15 Things To Do In Gold Coast With Kids24 March, 2022by Bounce
Popular for its network of inland canals and waterways as well as its beaches, Australia's Gold Coast receives over four million tourists annually. Aside from the picturesque setting between the Coral Sea and the Tasmanian Sea, Gold Coast has lots to see and do, and that includes activities for the whole family. The family-centric activities in Gold Coast tend to center around the outdoors, but even the most outdoor-averse kids will find something appealing here. The city is full of theme parks, UNESCO world heritage sites, wildlife parks, national parks, and world-class museums.
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If your kids are obsessed with marine life, then a trip to Sea World is a must. This Gold Coast theme park is full of exciting rides and informative animal exhibits while promoting and engaging in the conservation and rehabilitation of marine mammals. Kids will love the Affinity Dolphin Show and the Little Penguin Keeper Talk. Kids can hang out at Ray Reef where they can touch and help feed the stingrays, or ride a glass-bottom boat through shark-infested waters. You get all this excitement plus an array of rides like the Vortex that promises maximum thrill level.
Aside from the actual theme park, Sea World also runs whale watching tours from Gold Coast, called Sea World Cruises. Their boats will take you 20 minutes offshore to the famed humpback highway where the whole family will marvel at the sight of majestic humpback whales. During whale-watching season, which begins in June, families can choose one of seven departure times. The earliest one leaves at 6 am (a challenge for most people), but there are staggered cruises leaving throughout the day until the last one at 3 pm.
Wet 'n Wild Gold Coast
The theme of most trips to coastal Australia is water. From surfing to swimming to beachcombing, water is usually involved, and this is no different at the Wet 'n Wild theme park. Another thrilling destination, this waterpark boasts a series of daring water slides to get everyone's heart pumping. Although there are slides to challenge the nerves of the most stable adults, there are also attractions suitable for kids of all ages. The H2Oasis is a younger kid-friendly splash zone and the Giant Wave Pool is fun for all. You can also try the Mammoth Falls raft ride as a family as each raft seats multiple people.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Do your kids like animals? Chances are the answer is yes, and what better way to get up close and personal with Australian wildlife than to visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. If your visit coincides with the Queensland school holidays, the sanctuary offers a kid's eco-ranger program to entice. This zoological garden is heritage-listed and is the ultimate interactive Australian wildlife experience. Kids can enjoy an actual cuddle with a koala over breakfast (for the koala, not the kid), meet a red panda or capybara, and hold a lizard or touch a snake at the reptile encounter. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is nothing like a zoo and encourages hands-on interaction to get kids excited about wildlife parks and conservation.
Currumbin Rock Pools
In the Currumbin Valley southwest of the wildlife sanctuary is the Gold Coast Hinterland splash area for kids known as the Currumbin Rock Pools. These scenic pools are the perfect spot for a dip in the clear water surrounded by rock formations and brush. The pools are shallow enough for most kids who already know how to swim and they will have hours of fun swimming, wading, and jumping off some of the low rock edges. This is the perfect place to step outside of the city and into nature.
Lamington National Park
One of Gold Coast's amazing parks, Lamington National Park, is also southwest of the city and less than an hour away by car. This spot is ideal for camping, hiking, and exploring. The park abounds with waterfalls and lush rainforest as well as ancient trees towering above. If your kids aren't super into nature, this is a great place to expose them to some of the best Australia has to offer. The various hiking trails criss-cross through the MacPherson range and you can find trails rated easy to difficult depending on your needs.
Springbrook National Park
A little further afield, yet still less than an hour from Gold Coast, Springbrook National Park is another wonderful escape into nature ideal for the whole family. Also great for camping, Springbrook is one of the more popular national parks in the area. There are caves, waterfalls, and dense forests to navigate, and one of the highlights of a visit here is the natural bridge. Located in the western part of the park, the natural bridge is easily accessible from the parking area on Nerang-Murwillumbah Road. You can even join a night tour to the bridge and view the colonies of microbats and glow worms. It's a sight to see!
Pirate Treasure Island Playground
Found in the Palm Beach Parklands, the Pirate Treasure Island Playground is a must-visit for families. Featuring a half-sunken sailing ship, this Gold Coast playground is good for hours of entertainment. You can even make your kids walk the plank (safely, of course). It's on the beach side, just off the highway, so aside from playing in the park, kids can build sandcastles or go swimming. There are large grassy areas in which to spread out and have a picnic with stunning views of Currumbin Creek.
