OK so you’d be hard pressed bringing the kids to the Gold Coast for a family holiday and NOT taking them to at least one of the theme parks. Don’t get me wrong, the theme parks are great and kids LOVE them, but don’t spend all of your time there, there’s so much more to do, see and explore in this beautiful part of Australia.
Thanks to Destination Gold Coast we just spent 2 days in Australia’s Favourite Playground, jam-packed with full on family fun. If you or anyone you know is planning a trip soon, make sure you add one, a few or ALL of these to your itinerary!
Where to Stay
Paradise Resort – Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Heaven for Kids, Paradise for Parents – Never a truer word spoken!
There’s a reason this resort has won sooo many awards and if you have kids (which you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be here), you may have heard of it already. Located a stone’s throw away from the heart of Surfers Paradise, this place is sure to put a smile on your face, regardless of age.
A massive water park, an ice-skating rink, and a Kids Club are just a few of the many delights awaiting guests at Paradise Resort. With affordable accommodation and countless family-friendly activities, you’ll want to book in *at least* a few nights here. In fact, we stayed eight nights and had days where we didn’t even leave the resort. The resort and family rooms can accommodate up to eight guests with little extras like footstalls, etc to truly make children and their parents feel comfortable. The food is restaurant quality and the options are plentiful. Lounge by the pool or ride the miniature train, but whatever you do, don’t leave without meeting the Paradise Resort mascots!
Experience a family getaway everyone will remember!
For a full Kids in Adelaide review, click here.
To book visit: https://paradiseresort.com.au/
Gemini Court Holiday Apartments – Hayle Street Burleigh Heads
I am actually not sure that I have EVER seen a balcony view as good as this.
Gemini Court Holiday Apartments is located on the Southern end of the Gold Coast, in the very “cool” suburb of Burleigh Heads. Directly opposite Burleigh Beach, a short walk to James street for some great restaurants and shopping, and no more than 30 minutes drive to pretty much anywhere you’ll be wanting to visit while on holiday.
Choose from 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments and if you can, pay a little bit extra for an ocean view. You will not regret that decision! Facilities included a heated pool, spa, sauna and tennis court. There’s also a BBQ area overlooking the beach and free undercover parking, which comes in VERY handy in this area.
Tip – If you book, ask for one of the rooms Kids in Adelaide stayed in!
Q1 Resort & Spa – Hamilton Avenue, Surfers Paradise
If you want to be in the thick of the action and in the tallest residential resort tower on the Gold Coast, Q1 is your place. Call it the mothership of the Goldy if you will. Located right in the heart of busy and bustling Surfers Paradise, we chose this beautiful iconic accommodation for its great value packages for a three-night stay. There is a fantastic selection of apartments that suit families and groups of all sizes. We also thought it had the biggest and best swimming pools of any accommodation that we could find, two outdoor and one indoor and that was high on the kids agenda. The burgers onsite at ‘Longboards’ were pretty epic ….and well yes, the cocktail list wasn’t too shabby either. Our room included onsite self car parking, which is a great value add and an expense people often overlook. We believe there are also cheaper room rate options if you are happy to opt out of daily housekeeping.
The views (check your room type) from our 44th-floor apartment (that’s only about halfway up) were nothing short of breathtaking, and if you are a new visitor to the Gold Coast, a room with an ocean view is a must.
Last of all, we made the trip to the 77th-floor observation deck (charges apply), and enjoyed a happy hour drink up there to watch the sunset. The kids LOVED this and were welcomed with some great free school holidays entertainment. You can also do breakfast up there on the weekends!
View more and book Q1 Resort & Spa HERE
Where to Eat
The Gold Coast has a huge range of cafes and restaurants to choose from but you can’t go wrong with a local surfie. We visited two of the best ones on the Coast and they both didn’t disappoint.
