20 (almost) free things to do on the Gold Coast
Whoever said you need to spend big to have a good time obviously hasn’t been to the Gold Coast.
From a trampoline park on steroids to a World Heritage-Listed wonder, make like a bird and go cheap, cheap, cheap with this list of things to do on the Gold Coast for under $25.
1. Go on a beach crawl
If you usually stick to your local sand and surf down the road, why not mix it up with a dip at the other awesome beaches along the coastline.
Take your surfboard, put up a beach umbrella or bust out the cricket set, just don’t forget to slip, slop, slap!
COST: Free, but bring extra cash for some fish and chips for lunch (and a sneaky slushie along the way).
2. Get back to nature
You’ll find there’s #nofilter required when you explore the insanely beautiful national parks of the World Heritage Gondwana Rainforests in the hinterland. And with so many walking tracks to choose from, you’ve got weekends of free adventures sorted for at least a month!
To kick start your ‘Gold Coast Natural Wonders’ bucket list, there’s the Natural Bridge rock formation – formed by the force of the waterfall over the erosive basalt cave – in Springbrook National Park, the beautiful valleys and waterfalls of Lamington National Park’s Green Mountains and Binna Burra sections, the rugged mountain peaks of Mount Barney National Park, and the stunning Queen Mary Falls Circuit of the Main Range National Park.
Don’t want to venture too far from the coastline (and you’re not so keen on a massive trek)? Head to Burleigh Head National Park for epic views with its ocean and rainforest circuits of the rocky headland.
COST: Free minus the petrol to get you there. Thank you Mother Nature, you bloody beauty you!
3. Take a walk down memory lane
Before big, bright city lights and skyscrapers, the Gold Coast was all about understated but oh-so-cool Miami meets Vegas glamour.
Not sure where to start? Check out this gallery for some inspo.
COST: No need to buy that DeLorean because this time-travel activity is free.
4. Off to market
Why go shopping inside a mall when you can peruse the racks at the beach or in a park?
Whether you’re hunting for a bargain, a yummy treat, or you’re just happy to get out of the house and have a browse, the Gold Coast has creative local knick-knacks and fresh produce by the basket-full at their many (and we mean many) markets.
COST: Thank goodness for free entry because you’ll want some $$$ to splurge on a vintage treasure or acai bowl.
5. Catch a barrel of knowledge
If ‘sun, sand and surf’ is your life’s motto, then you can’t go past a trip to Queensland’s only surfing museum, Surf World.
Take a peek at Australia’s largest collection of surfboards and learn about the evolution of design and technology from the early 1930s to today. There’s also amazing photography depicting early surf scenes and the changing beach culture, as well as surfing memorabilia and artworks on show.
COST: Entry is only $10 for adults, but we can’t guarantee you won’t go to town on their gift shop.
6. You better believe it…. or not
Get your weird on at Ripleys Believe It Or Not! Odditorium. From shrunken heads and the world’s tallest man to a spinning vortex tunnel and a fantasy dance room, around every corner of your self-guided adventure you’ll find things that make you go “ahh”, “wow” and most definitely “ewwww”.
COST: Entry for adults is $24.90 with free wi-fi included so you can snapchat your adventure as you go.
7. Peddle on
If sand between your toes feels more like torture than pleasure, why not hire a cruiser and explore the beachside on two wheels.
More of an avid rider? Escape to the hinterland and test your endurance on these five cycling trails through the ancient Gondwana Rainforest and rolling cattle properties.
COST: Free if you’ve got your own sweet set of wheels, but you can hire a cruiser from just $25 for a half day.
8. It’s movie time
Catch the latest drama or nail-biting thriller at the Nerang Cineplex. With tickets as cheap as chips, you will never have to choose between popcorn, Skittles or a choc top again because you can binge on the lot without it costing you an arm and a leg!
COST: Budget Tuesdays are where it’s at, with adult prices at a measly $6.50 all day and night long. But even on general weekdays and weekends, tickets will only set you back a maximum $8.50. (Unless it’s a 3D movie, where you gotta pay up… an extra $2.50.)
9. Get your jam on
Good tunes, good food and good beer – what more could you want on a Friday night? Kick start your weekend at Burleigh Brewing Company with their weekly Brew Jams, where emerging local artists will be accompanying that sweet and well-deserved freshly brewed beer (and maybe a wiener or two).
If you’re lucky to catch the first Friday of the month, the guys take it up a notch turning the night into a Brewhouse Bash, making some noise and firing up the barbie in support of a local club, cause or charity.
COST: If you arrive between 5pm-8.30pm for free entry, the only costs will be what you eat and drink.
