If you’re planning a trip to the Gold Coast with kids, but you have no idea where to start, I’ve put together this guide of things to do! It’s a guide on the best places to visit, the best kid friendly restaurants and cafes we have come across in town and the best family accommodation. There are a few additional tips along the way to help you make the most of your time at the sunny Gold Coast.
A few weeks ago now we took a trip back to Queensland for a family wedding. We opted to stay at the Gold Coast for a few nights to soak up some sunshine, after a very long dreary winter in Perth. This is one of the many trips we have made to the Gold Coast over the years, as prior to Perth we were living in Brisbane. Here’s a look at our time in the Goldie!
The best family activities in the Gold Coast
1. Sea World
There’s so much to love about Sea World! The educational and fun seal show and dolphin show are a must! Do your kids a favour and allow plenty of time to enjoy Nickelodeon Land. Here you will find an awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle show which our boys loved! There are some great rides here too including a beautiful big carousel and mini rollercoasters. We all enjoyed watching the flips and tricks at the jet ski stunt show, however be sure to turn up a bit earlier to get a seat in the shade if you are here on a hot day.
Watching the polar bear and penguins up close was a big highlight for us! Make sure you allow loads of time to sit and watch! Last but not least we would recommend taking a ride on the air conditioned monorail. You can use it as a form of transport to get around the park or like we did, use it as downtime to rest in a fun, cool environment!
We spent a couple of hours at Wet ‘n’ Wild which was enough to do all of the family activities but you could easily spend all day here if you choose to! There are locker facilities, a range of foods and drinks to purchase and places to sit and chill along the way. You can even jump online and hire a shaded cabana if you like!
A must-do with kids is Wet ’n’ Wild Junior which is a large water play zone for kids only! It has mini water slides and an awesome multi-level play zone with the always exciting giant tipping bucket. There is also a paddling and wading pool here for kids to chill out. We all loved floating down the river on a soft doughnut at Calypso beach and the giant wave pool is great for everyone to enjoy. If you are after something a bit more exhilarating there are heaps of adrenaline pumping rides to check out too!
A few handy tips if you are planning to go to the theme parks for the first time:
- Visit out of the school holidays and weekends if possible, to avoid the crowds and long line ups for rides.
- Choose a cooler day if you can as it gets hot walking around in the relentless sunshine.
- If you have young children and are wanting to visit Sea World, consider staying at the Sea World Resort so you can come and go for naps and snacks as frequently as you need to.
- Look for ticket deals online prior to visiting the theme parks. There are annual passes which are great value for money if you are locals. There are also plenty of 3 day or 7 day pass deals where you can get entry into multiple theme parks at a cheaper rate.
- Check the times for the shows you want to see online or when you first enter the theme park, so you can plan your day and not miss out.
- You can do one theme park in a day but it is a big day, especially with younger kids.
- Take your own snacks and bottled water in a backpack. Have regular breaks especially if it is hot.
This is a really fun, unique (and informative!) family activity to do on the Gold Coast. Aquaduck is an amphibious vehicle which takes you on an hour long tour of the Gold Coast. It travels both on road and water with a commentary about the sights you see along the way.
The highlight for my boys was when Aquaduck drove into the water with a splash! My little man also loved having a drive of Aquaduck whilst we were in the water. Every child has the opportunity to do this and they are presented with a special Aquaduck License Certificate afterwards.
4. Broadwater Parklands
A huge playground like no other we have seen before, with its popular large shaded jumping pillow, a pedal monorail and a fantastic range of other play equipment suitable for kids of all ages. Our boys loved it all! There are all the facilities you need to settle in for hours including toilet and BBQ facilities.
The Broadwater Parklands stretches along the Southport foreshore for a few kilometres. There is an inflatable water park on the water opposite the playground. This is open during Summer only and a cost applies. Another popular spot here is the Rockpools, which is a popular water play area for your little ones. Definitely worth a visit!
5. King Tutts Putt Putt
Tee up and have a hit at the fun Egyptian and dinosaur themed King Tutts Putt Putt, located in the heart of Surfers Paradise. We opted for the Egyptian themed course which our boys chose when the man at the front desk told them there would be glow in the dark caves and glow in the dark golf balls. Our boys loved the moving dinosaurs which were visible as we weaved our way around one of the two indoor 18 hole courses. Alternatively there is a more difficult outdoor course to try. The mini golf is very reasonably priced and loads of fun for anyone!
6. Tallebudgera Creek
One of the local’s favourites (and now ours!) is the serene, beautiful and peaceful Tallebudgera Creek. With its sheltered inlet, clear blue shallow waters and white sands, it is a spectacular spot to visit with kids. You can hire stand up paddle boards here and there is a cafe which has freshly made sandwiches and rolls. A small shaded playground is located on the grass beachside which my little man loved and there are all the facilities you need, if you choose to spend the day here!
7. The many beaches along the 57km white sandy coastline
Your kids can swim, build sandcastles, dig and play to their hearts content in the gorgeous white sands of the Gold Coast. Main Beach, Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise, Burleigh and Currumbin are just some of the beaches we like to visit at the Gold Coast. There is usually a playground and a Surf Club nearby to grab a casual bite to eat, whilst sitting back and enjoying the ocean view.
