There are so many fun things to do in the Gold Coast with Kids, making it one of Australia’s most popular destinations for a family holiday. Here I highlight the best activities and attractions.
The Gold Coast is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia, attracting millions of families every year.
Visitors are drawn here by the fun-filled theme parks, 57km of coastline offering a swathe of beautiful beaches and a hinterland promising atmospheric rainforest walks and waterfalls. The 300 days of sunshine doesn’t hurt either.
Year on year the Gold Coast continues to boom, with new hotels, restaurants and attractions opening all the time. It’s almost impossible not to have a good time on the Gold Coast.
With so many options, how do you choose what to do? Here I help you narrow down the best places, activities, attractions and beaches in my pick of the best Gold Coast activities for families.
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Gold Coast Theme Parks
Everybody knows the Gold Coast is famous for its theme parks. In fact, the Gold Coast has the highest concentration o f theme parks in the Southern Hemisphere. They are one of the big reasons that families flock here in the millions every year.
Whether you’re into thrill rides, water slides, shows or live entertainment, you are guaranteed a great day of family fun at one of these theme parks.
Tip: If you plan on visiting two of the below parks (Movie World, SeaWorld, Wet n’ Wild), it works out cheaper to buy a 3-day, 3-pass park. You can also buy a 7-day, 4 park pass or a 14-day, 4-park pass that includes Paradise Country (see below). Dreamworld is separate.
Warner Bros. Movie World features movie-themed rollercoasters, rides and attractions. It also gives you the chance to meet some of your favourite Looney Tunes cartoon characters and DC super heroes and villains.
Thrill rides include the DC Rivals Hypercoaster, the tallest, longest and fastest HyperCoaster in the Southern Hemisphere and the adrenaline-pumping Green Lanter coaster with one of the steepest inverted drops in the Southern Hemisphere.
For families with little kids there are junior coasters, carousels and self-drive cars and there is also a comprehensive schedule of entertainment throughout the day, including Meet & Greets with your favourite characters and everyone’s favourite – the Star Parade.
There is a lot of fun to be had here and you are sure to have a great family day out. The park can get very busy, especially during peak times (weekends and school holidays) and queues can get long. so take your time and plan to spend the whole day here.
Click here to read all our top tips for visiting Movie World, including tips on how to avoid the queues.
Sea World is not only Australia’s number one Marine Park, it’s also a theme park with fun rides, shows and play areas.
Most importantly it’s a marine park with conservation and education at its core. Beyond marvelling at the dolphins, sharks, polar bears and seals, there are countless shows, feedings and presentations taking place throughout the day where you can learn more about our aquatic buddies.
Beyond the marine life there are plenty of thrill rides to keep your adrenaline pumping, such as the Vortex and the Jet Rescue Coaster, with more rides coming soon.
There is also a packed schedule of shows and entertainment such as PAW Patrol on holiday and the chance to meet some of your favourite Nickelodeon characters.
You can also stay at SeaWorld, at their super kid-friendly Sea World Resort. They have rooms with two double beds, a choice of bars and restaurants, resort pool and water park and the chance to meet & greet with the Nickelodeon characters. Click here to check prices and availability.
Wet n’ Wild
Wet n’ Wild is the favourite Gold Coast attraction for many kids and families. It’s Australia’s biggest water park and is the perfect place to spend the day on a hot summers day.
There are thrill rides galore, including Australia’s tallest water park slide tower with three epic slides. And with names like Tornado, Kamikaze, Black Hole and Super Ripper, you know you’re in for a wild ride.
For little kids there are more sedate slides plus a wave pool, lazy river and splash zone. If you’re here for the whole day and want some chill out time, be sure to pre-book some loungers or a cabana.
Don’t forget: If you plan on visiting two of the above parks (Movie World, SeaWorld, Wet n’ Wild), it works out cheaper to buy a 3-day, 3-pass park. You can also buy a 7-day, 4-park pass or a 14-day, 4-park pass that includes Paradise Country (see below).
DreamWorld & Whitewater World
Dream World has been a Gold Coast family favourite for 40 years thanks to not only being a fun theme park but also a water park and wildlife reserve. Yes, there’s something for everyone here.
