • Harbour Town: This is Australia’s largest outlet shopping centre with over 240 clearance stores and a bunch of eateries to keep you fueled up so you can keep shopping.  It is located at 147-189 Brisbane Road, Biggera Waters.
  • Robina Town Centre: With over 320 stores, this is the Gold Coast’s second-largest shopping centre. Here you will find all the major brands, restaurants, food outlets and cinemas. It is located at Robina Town Centre Drive (off Robina Parkway), Robina.

Go to the Beach
 Surfers Paradise Beach

A visit to the beach has to be one of the top things to do with kids on the Gold Coast, right? It ticks so many boxes perfect for families with kids of all ages. Plus the beach is ideal if you’re looking for things to do on the Gold Coast with toddlers or teenagers, and it’s free!

There are numerous activities you can do at the beach, swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, building sandcastles, go for a beach stroll or read a book. Spend an hour here or spend the entire day.  Visit here just one day or spend your whole holiday here and do nothing else!

My top tip – no matter how calm the water looks or how excellent a swimmer you or the kids are, ALWAYS swim between the flags! And my second top tip – apply LOTS of sunscreen! You will burn fast, even on a cloudy day.

Click here for a list of more free things to do on the Gold Coast.

Explore the Gold Coast Hinterland

Springbrook Natural Arch

There are so many fantastic Gold Coast natural attractions in the Hinterland that it really deserves its own post (stay tuned for that one)! So in this post, I will briefly mention some of the Gold Coast hinterland attractions for families.

Read our guide to Tamborine Mountain here.

  • O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk – Lamington National Park: Part of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and located just outside the guest house. This treetop walk consists of 9 suspension bridges that are up to 16 metres above the ground. You can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the rainforest from a deck 30 metres above ground in a fig tree over the walkway. This attraction is open to the public all day, every day and is free.
  • Picnic Rock and Elabana Falls- Lamington National Park: Set deep in the Gold Coast Hinterland Green Mountains surrounded by lush rainforest with water gushing down shiny rocks, making it a stunning sight. It is 3.3 km each way to reach the picnic area, and a total of 7.6 km to Elabana falls.
  • Skywalk – Mount Tamborine: The entire walk is 1.5kms and is a combination of forest floor trails, 300 metres of high-tech steel bridges, and a 40-metre cantilever bridge that soars 30 metres above the creek and rainforest below. Ticket prices are $19.50 for adults and $9.50 for kids with kids under 6 FREE – Click here for more information and to purchase your Skywalk tickets
  • Glow Worms – Mount Tamborine: Experience a fantastic Glow Worm tour in a purpose-built cave that is filled with thousands of glowing Glow Worms. This is the only Glow Worm tour available during the day in Queensland. In just 30 minutes, you can see a Glow Worm up close and learn all about their life cycle and behaviour. Ticket prices are $16 for adults and $9 for kids with kids under 4 FREE.
  • Curtis Falls – Mount Tamborine: A moderate grade circuit of 1.5 km return that trails through beautiful lush rainforest with towering palm trees and magical eucalypts. You can view the amazing Curtis Falls from a platform that overlooks an adjacent rock pool. These falls are best to visit straight after heavy rain, but they do still run all year round so you can view them any time.
  • Cedar Creek Falls – Mount Tamborine: A 3.2 km track that will allow you to view the creeks various cascades, rock pools, flora and fauna.
  • The Witches Falls – Mount Tamborine: Witches Falls is a 3.1 km moderate grade walking track through the lush rainforest that takes about 1 hour. The start of the trail descends steep mountainside through the open forest which will offer great views. When the track eventually flattens out, you’ll be tempted to jump into one of the many beautiful lagoons to cool down.
  • Cameron Falls – Mount Tamborine: A 2.6 km easy grade return track, which takes around 1 hour. The trail descends to the creek through the beautiful rainforest with large flooded gums and Piccabeen groves to the stunning Cameron Falls waterfall.
  • Thunderbird Park – Mount Tamborine: There is so much to do here including horse riding, zip line adventure, bird feeding, mini-golf, bushwalking, laser skirmish, rock pools, the great treetop challenge and the little ones can hunt for ‘Thundereggs’. Given there is so much to do here, you may well want to spend a night or two. You can camp or stay in one of the cedar creek lodges or bush lodges.
  • Natural Bridge – Springbrook National Park: Located in the western part of the Springbrook National Park it is a little isolated from the other attractions but well worth the drive. It is an easy 30-minute return walk to see the Natural Bridge rock arch.
  • Purling Brook Falls – Springbrook National Park: This is an easy waterfall view from the lookout just a few minutes walk from the car park.
  • Canyon Look Out – Springbrook National Park: Gorgeous views across the valley towards Surfers Paradise. This is also the start of the Twin Falls walk.
  • Twin Falls Circuit – Springbrook National Park: It’s a short 30-minute walk to see these waterfalls. Here you can see lush rainforest, rockpools and waterfalls.
  • Best Lookout of all – Springbrook National Park: Fantastic view across the southern edge of the Springbrook Plateau – the lookout is an easy 350m walk from the carpark.