You’ll find BMD Northcliffe Surf Club right on the beach in Surfers Paradise, not far from the Q1. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and their award winning restaurant has a fantastic menu with steak, seafood, pastas, salads and a great $10.70 kids menu that includes a choice of pizza, pasta , fish and chips or chicken tenders with a soft drink and ice cream.The staff were so friendly and even let the girls try EVERY flavour of ice cream before deciding.
Tip – bookings are recommended, and ask for a table near the window or on the deck to enjoy the stunning beach view while you eat and bring your bathers for a post meal dip between the flags!
On the southern end of the Coast is Tallebudgera Surf Club. Recently renovated to include a huge deck with views of gorgeous Palm Beach and an excellent playground this makes a great spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This surf club also has a great range of dishes, some excellent daily specials and they also have a kids menu for under 10 bucks. There is also a kids corner with video games and a chocolate machine…..bring your coins if you want to enjoy a meal in peace!
Tip – come here for lunch and ask for a table on the deck where you can sit and watch the kids in the playground. Kids eat FREE on Thursday nights too.
For breakfast on the southern end, try Social Brew on James Street in Burleigh Heads. Don’t be fooled by the small street entry, this place is huge with lots of room for large groups and prams. We went a bit crazy and almost ordered one of everything from the menu, it all just looked too good and we couldn’t choose. The coffee was excellent and the kids LOVED the great value kids breakfast platter which had fruit, museli and yoghurt and a babyccino. They also do lunch and the menu looks just as good.
Tip – book a table, especially on the weekend, this place gets busy!
How hard is it to find a place to eat that has something on the menu that EVERYONE in the family will enjoy……..almost impossible right? Well, The Collective in Palm Beach have solved this problem with their fantastic market style concept. FIVE kitchens are within this large two story venue serving up drool worthy American, Italian, Mexican, Asian and Greek dishes. Each table is given an iPad and away you go. Order a bit from here, a bit from there, a burger for you and noodles for me! It’s BRILLIANT (and delicious)
It’s a bustling spot that’s always busy and there were lots of kids and families enjoying themselves. The staff were super friendly and had fun helping the girls choose what they wanted to eat.
Tip – definitely book and if you need large table or have a pram ask for a table up the back. There’s a great back corner table that’s perfect for a large family. Oh, and order the mac and cheese if your kids are into that, it was delicious.
What to do
It’s no wonder they call the Gold Coast “Australia’s Favourite Playground” because there is SO much to do for families that it’s almost impossible to choose. And did you know that the Gold Coast averages 300 sunny days a year. You’d be pretty unlucky to have the weather spoil all of your plans, but just in case you need an indoor idea iFLY – Gold Coast is the ultimate in indoor fun.
Have you ever wanted to try skydiving, but throwing yourself out of a plane isn’t something that’s ever going to happen? Well you need to get to iFLY indoor skydiving, stat! Suitable for ages 3 and up this is something the whole family can do and it’s something you’ll remember for a long time. After your orientation and gearing up your instructor will guide you into the wind tunnel and be with you the whole time guiding you on how to position your body.
Tip – pay an extra $15 for the “high fly” and Mums and Dads make sure you get in on this one too. The kids were THRILLED that I gave it a go too.
In the same building we were also lucky enough to sneak in a little sample session at FREAK. A virtual reality experience for ages 10+. We geared up and took on Ghost Patrol zapping pink and blue ghosts with our lasers and stun guns. I’ve never tried VR before and this was FUN. Older kids will love this and it’s also an option for kids who aren’t keen to fly.
Love art, photography and an immersive experience? Ever experienced a ‘trick art’ gallery? We cant get enough of looking at our photos from our visit to ArtVo Gold Coast. Conveniently located in Robina Town Centre you will love the experience and photography that you can take of seemingly gravity (and maybe even death) defying stunts and scenes. The entire family will really enjoy this. Not much of a photographer? Never fear, the floor is marked with simple instructions telling you exactly where to stand and how to shoot – or go it your own way and get creative. With eight rooms and over eighty works of art to play in, allow a couple of hours for this activity.