Theme park rides range from Australia’s tallest free-falling ride (The Giant Drop) and Australia’s only triple launch coaster (Steel Taipan) to the more sedate Dreamworld Express railway ride.
Similarly within Whitewater World you can choose to go extreme on The Wedgie, The Rip or the Triple Vortex, or take it easy in the Cave of Waves and chill out at Wiggle Bay. Note that Whitewater World closes during the winter months.
Meanwhile Dreamworld is home to a host of native animals, including koalas, crocodiles and cassowaries – and, more unusually, you can also get up close and personal to the resident tigers at Tiger Island.
Animal Encounters on the Gold Coast
In addition to the animal encounters you can have a Dreamworld and Seaworld there are plenty of other wildlife opportunities on the Gold Coast.
From native wildlife to farm animals and even whale watching during migration season, there is a good range of options open to you here. Read on to find out more.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a firm favourite day out for families in the Gold Coast. Set among 27 hectares of natural eucalyptus-rich bushland and rainforest, the sanctuary is home to native Australian animals including mammals, reptiles, birdlife and amphibians.
Check out the schedule of feeding times and live shows on the website before you go so you don’t miss out on all the fun, including the Pelican & Eel show, the Wild Skies bird show, the Aboriginal Cultural show or the famous Lorikeet feeding time.
There’s also a fabulous playground and a high ropes course to challenge yourselves and even a ride-on model railway to help out little kids with tired legs get around.
Beyond the shows and animal encounters, this not-for-profit park also supports 15 important conservation projects and is home to an animal hospital that admits around 14,000 sick and injured animals every year.
It’s not as famous as its Queensland neighbour Hervey Bay for whale watching, but did you know that the Gold Coast has the longest continuous whale watching season in Australia?
The whale watching season here runs from late May to October, with the best times being mid-June to mid-July (for the northern migration) and September (for the southern migration).
Every year the whales migrate up from Antarctica to Queensland to have their babies in the warmer waters before heading back south. Not only does the Gold Coast get an abundance of whales passing through but they come in close to shore, making it ideal for whale watching tours.
If you are in the Gold Coast during migration season, don’t miss the opportunity to get out on a boat. Seeing this majestic creatures breaching is a magical experience.
David Fleay Wildlife Park
David Fleay’s is a smaller, more rustic park than Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary but it has an equally good array of Australian wildlife to admire, including the shy bridled nailtail wallaby, thought to be extinct for over 30 years.
Run by Queensland Parks and Forests, the rangers here are great at educating the kids through a range of daily wildlife shows, talks and encounters.
if you are visiting the Gold Coast in the school holidays, kids can also sign up for the Junior Ranger program to go behind the scenes and learn about caring for native animals.
Experience life on an authentic Aussie Farm at Australia’s number one Farm Experience. But Paradise Country is way more than just a farm.
There is so much to do here beyond just visiting the animals (although there are a lot of animals to see here, including meerkats, marmosets, Tasmanian devils, dingos, koalas, kangaroos and more).
There is a whole schedule of shows and presentations, tractor rides, an interactive adventure precinct, pony rides and a farmyard nursery.
Gold Coast Sightseeing
It’s always good to get your bearings when you’re visiting something new and the Gold Coast has an impressive skyline and coastline to marvel at.
Even the sightseeing is fun in the Gold Coast – check out all these unique ways to soak in the sights.
Is it a bus? Is it a boat? It’s both! This amphibious tour gives you the best of both worlds – land and water.
Kicking off with a drive along the Surfers Paradise Esplanade to learn about the history of the area from the live on-board commentary, you then launch into the water to begin the river cruise part of this one-hour tour.
You get to marvel at the millionaire mansions and super yachts, look for dolphins and watch the nesting sea eagles fishing for their dinner.
Oh and did I mention that the kids get to drive the boat? Yes they do – and they get a certificate to prove it.
Paradise Jet Boating
If you prefer your sightseeing tour to be a bit more thrilling then look no further than Paradise Jet Boating.
Get ready for 360° spins, high speed drifting, fast turns and power slides.
More than just a thrill ride, the jet boat tour covers over 35kms of the Gold Coast over 55 minutes. The jet boat ride takes you cruising along the Spit, spotting wallabies on the beach at South Stradbroke Island and goggling at the houses of the rich and famous on Sovereign Island.
