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“Famous for Fun” is the Gold Coast tagline, and it certainly lives up to its claim.
Known as the theme park capital of Australia, home to stunning beaches, thriving marine life such as humpback whales and dolphins, and the gateway to Lamington National Park, you can be there are plenty of things to do in the Gold Coast?
We have visited the Gold Coast many times, and even lived there for a short period, so we have gotten to know the area pretty well. Now as parents taking our own kids to the Gold Coast, we’ve learned you don’t have to look too far for activities, adrenalin, and adventure.
If you’re not sure what to do on The Gold Coast, then don’t worry. This guide has all the top Gold Coast attractions and a few hidden gems.
Go take a look…
Is The Gold Coast Worth Visiting?
With more than 300 days of sunshine, 70 kilometers of coastline, and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest range of attractions and activities, it’s no wonder it is high on the family travel bucket list.
The Gold Coast has things to see and do to satisfy all ages, from small kids to tweens, and parents, of all tastes.
Love theme parks? Done! Love pristine beaches? Plenty! Love the Gold Coast hinterlands? It’s there! Love exercise? Start stretching! Love sunshine? Got that too!
Without a doubt, The Gold Coast is worth visiting for all these reasons.
Things to Do on The Gold Coast, Queensland
Below is a list of things to do in the Gold Coast that will inspire you to grab the kids, pack up the car, and head for the place they call Australia’s Adventure Playground.
But be careful, the Gold Coast has a playfulness energy that will have your kids (and you) begging to go back for more!
1. Learn to Surf
Learning to surf is one of the most popular attractions on The Gold Coast as it has the most optimal waves for beginners. They are large enough that you can actually surf but gentle enough that you don’t fall off. You’re also protected from southerly onshore winds at many bays along the Gold Coast.
Kalyra learned how to surf at Burleigh Beach with a world surf champion as her teacher. There are not many destinations in the world where you can learn to surf with such experienced teachers.
In fact, many surfing schools guarantee they’ll have you standing up by the end of your first 2-hour lesson. There is no doubt that The Gold Coast is one of the best places to learn to surf.
If you’re already an experienced surfer, you may enjoy hitting the waves at Currumbin Alley, which offers world-class waves.
2. Visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
For animal lovers, a trip to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a must. You can meet all the Aussie animals, take the extreme high ropes green challenge, cuddle a koala, feed the kangaroos, see the salt-water crocodiles and Tasmanian Devils.
But perhaps one of the best things you can do here is feeding the wild lorikeets here twice a day at 8am and 4pm.
This activity is free to take part in and allows visitors to feed hundreds of rainbow lorikeets who come flying down from the surrounding trees to get a lick at the sweet honey nectar that you hold out in a bowl in your hands.
They will climb up your arms, on your head, and just sit on your hands drinking.
In the evening, you can watch the Yanguwah Aboriginal cultural show, which is a great way to experience the culture of the land’s traditional owners.
3. Visit Sea World
The Gold Coast is the theme park capital and so it would be a shame to visit without seeing some of these top attractions.
Sea World offers a world of fun and adventure. You can watch the world’s best stunt performers mastering aerial flips and gravity-defying stunts in the Jet Ski Show, and watch the dolphin’s doing the same in the Imagine Dolphin Show.
OR, you can even stay at Sea World Resort and have your private Dolphin Discovery presentation.
Of course, don’t forget to check out the aquariums and learn about the local marine life and conservation. You can also see polar bears and sharks behind glass here too.
It’s a great Gold Coast attraction for kids.
4. Attend the Australian Outback Spectacular
Watch Australian stockmen and women bring the legend of Phar Lap to life in this unique theatre performance.
The show tells the gripping story of 2 struggling Australian farmers and their fight to survive in the unforgiving lands. The community come together to help them and overcome their struggles.
It’s a heartwarming show that highlights the difficulties of agriculture in Australia and how many farmers have to live in such arid conditions.
The show is enjoyable in itself, but it’s also performed while you enjoy a delicious three-course meal which is just spectacular.
The Australian Outback Show is a unique thing to do on the Gold Coast for families looking for something educational and fun to do.
5. Cruise Over to Moreton Island
Visit Moreton Island, the third largest sand island in Australia, for activities such as dolphin feeding, tobogganing, quad bikes, archery, tennis, badminton, snorkeling, kayaking, exploring shipwrecks, taking eco walks, and parasailing.
The boat ride to Moreton Island is very scenic, with views of the glistening Gold Coast skyline getting smaller and smaller as you sail off to more untouched waters.