A great spot to start your holiday and get your bearings is Skypoint, located at the top of one of Australia’s tallest residential building, the Q1, in Surfers Paradise. Ride the elevator all the way up to the 77th floor for a spectacular 360 degree view of the entire Gold Coast, from the beach to the hinterland. Grab a bite to eat, coffee and cake or a cheeky wine and take in the stunning view. If you’re feeling really brave, and aged over 12 you can tackle the Skypoint Climb, Australia’s highest external building climb.
Hard to miss from the highway with it’s huge yellow ball Putt Putt Mermaid Beach has THREE 18 hole courses that are all themed and very well maintained. Take a walk on the wild side on the Jungle Trail, make your way around the cheeky characters and tricky motorised obstacles on Fun Run or escape to a tropical oasis playing Waterways.
There’s a video game arcade and licenced cafe and plenty of parking. Open 7 days from 9am to 10pm.
You can’t come to the Gold Coast and not surf, or at least learn to surf. It’s home to some of the world’s most famous breaks and to go home telling everyone that ex World Champion and big wave legend, Cheyne Horan taught you to stand up on your first wave is pretty cool!
Cheyne Horan School of Surf and his team of qualified instructors run beginner and intermediate surf lessons for kids and adults both in group session and private lessons. We jumped in on a 2 hour session at Burleigh Beach. It was brilliant and the tips and advice was fun, friendly and best of all actually worked – we were all standing up and catching waves by the end of it. The kids were so excited and wanted to keep going for longer.
Tip – do this early in your trip so you have time to book a 2nd lesson before you go home. Chances are the kids will be begging for it.
If animals are your families thing, then plan to spend a whole day at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Feed the kangaroos, hold a koala, watch one of the many incredible animal shows or ride the train around and around (and around). Catch the free wild lorikeet feeding sessions that happen twice daily at 8am and 4pm, enjoy watching and learning from the Aboriginal dance performance, attempt the high ropes course at The Treetop Challenge, visit the animal hospital…..and as if that’s not enough they have also recently opened Wild Island Adventure Splash Zone which includes one of the coolest looking playgrounds we’ve ever seen AND a super fun splash zone with water jets and a tipping bucket. It really is a full day of fun and great for kids of all ages, from babies right up to teens.
Tip – Pack your bathers and a change of clothes and be there for the WildSkies bird presentation, it’s awesome!
And last but certainly not least, and actually one of our favourite activities for the weekend was Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre. This is Gold Coast’s only dedicated Aboriginal cultural centre and is fully owned and operated by the local Aboriginal community. We did the 2 hour Jellurgal Walkabout Tour that runs once a week on Thursdays at 10am, or by private group booking. After a short video presentation you are taken on a guided walk around the headland where you learn about traditional life pre-contact, bush tucker, fishing and hunting and the important ecological practices and connection to the land displayed by the Yugambeh speaking people. The tour is best suited for school age children and upwards and we’d suggest you but babies in carriers rather than prams as the track can get quite narrow and busy with other walkers. The kids were given activity books that they enjoyed completing over the duration of the tour. We learnt about areas of significance, heard stories, made ochre and spotted lots of local wildlife including lizards, borobi (koala) and even a group of Tawny Frogmouths which was pretty special. Our kids were fully engaged for the whole tour and our guide was fantastic answering the many and varied questions that were asked. This is a great activity to take the family at the start of your holiday, it will open your eyes to the incredible history of the area and teach your kids about the traditional owners and ongoing custodians of this beautiful place.
We fit ALL of this into one weekend and by the end of it we were exhausted but full of laughs, memories and stories from all the fun. As you can see, there’s MUCH more to the Gold Coast than just the theme parks and beaches and just a 2.5 hour flight direct from Adelaide makes it a great family holiday option for 2021.
It’s time to Play Again!
We were gifted the above from Destination Gold Coast and the businesses mentioned above. No monetary payment was received for my comments and all opinions are our own.