10. Indulge in an outdoor spa treatment
Get that pampered feeling without the big bill when you head to the Currumbin Rock Pools for a dip. Set in the lush Currumbin Valley, the drive to this natural spa is relaxing in itself, passing by beautiful farms, gardens, cottages and local fruit stalls.
COST: Petrol and any pre and post-dip fruit stops along the way.
11. Scream for ice-cream
Okay, maybe don’t actually scream (though squeals of delight are welcome), but if you’ve got a sweet tooth you can’t beat taste-testing a scoop or two of creamy goodness at Gelato Messina in Coolangatta.
With a whopping 40 freshly-churned flavours just waiting to be devoured – five of which are specials and change week to week – you’ll soon realise why these guys are hailed as the gelato gods of Gold Coast’s southside.
COST: One scoop starts at $4.80 and goes up to $7.80 for three.
12. Go bare or go home
It’s no secret this old-timers’ sport has made a pretty big comeback, with people taking their
kit shoes off all around the state to get in on the action.
So grab your mates, heck, your grandparents too (unless you don’t want them to kick your butt) and make your way to the Burleigh Heads Bowls Club on a Sunday afternoon.
COST: $5 per person, but spare yourself some extra dollars for a couple of beers. Bookings are essential. Yep, it’s THAT popular.
13. Snap a sunrise or sunset
While Gold Coast beaches look pretty damn good any time of day, there’s just something special about dusk and dawn that no matter how many times you catch them, it still feels like magic.
Either set your alarm for the crack of dawn or kick it straight after work to capture the two most beautiful times of the day at these top spots.
COST: Free, unless you decide to bring yourself a picnic.
14. Gold Coast on ice
We might not have a snow season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t escape to a winter wonderland.
Year-round you can get your skater boy/girl on at the Planet Chill ice-skating rink. There’s also an awesome ‘Chill Zone’ with ice-hockey, foos ball and snowboarding. The fun just never ends!
COST: For $20 you get skate hire (helmet included if needed) and two hours on the ice.
15. Feast on the great outdoors
Nothing says ‘Straya’ like sizzling up a snag on the barbie. Enjoy your meat-tastic lunch or dinner with stunner views to match at the best outdoor BBQ spots.
More of a cheese and crackers fan? Grab your picnic blanket and pack a basket of goodies, then set yourself up at the beautiful Gold Coast Botanic Gardens or at Point Lookout at Burleigh Head National Park (where you can watch the sun set behind the coastline).
COST: As much as you would like to spend on food.
16. Bounce Inc. will make ya, jump, jump
You will never look at your backyard trampoline the same after you’ve flipped your way through the graciously oversized playground that is Bounce Inc.
With over 50 interconnected trampolines, you can catch some serious airtime as you leap from one to the other and bounce off the walls. Channel your inner Michael Jordan and live out your b-ball fantasy in the slam dunk area or try your hand at some aerial manoeuvres, landing ever so gracefully on their giant inflatable big bag.
COST: Your first one-hour session is $16 then drops down to $11 when you’re ready for round two. But book online because sessions fill up fast!
17. Gone fishin’
Hook, line and sinker some Mary River cod, silver perch or Australian bass at Hinze Dam. With any luck you might catch yourself some dinner, which you can fry-up ASAP at the BBQ and picnic facilities on-site. Talk about fresh!
If the fish ain’t biting, check out the walking trail that takes you through the parklands. It’s dam fine (yeah, we went there).
COST: If you’ve got your own rod, all you need is some bait, plus a $10 weekly permit and you’re good to go.
18. Putt your way to a hole-in-one
Instead of greener pastures and sand dunes, you’ll find spinning windmills, haunted houses and glow-in-the-dark caves, and encounter mummies, King Kong and a baby dinosaur. Putt putt for the win, are we right?!
COST: With adult passes starting at $15 for one course, you may as well get your money’s worth and lock in three courses for a max. of $23.
19. David Fleay Wildlife Park
Meet Wally the platypus, say hello to a bilby and get up close and personal with a friendly lizard at the David Fleay Wildlife Park.
You almost feel like you’re out in the wild yourself when you stroll through the natural habitats of this wildlife park with a difference. Their philosophy, pioneered by the man himself, is that animals should be kept in similar conditions to their natural environment, so take your time spotting Queensland’s native animals as they roam around loving life in their naturalistic enclosures.
COST: Adult admission will only set you back $21.50.
20. Why don’t you come on over, gallery
Get cultured and see the latest exhibition at the Gold Coast City Gallery. Each year they feature over 20 local, national and international exhibitions, so there’s always something new and inspiring to see!
COST: Entry is free, but keep a dollar coin spare for a donation (there’s your good deed for the day).