At around an hour’s drive south from Brisbane, the Gold Coast is close enough for a day trip, yet action-packed enough for a full holiday! There are so many things to do on the Gold Coast with kids that families are spoilt for choice. Aside from spending time at the stunning beaches, you can experience thrill rides in the theme parks, explore the beautiful hinterland, have an animal encounter and much, much more!
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If you’re thinking of heading to the Gold Coast, here are some of the best experiences to try and places to visit while you’re there!
Gold Coast Beaches
You can’t go past the beautiful beaches for our top pick of things to do on the Gold Coast with kids.
Main Beach, Surfers Paradise
The most popular of all the beaches and, in fact, the busiest beach in Australia is Main Beach at Surfers’ Paradise. This is great for being close to restaurants, entertainment and a huge range of accommodation, so you can stroll the shops and have a great lunch in between dips at the patrolled beach located only metres away. Check out our guide to Things to do in Surfers Paradise for Families for some more ideas about spending your time in this top spot.
Flanked by fancy high rise accommodation, Broadbeach is a little less hectic that Surfers Paradise, but still features a great range of restaurants and shops if you want to take a break from the waves. Several great parks are located adjacent to the shoreline throughout Broadbeach, including Pratten Park and Kurrawa All Abilities Playground.
Mermaid Beach, Nobby’s Beach & Miami Beach
Just south of Broadbeach, Mermaid Beach, Nobby’s Beach and Miami Beach are perfect for families wanting a beach escape without the distractions (though Pacific Fair, a huge shopping complex with designer and department stores, dining, cinemas and more is located closeby). These are quieter beaches in more residential areas. Mermaid Beach is also home to Turtle Beach Resort, a fantastic accommodation option with a waterpark and more. If you are in Miami, you’ll also want to check out the Miami Marketta – a night market that is open to the public every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening.
Burleigh Heads is a little further south and very picturesque. From the surrounding patrolled beaches to the coastal walk through Burleigh Head National Park, it is very popular for families with kids of all ages. Finish the day up with some fish and chips overlooking the headland and see if the kids can spot any migrating humpback whales.
Tallebudgera Creek & Currumbin Creek
The estuaries of Tallebudgera Creek and Currumbin Creek provide the best of both worlds, with the sandy shores and calm waters of the creeks perfect for families with littles or those not wanting to battle the waves. They’re also just around the headland from some amazing surf beaches.
The beautiful Coolangatta, just north of the New South Wales border, is famous for its surf beaches—Greenmount, Kirra and Snapper Rocks. The oceanfront walk around Greenmount Point provides some great outlooks, while a walk up to Kirra Hill Lookout offers panoramic views of the coastline.
Kids will love playing in the crystal clear waters of the ocean off the Gold Coast. Aside from swimming and playing on a bodyboard, how about learning to surf at one of the Gold Coast’s amazing surf schools? It’s a just one of the wonderful things to do on the Gold Coast with kids and you can find a full list here.
Gold Coast Playgrounds
All kids love playgrounds, and the Gold Coast has its fair share of awesome parks for kids! One of our absolute favourites is Broadwater Parklands in Southport, which has all the usual park equipment, as well as a zipline, pedal monorail, awesome water play AND an inflatable water park in summer! We also love Palm Beach Parklands with its cool nautical theme and Ronnie Long Park in Tallebudgera located right in front of Tallebudgera Beach Surf Club.
You can find out all about Gold Coast Playgrounds here.
Sometimes it rains on the Gold Coast, and holiday plans might feel in disarray. Fear not, though – the Gold Coast has an amazing amount of play centres! We have collected them all in one handy list, descriptions, and links to their websites in our resource for Indoor Playgrounds on the Gold Coast.
The theme parks of the Gold Coast are a massive drawcard for visitors and locals. Check out our info about how to save money at Gold Coast theme parks.
Dreamworld & WhiteWater World
For almost 40 years, Dreamworld at Coomera on the Gold Coast has been a popular theme park for families, with people travelling from all over the country to visit. There’s something for all ages – shows to watch, rides suitable for toddlers through to teenagers, animals to meet and a variety of eateries spread over 85 hectares. Read our full Dreamworld review here along with how to get cheap Dreamworld tickets.
Adjacent to Dreamworld is WhiteWater World, a large waterpark that is included in the price of a ticket to Dreamworld. Alternatively, you can purchase access to visit WhiteWater World on its own, and you can read our detailed review of the waterpark here.
Warner Bros. Movie World
The place to enjoy incredible thrill rides and meet your favourite superheroes, Movie World has something for visitors of all ages. There’s even a world-first Wizard of Oz precinct coming in 2024! We think Movie World is also a great theme park for toddlers. Check out why in our review here.
Sea World is a favourite Gold Coast theme park filled with marine life wonders! Rides such as the Jet Rescue Coaster and Storm Coaster are soon to be joined by the family-oriented Leviathan (a family wooden track rollercoaster) and Trident, as well as the Vortex thrill ride in the new The New Atlantis section of the park. The family-friendly Nickelodeon Land features rides and amusements for younger children and the opportunity to meet Nickelodeon cartoon favourites such as Sponge Bob, Dora the Explorer, TMNT and Paw Patrol characters.
