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The best places to visit this summer

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Summer in Queensland is all about beaches, sunsets and sunrises (for the early risers at least!) and lastminute.com.au Travel Expert, Sarah King, says while week-long holidays will be popular this season, more and more people will be making spontaneous short-stay travel bookings on the go via mobile. 

“Each year we continue to see the Gold Coast top the Queensland destination list, with the same trend occurring in the summer of 16/17, with demand also for other traditional favourites such as Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Cairns, The Whitsundays and Port Douglas and Townsville also strong.

“People are jumping in the car and booking at the last minute for so many reasons, from checking the weather radar and wanting to escape the heat with a weekend by the beach, to spontaneously booking a good deal.”

If you like the idea of sunflower spotting, melon skiing, and wine tasting to complement your traditional beach holiday, here are 7 of the best places to visit this summer.

Beyond the beach | Gold Coast

Gold Coast | Best places to visit this summer

Crowned Best Family Holiday Hot Spot in Australian Traveller‘s 2016 People Choice Awards, there’s no denying the Gold Coast‘s pull for summer holidays.

“Although the Gold Coast is known for its beaches, we see interest in experiences beyond the salty water,” King says.

“Queensland is not traditionally known as a wine region, however that isn’t stopping many travellers who are dropping into the Gold Coast Hinterland for day trips. A vino or two at one of the many cellar doors in the region is the perfect place to cool off after a morning at the beach.”

While you’re out discovering the green behind the gold, you might be keen to pedal along one of these hinterland cycling routes.

Summer in the city | Brisbane City

South Bank | Best places to visit this summer

“More and more Aussies are starting to realise that Brisbane is not just the capital city gateway into Queensland, it’s a destination in its own right and this summer the city has a lot to offer,” King says.

“For the movie buffs there is nothing nicer than grabbing a picnic and a rug and heading to the Moonlight Cinema [in New Farm Park] from December to February, or if sport is more your thing, watch a game of cricket at the Gabba or hit up the Brisbane International, where some of the world’s best tennis players come to town.”  

A summer break in the city doesn’t have to break the bank either, with these 20 things to do under $20.

Accessible Islands | Moreton Island & North Stradbroke Island

Moreton Island | Best places to visit this summer

One of Brisbane’s best-kept secrets is its impressive islands, with Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island both within a 90-minute ferry ride away.

Summer is, naturally, one of the most popular times to visit the islands for long, lazy beach days and adventure in equal parts.

On North Straddie, you can start the day with sunrise yoga and end with sundowners and a belly full of fresh prawns on one of the stunning headlands and feel a million miles from anywhere.

On Moreton Island, 4WDing and camping make for the perfect off-the-grid summer adventure with the chance to nab your own private patch of beach and fish to your heart’s content.

Family holiday bliss | Sunshine Coast

Rainbow Beach | Best places to visit this summer

The Sunshine Coast is always a popular choice for summer holidays, and while events like the Noosa Summer Swim (February 11) give you the chance to rub shoulders with superfish Michael Klim, lesser-known locales are also calling this season.

A newly-launched food trail app provides a handy map to venture into the hinterland and meet local producers, join a cooking class, or simply stock up from farm gates for an afternoon picnic. A bevvy of breweries has also popped up on the coast in the past year to quench that summer thirst.

But if you’re looking for the ultimate summer road trip, switch the tarmac for sand and hit the Great Beach Drive from Noosa’s North Shore to the spectacular coloured sands of Rainbow Beach. Our hot local tip: Book in for one of Rainbow Beach Horse Rides‘ infamous full moon beach rides to really experience the kiss of summer’s balmy breath on your skin.

Turtle time | Bundaberg

Turtle hatchling | Best places to visit this summer

Summer on the Southern Great Barrier Reef equals tiny baby turtles bursting from their shells and scurrying across the sand to the ocean where they’ll start their long, beautiful life.

The hatchling end of the turtle season runs from January to March and one of the best spots to nab a front-row seat to the action is at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre in Bargara, fifteen minutes north of Bundaberg.

Here, nightly, you can join one of the rangers to watch over a clutch of eggs as they begin to quiver and crack, and help to guide the babies safely to the water.

It’s not just in Bundy where you can witness the miracle of life, with guaranteed spots to see turtles all across the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Secret beaches | Agnes Water & Town of 1770

Agnes Water | Best places to visit this summer

The twin towns of Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy are a bit of a local’s secret and once you visit for the first time, you’ll understand why most holidaymakers here make a recurring summer booking years in advance.

It’s the ideal time to pitch a tent absolute beachfront at Australia’s most northerly beach break, or book into one of the cute holiday apartments or houses spotted around the town.

With lazy days spent surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, or just straight up chillin’, it’s easy to slip into summer mode here. Even easier with the epic sunsets that roll over Bustard Bay, best witnessed with a cold drink in hand at The Tree.

And come February 17, the action switches from the beach to the SES grounds as the Agnes Water Blues, Roots & Rock Festival rolls into town and gets everyone grooving.

Sunflowers in bloom | Warwick

Sunflower Route | Best places to visit this summer

The coastline might have an ocean full of waves to ride but in Southern Queensland Country, a vibrant sea of yellow surges during the summer months when thousands of sunflowers burst into bloom.

Follow the Sunflower Route from Warwick to Allora for plenty of Insta-moments and a stroll through the towering plants.

While you’re out exploring the countryside, make a stop at one of these top waterholes for a freshwater alternative to the beach.

Melon magic | Chinchilla

Chinchilla Melon Festival

Everyone loves a good reason for a summer road trip, and ploughing yourself through a sea of smashed watermelons is just about as good a reason as any.

Head west to Chinchilla on February 16 as the bi-annual Chinchilla Melon Festival kicks pips into gear for five days of melon madness.

With melon skiing, melon bungee, melon chariot races, and pip-spitting competitions, this is Queensland’s version of La Tomatina, with a much sweeter aftertaste.

Where’s your favourite place to spend summer in Queensland? Share with us in the comments below.