If playful was a place, it would be the Gold Coast. It's a destination loved equally by parents and kids alike and with such a huge variety of things to do and places to visit, we reckon it's the best spot in Australia for family fun. In this flexible itinerary you'll find awesome activities for toddlers to teens, plus hinterland adventures, kid-friendly coastal chill out spots and endless ways to play on the Gold Coast with your tribe in tow.
If your brood are beach people, then The Breakers in Broadbeach offers self-catered holiday apartments with direct access to the patrolled beach mere steps away from your accommodation. The only thing between guests and the shore is the heated pool (there’s a wading pool for little ones) and a beachfront BBQ terrace. The Breakers is perfectly positioned between Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach so it’s an easy stroll to cafes, restaurants, shopping and coastal parklands and walking paths – bring scooters and bikes to make the most of them. The Cabanas are a great option for larger families. The ground floor is living/dining/kitchen and laundry plus bathroom, the second storey is a queen bedroom with ensuite and the third loft-style bedroom, accessed by a ladder, features four single beds. Kids will love the novelty of this rooftop room. All these beachside benefits are underscored by incredible views of the coastline and friendly, warm staff who are there to make your stay amazing.
Kids will be living their best life during a stay at Paradise Resort, to the extent where they’ll probably just tell you to go home without them. And really, who could blame them for never wanting to leave when there’s a lagoon pool, two water parks, an ice skating rink, outdoor movies, a pamper parlour and a number of family friendly restaurants all contained within the one incredibly family-friendly resort. Parents will have a lovely time too – there’s a kids club so you can take some time out in the exclusive area just for grown ups, or head out to Surfers Paradise or nearby Broadbeach for a date night.
Here’s a hack on how to get in the family’s good books. Tell the kids you’re staying at Sea World Resort and watch their eyes widen in delight. Direct access to Sea World means there’s rides, splash parks, penguins, dolphins, polar bears, sharks and seals right next door, close enough that you can duck back to the resort for naptime if need be. Recently refurbished rooms are spacious and comfortable, and everything you need is onsite – a lagoon pool, aquatic adventure park, kids’ club, five dining outlets and three bars. You get unlimited access with every stay and an exclusive behind-the-scenes dolphin presentation. Take advantage of package deals that include entry to Warner Bros Movie World, Wet ‘n’ Wild and Paradise Country for a family holiday the kids remember forever.
Young and old alike love Longboards Laidback Eatery & Bar – as the name suggests, this is casual, family friendly dining at its finest. The surf-themed restaurant is positioned poolside under the iconic Q1 building in Surfers Paradise. Keep kids happy with garlic bread, popcorn chicken and fries, and a dedicated menu for little ones, which includes a drink. Grown ups can tuck into a juicy burger (choose from beef, pork, chicken or vegetarian) plus cocktail jugs, frosty beers and specials almost every day of the week.
If you’re tired of arguments over what to have for dinner, you’ll love The Collective in Palm Beach. You can order anything off the multiple menus of five different restaurants under one roof. It’s an innovative way to dine which works perfectly when everybody wants to eat something different. Book in early and load up the table with dining options from Italian, Mexican, Asian cuisine and more for a delightful family-friendly feast (kids’ meals start from just $10). Take a stroll across the road afterwards to burn off some energy on the beach and watch the sunset together.
If you value your parental popularity, you better not bring your kids to the Gold Coast without a visit to Dreamworld. They’ll send you to time out for sure! This iconic and adored theme park ticks literally every box for a day of family fun. There are hair-raising rides for thrill seeking teenages, and more sedate, family friendly rides for smaller kids who prefer their fun at a slower pace. The Giant Drop delivers a heady hit of adrenaline and the new Steel Taipan is Australia’s only triple launch rollercoaster. It will blow the cobwebs away with a top speed of 105km and a G-Force of 3.8!
There’s also a whole schedule of shows and character appearances from favourite like The Wiggles and Madagascar, native wildlife, the amazing Tiger Island where you can see big cats up close and learn about the conservation efforts through the Dreamworld Wildlife Fund. And THEN there’s White Water World – the next-level water park where you can slide and splash your way down some epic water slides during the warmer months with plenty of aquatic adventures to be had for all ages. Purchase a 3 Day Pass to make the most of the massive amounts of good times to be had at Dreamworld.
