20 awesome things to do on the Gold Coast with kids
So much more than just a hot spot for high rollers and schoolies troops, the Gold Coast has – and will always be – a source of never-ending family fun that’ll leave your youngins with memories to last a lifetime.
Rally up your brood and make your way through this list of the best things to do on the GC with kids.
(And when you’ve ticked this lot off, head on over to this post for some more kid-friendly ideas after dark.)
1. Mount Tamborine
More country than coast, a drive to this mountain village is a great day trip for families, with your choice of hinterland hikes from the all-abilities-access Cedar Creek Falls track to the more advanced Witches Falls and Sandy Creek circuits.
But if you’re looking for less scenery and more shopping, hit the village where you’ll find antiques, artwork, cafes and boutique shopping amongst other offerings.
2. Burleigh Heads National Park
Beautiful Burleigh Heads National Park; this lush green outcrop on the Gold Coast makes the list because of its accessibility and ease of the trails. Send the kids on a scavenger hunt and see who can spot the most critters.
From water dragons and other scaly lizards to kites and eagles and other feathered friends, it’s no wonder the wildlife likes to take refuge in this beachside national park.
3. Tallebudgera Creek
This is the quintessential calm water spot on the Gold Coast. Although Tallebudgera Creek feeds out to the Coral Sea, the clear blue water of the creek is gentle and inviting – perfect for small children to splash around to their heart’s content.
With a small beach and lots of shade, you can swim, SUP, kayak, picnic and more in this little paradise. Access from the Palm Beach side of the creek (which is patrolled by lifeguards), or for a little more privacy, head back to Burleigh Heads National Park and take the Oceanview circuit track ’round the headland, or skip the stroll and enter via the southern entrance.
4. Natural Bridge at Springbrook + glow worms
Just a few hours inland from the shoreline, Springbrook National Park is home to one of the most fantastic natural wonders in Queensland. Surprise your mini waterfall-chasers when you show them a waterfall that goes underground to a glow-worm cave! Does nature get any more interesting than that?!
It’s not suitable for prams, but the trail is easy enough that most two- and three-year-olds would be able to manage. And trust us, it’s worth it.
5. Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens
The Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens in Benowa has experiences for all nature and garden lovers.
Stop and smell the roses in the – you guessed it – rose garden, then let the kids go wild touching the plants in the sensory garden. There’s even a butterfly garden, a playground and an off-leash area for the four-legged members of the family.
6. Beach day
Gold Coast beach days are what dreams are made of, and with around 70 kilometres of jaw-dropping coastline dotted with family-friendly spots, it doesn’t much better!
Grab your beach towels, slap on the sunscreen, throw your water bottles in a bag and head to any one of the gorgeous beaches on the GC. Just be sure to choose a guarded beach for the best beach safety with the kids.
7. Currumbin rock pools
Keen to get away from the salty seas but still want a spot to cool off and let the kids splash around? Ditch the sand and make your way to the Currumbin Rock Pools.
What used to be a secret locals’ spot is now a happening hinterland waterhole, so bring a picnic, nap (yeah right!) in the shade, and let the kids wear themselves out.
8. Broadwater Parklands
If your kids need to burn off some steam, look no further than the Broadwater Parklands are the free Disney World of the Gold, with multiple playgrounds (one being the fun-filled Rockpools, a sculptural water haven complete with fountains and vibrant marine-themed equipment), public pool AND a calm-water beach, and the pièce de résistance… a jumping bouncy pillow!
There are countless places to BBQ on the Gold Coast, but one of our favourites is Budds Beach. Big kudos for ticking off all the family boxes and then some, including calm water for the kids to swim, toilets (score!), a café across the street, and a playground.
10. O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk
Give the kids a bird’s-eye view of the rainforest! Located in Lamington National Park, O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk is 180 metres of boardwalk suspended 15 metres above the ground in a canopy of flowering and fruiting trees. Best of all – it’s free!
11. Theme parks
If you have adrenaline seekers in your family, then you must get yourselves to the thrill-seeker capital of Australia!
The Gold Coast is home to not one, not two, but five large-scale theme parks and they have all the goodness you would expect: grand shows, roller coasters, fairy floss and furry, friendly animals. The most complicated part is choosing which one to visit first.
12. Meet the Wildlife
With a history of Australian wildlife preservation reaching back over half a century, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary could be the best place to be on the Gold Coast with kids, especially for cute and cuddly encounters of the animal kind. The animal sanctuary welcomes visitors year round and even hosts eco ranger programs for kids during the Queensland school holidays.
(Extra bonus: Kids under the age of four get free entry!)
If your kids really love the natural world, be sure to also visit David Fleay Wildlife Park. Established in 1952 and often described as the father of wildlife conservation, David was the first person to successfully breed platypuses in captivity.
13. Learn to surf
It is the Gold Coast after all!
Known for its legendary surf breaks, treat the kids to a lesson from the pros that call these waves home. Surf schools such as Get Wet Surf School provides beginner lessons that have a stand up in the first lesson guarantee.
14. Jellurgal Aboriginal Culture Centre
Take a trip to the Dreamtime, courtesy of the Gold Coast’s Yugambeh people (one of the oldest living cultures in the world!) as they tell tales of Jellurgal (Burleigh Mountain) and its origin.
Tours walk you through picturesque Burleigh Heads National Park, where the family can learn about the cultural history of the Gold Coast. Afterwards, enjoy some bush tucker and tea at the café, and stop by the library or the in-house art workshop.
15. Ripley’s Believe it or not Odditorium & LaserRace
Walk through sixteen individually themed galleries of interactive exhibits that will have you questioning whether artefacts are real (or not). With creepy relics, incredible illusions and unusual characters, this family activity will leave you puzzled.
Afterwards, be sure to check out the Impossible LaserRace where your challenge will be to navigate through a room full of lasers, just like in the movies!
16. Aqua Splash Gold Coast
Why just go for a dip when you can splash, jump and slide on a playground on water at Aqua Splash Gold Coast. This inflatable obstacle course will definitely tire even the toughest little munchkin out.
With watchful lifesavers at the ready and compulsory lifejackets, this activity is not only super fun and challenging, it is also safe and secure.
17. Wax Museum
Listed as a Great Wax Museum of the World, the Gold Coast Wax Museum in Surfers Paradise is Australia’s largest museum of its kind. Take your kids on a tour and introduce them to presidents and prime ministers, celebrities and members of the royal family
18. Air Factory Trampoline Park
Get some serious air time at the Air Factory Trampoline Park in Burleigh Heads. There’s a cool Slam Dunk area where you can live out your dreams as an NBA star and a fun Dodgeball section if you’re keen for a game.
However, if you’re a pro gymnast wanting to show off your skills, head straight to the Pro Zone and show us your stuff.
19. Carrara Markets
Known to be Queensland’s largest, permanent marketplace covering 10 acres with over 500 stalls, the Carrara Markets have been entertaining shoppers for over 30 years.
Face painting, pony rides, buskers and treats will keep the littlies busy while you sneak in a coffee and maybe even some retail therapy!
20. Lilliputt Mini Golf
Head to Robina and have a go on the new Ice Age Mini Golf Course. With 18 holes each themed to the era of the Ice Age, you’ll learn and have fun at the same time. There’s also a glow-in-the-dark hole, so be sure to bring your A-Game to pot your ball.
Tickets start at $12 for children over 5 years old and $15 for adults, or nab a family pass (2 adults and 2 children) for $45.