When to Visit the Gold Coast

The short answer is anytime is the perfect time to visit the Gold Coast. With an average of 300 sunny days a year, you will generally experience gorgeous weather year-round.

If you want to come when it’s nice and warm and perfect for swimming, visit during the Spring (September to November) or Summer (December to February). Even March and April can be warm enough for swimming. People from colder climates may also find the weather warm enough to swim year-round.

Keep in mind the Gold Coast can get super busy during both the Queensland and New South Wales school holidays, particularly from the end of December to mid-January. During this time expect long queues at attractions and higher prices on accommodation.

My favourite time of year to visit the Gold Coast is during February where the ocean is at its warmest. During this time of year, the days are warm, and there are no school holidays.

Which Area for your Gold Coast Family Holidays 

As mentioned above, the Gold Coast is a vast region, and so you will have to decide where to base yourself for your family adventure.  Below I have provided a brief overview of some of the more popular Gold Coast beaches for family holidays. Click here for my more detailed guide.

  • Broadwater: This area is fantastic for families with young children, given the large lagoon-like body of water here is calm. The Broadwater Parklands are located here, which include a playground and the Rockpools, which is a great water park for small children. There is an excellent range of hotels and apartments perfect for families as well as a shopping centre (with shops, supermarkets and cinemas) and Sea World is also just across the Broadwater. Click here for a full range of family-friendly accommodation in Broadwater.
  • Main Beach: Located on the other side of the Broadwater, Main Beach stretches 2km long from Surfers Paradise to the Spit. Main Beach is a perfect spot for swimming, surfing, fishing and general beach activities. Sea World and Marina Mirage are also here in Main Beach. Click here for a full range of family-friendly accommodation in Main Beach.
  • Surfers Paradise: The most touristy spot overall on the Gold Coast! There is a stack of family-friendly things to see in Surfers Paradise, so this is the ideal location if you want to be in the heart of it all. There are loads of fantastic family-friendly restaurants and shops, and a gorgeous stretch of beach for swimming. There is also some excellent family accommodation Surfers Paradise. Click here for a full range of family-friendly accommodation in Surfers Paradise.
  • Broadbeach: Similar to Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach is a popular area for tourists. Home to the Broadbeach Mall full of shops, restaurants and family-friendly hotels as well as Jupiter’s Casino, the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre and Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, the largest shopping precinct on the Gold Coast. There is also an excellent swimming and surf beach at Broadbeach with a fantastic playground, one of the best kids playground, Gold Coast has. Click here for a full range of family-friendly accommodation in Broadbeach.
  • Burleigh Heads: The area of Burleigh Heads is a popular spot for families. Here you will find a gorgeous beach for swimming and surfing, plenty of restaurants, shops, playgrounds and family-friendly hotels and apartments. There is also the Burleigh Heads National Park which has a range of walking tracks including the 2.5km coastal walk around the headland to Tallebudgera Creek. Click here for a full range of family-friendly accommodation in Burleigh.
  • Tallebudgera Creek: One of the best kid-friendly beaches, Gold Coast has to offer. Not technically a beach but a creek, although don’t let the word “creek” put you off, as it’s stunning with bright turquoise coloured calm water, perfect for little ones. This is a popular spot for SUP and kayaking. There isn’t a great deal of accommodation here except the Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park, and it may well be best for a day trip unless you plan on spending the majority of your time in the water.
  • Palm Beach: Another great choice if you’re looking for the best beach for kids Gold Coast has. Palm Beach also has the benefit of having both a surf beach as well as being situated on one side of the Currumbin Creek.  Currumbin Creek is perfect for the kids as the water is calm. While a reasonably quiet area in terms of shops and restaurants, there are plenty of great family apartments available as well as an excellent playground. Click here for a full range of family-friendly accommodation in Palm Beach.
  • Currumbin: Similar to Palm Beach, Currumbin has the advantage of having both a surf beach and the stunning Currumbin Creek. A popular spot for a variety of water sports such as surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking. There’s not a great deal of accommodation here, but what is here is certainly family-friendly, and there are a few cafes sprinkled throughout the area. Also a 15-minute drive inland you will find the gorgeous Currumbin Rock Pools. Click here for a full range of family-friendly accommodation in Currumbin.
  • Coolangatta: This is a central location for shops, restaurants, a gorgeous beach and playgrounds. This beach has low waves making it fun for the whole family to enjoy. Included in Coolangatta are the two smaller beaches of Greenmount and Rainbow Bay – both stunning beaches and my favourite stretch of beach on the entire Gold Coast, Rainbow Bay. As well as plenty of family-friendly accommodation and a shopping centre there is also a lovely walking trail that wraps around Greenmount Hill. Click here for a full range of family-friendly accommodation in Coolangatta.