The animals at Sea World include dolphins, seals and sharks, as well as the main attractions being the polar bears. Sea World can also organise cruises, helicopter rides and whale watching experiences.
One of our favourite waterparks close to Brisbane, Wet’n’Wild caters to children and adults of all ages who will be entertained with a variety of waterslides, adventure rides, whirlpools, a wave pool and Dive ‘n’ Movies at special times throughout the year. Wet’n’Wild can also be great for younger children, with their unique Wet’N’Wild Junior section designed just for kids under 10 years of age.
There are some great places to visit for encounters with beautiful animals on the Gold Coast.
From June to November, you can enjoy getting up close to some fantastic marine life with a whale-watching trip on the Gold Coast. Here are more details about whale watching on the Gold Coast. If you prefer to whale watch from the land, you can also get a wonderful vantage point from Burleigh Head National Park.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the best up-close animal experiences on the Gold Coast is Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, with its huge variety of animals and many great shows and animal feeding exhibitions to keep kids entertained.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has been a longstanding attraction for families, known initially for daily wild-lorikeet feeding by local beekeeper and flower-grower, Dr Alex Griffiths. More than seventy years on, the birds are still stars, but there’s now so much on offer that you’ll need at least one full day to experience all the play areas, shows, cafes, and amazing animals spread over 27 hectares of bushland and lush rainforest. They also have a high ropes course built into the park traversing the sanctuary.
Handy tip: You dont need to pay entry to the park to feed the rainbow lorikeets. For a gold coin donation you can participate in the lorikeet feeding twice daily at 8am and 4pm.
David Fleay Wildlife Park
Another great place for animal encounters is the David Fleay Wildlife Park. This is a quieter venue, where the animals are kept in conditions as close to natural as possible, but there are still so many animals to see here and lots of great shows.
Established by Dr David Fleay in the 1950s, the wildlife park is a tranquil habitat for many wildlife, all endemic to Queensland. Many animals, birds and reptiles that call the park home have been rehabilitated after being injured or diseased. If they cannot be released back into the wild, they are lucky enough to live out their days in the 18 acres of eucalypt forest, rainforest, and mangroves.
The park offers daily shows and talks with rangers, picnic facilities, bushwalks, and an onsite cafe, making it a great morning or afternoon for families.
Gold Coast Butterfly House
Kids will love visiting the Gold Coast Butterfly House. While this is essentially a hobby farm, it’s open to the public on weekends. There’s a life cycle room packed with information on butterflies and the lovely walk-in butterfly house with its beautiful plants, flowers, and, of course, many butterflies!
Unusual Things to Do on the Gold Coast with Kids
The Gold Coast is also home to some more unusual attractions that kids will love.
iFly Surfers Paradise
The whole family can try indoor skydiving at iFly at Surfers Paradise, a safe action sport for kids. Children aged three years and up can learn flying skills in a fully–controlled and safe environment and can even do it regularly as a weekend sport.
Tropical Fruit World
Another quirky attraction of the Gold Coast is Tropical Fruit World. This is a working fruit farm growing a massive variety of exotic fruits. You can visit the plantations via tractor train, feed the animals, enjoy a boat cruise, and do fruit tasting!
Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Gold Coast
Explore Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, where you can take a walkabout tour or enrol your kids in a school holiday Little Explorers program. The cultural centre offers a selection of Aboriginal art and gifts and an educational piece that explains the rich cultural history of the Yumambeh people.
The Gold Coast Hinterland
If you’re done with beaches, theme parks and the hustle and bustle, head to the hinterland for more things to do on the Gold Coast with kids, where you can truly get away from it all and out into nature. Here are the highlights of the hinterland for you to explore!
At beautiful Tamborine Mountain, kids will love seeing waterfalls and the spectacular views from lookouts. In the warmer months and after some decent rain, you need to head to Cedar Creek Falls where a short hike will take you and the kids down to play in the rock pools.
If you’re thinking of staying for a few days (or more!), Take a look at our guide on spending a family weekend in Mount Tamborine.
Lamington National Park
Lamington National Park is about as wild as it gets. Divided into two main sections of bushwalking trails—Green Mountains (closer to O’Reilly’s) and Binna Burra—there’s a lot of natural beauty to wonder at in this park. Whilst many of the trails are arduous and lengthy, there are some kid-friendly bush walks to be discovered.
Check out our full review of everything you can see and do at Binna Burra here.
Springbrook National Park
Springbrook National Park is another excellent hinterland destination to visit. Take the kids for a play in Apple Tree Park, and walk the Twin Falls Circuit, Purling Brook Falls or Natural Bridge Circuit for bushwalks among stunning scenery; you can even find glow worms!
You can read about what to do when visiting Springbrook National Park here.
For all the details on bushwalking on the Gold Coast (including beach walks and true bush walks, read our kid friendly bush walks on the Gold Coast guide.
Where the Gold Coast is situated in South East Queensland
Map of the Gold Coast