The Ultimate Family Travel Guide

The Ultimate Family Travel Guide

26 Sep 2023

If you're dreaming of an easy family holiday, we've scoped out some of the Gold Coast's best spots for families to eat, explore, stay and play. Read on for our guide to the Gold Coast holiday where every member of the family will be living their best life.


Where to Eat With Kids

Holidays take extra energy so fuel up the family at restaurants with children’s menu options, casual family dining and kid-centric cafés with playgrounds onsite. With so much sunny weather, alfresco dining is something we do well on the Gold Coast and our outdoor dining options are perfect for parents who want to relax and eat their meal, while the kids wolf theirs down and run off to play. Check out these kid-approved cafés and restaurants.

Gold Coast Surf Clubs

Surf clubs are scattered all along our beautiful coastline (there’s one in just about every beachside suburb) and are firm favourites for family dining. With budget friendly prices and excellent children's menus, surf clubs are the perfect choice for an easy, casual breakfast, lunch or dinner. The added bonus is that they’re all very close to beaches, playground and outdoor areas. Palm Beach Surf Club, Tallebudgera Surf Club and Kurrawa. Discover Gold Coast Surf Clubs.

Currumbin Viking Surf Life Saving Club

Creekside Cafés

The shady banks of our sparkling waterways are a popular spot to meet for coffee and there are some amazing Gold Coast cafés located in lovely creekside locations. Not only can you get your caffeine fix and munch on delicious pasties, but the kids can play, paddle and splash at the same time. Local favourites include Dune Café is next to the Pirate Park and lagoon at Palm Beach), Tarte Beach House on the banks of Currumbin Creek, Bumbles Café at Budds Beach and Custard Canteen, which is a stone's throw from the sparkling waters of Tallebudgera Creek. Better order a babycino!

Retail Eats

Shopping is a popular pastime for visitors to the Gold Coast. The good news is, that when you need a break from retail therapy, there are plenty of options to eat, drink and dine. Robina Town Centre boasts more than 50 food outlets, from fast food and sushi to Mexican, Betty’s Burgers and yum cha. At Pacific Fair in Broadbeach you’ll find food courts and restaurants aplenty. Some family faves include Finn Poke, Hakataya Ramen and Chatime for bubble tea. And at Harbour Town Premium Outlets, Crafty’s Sports Bar will keep everyone happy with kids menu, ice cream sundaes and ping pong tables for fun. 

Buffet All Day

What are a hungry kid’s four favourite words? All you can eat! Visiting a Gold Coast buffet is an awesome way to feed the family and there are plenty to choose from. Whether your tribe wants devour a gourmet breakfast spread, buffet lunch or tuck into a seafood feast for dinner, it will be one of the few times during the holiday where no-one is complaining they’re hungry. Discover Gold Coast’s best buffets.

Beachside Eats

Serving up sensational views of the glimmering Broadwater with every meal, Waterfront Restaurant at Southport Yacht Club is a local fave. Given the location, seafood is the mainstay of the menu while steak, schnitzels, salad and burgers cater for all tastes. It’s a family friendly spot with its own private beach so the kids can go for paddle post-meal. And on the banks of Currumbin Creek, Currumbin RSL, has a sprawling deck that overlooks the water. There’s a playground for little people to play on and bigger kids can go and explore the creek and surrounding parklands. 

Free Activites For Families

From adventures in the rainforest, to bird feeding and beach activities, this destination has heaps of  fun things to do for all kids, from teens to toddlers. And many of them won’t cost you a cent… 

Sand, water and waves

Yes, the beach is an obvious one but it’s one of the best ways to entertain the family for hours. Bring boards and buckets, add some snacks, find a shady spot and you’re set. Surf, swim, splash and play the day away at the Gold Coast’s incredible beaches. Check out four of the best kid-friendly beaches along our coastline.


Nature walks 

Stretch your legs, let off some steam and enjoy the scenery on a Gold Coast nature walk. It’s one of the best ways to explore our natural habitats. Keep your eyes peeled and you’re sure to spot some native birds or wildlife. Here are some of our favourite short strolls to get you started.


Pack a picnic

Visit one of the Gold Coast’s weekend farmers’ markets, bakeries or fresh produce providers and fill your basket with a family feast. Take it to any one of the beautiful beachside esplanades, shady parks or nature reserves scattered all across our beautiful city and enjoy a lazy afternoon picnicking, playing and swimming. Find out where Gold Coast's best picnic spots are.



Feed the Birds

Visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary at 8am and 4pm daily for the daily lorikeet feeding. The cheeky, noisy, raucous flock of rainbow parrots will perch on your head and hands for a feed, which you can purchase for a gold coin donation from volunteers. If you prefer pelicans to parrots, visit Charis Seafood in Labrador on the Northern Gold Coast at 1.30pm when the big seabirds gather for their daily feed of fish. Make a day of it by getting fish ‘n’ chips for lunch beside the Broadwater too.  


HOTA Gallery

HOTA is not your ordinary gallery - this engaging and inspiring space is spread across five levels of artwork and exhibitions, within an iconic location where you can enjoy sweeping views of the Gold Coast alongside the paintings, sculptures and collections. There’s a dedicated Children’s Gallery where kids can express their own creativity with art and craft activities and interactive exhibits. HOTA is set in the beautiful shady surrounds of Evandale Parklands with plenty of space to play and picnic - there’s even a lovely lake for swimming so pack towels and togs too if it’s hot. 


