Enjoy family fun on the Gold Coast

Beach at Surfers Paradise. Image courtesy of Gold Coast Tourism.
By Rachel Pinder

If you're looking for a fantastic family holiday with adrenalin-packed fun, gorgeous beaches and theme parks galore, you can't go wrong on Australia’s Gold Coast

With more than 300 days of sunshine each year, the region also boasts a diverse landscape of natural beauty. Here you can explore 70 kilometres of unspoiled coastline and beaches as well as 100,000 hectares of World Heritage rainforest, all while discovering native animals in the wild. 

The Gold Coast has the southern hemisphere’s largest range of attractions and activities, and you'll have heaps of fun discovering rich Australian landscapes just 20 minutes’ drive from the city. There are also a whopping 500 restaurants and cafes to choose from, so you'll have plenty of places to eat out while you're there. 

The Gold Coast’s northern areas are all about fun, entertainment, nightlife and shopping. Check out the lively entertainment precincts of Surfers Paradise, Main Beach and Broadbeach - plus Broadwater and Southport Seaway. 

You can easily fill your day with thrill rides, water slides, jet boats, shopping havens, surf breaks or just lounging around. It’s just as active by night with bright lights, dining and dance venues, bustling bars and a casino.

To the south you can take a deep breath and unwind at ecofriendly hotspots in the coastal and hinterland surrounding areas. 

Check out the weekly markets for organic local produce which is used by many of the southern Gold Coast’s top restaurants. 

Head to the golden white sands of Currumbin, Kirra and Greenmount, which are extensively cradled by valleys and creeks. This panoramic setting of unbelievable landscapes, tropical views and listed national parks is a great spot for family fun, whether in the water or hiking along nature trails.

The children will love Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – where you can get up close to the largest collection of Australian native animals in the world. 

Best known for the flocks of cheeky lorikeets which visit twice daily to be fed, the vast lush grounds of this famous wildlife park provide endless opportunities for close encounters with cute and not-so-cute animals - stroll amongst the kangaroos, get photographed cuddling a koala, and see wombats, Tasmanian devils, wallabies, and freshwater crocodiles, all in their natural environments. 

Explore the 'Creatures of the Dark Forest', where you’ll find native birds, reptiles, mammals and insects, all encased within a vast dome-shaped aviary and surrounded by a boardwalk through an Australian forest. Take time out with a trip on the miniature train or an Aboriginal Dreamtime performance where traditional ancient stories and myths are told daily through tribal song and dance.  

A vast range of waterways makes the city a haven of fun-filled pursuits among the numerous aquatic attractions. 

The waterside promenade known as Broadwater caters to every on-water activity imaginable, where thrill seekers can choose from jetboating, parasailing, kite surfing, diving, jet ski safaris, snorkelling, tall-ship cruising and yachting. 

A learn-to-surf class guided by world champions is a must-do, along with paddling and kayaking trips. Board a catamaran and enjoy deep-sea fishing, whale watching, take in a guided cruise of the waterways or simply swim among the surf at some of the best beaches in the world.

The Gold Coast has 30 different beaches to explore.
Great surf breaks to the south include Snapper Rocks, Duranbah, Coolangatta, Kirra and Currumbin Alley, while South Stradbroke, Narrowneck and the Seaway are the picks to the north. 

For family fun, you can’t go past the popular swimming spots of Main Beach, Surfers Paradise, Northcliffe, Broadbeach, plus Tallebudgera and Currumbin Creeks. 
Burleigh Heads provides the complete package with barrelling waves, a scenic headland and a cosy coastal setting.

Images courtesy of Gold Coast Toursim.

Just 40 minutes’ drive from the Gold Coast beaches you'll find a hinterland of subtropical rainforest, along with mountain villages, bushwalks, waterfalls and swimming holes, plus valleys of working produce farms and cattle stations. 

The World Heritage-listed Springbrook and Lamington National Parks, plus the extended township of Tamborine Mountain have access to amazing Australian landscapes with great campgrounds and ecofriendly accommodation. 

Roaming wildlife and an array of flora and fauna show nature at its finest. If you’re feeling active try hang gliding, horse riding, 4WD tours, hot air ballooning, ATV adventures or canopy walks. 

Wineries, boutique distilleries and breweries, restaurants, rustic homesteads, plus local produce, arts and crafts and jewellery stores are scattered throughout this rural region.

For more thrills, spills and family fun visit one of the Gold Coast’s premier theme parks. Visitors of all ages can enjoy Australia’s theme park capital. 

Home to more attractions than any other destination in the Southern Hemisphere, the Gold Coast has the fastest, the longest, the highest and the most exciting thrill rides in the country. 

Slide into the ride of your life at Dreamworld, home to the Big 6 Thrill rides or just splash next door to WhiteWater World, which offers adrenaline pumping thrills with family fun in the ultimate Aussie beach paradise. 

Images courtesy of Gold Coast Tourism.

Feel like a star at Warner Brothers Movie World and get lost in a world of fantasy. Travel from 0 to 100km/h in two seconds on the Superman Escape ride and mix with the likes of Bugs Bunny, Batman and Wonder Woman. 

For splashtacular fun, you can’t go past Wet’n’Wild Water World. Thrill seekers can get the ultimate adrenaline rush on the gigantic slides at the Extreme H2O Zone, or for a slower pace, why not check out the River Rapids at Whitewater Mountain or take it easy at Calypso Beach. 

For an up-close encounter with aquatic creatures great and small visit Seaworld and discover a world filled with marine life wonders like polar bears, sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins. 

Whether you want to laze in a wave pool, check out a stunt show or ride on a giant rollercoaster, the Gold Coast’s range of theme parks will keep the whole family entertained.

The Gold Coast's multi-cultural diversity means you can sample everything from soft-shell crabs and goat cheese to locally bred Wagyu beef and award-winning boutique wines.

Prominent restaurateurs and operators from the southern capitals and around the world have been drawn to the area, so Main Beach, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Coolangatta and the Hinterland now have a delectable choice of dining options. 

But if you're looking for a cheap option, there are plenty of beachside cafes, snack bars and budget priced eateries too.

Images courtesy of Gold Coast Toursim.

Get ready to shop until you drop, as the Gold Coast has a huge choice of places to give your credit card a workout, from signature fashion boutiques to larger iconic department store brands. 

Head to the many complexes, boutiques, piazzas and snap up a bargain or two.
Surfers Paradise is one of Australia’s leading retail precincts with shops open until 9pm every night and hundreds of boutique, department or domestic stores to choose from. 

Tree-lined boulevards shade international names like Cartier, Prada, Gucci, Louis Vitton, Fendi, Bally Hermes, Paris and Salvatore Ferragamo.  You will also find fantastic local fashion and jewellery stores. 

Robina Town Centre has recently undergone a $300million overhaul - making it the largest shopping centre in Queensland. It is home to Myers and the Gold Coast’s only David Jones department store as more than 300 specialty stores. 

Check out Harbour Town on the Gold Coast Highway just 20 minutes north of Surfers Paradise between the beaches and theme parks. 

There are more than 130 quality brand outlet stores at Harbour Town.  Visit the Tourism Lounge on arrival at Harbour Town to receive a free Tourism Club Card offering even more shopping and dining discounts, complimentary parcel minding and refreshments.

Main Beach is also worth a look - it has long been a favourite for locals and visitors to the Gold Coast. Tedder Avenue is famous for its one-off, ultra trendy local boutiques and classy restaurants. 

Also in the Main Beach neighbourhood is the stylish Marina Mirage which features international and top Australian designer label clothing, complemented by a string of award-winning restaurants all overlooking the beautiful Broadwater.

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