Our Family Guide to the Gold Coast Queensland

Our Family Guide to the Gold Coast – free and cheap activities for family fun

Coming to the sunny Gold Coast is a rite of passage for most Australians.  We are lucky enough to live in this beautiful paradise and know all the tips, tricks and local secrets which we are willing to share but don’t tell anyone. We know that travelling with kids can get expensive but there is so much to do on the Gold Coast that cost nothing or nearly nothing.  So there is lots more money for ice creams for everyone!

Gold Coast

The Beaches

We love a visit to the beach but we don’t like the crowds and having to share our waves with too many people.  Here are our favourite beaches that are all within a short drive of the Gold Coast. We have chosen these as our favourites because……….

Burleigh Heads – this is very popular and can be busy but it is so beautiful and there is plenty of parking and picnic space at North Burleigh.  It is our favourite because of the beautiful headland and the rockpools.  Make sure you walk the headland and take your towels and bathers and there are plenty of little private beaches along the path.

Tugun Beach – this is our go to beach at the moment because it seems no-one is there!  The sand is squeaky white and the water is crystal clear  There are some rocks on the shore to explore and lifeguards on duty but it is so so quiet.  There is also a playground and amenities right next to the beach.

Tugun Beach – I think we are the only ones here

Cabarita Beach – this is in NSW and a little bit of a drive south but so very worth every minute in the car.  There are so many private nooks to set up your towel and claim a piece of sand that will be yours for a few hours.  Getting down to the beach is through some rocks and grassy hill and the climb down is worth it to find your own piece of paradise.

Cabarita Beach

Main Beach – this is our closest beach and near Surfer’s Paradise.  We love coming here for a late afternoon swim.  Park near the playground and wander along this vast stretch of sand.

Main Beach


Short Drives from the Gold Coast

We love nothing more than hopping in the car and exploring the areas around the Gold Coast.  We usually are happy to drive no further than an hour.  Some of our go to places the we have loved:

Mt Cootha – we parked at the base and walked up to the Lookout which gives you a view of Brisbane.  Along the walk was an Aboriginal art trail where we spotted many Aboriginal Artifacts.  The walk was 2km each way and easy enough for little legs.  While at Mt Cootha there is the Botanical Gardens and the Planetarium.

Bushwalking Mt Cootha

view of Brisbane from Mt Cootha

Federation Walk at The Spit – this local walk is through the bush starting opposite SeaWorld and ending at the Spit headland.  We walked along the sand pumping jetty which costs adults $2.20.  It was a great view and takes you what feels like right in the middle of the ocean.

Sandpumping Jetty

Mt Tamborine – it would be easy enough to spend the whole day up in the Hinterland.  A short 40min drive from Surfers Paradise and you will be in another world.  Up on the mountain you will find cafes, restaurants, cheese and fudge places, views to the Gold Coast and beyond and lots of walking trails.

Mt Tamborine

South Bank, Brisbane – we love to day trip to Brisbane and the easy drive up the M1 is the quickest way to get there.  We usually park at South Bank or Kangaroo Point.  Our favourite place to visit is the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) who can resist an art gallery with a slippery dip in the middle.  Around the GOMA is the Science Museum and many places for lunch, parks to cartwheel in and even the Brisbane Wheel to see the city from.

Natural Bridge – This is an easy bush walk through very rainforest like surrounds.  You will be rewarded along the walk with waterfalls and a cave that has the promise of glow worms.

Hinze Dam – the dam has a beautiful view and is surrounded by nature. look over the Hinze Dam wall to see the water flowing very fast.  This is also a great fishing spot.

Eating on the Gold Coast

The food scene on the Gold Coast has erupted and is become foodie heaven.  With so many amazing choices it is truly hard to pick.

We have tried these places recently: Aloha Bar for Hawaiian themed drinks and nibbles, Hideaway Kitchen for Asian street food and the best food we have had in a long time, Bonita Bonita for modern Mexcian and a family favourite is the Easy Street Diner for all your American cravings.

Hideaway Kitchen

Local Secrets

There are a few places that tourists stay away from but all well worth the visit.  Try heading to Paradise Point where there is a large playground, excellent coffee and wide paths to ride bikes.  Paradise Point is on the water so pack your swimmers to have a dip in the swimming enclosure.

Paradise Point

Broadwater Parklands has plenty to offer for family fun.  A splash park for younger kids, playgrounds and bike paths and lots of open space.  There is also an aqua splash adventure zone that does cost money but will wear the kids out quick smart!!


You can read our other Gold Coast tips here.

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