Warning – you will get wet! And shriek with laughter.
Another fun way to get a unique perspective of the Gold Coast sights is to take a kayaking tour.
A great option with the kids is a half day kayaking and snorkelling tour. On this fun and varied tour you get to paddle on the protected and calm waters of the Broadwater, go snorkelling off the beach of Wave Break Island, and take a bush walk to one of the best surfing beaches in the world.
You can also keep a look out for dolphins, turtles & stingrays along the way, with dolphins spotted on 80% of the tours!
Jet Ski Safari
If you prefer your sightseeing with a bit more adrenaline and speed, then opt for a jet ski safari.
Tours range from a quick 30-minute circuit to a 2.5 hour safari that takes you off the beaten track to snake your way through miles of untamed mangroves and flood plains and whizz past beautiful islands and beaches.
Tours either stop at a beautiful tropical sand bar on South Stradbroke Island for refreshments or pull into the only beach front island pub for a break where you can have a swim and a cold drink.
Kids aged 7 and above can ride pillion with an adult.
Skypoint Observation Deck
For the best views in town, jump in the world’s fastest elevators (they take you from ground floor to Level 77 in 42.7 seconds!) to the Skypoint Observation Deck.
Located atop the iconic Q1 building in Surfers Paradise, the lookout offers panoramic views of the Gold Coast from the surf to the hinterland and beyond from its 230m perch.
If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie, then try out the SkyPoint Climb – Australia’s highest external building climb. Starting at the Observation Deck, 298 stairs guide climbers up to the summit, where you can experience the thrill of a 270-metre sheer vertical drop.
Kids need to be 12+ to do the outdoor climb and accompanied by an adult.
With all those sunny days to fill, you’ve going to want to plan some good old fashioned outdoor fun with the fam.
There are plenty of places to choose from for some fun in the sun – here are some of my top picks.
Gold Coast Aqua Park
The perfect summer entertainment for the entire family, the Gold Coast Aqua Park is an awesome floating inflatable obstacle course.
Located at Broadwater Parklands (opposite Australia Fair shopping centre), kids get 50 minutes to bounce, slide, run and jump over some the biggest and highest obstacles in Australia. Lots of laughs guaranteed.
GC Aqua park is closed in the winter months. Kids need to be at least 5 years old and be able to swim. All children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult (1 adult to 2 children).
Tallebudgera Creek is one of the most popular swimming spots in the Gold Coast thanks to its calm waters and stunning natural surroundings.
Framed by the Burleigh Heads National Park on one side and Palm Beach on the other, families flock here to play in the water, paddle board and picnic. There are changing facilities, showers and a shaded playground, making it the perfect spot for a relaxing family day out.
Tip: parking is limited so head here early during school holidays and weekends to claim your spot.
Currumbin Rock Pools
Another popular swimming spot with Gold Coast families, the Currumbin Rock Pools offer a freshwater alternative to the beach on a hot day.
Kids will enjoy scrambling over the rocks and there’s even a natural waterslide with a shallow pool below.
There is a grassy area with picnic tables and BBQ facilities so pack a picnic, but the rock pools have a much smaller water area than Tallebudgera Creek, so leave your paddle boards and kayaks at home.
Tropical Fruit World
No it’s not a theme park, rather Tropical Fruit World is an award-winning farm tour through a commercial fruit plantation.
Doesn’t sound particularly family friendly? You’re wrong – it really is. There’s a tractor ride, animal feeding, fruit tasting and even a boat cruise through the bushland valley.
Pack a picnic or enjoy lunch in their onsite cafe where they dish up lots of farm fresh produce.
Putt Putt Mermaid Beach
Mermaid Beach Putt Putt is one fo the most iconic family attractions on the Gold Coast, having entertained generations for over 50 years.
There are three themed mini golf courses here, including Jungle Trail, Fun Run and Waterways. All courses are filled with fun obstacles and challenges to keep you coming back for more.
Beyond the greens there’s also a games arcade and a fully licensed snack bar.
It’s not called Surfers Paradise for nothing. With endless stretches of coastline, the Gold Coast is the perfect place to learn to surf.
