I love “meeting” families around the world through my My City (with kids!) guest post series.
Today it’s the turn of Sophie, a UK citizen, who travelled to an extremely isolated town in Australia for a brief work trip. While there she met and fell in love with her partner and they’re now raising their 2 year old daughter on the Gold Coast, where her partner grew up.
Read on below for Sophie’s tips on all the best things to do in Gold Coast with kids.
Things to do in The Gold Coast, Australia (with kids!)
The Gold Coast is a such a unique city, there is literally something for every type of family. It’s a bustling cityscape with some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia on one side and amazing national parks and mountains on the other.
If you have young kids, Gold Coast really is an amazing city to live in. It has so many incredible parks and sports programs, free BBQ areas, beaches, calm water swimming spots and so much more. We can’t wait until my toddler is a little older so we can enrol her in the local surf life saving club.
There are attractions galore, such as whale watching and wildlife parks. It’s also a great base to take day trips further afield to places like Brisbane, Byron Bay, Sunshine Coast or Australia Zoo.
A perfect day on the Gold Coast!
For our family the perfect day is waking up early and heading straight to the beach. We play in the surf and dig in the sand, my partner and I will take it in turns to go for a body surf or a swim, we’ll kick a ball along the beach, make friends with the friendly pelican and pat all the dogs going for their morning walk.
When it starts to heat up a bit, we’ll rinse off in one of the free showers and head straight to a nearby cafe for a late breakfast before heading home for a midday siesta.
In the afternoon, when it starts to cool down again, we’ll head straight to one of the shaded outdoor play areas. Our daughter will make us push her on the swings or chase her around until we’re all exhausted.
We’d finish off the day cooking a BBQ at the park or the beach and watching the sun go down. I can’t think of a better way to spend my weekend!
Top 5 things to do in Gold Coast (With kids!)
Natural Bridge at Springbrook & Glow Worms
Springbrook National Park is a great area in general to visit with the kids and take in the scenery. The best part for the kids though will be Natural bridge and the glow worms!
The Natural Bridge walking track is an easy 1km walk, so it’s perfect for little legs. The track takes you to a stunning lookout where you can look down from the top of the waterfall. You then descend down into the glow worm caves where you can see the cave roof lit up at night time. Our toddler and my nephew thought this was pretty amazing and we even spotted some bioluminescent fungi along the path too!
Remember to take a torch for the walk (although they’re not allowed inside the cave) and pack a picnic to enjoy whilst you wait for the sun to go down.
Broadwater Parklands has everything you could need to entertain the kids for a whole day! Play areas, shallow water play area, bbqs, pedal monorail and much more! A firm favourite with kids and adults alike seems to be the “jumping pillow”.
There are heaps of great shady areas and a cafe situated in a great spot to relax whilst still being able to see the kids playing.
The park is super popular in the school holidays so if you have pre-school aged kids I’d definitely advise sticking to mid week trips, so they can enjoy it a bit more.
Learn to Surf!!
This has to be top of your list when visiting The Gold Coast, the city is so intertwined with surf culture you can’t go anywhere without seeing someone headed to the beach with a board under their arm!
There are some really great surf schools around and most do dedicated private lessons for kids (advisable if they are under 8 years old). Older kids can join in a group lesson but whichever you choose there’s a pretty high chance they’ll be able to stand and ride a wave on that very first lesson!!
My daughter has already ridden her first ever wave at 2 years old (she was sat on the front of my board on a tiny beach break but it’s a start!)
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
We’ve taken to calling our toddler our little “wildlife warrior” because she loves anything to do with animals. As a result, her absolute favourite place to visit on the Gold Coast is Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary!
Not only do they have an amazing selection of animals (Australian and from other countries) but they also have some great opportunities to do close encounters and there’s a fantastic little train you can ride around the whole park on.
Other than being a fun spot to visit, the sanctuary also has an onsite veterinary clinic and does some incredible conservation work so you’ll be supporting a good cause too.
I couldn’t do a Gold Coast (With kids) review without mentioning the obvious – theme parks! They are one of the most popular attractions in the area and great if you have kids that are a bit older. I don’t think I really need to explain why theme parks are fun!
Whether it’s Dreamworld, Movie World, Sea World, Wet n Wild or you choose to visit them all – you won’t be disappointed. There’s something at each park for kids and adults to both enjoy so don’t worry about it being “just for the kids” either.
Best Place to eat in Gold Coast (with kids!)
You may think the Gold Coast is only home to super trendy restaurants and hipster coffee shops but you’d be wrong. We actually have a huge range of amazing places to eat with kids as well.
Top of your list should be one of the many amazing surf clubs dotted along the coast. They serve up great pub style food, are all super kid friendly and always have the most incredible views out over the beaches and ocean.
My absolute favourite spot to eat though has to be Miami Marketta. It’s a really eclectic little street food market with affordable dishes on offer from all around the world. Dining is super casual with long communal tables and there’s an amazing beer and cocktail selection for mum and dad. It begins late afternoon with live music and you can always find a big gang of young kids dancing right in front of the stage.
My City (with kids!) – Gold Coast, Australia
We have been living in Gold Coast for 4 years, but my partner has lived here for over 35 years so I get plenty of insider tips from him! Our daughter is 2 years old and I’m 7 months pregnant with our second.
Our favourite spot to visit as a family in our home town is…
Our favourite family day out has to be the beach. Pretty much every beach in our city is fantastically clean and perfect for surfing or swimming. We’re spoilt for choice!
My kids favourite outing in our home town is…
We call our daughter our little wildlife warrior so her favourite outing by far is Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
The most iconic place/ don’t miss tourist attraction in our home town to visit (that the kids will also love) is…
Everybody has heard of, and flocks to, Surfers Paradise, it’s pretty much the tourist Mecca on the Gold Coast. It can get busy but there is tons for kids to do and a beautiful beach so well worth a visit.
Our favourite family-friendly good weather outing is…
Can I say the beach again?!? Ok, other than that we love heading out to Springbrook National Park for the day to explore the waterfalls, beautiful scenery and walks.
Our favourite family-friendly BAD weather (indoor) outing is…
During bad weather, we love to take advantage of Doodlebugs which is a great indoor play area right around the corner from our house.
The best free outing in our home town is…
The Gold Coast is full of amazing free outings like parks with free to use BBQ areas. Our favourite spot is Tallebudgera Creek which is a perfect calm water spot for kids to swim.
Our “insider” tip for visiting our home town is…
I’m not sure if it counts as an insider tip but I would absolutely advise becoming an early riser for your trip and getting down to the beach or creek as early as possible. Avoid the harshness of the midday Australian heat, especially if you’re not used to it!
The best family-friendly restaurant is…
Any of the amazing surf clubs are perfect for families and they are always right on the beach with amazing views.
Be sure to try this kid-friendly local food…
You can’t come to the beachside city and not try some of the freshest fish and chips you’ll ever find.
The easiest way to get around with kids is…
Public transport is fantastic in the city but if you want to visit some of the hinterland areas and really explore I’d recommend hiring a car instead.
The best family-friendly neighbourhood to stay in is…
The Gold Coast is quite a long, spread out city but the Burleigh Heads area is smack bang in the middle so I’d recommend staying in that area.
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About the Author
Sophie, who blogs at Baby, Toddler and Kids, describes their family as the typical Australian “beach bum” family who love all things outdoors. They can’t imagine living anywhere else and love the bustling metropolitan lifestyle their city has to offer, whilst still being right on the edge of some of the most beautiful national parks and beaches in Australia.