8. G link tram
What kids (and boys in particular) don’t love the excitement of riding on a new and unique form of transport they have never seen before. Well that’s where The G link, Queensland’s first light rail system comes in handy at the Gold Coast!
There are 16 stations which include some of the Gold Coast’s major attractions. Some of these include Main Beach, Broadwater Parklands, Pacific Fair Shopping Centre and the the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre. Jump on board at the station nearest to you and relax and enjoy the air conditioned ride. Check www.ridetheg.com.au for timetable and fare information.
The best places to eat at the Gold Coast with kids
We love to eat out as a family and on our most recent trip to the Gold Coast, we found some great kid-friendly restaurants, cafes and ice-cream shops.
1. Southport Surf Life Saving Club
When you visit the Gold Coast you have to experience a meal at one of the Surf Life Saving Clubs which are dotted from one end of the Gold Coast to the other. The Surf Clubs offer casual beachside dining with a full kids menu, kids activity sets available for a small fee and a vast selection of food to choose from.
We can recommend the Southport Surf Club at Main Beach as we have a meal there every time we hit the Gold Coast. Our boys ordered up their usual choice of chicken nuggets and chips and hamburger and chips which they enjoyed. The adults devoured a massive chicken schnitzel, chips and salad and a seafood basket and both tasted great. There is a playground located on the grassy area outside the Surf Club, just a minutes walk away from the entrance.
2. Lemongrass Thai, Main Beach
A popular locals favourite, this casual Thai restaurant is located in the heart of Tedder Avenue. The food was delicious and the service very efficient and friendly. We can highly recommend the Chicken Cashew with Rice and Pad Thai with Prawns. We loved how the staff offered our boys some colouring activities as soon as we sat down at our table.
3. Baskin and Robbins, Main Beach
The most delicious creamy ice-cream with so many flavours to choose from including Hokey Pokey, Mint Choc Chip, Banana and Love Potion (berry ice-cream full of strawberry filled dark chocolate hearts!) Every day was ice-cream day for our boys on our holiday, so we managed to work our way through all of these flavours and more!
4. Local and Co, Main Beach
A newcomer to Tedder Avenue, we were really impressed by this cool cafe and returned a number of times to work our way through their breakfast menu. There is a great selection of food for breakfast including a tasty acai bowl, brekkie bruschetta and the basic bacon and eggs on sourdough if you prefer. There is a kids menu and they serve delicious thick banana smoothies and great coffee.
5. Sushi Train Surfers Paradise
A favourite sushi restaurant of ours located on Le Boulevard in the heart of Surfers Paradise. They serve fresh, delicious sushi with the option to sit at booths or benches, both right next to the sushi train. A quick, casual and kid-friendly option!
6. Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, Broadbeach
This huge newly renovated state of the art shopping centre feels like a resort complete with waterfalls, comfy stylish seating, bars, cafes, restaurants and of course loads of shops! There are lots of options for eating out. We ate at the Level 1 ‘Food Court’ (more upmarket than your usual food court) which had a variety of unique restaurants and different cuisines including Mexican and Chinese. If you prefer something familiar Grill’d is here too!
7. Providore, Main Beach
A lunch favourite of ours is Providore at Marina Mirage shopping centre. We love it for its cabinet full of healthy, substantial salads and freshly filled bread rolls. They also have a full sit down menu and a kids menu which includes yummy chicken nuggets and fish and chips. Fresh, healthy produce in a cool, rustic deli style cafe!
8. Cold Rock Ice Creamery
We love Cold Rock for its large range of ice-cream flavours and of course its mix-ins! You can choose from a range of treats including mini chocolate bars, lollies or fruit to be mixed in to your choice of ice-cream flavour. It’s an experience not to be missed! Located in multiple spots across the Gold Coast, there is sure to be one near you.
The best places to stay at the Gold Coast with kids
You really are spoilt for choice with accommodation at the Gold Coast so it can be overwhelming deciding where to stay. Generally if you are travelling with kids, the best way is to book a self contained apartment which has everything you need for your stay including linen, towels, cutlery, plates, pots and pans, washing machine, dryer and dishwasher.
We love to stay at Main Beach as it is away from the hustle and bustle of Surfers Paradise but it is so easy to access all the major attractions by car or tram. The accommodation we have recommended below is located a short walk from Tedder Avenue which has a variety of restaurants and cafes, a small grocery store, pharmacy and a great bakery.
All of the accommodation below has at least one swimming pool and tennis courts available. There is generally somebody at reception during the day to help with any queries and tourism enquiries.
1. Carrington Court
3576 Main Beach Parade, Main Beach
2. Sunbird Beach Resort
3540 Main Beach Parade, Main Beach
3.The Meriton on Main Beach
29 Woodroffe Avenue, Main Beach
These tips have just scratched the surface of what the Gold Coast has to offer. There are so many more fun places to visit, stunning beaches to explore, bush walks to hike and wildlife sanctuaries to enjoy. It is definitely somewhere to add to your family travel bucket list and a fantastic holiday destination you can enjoy visiting over and over again.