Explore Tambourine Mountain
For more swimming and fun in rock pools, head to the area around Tambourine Mountain about 45 minutes northwest of Gold Coast. Here you can explore the Cedar Creek Falls swimming hole and play in the rock pools. There are amazing lookout views and even the option to play mini-golf. Plenty of walking trails, a rainforest skywalk, and glow worm caves are here to entertain the masses. The Tambourine Mountain Botanic Gardens and local winery may not be appropriate for kids but could be a welcome break for parent if you can find a babysitter.
Time Zone @ Surfers Paradise
Timezone Gold Coast claims the prize for the biggest indoor family entertainment venue in Australia. It's also the largest Timezone location in the world covering almost 54,000 square feet. To say it's an indoor playground almost sounds like an understatement. Chances are, as a visitor to Gold Coast, you'll frequent the Surfers Paradise tourist area often, so it should be easy to squeeze in a Timezone visit or two. The indoor arcade features all your favorite games, bowling, and laser tag. This is a great rainy day option or an excuse to spend a day in the air conditioning during the hottest part of the year.
Gold Coast Aquatic Centre
It might seem a little silly to head to an indoor pool at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre when the city is surrounded by famous beaches. But, not everyone enjoys the waves, sand, and saltwater. The aquatic centre is a family activity that you can do rain or shine, which is always appealing, although shine is better since three of the four pools are outdoors and exposed to the elements. The centre was the site of the swimming and diving portions of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, so you know the facilities are top-notch. The Children's Wet Play Area is particularly recommended for youngsters, and the venue features hydrotherapy tubs for some much-needed relaxation.
The outlet shopping centre at Harbour Town is not just a discount shopping destination. While it does offer some amazing deals, it also has a ton of casual family-friendly restaurants and a 14-screen movie theater. Harbour Town is a fabulous location for older kids who want to do something on their own, like shop or see a movie, yet parents can get a meal nearby or do some shopping of their own. This is also a great place to head if you forgot to pack enough clothes or need a new bathing suit for all the time you're spending in the water.
Kurrawa Pratten Park
When you don't want to hit the beach and get sandy and wet, Kurrawa Pratten Park is a fantastic beachside park in Broadbeach. There are grassy areas for picnics and relaxation along with a shaded playground, and even a pedal-operated monorail. The park is also home to the Ben & Jerry's Open Air Cinema, which offers live music by dusk and some family movies by night. Although, not all the movies shown are suitable for all ages. Just check their website for shows and showtimes. Need more encouragement to head here? Sometimes you even get free ice cream before the movie.
It's difficult to decide where to go when you just want a day at the beach. But, you simply can't pass up the iconic Surfers Paradise Beach in Gold Coast, which is one of the best free things to do here. The whole area around the two-kilometer-long beach is ideal for family activities. You can browse the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets, sample some street food, or head to the Crazy Cat Cafe if you're missing your cat back home.
The waves at Surfers Paradise can get a little high out past the shallows, but it's still a relatively safe place for families to swim. There are three lifeguard towers responsible for your safety, but make sure little ones are always supervised and floaties and lifejackets are a good idea.
It's almost impossible to visit an Australian beach and not try your hand at surfing. Whether you and your kids are complete novices or have some experience, there's an option for you in Gold Coast. Beginners should start out at Coolangatta's Greenmount Beach. It's the ideal spot for beginners due to the gentle waves and companies offer private surfing lessons in this area to improve everyone's skills. Rainbow Bay and Currumbin Alley are two other beginner-friendly surfing beaches.
The more experienced surfing family should head to Surfers Paradise and Tallebudgera Surf Beach in Burleigh Head National Park right on the coast. Both are scenic and have great waves to challenge you. You will also find all the thrills at Kirra, Burleigh, and Snapper Rocks each with legendary point breaks.
David Fleay Wildlife Park
The David Fleay Wildlife Park is another wonderful place to view Australian wildlife less than half an hour from Surfers Paradise. You'll feel like you're in a different world to the coastal region of Gold Coast. Australia has some of the most interesting animals in the world, and make sure you see the elusive bridled nailtail wallaby which was thought to be extinct. The wildlife park also hosts a birds of prey show that's sure to wow.
While you're in the area, Tallebudgera Creek Park is the perfect easy walking spot for the entire group. The well-maintained track is relatively flat and meanders through mangrove forests following the namesake creek and is less than one kilometer one way, so most kids will find this easy.