As a popular stop on the “Humpback Highway”, the Gold Coast is also an excellent spot for whale watching. Thousands of whales pass through the Gold Coast each year on their annual migration, giving visitors the chance to witness these majestic mammals up close in their natural environment. While kids tap into an innate sense of wonder every day, it can take something truly extraordinary to get the same response in grown ups. An up-close encounter with these sentient aquatic mammals is awe-inspiring, humbling and exhilarating. Some of the largest humpbacks are up to 16 meters long and weigh in excess of 40 tonnes. They can live up to a hundred years old, meaning some of these animals have been making this migration for literally decades. Take the family on a whale watching tour with one of the experienced operators for a a magical and memorable experience.
As you herd your family through the famous archway of Warner Bros. Movie World, the distant screams of delight and terror mingle with the racket of rollercoasters thundering down the tracks. These are the sounds of excitement and soon it will be your kids yelling at the top of their lungs as the adrenaline hits. Thrill seeking teens will make a beeline for the more hair-raising rides like Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster, The Superman Escape and the DC Rivals Hypercoaster – the tallest, longest and fastest roller coaster in the Southern Hemisphere. Big fun for pint sized people can be found at Kids’ WB! Fun Zone with mini-coasters made just for them plus plenty of other kid-friendly rides. There’s a packed schedule of entertainment too with the Star Parade at 3.30pm, The Hollywood Stunt Driver show and more. Download the Village Roadshow Theme Park app to plan your day down to the last detail and ensure you fit everything in.
It’s hard to imagine a better spot to spread out your towels, have a splash and build some sandcastles than the shady, sheltered banks of sparkling Tallebudgera Creek. Its calm waters are made for aquatic adventures like fishing, kayaking, SUPing and boating. The Palm Beach side has ample parking, a playground, BBQ facilities, picnic tables and a patrolled beach for safe swimming. Follow the footpath under the traffic bridge and you’ll find yourself at Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park – a favourite spot for family stays where caravans and campsites are set on prime creekside real estate. Be sure to take a guided walking tour with Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, which is found nestled into the bush on the National Park side of the creek. You’ll learn about the Aborginal history and culture of the Gold Coast traditional life, bush tucker and Dreaming stories. Pack a picnic lunch for a day down at Tally or head to Custard Canteen, Tallebudgera Surf Club or Neptune Kiosk for refreshments.
Stretching over 122 hectares on Tamborine Mountain, Thunderbird Park is an oasis of adventure and nature where you can stay, play and explore with your family. (It’s a great destination for day trips too.) This rainforest playground has it all. Onsite adventures include mining for ‘thunder eggs’ (geodes), laser skirmish, mini golf, bikes and pedal boats, jumping castles and pony rides. It’s basically utopia for kids! One of the biggest draw cards is the Tree Top Challenge and Canyon Flyer – the incredible high ropes course and zipline adventure up in the canopy of the rainforest. There’s also plenty of free fun to be had exploring the natural bushland and abundant bird life along walking tracks, swimming in the creek or making the short trek to stunning views and refreshing rock pools at Cedar Creek Falls. Thunderbird Park shares the property with Cedar Creek Lodges so there’s a variety of accommodation ranging from contemporary lodge rooms and holiday homes to camping and glamping. The onsite Rainforest Restaurant and kiosk provide convenient family-friendly options for meals.
The Gold Coast’s southernmost suburb of Coolangatta is a very good ‘hood for families looking to relax, explore, spend some time at the gorgeous beaches here and indulge in a spot of shopping or a meal out. Get there early to catch the best beach conditions and book in a surf lesson for the whole fam – seeing the stoke on kids faces when they stand up for the first time is priceless! Follow it up with lunch at Rainbow Bay or Coolangatta Surf Club. These iconic venues boast beachfront locations and cater for kids brilliantly. Pancake Diner or Little Cooly in The Strand Arcade are also good options for a fab family-friendly feed. Hit up one of the local ice cream shops for a dessert that will make the whole gang happy. As the sugar high hits, head to TimeZone to burn off some energy and excitement playing arcade games, pinball machines, bumper cars, arcade games, laser tag and more.
You’ll be guaranteed to have an incredible family holiday on the Gold Coast filled with moments of fun, connection, relaxation and amazing memories. And with this much action and excitement on the itinerary, your kids should be so shattered by the end of every day that bedtime will be a breeze!
Looking for more ideas on how to entertain the kids during a Gold Coast holiday? Click here.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region.
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland.