Introducing guest blogger Sophie Marie from Baby Toddler & Kids
The Gold Coast is a sprawling beach city in South East Queensland that’s more like a huge collections of suburbs and beaches than a traditional city. It stretches up from Coolongatta, on the border of NSW, more than 50km to the suburb of Coomera and south Stradbroke Island.
Its so huge and so eclectic that it might seem a little daunting if you’ve never been before. I’d argue that the most popular, and easiest, area to stay is somewhere between Currumbin and Surfers Paradise.
We live smack bang in the middle of that stretch in a suburb called Miami. My partner grew up in the area and I’ve been with him here for about 5 years. We absolutely love the Gold Coast and it’s the perfect place to live with our three and one year old! The beach is just around the corner, there are calm water inlets to paddle in, kid friendly attractions and tons of amazing playgrounds.
The Gold Coast is all about the outdoors and with an average 300 days of sunshine, it’s easy to understand why. If you’ve got kids who love being outside exploring, I can’t think of a better place to visit.
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents
The Best Time to Visit the Gold Coast
I’d argue that any time of the year is the perfect time to visit the Gold Coast. With so many sunny days in the year, the odds are definitely in your favour. During our most recent “winter” there were only two days that I felt the need to wear a jumper!
If you’re coming from a colder climate you might find the weather warm enough to swim year-round. In my opinion, the best time of year is Spring through to early Autumn (September through to March). The ocean is warm and the sun is shining but it is very hot some days so hats and sunscreen are an absolute must!
Summer can occasionally mean stingers (depending on which direction the wind is coming from). If you’re doing the right thing and swimming between the flags there will always be a sign up to warn you though so just keep an eye out.
Finally, avoid school holidays and public holidays whenever possible! It’s the busiest time of the year and even us locals struggle to find a spot that is jammed with tourists.
Our Favourite Attractions on the Gold Coast
These are all well known attractions and I certainly wouldn’t consider them a “locals secret” but they really are amazing for kids and it would be weird if I didn’t mention them!
Like most big attractions, they get busy and we’ve found visiting early and midweek is the best approach. We actually have a locals fare season pass for Paradise Country, Sea World, Movie World, Wet n Wild and Outback Spectacular and sometimes just go for 2 hours then leave before the crowds.
If you think you might visit more than one park or more than twice a year the annual pass is excellent value and the locals discount isn’t just for Gold Coast residents. You can get the locals fare pass if you live ANYWHERE in Queensland and even some Northern NSW postcodes!
This is my 3 year olds favourite attraction at the minute! It’s a real Australian farm and wildlife experience with animals and shows for the whole family.
Paradise country has farm animals like sheep, goats, cows and horses but also some native Australian wildlife, like kangaroos and koalas. You can feed or pet most of the animals and it’s a great opportunity for little ones to get up close.
There’s also a tractor train ride, pony rides, Shaun the sheep show, lorikeet feeding, a sheep shearing show, stockman show and heaps more!
If you want an attraction to suit all ages, Dream World is a great choice. There are thrill rides for older kids and adults but the Kids Zone has some great rides for the younger ones as well.
It’s right near Paradise Country and we like to do a few hours in each although I’m sure you could easily spend an entire day in either park! As well as some great rides, there are DC comics superheroes, Looney Tunes characters, a 4D Yogi Bear show, stunt show and tons more.
Sea World is another firm favourite with both of my little ones and the biggest draw for them is the little splash park so make sure to take some dry clothes.
There are also a few thrill rides for adults, some really great animal shows and a stunt show that my kids are a bit young for but I’m sure older kids would love.
Wet n Wild
A great attraction for all ages! The younger kids area is fantastic with mini slides, splash parks and tons to keep them entertained. The wave pool is also great and there are plenty of more exhilarating rides for older kids and adults.
Wet n Wild is a great way to spend an entire day but during the summer and on weekends it gets very busy!
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
We can easily spend a full day at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary without getting bored and we’re regular visitors. My partner has fond memories of this place from when he was a kid and it still holds the same charm for our little ones.
There are tons of native Australian animals spread out over a huge area. Plenty of hills and walkways to explore with a different animal round every corner. There’s even a small train to take you from one end to the other that’s a massive hit with the kids.
The twice daily free flight bird show is hands down the highlight of the entire park. I’ve seen it countless times and still love going. Be sure to get there early to get a good seat near the front as it gets very busy.
Our Favourite Playgrounds on the Gold Coast
One of the great things about the Gold Coast is that so many of the best things to do with kids are completely free! The playgrounds are a real highlight if you’re travelling with little ones. They are literally everywhere on the coast but these are some of our favourites!
Broadwater Parklands (Southport)
Broadwater Parklands is definitely the best and largest play areas for kids on the Gold Coast. The area itself is absolutely huge and you could easily spend an entire day here and still have to drag the kids away.
This isn’t just a playground, it’s a collection of parks, equipment and activities to entertain kids for hours. You’ll find jumping pillows, flying foxes, see saws, BBQ areas and more.
We thinkt he best part of the whole place is the “rockpools” which is actually a great man made splash park area for little ones.
The Pirate Park (Palm Beach)
Probably one of the most well known Gold Coast playgrounds. The park is pirate themed with a huge pirate ship in the middle, caves to explore, heaps of swings and plenty more to keep the kids entertained.
All abilities playground – Kurrawa Pratten Park (Broadbeach)
This is our go to playground as it’s so close to where we live. The playground itself is really big and completely fenced but even when kids have had enough there are some other great conveniences nearby.
It’s right next door to the surf club with a great little spot to grab a coffee and walk along the esplanade or let the kids run along the sand. Pacific Fair shopping centre is just across the highway and there’s a smaller shopping centre just down the road with some great restaurants too.
Other Things to Do on the Gold Coast
If all those playgrounds aren’t enough or you want to enjoy some adult time as well, there are tons of other free things to do on the Gold Coast.
It wouldn’t be a trip to the Gold Coast if you didn’t head to the beach! We prefer to avoid the busier beaches like Burleigh and Surfers but if you get there early enough and grab a spot they are beautiful.
Our little beach in the suburb of Miami is perfect in my opinion. It’s not crazy busy like some of the others, there are waves and surf but when the tide goes out we also get some lovely shallow areas for kids to paddle.
If the surf isn’t really your thing and you prefer calm waters to splash around in, there are tons of great inlets and waterways dotted up and down the coast.
Tallebudgera Creek is family favourite for splashing in the shallows, playing in the sand or trying a spot of paddle boarding! There isn’t much shade though so a shade tent is definitely a good idea. We prefer to get in early and get out before the sun is too high.
There are tons of great farmers markets all over the Gold Coast and out in the hinterlands. They’re a great spot to pick up some local produce and enjoy a bite to eat.
We like the markets at Burleigh High School every Saturday because there’s a small playground right in the markets and the kids will happily play while we sit and eat.
Our Favourite Places to Eat on the Gold Coast
We aren’t big on eating out. With such young kids, it can be more hassle than it’s worth. We much prefer to have lunch or coffee at a cafe near one of the great playgrounds mentioned above.
There are one or two places we will make the exception for though…
My favourite place on the Gold Coast without a doubt! My husband thinks my obsession with Miami Marketta is a bit strange but anybody who loves food will understand.
This is almost like a mini street food market with vendors and stalls serving dishes from all different types of cuisine. From indian to Japanese and from wood fired pizzas to greek kebabs, there’s sure to be something to suit all tastes.
It’s also a great spot to visit with kids, live music plays most nights and there is always a little gang of kids dancing in front of the stage. It’s a great family friendly spot for dinner.
Govindas is a chain of vegetarian cafes (I think there is one in Sydney and maybe Byron?) and there is one on James Street in Burleigh.
It’s affordable, delicious and filling food. There isn’t much seating and the main trade is takeaway but we love to stroll across the road to Jame’s park and eat at the picnic tables looking out at the ocean while the kids are on the playground.
The Yard Cafe
Cafe culture is pretty big on the Gold Coast and there are heaps of hipster cafes dotted here there and everywhere.
It can be hard to find a kid friendly spot but the Yard Cafe is great. An unassuming little cafe from the front, walkthrough to the back and there is actually a little outdoor area with a mini play area.
This is my absolute favourite spot to grab a coffee on the coast! It’s not particularly kid-friendly and it’s just next to the highway with no special scenery but their coffee is fantastic and the almond croissants are the best I’ve ever had!
Let’s Talk About Surfers Paradise
Yes, you may know it for being a tourist trap.
Yes, you probably think of women in gold bikinis.
Yes, it is a little tacky.
No, you probably won’t hear many locals saying they’re “heading to Surfers for the day.”
BUT if you’re holidaying on the Gold Coast with kids, there are heaps of attractions within walking distance to keep them occupied. It might not be the “local” Gold Coast experience but there’s a reason it’s a popular tourist area…… it’s convenient for tourists!
If you just want a convenient holiday there are markets along the esplanade a great beach and you’ll find all of these kid-friendly attractions too:
- King Tutts Putt Putt
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not
- Holey Moley Putt-Putt
- Sling Shot & Vomatron Rides
- Time Zone
- Gold Coast Wax Museum
- Sky Point
- Aquaduck Tours
- IFly Indoor Skydiving
Honestly, I could have written for days. We really do love the Gold Coast and it’s an incredibly family-friendly place to live. Every day is an adventure here and we are always discovering new places to take the kids!
About the Blogger
Sophie Marie is an Australian blogger and freelance writer living on the Gold Coast with her husband and two young daughters. She is passionate about the outdoors and describes her family as “typical beach bums with sand and salt in their hair”.
She writes about anything and everything babies, toddlers and kids at BabyToddlerandKids.com.au!
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With thanks to Sophie Marie for her contribution to our guest series. You may also like to read about Brisbane with Kids or check out our detailed guide to Port Douglas with Kids.
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