On Moreton Island, you can opt to do many different things. Most people enjoy the 4WD desert safari as it takes you around the Tangalooma Desert and allows you to see most of the island.
If you want to step your Gold Coast vacation up some more, you can try your hand at sand tobogganing, which is definitely not for the faint-hearted. You can reach speeds of up to 40km per hour, which is perfect for those who love adrenaline-filled activities.
For more relaxation, enjoy a marine discovery cruise where you can look for dolphins, dugongs, green sea turtles, sea cucumbers, stingrays, and other marine life. During the right season, you might even be able to do a spot of whale watching.
You can also enjoy the resort facilities of Tangalooma Island Resort as you explore the island, as well as use its pools, restaurants, and bars.
In the evening, you can see a family of wild dolphins who come up to the jetty for their nightly feed.
It’s one of our favourite things to do in the Gold Coast and is a definite must if looking for a Brisbane getaway.
6. Spend the Day at Dreamworld
Dreamworld is one of the most popular things to do in the Gold Coast for families. It’s a huge theme park with many thrill-seeking rides and rollercoasters.
It doesn’t matter what age your kids are, there is something for every member of the family to enjoy here.
Ride the high-action rollercoaster for adrenalin seekers – Buzzsaw, the fast, bone-chilling ride.
Or try your hand at the 6 other thrilling rollercoasters, not for the faint-hearted.
For the younger ones head straight to Wiggles World for some dancing with Dorothy and some toddler-friendly rides ad activities.
7. Splash Around At Wet and Wild
If rollercoasters aren’t your thing, then you may enjoy Wet ‘N’ Wild more. It’s the ultimate water park to visit on those hot summer Gold Coast days.
You can enjoy a relaxing swim, sit back in a cabana, splash around in the wave pool or scare yourself on the skycoaster.
There are also several water slides, a lazy river, rafting rides, and for the toddlers, a splash zone.
This is the thing to do on the Gold Coast in summer if you’re traveling as a family.
8. Take a Jet Boat Ride
In case you haven’t noticed by now, the Gold Coast is all about extreme fun and adventure. What better way to shake away the morning cobwebs and get the heart pumping than by a 55-minute jet boating experience?
Strap yourself in with the guys from Jet Boat Extreme as you ride around the scenic waterways of Surfers Paradise.
You’ll pass by Southport Yacht Club, the Versace Hotel, and SeaWorld. You’ll also experience 360–degree spins and travel at high–speed across the Pacific Ocean.
It’s one of the best adrenaline-fueled attractions on the Gold Coast. Craig and I did this one year sans kids and had a blast.
9. Tour the Waterways on an Aquaduck
If you want a more sedate experience on the water, we’ve also done an amphibious boat tour in Surfers Paradise, which we really enjoyed.
You get to experience Gold Coast life from the ocean and the Gold Coast waterways and canals, including cruising past millionaire homes! Kids will love this relaxing Gold Coast experience.
10. Visit The Gold Coast Wax Museum
The Gold Coast Wax Museum is Australia’s largest museum of its kind, featuring more than 110 life-size wax effigies.
You can meet the Presidents, both present and former Prime Ministers, as well as several global celebrities and entertainers. Meet members of the Royal Family, dictators from around the world, and many other famous people.
The figures have been crafted by leading overseas sculptors, equal in quality to the world’s best.
If you’ve never been to a wax museum before, then you’ll enjoy this experience.
11. Have Fun at Thunderbird Park
Where adventure meets nature, Thunderbird Park is a part theme park and part nature park. It covers over 112 hectares on Tamborine Mountain and is known as Australia’s largest playground.
You can go swinging between the trees on the high ropes and zip line, go camping, or take a bush walk through the forest to see the waterfalls, including the cascading Cedar Creek Falls.
Part of the park, is the Mount Tamborine Adventure Park is an extreme activity on the Gold Coast!
It takes elements of SAS commando training (so you know you’re getting a workout in) but is delivered in a safe, fun and exciting way.
You can experience over 100 challenges over five courses, each combining ropes and wire challenges, flying foxes, suspended bridges, and much much more. It’s for kids 8 and over. Book your ticket here.
You can even stay overnight in one of the Thunderpark lodges or in their campsites, or glamping, if you don’t want to cmap.
This is another great place to visit on the Gold Coast for families.
12. Ride the Rollercoasters at Movie World
Movie World is another one of the top theme parks on the Gold Coast and is owned by Warner Bros. If you’ve ever been to Universal Studios in Orlando, you will find similar vibes at Movie World.