Play Where You Stay

The ultimate family friendly accommodation on the Gold Coast offers plenty of entertainment, convenience and fun for both kids and grown ups. Think hotels with kids clubs and family friendly dining options, holiday parks with water slides and lagoon-like pools to play in or eco-retreats where the natural world is on your doorstep.

Hinterland Family Accommodation

Cedar Creek Lodges Book into a variety of boutique accommodation including self-contained lodges and gorgeous glamping tents that provide the best of both worlds with a luxury stay in a rustic bush environment.


The accommodation shares a property with Thunderbird Park, which means there’s a whole raft of nature-based family-friendly adventure activities on offer from treetop adventures to swimming in waterholes.


O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat Head to this mountaintop hideaway where nature is on your doorstep and wildlife are waiting to meet you. Set on the edge of Lamington National Park, this special spot offers self-contained villas or lodge-style rooms with jaw dropping views of the surrounding mountain range. Spend days together on guided bird walks, bush walks to pretty waterfalls, wildlife shows and the unique elevated Tree Top walk through the rainforest canopy.


Binna Burra Set on the edge of a World Heritage Listed wilderness, Binna Burra is a special spot to reconnect with nature. Choose from self-contained Sky Lodge apartments with endless views, convenient and comfortable Safari tents. Camp fires, bush walks, waterfall adventures and rainforest tranquility await.



Northern Gold Coast Family Accommodation

InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort Set in beautifully landscaped grounds, this grand luxury hotel is loved by families for the expansive lagoon pool complete with beach, kangaroos grazing in the grounds, multiple dining destinations and plenty of entertainment nearby at Sanctuary Cove.

Jacobs Well Tourist Park This shady, peaceful caravan park right on the waterfront provides a great environment for families (dogs included) with fishing, water sports and boating on your doorstep.

NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Resort Choose from a camping or caravan sites, cabin or villa and settle in for a guaranteed good time with family activities, an onsite splash park, kids’ club, mini golf, pedal cars,  playgrounds and four resort style pools.

Big 4 Gold Coast Holiday Park Fun comes first at this family friendly Gold Coast holiday park with a wide range of fun activities plus waterpark, playgrounds, a pool and a restaurant overlooking the water.  Caravan sites, cabins, motel rooms and dog friendly accommodation available.

Central Gold Coast Family Accommodation

Sea World Resort With direct access to one of Australia’s favourite theme parks, and its own water park and pool, you know that this one will be a hit with the kids. Make yourself at home in spacious rooms and suites where everyone can relax. When meal time comes, take your pick from six different onsite dining venues or room service. 

JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort &Spa While the rooms and suits are luxurious, kids will want to spend most of their time at this 5-star Surfers Paradise hotel in the saltwater lagoons complete with tropical fish and slides. Food-wise you’re spoiled for choice with four restaurants to choose from. Fuel the family up with the breakfast buffet at Citrique.

Paradise Resort Described as a cruise ship on land,  this Gold Coast accommodation in the heart of Surfers Paradise delivers on family fun. Think pyjama nights, dance parties, ice-skating and arts and crafts. For something the whole family can enjoy, check out poolside movies, family bingo plus a range of live entertainment and the huge water park in the centre of the resort will provide hours of fun for everyone.

The Breakers This family accommodation in Broadbeach offers self-catered holiday apartments with direct access to the patrolled beach mere steps away from your door. Perfectly positioned between Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, it’s an easy stroll to cafes, restaurants, shopping, coastal parklands and walking paths – bring scooters and bikes to make the most of your location. 

Southern Gold Coast Family Accommodation

Reflection on the Sea Stay at these modern beachfront apartments situated close to the sands of Coolangatta. Play on pristine beaches,  soak up coastal views and explore local dining and shopping  on your doorstep. (Main image)


The Pink Hotel This refurbished 1950's boutique hotel is bright and breezy beachside accommodation with a touch of retro rock n’ roll. It’s easy walking to the beach (right across the road), local restaurants and surf clubs and a stunning stretch of coastline. 


Crystal Pacific A beautifully renovated block of retro apartments in Palm Beach sleep up to five, ideal for families who love being near the beach and holidaying like a local. The heated magnesium pool is a hit (and just quietly will help kids sleep well).


Gold Coast Tourist Parks Some of the best spots for families to stay are the Gold Coast Tourist Parks. There are six locations across the city, on stunning waterfront locations with plenty of space to play, run, ride and paddle. Southern Gold Coast caravan parks include Kirra, Tallebudgera Creek and Burleigh. Book a cabin, campsite or creekside caravan site for an unforgettable stay. 

 Image: Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park - Tourism & Events Queensland

Want to explore more? Check out our Family Friendly Guide to the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Kate Veling
Kate Veling

Travel writer, Kate Veling, came to the Gold Coast for six months and loved it so much she’s still here 20 years later. The laidback lifestyle suits her to a tee and as a mum of three, she knows all the best parks, swimming spots and kid-friendly fun to be had in her ‘hood. She’s often found getting amongst the thriving local arts and culture scene, dancing to live music or kicking back on the beach, but rest assured it’s all in the name of research.


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.