It’s fun for the whole family and experienced instructors will have you standing on your board in no time.
Of course it’s not a trip to the Gold Coast without hitting the beach. With 57 kilometres for coastline, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to get sandy on the Gold Coast.
You could drop your towel and park your parasol anywhere, but here are some recommended family friendly Gold Coast beaches to check out:
- Tallebudgera Creek (see above) – calm sheltered water makes it very popular with families. Shaded playground for the little ones.
- Kirra Beach – clear water, calm waves and rock pools to explore. Plenty of cafes and pubs in easy walking distance of this great beach.
- Currumbin – Currumbin Alley offers something for everyone: a calm creek for younger kids to paddle, gentle surf for beginner surf lessons and bigger surf for surfing pros. Currumbin SLSC is the perfect spot for post-beach dining with a view.
- Palm Beach – wide sandy beach, shady BBQ areas and a pirate play park perfect for the kids.
- Rainbow Bay – the beautiful sheltered sandy beach and a shallow sand-banked pool make it a great place for toddlers and kids and it’s a short walk to Snapper Rocks, the Gold Coast’s most famous surfing spot.
- Nobby Beach – surf club, calm waves, a fun playground, BBQs, walking tracks and a family-friendly atmosphere.
Indoor and Rainy Day Activities in the Gold Coast
Yes it has 300 days of sunshine… but sometimes it does rain on the Gold Coast. If you’re looking for indoor activities, we’ve got you covered here:
Australian Outback Spectacular
For an evening of True Blue Aussie fun, look no further than the Australian Outback Spectacular, the show that feeds you, entertains you and educates you on the plight of the local farmers.
Part light show, part theatre, part rodeo, the show has impressive horse riding skills and lighting displays with a bit of humour and a love story thrown in for good measure.
Your ticket includes a three-course meal and free-flowing wine, beer and soft drinks. All in all a good fun night out for everyone.
Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Head to this fascinating place to learn about the ancient history and culture of the region’s first inhabitants.
Start your visit in the cultural centre where you can browse through paintings and Aboriginal artefacts and check out the informative boardwalk story board display to discover the traditional lives of the Yugambeh speaking people.
From here, take a guided Jellurgal Walkabout Tour, which starts with an audio visual presentation, before leading you through the along a picturesque beachside rainforest walkway of the magical mountain (Jellurgal).
Along the way you’ll hear dreamtime stories, and learn about traditional life, bush tucker, fishing, hunting and important ecological practices.
HOTA – Home of the Arts
If you’re heading to the Gold Coast with the family then definitely check out the HOTA website before you go to see what’s on while you’re in town.
There is ALWAYS something cool happening here, from exhibitions to theatre shows, music concerts, dance performances, movies and more.
Fridays on the Lawn is a fun place to hangout, taking place 4-7pm every Friday, with free entry and live music and there’s a farmers market every Sunday morning.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not
Discover why fact is stranger than fiction as you make your way through the themed galleries of unbelievable artefacts and interactive exhibits.
You’ll read magical stories of mystery and adventure, find incredible illusions and fun interactive games and come face to face with life-size figurines of unusual characters from history.
Kids will also love the 7D Moving Theatre, an immersive motion simulator ride with a choice of interactive movies, and Ripley’s Impossible LaseRace™, a race through a maze of laser beams.
Infinity describes itself as “a mind-blowing journey through worlds of illusion”, reviewers have called it a “rollercoaster for the senses”.
It’s hard to describe but it’s a kind of futuristic funhouse where you journey through 20 trippy, maze-like ‘worlds of wonder’ filled with special effects and illusions. Definitely a unique experience.
Suitable for ages 8+. If you are scared of the dark or claustrophobic, this probably isn’t the place for you.
Trick art galleries are always a hit with kids, especially those who love having their photos taken.
Here you get to pose with 80 different scenes, including coming face to face with King Kong, fighting a dragon, or taking a ride on a magic carpet. You are encouraged to touch and interact with the artwork, take photos and become part of the art.
The Gold Coast Hinterland: Mount Tamborine
They call it the green behind the gold and Tamborine Mountain in the Gold Coast hinterland is stunning.
Perfect for a day trip, in around a 45-minute drive from Surfers Paradise and an hour from Brisbane you can be immersed in the third oldest National Park in the world.