Take on the steepest drop in the Southern Hemisphere, reach up to speeds of 66km/h and pull 3.5G’s n hairpin bends and inverted spins on Green Lantern Rollercoaster.
There are thrill-seeking rides, family-friendly rides, a movie star parade with some of your favourite characters, and meet and greets with movie star characters.
You can see a 4D cinema movie, watch a stunt show, or become a movie extra! There’s so much to see and do here, you may even need two days to see it all.
13. Ride a 160m Flying Fox
There are some great national parks in Australia and particularly around the Gold Coast. One of our favourites is Lamington National Park which is famous for its ancient Gondwana Rainforests, where the rare Albert’s lyrebird lives.
You can hike the many hiking trails around the Binna Burra and Green Mountains, or to the overlooks over the Coomera Valley.
One of my favourite ways to experience the park though is to fly through the world heritage-listed Lamington National Park on O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat flying fox experience.
This is a zip-line that flies through the canopies of the trees, just like a flying fox. The experience is fun for all ages, but you must be aged 3+ to do this activity.
14. Go Quad Biking in the Hinterland
If you’re a nature lover, you will love exploring the landscapes of the Hinterland by quad bike. You can drive through grasslands, forests, and past local landmarks on a two-hour quad-biking tour.
As you explore the Numinbah Valley you’ll pass by rivers and creeks, or climb to new heights to experience some of the best views the Gold Coast.
A quad bike is not only a means to explore these rugged terrains and off-the-beaten-path places but a fun experience in itself.
15. Dine at a Beachfront Restaurant
The Gold Coast is all about the ocean, so when choosing places to eat, pick a restaurant with a view.
You can have breakfast, lunch, or dinner at one of the Gold Coast’s family-friendly Surf Life Saving Clubs.
Head over to Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club for some delicious food, a cold beverage or just somewhere to kick back and relax after a day on the waves.
Our favorites are North Burleigh Surf Club and Rainbow Beach Surf Club at Rainbow Bay Surf Club at Snapper Rocks (best sunset view from here!)
16. Watch Dracula’s Haunted Cabaret Show
Watch a horror-themed show whilst stuffing your face with chocolate cake. This is perhaps one of the most unusual things to do on the Gold Coast!
The show is intended for audiences aged 15+ and is a comedy spectacle. With live cabaret with singing, dancing, burlesque, magic, juggling, and aerial performances…you’ll forget all about ordering your food!
17. Go Walking on a Coastal Walk
There are many Gold Coast walks for you to choose from since the whole city was built around the great outdoors.
Get up at 6 am and you’ll find everyone out walking, cycling, and surfing. You can’t help but get caught up in the energy of the place.
And the great thing about taking a bush walk on the Gold Coast is that it’s free, which is great if you have found yourself spending a lot on theme parks on your trip.
Get active and get beyond the concrete skyline on one of these four Gold Coast bush walks.
18. Connect to Indigenous Australia Culture at Spirits of the Red Sand
Take time on your Gold Coast vacation away from the adrenalin activities and theme parks, to learn the history of the traditional owners of our land and connect to the beauty and vibrancy of their culture.
Inspired by the Tamaki Maori Village in New Zealand, the Spirits of the Red Sand is a cultural show and experience that shares over 60,000 years of Aboriginal Australia culture, the world’s oldest.
During the day there are interactive cultural education programs with hands-on participation in cultural activities, demonstrations, and ancient ceremonies.
At night, there is the award winning live theatre and dinner experience that takes you from Dreamtime to 1800’s Australia when the British and Aboriginal ways of life collide.
There are some Indigneous food on the menu including tasting skewers of kangaroo, crocodile and emu.
Spirits of the Red Sand is located in Beenleigh Historical Village just outside of the Gold Coast on the way to Brisbane.
Get your tickets here. They do include round trip transfers from select locations on the Gold Coast.
19. Play at The Beach Playgrounds and Parks
If you’re looking for free things to do on the Gold Coast with kids, then you can’t go wrong with a visit to the play park. Yes I know, play parks can be found everywhere, but the parks on the Gold Coast are right by the ocean and have some beautiful scenic views that mum and dad will enjoy too.
You can play with your kids and have a picnic at one of the picnic tables when you visit one of the many beautiful parks along the coast. If you’re not sure which park to visit, Laguna Park in Palm Beach is the locals favourite.
20. Visit Springbrook National Park
Another national park worth visiting is Springbrook National Park, known for its refreshing waterfalls, rainforest, ancient trees, and unique rock formation known as Natural Bridge.
The Natural Bridge is made from the force of the waterfall over a basalt cave, which forms this unique bridge-like formation.