Getting to / From Airport

 You can easily reach your Gold Coast accommodation from either the Gold Coast or Brisbane Airport.

From Brisbane Airport

 From Brisbane Airport, the best ways to reach the Gold Coast is either by car hire, shuttle or public transport.

Car Hire

If you are going to be renting a car while you visit the Gold Coast, I recommend you pick up your vehicle from Brisbane Airport as a shuttle can be quite expensive for a family. However, if you are spending your time just around the Gold Coast beaches, or with a few additional day tours, it is not necessary to rent a car as the G:Link train is great to get you around – see more information below. A car is handy however if you want to explore the Gold Coast hinterland on your own, but remember that often you have to pay for parking at your hotel.

Shuttle

Numerous different operators provide transport from the Brisbane Airport to the Gold Coast.

Con-X-ion has return transfers from the Brisbane airport to your Gold Coast accommodation from $54 per adult, $28 per child or $136 per family. Click here for more information or to make a booking.

Train

The cheapest way to get from Brisbane Airport to the Gold Coast is by train, but it will also take the longest time.

The Air Train stops right outside both the International and Domestic Brisbane Airports. The train departs every 15 minutes during peak hour and 30 minutes during off-peak.

Take the Air Train to the Helensvale Station; this journey will take around 90 minutes. From Helensvale Station take the G:Link train to the Gold Coast, this journey will take approximately 40 minutes. There are stations at Broadwater, Main Beach, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. If you are staying at any beaches further than this, you are better off using one of the other above options.

If you purchase a Go Card at the Airport station, the entire trip will cost $32.97 per adult and $25.99 per child. Without a Go Card, it is $39.30 per adult and $29.10 per child. If you decide to purchase a Go Card, you will need to buy one for each person in your group, which will cost $10 per adult and $5 per child. This is refundable when you return the card.

I’d recommend purchasing a Go Card if you don’t have your own car as you can then use this on the G:Link for discounted tickets.

Use the Journey Planner on TransLink for more information about timetables and journey times.

From Gold Coast Airport

Depending upon which Gold Coast Beach your accommodation is at, the Gold Coast Airport is about a 5 to 30-minute drive away. The best way to reach your accommodation is via hire car, shuttle or taxi.

Car Hire

If you are going to be renting a car while you visit the Gold Coast, it may be best to pick it up from the airport and save money on transfers. However, if you are spending your time just around the Gold Coast beaches, or with a few additional day tours, it is not necessary to rent a car as the G:Link train is great to get you around – see more information below. A car is handy however if you want to explore the Gold Coast hinterland on your own, but remember that often you have to pay for parking at your hotel.

Shuttle

Numerous different operators provide transport from the Gold Coast Airport to Gold Coast hotels.

Con-X-ion has return transfers from the Gold Coast airport to your Gold Coast accommodation from $46 per adult, $22 per child or $114 per family. Click here for more information or to make a booking.

If you are going to visit some of the theme parks, you can save money on transfers by booking return airport and Gold Coast theme park transfer ticket.

  • 5 theme parks transfers: are from $119 Adults | $59 Kids | $325 Family Pass (2A+2C)
  • 7 theme parks transfers: are from $139 Adults | $69 Kids | $379 Family Pass (2A+2C)

The tourist attractions covered are Movie World, Wet’n’Wild, Sea World, Paradise Country, Dreamworld (see our Dreamworld guide here), WhiteWater World, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Harbour Town Shopping Centre.

Click here for more information or to make a booking for airport and theme park transfers.

Taxi

In my view, the best way to get to your Gold Coast accommodation is by taxi. Collect a special fare voucher from the rank supervisor at the airport; it will cost you a flat $55 for Broadbeach hotels, $65 for Surfers Paradise hotels or $75 for Main Beach hotels. The rank supervisor is easy to spot as they have high visibility vest on at the taxi rank.

Getting Around the Gold Coast

Getting Around Surfers Paradise: GLink

You could easily spend a week on the beach close to your accommodation and never leave. However, if you do want to visit nearby beaches or attractions, the easiest way to get around is by the G:Link Train. However keep in mind that there are only stations at Southport, Main Beach, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. If you are staying at the other beaches, you will need a car to get around.

As mentioned above for discounted tickets on the G:Link you will need a Go Card. If you have travelled from Brisbane Airport by the Airtrain, you should already have one of these cards.

If you decide to purchase a Go Card, you will need to buy one for each person in your group, which will cost $10 per adult and $5 per child. This is refundable when you return the card.

Use the Journey Planner on TransLink for more information about timetables and journey times for the G:Link.

If you want to venture further afield, you will need to hire a car.

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Hopefully you found our post on all there is to do at the Gold Coast helpful.  If you want to discover more of Queensland, check out all of our QLD guides including Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and The Whitsundays.

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