The Gold Coast has long been Australia’s premier holiday destination with enough activities and attractions to fill your itinerary for weeks!
There are the beaches, theme parks, the waterways, the hinterland, cafes, nightlife, shopping strips and so much more.
But what if you only have 48 hours to play with?
If you’re like most busy families and all you can manage is a short getaway, I’ve got you covered. With so much to see and do I’ve put together this itinerary so you can make the most of your two day visit to the Goldy!
Let’s pretend you’re on a weekend getaway with all day Saturday and Sunday to play with.
For those flying into Coolangatta airport you may want a rental car to get around and make the most of your limited time.
Once you’ve grabbed your car, head to your accommodation and get settled. Popular places to base yourself include Coolangatta, Burleigh Heads, Broadbeach, and Surfers Paradise.
If you arrive early enough on a Friday afternoon, you could hit up the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets along the beach Esplanade which has over 100 stalls – especially nice on a clear evening.
Otherwise relax at your accommodation and get a good night’s sleep, you’ve got a busy weekend ahead.
If you’re staying in an apartment or a property with kitchen facilities you have the option to self-cater and save a few dollars on eating out.
But because it’s a short stay why not enjoy one of the many alfresco cafes on offer. Some of the best cafe scenes can be found at Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads, and Coolangatta.
Stretch your legs
Take a 30 minute stroll or bike ride along a section of the Gold Coast Oceanway, a network of pathways along the beaches ranging up to 4km long. Or follow one of the walking trails through Burleigh Heads National Park. It’s a good way to walk off brekky.
Hit the beach
Spend the rest of the morning on one of the Gold Coast’s famous beaches. You came for sunshine and sand, didn’t you?! Go for a swim or surf, play on the sand, relax on the beachfront grass beneath rows of pine trees, and have a guilt free ice-cream – you’re on holidays!
For a casual and affordable family lunch with amazing views we like to dine at one of the many surf lifesaving clubs dotted along the coast. If you have young children like us, the kids activity packs come in very handy for keeping them settled.
Our favourite surf clubs include; Main Beach, Kurrawa (Broadbeach), North Burleigh, Currumbin, Coolangatta, Greenmount and Rainbow Bay.
If you want a seat by the window, you might want to reserve a table as they do get busy.
Depending on the age and interests of your kids, I’m giving you three different options for the afternoon.
Option 1: Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Get up close with some Aussie wildlife. Cuddle a koala, feed kangaroos, watch a croc feeding or take on the extreme high ropes challenge.
This sanctuary is also well known for feeding hundreds of wild lorikeets who descend upon you from the surrounding trees to get a lick at the sweet honey nectar that you hold out in a bowl in your hands.
Option 2: Mount Tamborine
Just a 40 minute drive brings you to Mt Tamborine where you can experience tropical Queensland at its best.
There’s the one and a half kilometre Rainforest Skywalk, Australia’s first and largest high ropes Tree Top Challenge, the glow warm caves, Thunderbird Park, and for us big kids the Winery or Distillery.
Option 3. Water Activities
There is no shortage of water activities on the Gold Coast for those who want relaxation or the adrenalin fix.
Ride jet skis, get your thrills on a jet boat ride, spot migrating humpbacks on a whale watching cruise (in season), explore the waterways on a fun aquaduck safari, take a leisurely cruise on the canals and broadwater, or learn to stand up paddle board or surf.
For a real locals experience that involves food and entertainment head to Miami Marketta – we recently discovered this locals favourite ourselves! Every Saturday (and Friday nights) Marketta comes alive with street food, live music, boutique wine and craft beer. It feels like you’re in the back streets of Bangkok or New York City.
Dinner alternatives: Check out one of the other surf clubs or for a detailed list of Gold Coast Restaurants click here.
DAY 2 - THEME PARK DAY
The Gold Coast is the theme park capital of Australia, with attractions designed to suit all ages. You can ride roller-coasters, meet your favourite movie characters, or get wet at one of the water parks.
Grab your breakfast (self-cater or eat out) then stock up on water and healthy snacks before hitting up one of the parks.
But with just one day, how do you know which of the theme parks will suit your family’s interests and keep everyone happy? Here’s a rundown of what you’ll find at each park to help you plan your day.
Movie World is for the movie lovers in the house. For the kiddies that adore the Looney Tunes characters like Goofy and Tweety bird (Caz’s personal favourite), or for the bigger kids who want to get their thrills on huge, movie-themed rides like Green Lantern and Superman Escape.
The day is filled with street parades and performances from your favourite super heroes and movie characters. The WB Fun Zone is the place for smaller children with rides and shows and characters roaming around.
The action packed Hollywood Stunt Driver show will entertain all family members (although be careful with the little ones, as the loud noises may spook them).
Dreamworld is the biggest theme park with attractions for all ages. The young ones will enjoy Wiggles World and Madagascar Madness, with age appropriate rides and the chance to meet all their favourite characters.
Your teens will love the Big 8 Thrill Rides such as the Giant Drop, Buzz Saw and the Tower of Terror (my personal favourite). And there are family favourites such as the Thunder River Rapids and Log Ride.
Dreamworld also has many animal encounters to enjoy. Meet koalas, wombats and kangaroos in the huge native wildlife park, and there’s the popular Tiger Island, where you can see Bengal and Sumatran Tigers play.
WhiteWater World (attached to Dreamworld) is the newest addition and the place to get wet. Plummet five stories down in a thrilling drop slide, zoom down in a racing water slide or let the toddlers enjoy the Wiggles splash & play area.
Sea World is for the marine animal lovers. Here you can swim with dolphins and get up close to seals, polar bears, sting rays, penguins and have close encounters with sharks.
This park offers an educational side and the Dolphin Show is spectacular – you’ll walk away even more in love with these intelligent, gentle creatures. And the seal show will bring you several laughs.
The Jet Stunt Extreme show will amaze you with their amazing aerial flips, and gravity defying stunts. I enjoyed this far more than I anticipated.
There are a few rides to enjoy such as Jet Rescue, Sea Viper and Storm Coaster. For the little kids, there are Dora and SpongeBob shows that will keep them entertained.
As the name suggests, Wet’n’Wild is all about getting wet and going wild on the slides.
There are extreme thrill waterslides and vertical drops, such as Kamikaze and The Black Hole for the older and more daring teenagers and parents.
Family members can race each other down the Super 8 slide or enjoy more gentle water slides such as the River rapids. And there are places to relax in quieter family zones, as well as wave pools, whirlpool springs and simulated, perfect waves to surf.
Wet’n’Wild is the park to visit on those piping hot Gold Coast summer days.
There are buffet dinners and then there is the Bazaar Restaurant at the QT Hotel in Surfers Paradise.
To be honest, I try to avoid buffets these days as I can’t help myself from over-eating, but Bazaar is not just any buffet.
Bazaar has a market place concept with literally something for everyone with fresh produce in endless quantities.
My fave is the seafood station, and I also love how the Asian chef steams up dumplings to order. There’s a BBQ guy, wood-fired pizza, pasta, and a great salad bar.
Your kids, and you, will lovebu the amazing dessert bar with all these miniature cakes and slices. And you thought you we’re getting out of there relatively healthy!
There you have it.
With 48 hours you’re only scratching the surface of what the Gold Coast has to offer, but you can always come back another time and tick off the rest of your activities list!