You can walk to the bridge within 10 minutes from the car park as it’s only 1km away. But don’t just visit for this attraction and leave. Take some time to wander the walking trails into the rainforest and enjoy being in nature.
Be sure to check out the Purling Brook Falls walking track circuit, the Natural Bridge Rainforest Circuit, Canyon lookouts, and the Twin Falls walk.
21. Play Minigolf at Putt Putt Golf, Mermaid Beach
Putt Putt Golf offers three fantastically themed 18-Hole courses including a Jungle Trail, Fun Run, and Waterways course. There’s also an arcade where you can kill time after your game of minigolf.
It’s open every day and night and our kids love going there!
Hey – what would a vacation to the Gold Coast with kids be without a game of putt putt. It’s like going to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina
22. Marvel at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museums are located all over the world and are dedicated to showcasing the weird and wonderful’s of this world.
Known as an Odditorium, the museum is a Gold Coast attraction that is interactive and fun. You can see authentic, unbelievable exhibits, incredible illusions, unusual stories, magic, mystery, interactive games, and amazing movies.
23. Go Kart Racing
Looking for excitement just inches off the ground? Slideways Go Karting World is an outdoor go-karting track with a 700-metre circuit with over 20 challenging corners. They are known for high speed, but do have go karts and experiences for younger kids too.
They are conveniently located near Dreamworld.
24. Shop Until You Drop at Carrara Markets
If you’re looking for things to do on The Gold Coast on the weekend, then a visit to the Carrara Markets is a must.
This is Queensland’s biggest and best permanent markets, with over 500 stalls covering 10 acres.
It’s a popular family day out with buskers, pony rides, merry-go-round rides, bungee trampolines, and face painters.
Free entry, free parking, indoor and outdoor shopping, and over 100 fashion outlets. What more could you ask for? Oh and over 10 cafes, six plant nurseries, and tons of fun stuff for the kids
25. Hang Out at the Beach
Of course, no trip to the Gold Coast would be complete without taking a trip to the beach.
Soak up the sunshine along the 72 km of pristine Gold Coast beaches. You’ll find clean white sand, turquoise waters and gentle waves – perfect for swimming.
Some of our favourite beaches include Coolangatta, Burleigh Heads, Greenmount, Currumbin (the Currumbin rock pools are worth checking out), and Broadbeach.
26. Jump out of a Plane
Skydiving isn’t for everyone, but if you want to have incredible views of the coast from the sky, this is one action-packed way to do it!
Gold Coast Sky Dive is the best rated Tandem Skydive on the Gold Coast! Boasting an excellent safety record, state-of-the-art equipment, and a pristine beach-side location.
For a more unique experience, consider this tandem-skydive experience from a helicopter over Surfers Paradise.
27. Explore the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets
For a relaxing, local experience, hit the local markets. The Surfers Paradise Beachfront Market is a casual, open-air night market with over 100 market stalls, selling everything from local arts and crafts, street food, local artisans, and live entertainment.
It’s held every Wednesday and Friday night along the coastal stretch.
28. Get a taste of Local at the Village Markets
One of my favorite things about living in Burleigh Heads was visiting the weekly farmer’s market AND the bi-monthly Village Markets at the Burleigh Heads State School. It was the best way to connect to the incredible local creatives in our community, while enjoying craft coffee and great food.
This Gold Coast pop-up market features jewelry, fashions & craft stalls from small-time entrepreneurs. PLUS, they have live music and you never know what next big star you may see. This is where I was introduced to singer-songwrite Ziggy Alberts, a surfer living out of his van playing small gigs wherever he could.
I became an instant fan and still am. That day (2016), he played to about 40 people sitting on the grass (and I met him after); he now plays to thousands at concerts around the world, has over 1.6 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
The Village Markets are held First and Third Sunday of each month 8.30AM – 1PM
29 Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) at Tallebudgera Creek
Okay, time for another local’s secret My ultimate favorite thing to do on the Gold Coast, esepcially with my kids, is stand up paddleboaridng on Tallebudgra Creek.
Most people drive over the Tallebudgera Creek Bridge at the southern entrance to Burleigh on their way to Surfers Paradise without realizing this pristine waterway on the edge of the Burleigh Heads State Park is a kid’s dream adventure playground.
It’s crystal clear, calm waters are perfect for swimming, but even better for stand up paddleboarding. You can rent boards on the shoreline. And for those experienced paddlers, you can even go out to where the waves are breaking on the beach shoreline as the creek spills into the ocean.
