You don’t need to spend gold to have a good time in the Gold Coast. Our family has discovered the beautiful coastal destination has something for everyone, from dazzling theme parks to world heritage listed parks, there are many family- friendly activites on offer and many of them are free.
1 SPRINGBROOK + GLOWWORMS
Just a few hours from Surfers Paradise, Springbrook National Park is a beautiful place to relax and take in the incredible natural beauty at its best.
The hike is easy and comprises of a walk on a paved path with stairs. Its an easy loop track which most toddler can manage, which goes through a forest with huge, ancient trees and overlooks the waterfall. If you choose to see the glow worms at night, the waterfall won’t be visible. Wear some comfy clothes, good walking shoes, mozzie repellent and remember to take your camera!
2 PELICAN FEEDING AT LABRADOR
Every day, hundreds of Pelicans start gathering at around 12pm and wait patiently on the beach to be feed fresh fish by the staff at Charis Seafoods, right next to Ian Dipple Lagoon at 371 Marine Parade in Labrador.
While you wait, you can swim with the pelicans in Ian Dipple Lagoon, order fresh fish and chips for lunch at Charis Seafood or the kids can play on one of the two covered playgrounds close by.
3 THE ROCKPOOL PARKLANDS
Flowing cascades, water spurting from various creatures and water holes, this is an awesome place to take the kids for a splash on a hot day, letting the parents relax and enjoy the calm atmosphere.
It is free entry and from the Southport trams station is is an easy 10 minute walk towards the beach to find the Rockpools, surrounded by a sandy beach, playground with jumping pillow, public bbq and toilet facilities, cafes and fish and chip shop – so no need to take the car and pay for parking.
The children are able to freely roam through the water features and stay in my view the whole time
Although there isn’t any shade over the water play areas, there are trees and shade around the outside of the pool that offer shade when not in the water.
5 SURFERS PARADISE NIGHT MARKETS
This is a must do activity for those who want to see some unique creations from creative local people. You will find a range of beautiful gifts, crafts, souvenirs and unusual creations on sale and even some free handouts. Our children enjoyed the beautiful crystals on sale, the magic mirror and some other tacky gifts on sale.
The beachfront markets are open 3 nights are week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays in the evening.
6 HIT THE GOLD COAST BEACHES
Is there a better free day out than this? Always a hit with the family is a classic day out at the beach and the Gold Coast is really set up for this.
Almost all the beaches along the Gold Coast a pristine with beautiful golden sand with BBQ areas, playgrounds, lagoons etc.
Our favourite beaches are Cooangatta, Currumbin Creek and Surfers Paradise beach which was voted one of the best beaches in Australia this year.
7 LORIKEET FEEDING AT CURRUMBIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
If you don’t want to pay the $49 admission price to see all the Aussie animals and the adventure side of the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, twice per day at 8am and 4pm you can feed the wild lorikeets for FREE!
Hundreds of rainbow lorikeets descend upon you from the surrounding trees to get a lick at the sweet honey nectar that you hold out in a bowl in your hands. They will climb up your arms, on your head and just sit on your hands drinking.
We did this a few years ago and it is worth an hour visit to see these beautiful birds of Australia up close and personal.
If you do want to visit the entire Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, you can purchase tickets here.
We have visited Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary twice before and both times we have been very impressed. There weren’t huge crowds, everything was clean and maintained and there really was something for everyone to enjoy.
8 PLAYGROUNDS AND PARKS
The Gold Coast has some of the best playgrounds and beachfront family areas we have seen with playgrounds, picnic benches and BBQ’s which are really clean and well maintained for everyone to enjoy for free.
Some of the best playgrounds include the Rockpools at Southport and Broadwater parklands. Grab your picnic blanket and BYO food to have an awesome day out with the family.
9 COOMBABAH WETLANDS
This one is a bit of a hidden gem. At the northern end of Gold Coast, an easy 30 mins drive from Surfers Paradise and just minutes away from the hustle and bustle Harbour Town is the Coombabah Lake and nature reserve.
Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area protects more than 1200 hectares of wetland, eucalypt forest, salt marsh and mangrove habitat and is home to 274 species of animals.
10 SUNSET ON SURFERS PARADISE
Bring a bucket and spade to watch the magical colorful sunset over Surfers Paradise or perhaps bring a picnic blanket and watch it from a distance at the beautiful Burleigh Heads National Park.
Or you could start your day off the best way possible by watching the sunrise over the ocean. Get up early to see to see the surfers on the morning swell
OTHER (PAID) ACTIVITIES TO DO WITH THE FAMILY
1 THEME PARKS
There are five adrenaline fueled theme parks for the thrill seekers among us. We found the entrance fees to be expensive so we found a great way to nab a major discount on paid attractions.
If you wander around central Surfers Paradise, down Cavill mall, there are booths offering 2 tickets for $50. You will need to attend a conference which lasts about an hour and a half. If you have the time and plan on getting a season pass or attending several paid attractions, it may be worthwhile.
3 WHALE WATCHING
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to see the whales leaping out of the ocean. It is possible to spot them from elevated viewpoints including burleigh Heads National Park, Currumbin Rocks and Point Danger or from your apartment with binoculars as they come quite close to the shore
Whale watching season runs from May to October and there are a few operators in central Surfers who run daily tours who promise to see a whale or your money back.
4 VIEW FROM SKYPOINT Q1
The view from the Skypoint is amazing, it is great value and SkyPoint is one of the Gold Coast’s most popular attractions. It has become a must see destination as it provides stunning 360 degree panoramic views that stretch from the surf to the hinterland and beyond and provides the perfect location for visitors to experience the shimmering Gold Coast skyline at night or take in views from Brisbane to Byron Bay during the day.