Family Holidays

9 Things to Do As A Family on The Gold Coast (That Aren’t The Theme Parks)

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It’s that time of the year again; you might be looking ahead to planning your annual holiday and wondering is the Gold Coast good for families? Well, considering it’s long been one of the most popular destinations for Aussies, the answer to that is a resounding yes! But if you need a bit more convincing that there’s more to do on the Gold Coast than just theme parks, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s the lowdown on all the cool, quirky and quintessentially Gold Coast things to do for families, and there’s not a roller-coaster in sight.

Go Mini Golfing

When it comes to classic family-friendly activities on the Gold Coast, it’s hard to go past mini golf. It’s something everyone can enjoy – from little ones to grandparents – and it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon. Luckily, the Gold Coast is home to a few cracking mini golf centres. Holey Moley and King Tutt’s Putt Putt are solid options, but a favourite is Putt Putt Mermaid Beach, which boasts three different themed 18-hole courses: Jungle Trail, Fun Run and Waterways. You’ll encounter a range of tricky obstacles such as spinning windmills, haunted houses and cascading waterfalls, and when you’re finished there’s arcade games, a barbecue area and a snack bar to enjoy.

Spend the Day at Currumbin

Forget Wet’n’Wild, the place to be on a summer’s day on the Goldie is Currumbin. This little slice of coastal paradise is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with the tranquil waters of Currumbin Creek perfect for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, and Currumbin Beach considered one of the top family-friendly beaches on the Gold Coast. There’s also good fishing, a stellar right-hand surf break and plenty of cute cafes for refuelling. And just 15 minutes up the road are the Currumbin Rock Pools, which have rope swings and ledges for jumping off. It’s virtually a free day out, so consider this one of the coolest things to do on the Gold Coast on a budget.

Learn to Surf

It’s not called Surfers Paradise for nothing. The Gold Coast is home to some of the country’s best waves, so it should come as no surprise that having a surf lesson is up there as one of the top things to do on the Gold Coast. There are plenty of surf schools that specialise in classes for grommets, and a session generally involves learning all the surfing basics, plus important tips on being safe in the water. If you’ve got a budding Mick Fanning or Stephanie Gilmore on your hands, chances are they’ll be standing up by the end of it too. Finish the day with a visit to Queensland’s only surfing museum, SurfWorld, which is chock-full of awesome memorabilia and a large collection of boards.

Experience Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre

There’s so much more to the Gold Coast than golden shores, high-rise apartments and perennially tanned meter maids, and the best way to dive deep into the city’s history is with a visit to the Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre. It’s certainly one of the more unique things to do on the Gold Coast, and tours begin with a dance performance and ochre anointment, followed by a guided walk to nearby ceremonial sites and monuments that are significant to the local Yugambeh people. There’s also the chance to meet with a traditional land owner and hear Dreamtime stories, or try some bush tucker and check out the in-house art workshop.

Explore the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens

It may not have overpriced rides, life-size cartoon characters or ginormous water slides, but don’t write the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens off just yet. This lush and leafy oasis in the heart of the city is seriously one of the best free things to do on the Gold Coast with kids. You’ll spend hours wandering the Mangroves to Mountains trail, taste new things in the bush foods garden, see winged creatures in the Butterfly Garden AND ignite your five senses in the sensory garden. Plus, there are free guided walks to join and regular school holiday programs. Definitely consider this next time you’re wondering what to do on the Gold Coast with family.

Feast at Miami Marketta

Is your little one a notoriously picky eater? If that’s a yes and you’re searching for places to eat with kids on the Gold Coast, Miami Marketta could just be your saviour. This quirky dining experience is part street food market, part open-air bar, part outdoor concert, and boasts 25 food vendors all serving tasty dishes from right across the world. Open every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, and with everything from mouth-watering gozleme to delicious pizza, brisket, teppanyaki noodles and veggie options to choose from, you won’t even have to bribe the kids with ice cream (or brownies or crepes) to get them to eat. There’s seating for more than 650 people and an impressive line-up of live music to keep you entertained as well.

Visit the Glow Worms

Get back to nature with a magical experience that will leave kids of all ages (not to mention most adults) completely mesmerised. Just 40 minutes’ drive from the CBD, the picturesque Mount Tamborine region is well worth a visit if you’re looking to escape the crowds of the Gold Coast. What makes it really special though, is the chance to head into the glow worm caves. Located at Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard, these purpose-built caves allow you to get up close with the glowies, without damaging their delicate environment. The encounter begins with a brief documentary to help you acclimatise to the darkness, and from there you’ll be guided into the caves where thousands of illuminated glow worms reside. It’s all for a good cause too – your admission fee supports the continuation of an important glow worm breeding program.

Stimulate Your Senses At Infinity

Immerse yourself in a neon-lit, futuristic world of flashing lights, special effects, atmospheric sound fields and wacky illusions when you visit Infinity. This 30-minute walk-through journey is located on Cavill Avenue in Surfers Paradise, and will ignite your imagination via 20 multi-sensory environments, including a star chamber, laser zone and infinite light canyon. It’s a highly interactive, one-of-a-kind experience that needs to be seen to be believed. So if you’re not sure what to do with the kids on the Gold Coast, Infinity is definitely an activity they won’t forget.

Brave a Ghost Tour

File this one under unusual things to do on the Gold Coast. Tag along on one of the infamous Lantern Ghost Tours and prepare to uncover the spooky side of the Gold Coast. There are two tours to choose from: one that visits Southport Cemetery, where you’ll be on the lookout for any paranormal activity; or another that takes to the hidden laneways of Surfers Paradise, where spirits linger and dark deals occur. These ghoulish experiences are suitable for children aged eight and above, so gather the older kids and prepare for an evening of ghostly encounters. Plus, Lantern Ghost Tours operate in all weather conditions (the more miserable the better) so if you’re not sure where to go if it’s raining on the Gold Coast, this is a chillingly good option.

Hero: Gold Coast. Credit: Lenny K Photography | CC BY 2.0

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