Got teenagers along for the ride? From personal experience, we know the essential ingredients for holiday harmony is a solid plan that incorporates the rituals of sleep, eat, play and repeat. Sleep is the easy part, as there are so many options to choose from on the Gold Coast depending on your budget. From wallet-friendly caravan parks sprinkled along our famous shorelines, sleek vertical villages rising high into the sky and family-friendly resorts with plenty of room to play. In an effort to appease Gen Z, here are our top tips for things to do with teens on the Gold Coast.
BURLEIGH BEACHSIDE DIGS
If your team loves getting salty, book a cabin or caravan site right beside the crystalline waters at Tallebudgera Tourist Park. After a sleep in, they can fuel up at local favourite Custard Canteen who offer an all-day-breakfast and lunch menu including the staple bacon and egg roll on a delicious milk-bun. Or, for an avo twist, try the Japanese-style avocado on toast.
Afterward, a swim or SUP in the creek is a short wander away, and just around the bend, the pumping break at Burleigh Heads awaits. A walk via the Burleigh Head National Park will reward exercise with a side of killer views plus the chance to heat up that teen dream insta feed. Use our iconic locations like Burleigh Hill or Surfers skyline as a backdrop for the perfect opportunity to snap an obligatory selfie.
SURFERS PARADISE PRIME
Not to be outdone, our northern stretch of coast also has plenty of places offering things to do with teens on the Gold Coast. Stay central at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa and catch the G:link into the heart of Surfers Paradise for an all-you-can-eat stack of pancakes at Pancakes in Paradise. Bigger appetite? Feast on the best burgers and ‘dude food’ in town at Longboards.
If the weather isn’t so kind, head to the long-standing Infinity Attraction to explore 20 multi-sensual environments or a little further north in Southport, experience a free-roam virtual reality system where you can fight zombies with Zero Latency.
But if adrenaline is their wish, elevate them 270 meters above the sea for exhilarating 360-degree views of the Gold Coast and the chance to take on SkyPoint Climb. Australia’s highest external building climb by the beach is open to 12-15 year olds, as long as they are over 130cm tall and are climbing alongside a full paying adult. Impress them with the key stats: SkyPoint has one of Australia’s fastest elevators – just 42 seconds to reach level 77, there are two hundred and ninety-eight stairs to reach the summit and once there, the Q1 spire is one of the world’s longest at 97.7 metres tall. And mum, if you are sending dad to do the brave stuff with the older kids, you can order a champagne high tea and sit back and watch them do the climb through the glass roof panel.
SPINNING AROUND THE WORLDS
No teen time on the Gold Coast would be complete without a visit to the ‘worlds. We’re talking Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World and Dreamworld, plus Wet ’n’ Wild and WhiteWater World. Consider a multi-day pass for the best value, but check the websites for park opening times as there have been some changes due to COVID-19. All parks offer rides to suit all ages, from those designed to thrill the adrenaline seekers, but equally charming for those that prefer a gentle pace with moving cultural and heart-warming wildlife encounters on offer too. Older teens might like to visit without parents, but check the website for any age restrictions that may apply when considering things to do with teens on the Gold Coast.
Heading south, the stretch known as the southern Gold Coast is equally impressive as a holiday destination for teens too. Choose from the multiple-bedroomed, ocean-facing apartments at Kirra Beach Apartments, Iconic Kirra or Nirvana By The Sea, all who offer supreme ocean views. For something a little retro, the family rooms at the La Costa Motel offer a queen plus two king single beds and a light continental breakfast included in the tariff.
Take a short wander from any of the beachside accommodations to find breakfast at many of the delightful cafes dotted around the sun-dappled streets. For a breakfast of champions, head to the legendary salty dog surf clubs where the pocket-friendly nippers meals have been fuelling our famed surfers and surf lifesavers for decades.
And speaking of surfers, if your kids are confident and keen, mix it with the pros on the break at Snapper Rocks. Celebrity surfing locals are regularly spotted out on the break here, as are whales and dolphins as they drift around from the open waters at Point Danger. Grab a freshly squeezed juice from nearby Cafe Dbar for sunrise or take in a sunset on the grassy knolls with a serve of fresh fish and chips from Fresh and Fried on Rainbow at nearby Rainbow Bay.
Surfing is one of the most popular sports on the Gold Coast and a perfect activity to notch up another exciting thing to do with the teens on the Gold Coast. All of the local crews know all the right moves to get the groms standing and carving up those waves in no time, plus they have the equipment, wetsuits and safety briefings that will start them off on the right foot (or left if they are goofy). Walkin’ on Water Surf School is located at Greenmount Beach. Get Wet Surf School is at The Spit, Main Beach, Cheyne Horan Surf School is at Surfers Paradise and Go Ride a Wave is located at various locations up and down our coastline. A little further south, you’ll find Currumbin Alley Surf School. Depending on where you stay, there may also be a pickup service available too.
If riding the swell isn’t their thing, opt for stand up paddling with Go Vertical SUP Hire or the new Gold Coast Hydrofoil Tours, both located in Surfers Paradise.
TIME TO FLY
Don’t leave the coast without giving them wings. iFly Indoor Skydiving in Surfers Paradise is an experience like no other. Watch their faces contort from the drag force (good to keep a few sneaky shots on your camera roll for later too), and let them feel the wind beneath their adolescent wings in the VWT, which translates as vertical wind tunnel (add it to the stats). This experience is also 100% accessible, and wheelchair friendly. Fully-qualified flight instructors are on hand to assist all with varying levels of abilities, just let them know in advance before going.
UP IN THE CLOUDS
In a little over an hour’s drive, trade the golden sandy shores for Gondwana Rainforest with waterfalls, swimming holes and fresh mountain air, all perfect as an option when looking for things to do with teens.
Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park will step them back in time with rainforest giants dwarfing walkways and ancient stone bridges, along with Game of Thrones’esque caves. After dark, find glowworms and microbats and when it is warm, watch as the undergrowth lights up with fireflies and luminescent fungi.
For a natural high, O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk in Lamington National Park is a series of suspended walkways which makes for a thrilling wander amongst the verdant surrounds. But if waterfalls are more their preference, head to Mount Tamborine’s Cedar Creek Falls, which has some Hollywood pedigree of its own, appearing in a scene for Thor: Ragnarok.
‘Hangry’ teens will appreciate a treat stop at Mount Tamborine Village for creamy local fudge, ridiculously long liquorice straps and ice cream at Granny Macs Confectionery Store. An option for the health-conscious is to fill the picnic basket with roadside fresh fruit and veg, pick up some local cheese (stop in at Witches Falls Winery on the way for locally-made cheeses) and make it to Robert Sowter Park in time to watch the sunset throw its molten hues across the Great Dividing Range.
On the way back down the mountain, marvel at the glittering light-show of the Gold Coast’s famous skyline as it illuminates the night. One last stunning photo worthy of an insta post surely? Don’t forget to tag us using #PlayGoldCoast
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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.