One time, we missed seeing dolphins who were swimming aruond the creek only 5 minutes before our arrival.
If you’re staying in Burleigh, I recommend walking around via the Burleigh Heads State Park coastal path. It is my favorite place on the Gold Coast. I have that photo above from Tumgun Point on my office wall. We also saw dolphins from here a lot.
30. Cycle the Gold Coast Oceanway
One of the best ways to see a city is to cycle it. The Gold Coast has a 36 kilometre network of pathways along beaches from the Gold Coast Seaway (The Spit) to the Point Danger Lighthouse (Coolangatta).
You can simply pack your own lunch, plenty of water, your swimmers, and a camera, and get peddling!
Enjoy access to a wide range of coastal environments including spectacular coastal vistas, beaches, headlands, mangroves, and dunes.
We have not cycled the entire Oceanway, but we have biked and walked many smaller sections of it. Craig and I walked a 10km section one-way from Burleigh Heads to Surfers Paradise which took us 2 hours with minimal stops.
We loved our home section from North Burleigh Point to Burleigh Heads State Park and the section from Coolangatta to Point Danger is stunning. Possibly my favorite stretch of the Gold Coast. Time your explorations with sunset at Snapper Rocks – you won’t be disappointed. (You can read more in this post on Gold Coast walks)
31. Visit HOTA – Home of the Arts
Home of the Arts has something for all ages in your family, particularly those who love a sprinkle of art with their lifestyle.
Even if you want to visit just to soak up it’s stunning 17-acre location on the lake, surrounded by parklands with views of Surfers Paradise.
This district, which has had a fresh, modern revamp since 2018 is becoming quite a hotspot for performances, lake-side strolls, star-gazing, cinema-watching, art and new-ideas.
They have an art gallery, cinemas, theaters, a cafe, wekely markets and regular live mjusic and events.
This is Gold Coast living at its best and would be a lovely relaxing addition to your Gold Coast itinerary.
32. Check Out the Skypoint Climb
Are you ready to climb Australia’s highest external building climb? The SkyPoint Climb is a Gold Coast adventure that combines extreme sports with incredible scenic views.
You’ll climb up to 270 metres above sea level whilst being connected to an internal handrail for safety.
Following the guide and enjoy the views. If you really want to experience the thrill, climb the stairs toward the massive spire and lean along the edge. That was pretty scary!
The climb takes approximately 90 minutes from start to finish, including the briefing, suiting up, the Climb, and de-gearing at the end.
33. Go Whale Watching
Did you know you can go whale watching on the Gold Coast?
It is a winter activity – as migration season is between June and October – so rug up. Although you’re on the Gold Coast, so it won’t be too cold, but it can be when you get out on the water, especially early in the morning.
Worried you may not see them?
Take it from this local, we’d see whales breaching off shore almost daily when we lived at Burleigh Heads – often from the balcony of our apartment, on our daily beach walks, while eating lunch at North Burleigh Heads Surf Club, and even super close to shore and the surfers at Snapper Rocks. Now that was a moment!
So always keep an eye open when visiting the Gold Coast in the winter. Instead of waiting for these unpredictable events, why not join a whale watching tour. (Book your tickets here)
The boats will safely follow humpback migratory path, whilst staying a respectful and lawful distance.
We saw plenty up close – including breaching – and our kids loved it. The great thing about a whale watching cruise is you’ll learn more about these magnificent animals and the importance of protecting them. Plus, you get great views of the Gold Coast coastline.
34. Visit The Stradbroke Islands
If you’re looking for another island to experience as a getaway from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, then the Stradbroke Islands offer a great escape.
Learn about its rich indigenous culture and explore the diversity of wildlife on this laid-back island.
People tend not to visit South Stradbroke Island as many of the best things to do are in the North, but if you do get the chance to hit the South it’s one of the best places to get some peace and quiet.
Here you can learn about Minjerribah, the name given to the island by its traditional owners, as well as the Quandamooka people who live here.
It’s also a great place to go scuba diving on the Gold Coast.
Straddie, as the Aussies call it, is a relaxing, nature-lovers paradise. We highly recommend staying at Couran Cove Island Resort. You can read all about our stay at Couran Cove here.
Before You Go
So there you have it, those are 28 exciting things to do on The Gold Coast and as you can see, there’s so much fun to be had.
Whether you’re into theme parks or not, you’ll find there’s so much to see and do no matter what your travel style.
We hope this guide helped you plan your visit to the Gold Coast and it gave you a list of attractions to add to your itinerary.
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Do you have tips for things to do on the Gold Coast? Share in the comments below.