There are loads of walking tracks to choose from and also some fun kid-friendly attractions:
Thunderbird Park is where adventure joins nature. It is the biggest family friendly attraction in Tamborine Mountain, describing itself as “Australia’s #1 Adventure Playground”.
There are several fun attractions in one place here and you should plan to spend the whole day here to do it justice.
Choose from a fun treetop challenge with high ropes and zips lines, laser skirmish, adventure mini golf and thunderegg fossicking at the crystal mine.
There’s also a funfair, rockpools, bird feeding and you can easily access the Cedar Creek Falls from here. There’s an onsite restaurant and kiosk and you can even stay overnight in cabins or at the campground.
We spent the whole day here and managed to squeeze in Laser Skirmish, the Treetops high rope course and thunderegg fossicking. You can read more about these activities in detail in our article about Things to do in Tamborine Mountain.
Note that although all these activities are located within Thunderbird Park, they are run by separate companies and so you need to book each individual activity separately.
Glow Worm Caves
There are not many places in the world where you can see glow worms, but Mount Tamborine is one of them.
The cave here is purpose-built with a controlled environment to give the glow worms a safe environment to thrive. Taking a guided tour of this cave is a really cool activity to do with kids here in the hinterland
The tour starts with a documentary about glow worms and ends with a tour through the cave where you can stand in pitch black darkness and marvel at the glowing larvae on the roof above you.
The rainforest in Mt Tamborine really is spectacular and a great way to appreciate it is to walk the Rainforest Skywalk.
Set among 30 acres of privately owned rainforest, this 1.5km trail is a combination of forest floor trails, high-tech steel bridges through the upper canopy, and a cantilever bridge that soars 30 meters above the creek and rainforest below.
You can see more of my photos on Facebook here.
Waterfalls and Bush Walks
There is an abundance of easily accessible nature trails to choose from within Tamborine National Park.
An easy option to do with kids is the Curtis Falls track. Its an easy 30-minute return walk from the car park. If you take the diversion to the Eagle Heights Road you can even reward the kids with an ice cream from the ice cream shop at the end.
Another popular choice is Cedar Creek Falls where you can enjoy a picnic by the creek and swim in the rock pools during the warmer months.
Family Friendly Gold Coast Accommodation
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing family friendly accommodation in the Gold Coast. There are hundreds of hotels and apartments to choose from, with something to suit all budgets.
Here are some of my top picks:
It’s dubbed “Heaven for Kids” and Paradise Resort certainly has everything a family could want from a Gold Coast hotel.
There are rooms with two double beds, family rooms with bunk beds that sleep up to 6 (7 with a baby) and even fun themed rooms.
You can see some of my photos from Paradise Resort in my Facebook post here.
Add to this a pool, two water play areas, family friendly restaurants, a jungle gym, ice skating rink, hair braiding salon and a whole schedule of entertainment throughout the day and evening and you may find you never want to actually leave your resort!
JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa
If you’re looking for luxury on the GC then the Marriott is the top choice.
It’s hard to look past the pool here (Awarded Australia’s Best Hotel Pool 2021), which boasts white sandy beaches, swim up grotto, children’s slide, waterfalls and even a saltwater lagoon teaming with tropical fish you can snorkel with!
However there is more to the resort than its pool – the hotel itself is beautifully designed, it has family friendly rooms with two double beds (plus interconnecting rooms), and a choice of restaurants.
There’s even the Family by JW program that includes pizza, sushi and chocolate making classes, scavenger hunts and everyone’s favourite – mermaid hair braiding.
Peppers Soul Surfers Paradise
If you’re looking for a bit ore space and apartment style accommodation, then Peppers is a great option.
Located in the heart of the Gold Coast overlooking Surfers Paradise beach, you can opt for 1, 2 or 3-bedroom apartments. All apartments benefit from floor-to-ceiling windows, living rooms, fully fitted kitchens with laundry facilities.
There is an outdoor and indoor pool, onsite restaurant, and gym.
Peppers also have a property in Broadbeach.
Did you know – Byron Bay is only a one-hour drive away from the Gold Coast. Click here to read all our favourite things to do in Byron Bay with kids.
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