Top 10 Things to Do on the Gold Coast, QLD inner banner

Top 10 Things to Do on the Gold Coast, QLD

Queensland's glittering Gold Coast is packed with attractions, and deciding what to see and do can be a daunting prospect. Whittle it down with these ten amazing recommendations.
Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Ride high at the Gold Coast’s theme parks. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

Top Oz Tours offers a Gold Coast day tour from Brisbane. You can book the tour here.

The Gold Coast is best known for its stunning beaches, buzzing theme parks, and pumping nightlife, but there’s so much more going on.

Think cool cafes, innovative eateries, avant-garde art galleries, sparkling waterways, gorgeous gardens, designer shopping malls, and bustling local markets, and further afield — mountain top wineries, verdant rainforests, and glorious waterfalls. It’s the complete holiday package!

If you’re planning a first visit to the ‘Goldie’ (as it’s fondly known locally), decide on the type of holiday you want and start making a plan. Get the adrenalin pumping on the thrill rides, learn to surf, graze at great cafes, attend a music festival, explore the stunning Hinterland, and the list of possibilities goes on.

Here’s a checklist of our top ten things to do on the Gold Coast.


Gold Coast tours

Gold Coast Tours, Activities & Attractions


1. Supercharge your theme park visit

The region’s major theme parks — Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet’n’Wild, and Dreamworld — are amazing, but why not plan your visit to coincide with a special event or peak experience? Popular theme nights include Sea World’s Carnivale and Spooky Nights, and Movie World’s Fright Nights, White Christmas, and DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains. Sea World offers eleven different animal adventures, such as getting a selfie with a dolphin, swimming with sharks, or getting up close and personal with seals. You can also book various peak experiences at Movie World; do a guided studio tour, or ride in the front seat with a Hollywood stunt driver!

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast. Image: Warner Bros. Movie World

2. Hit the sand

The Gold Coast has 57 kilometres of golden beachfront to enjoy, but don’t just visit the beach as a spectator. Be a participant! You can walk along Burleigh Beach with the locals at sunrise, play beach volleyball at Broadbeach, browse the stalls at the beachfront market in Surfers Paradise, or learn to surf with a pro at Main Beach. You’ll be hanging ten in one of the world’s ten official surfing reserves.

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Surfers Paradise. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

3. Buddy up with the furry and feathered locals

Close encounters of the animal kind aren’t exclusive to Sea World; there are also plenty of critters to meet at popular Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. The free lorikeet feeding daily at 8am and 4pm is a noisy rite of passage for first-time visitors. Book well in advance if you want to take part in the Koala Experience, which includes a ‘behind-the-scenes’ introduction to this iconic native animal and the chance to hold a koala for a photo. Photo sessions are also available with wedgetail eagles, barking owls, and even snakes!

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast. Image: Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin operates a busy wildlife hospital and entry proceeds assist its vital work. You can book a tour of the facility, or if you visit in February, attend the hospital’s Open Day.

4. Get a bird’s-eye view of the region

The Q1 tower stands head and shoulders above Surfers Paradise’s forest of skyscrapers, and offers panoramic views from the Sky Point Observation Deck on level 77. Q1 is one of the tallest residential buildings in the world, and as you would expect the vistas from the top are really stunning. Gaze along the coast and inland towards the Hinterland (note the Coast’s network of shimmering canals in between). You may want to grab a bite to eat from the bistro or indulge in a cheeky cocktail.

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast: Enjoy the view from Q1.

From this vantage point, you’ll certainly clock the fabulous new HOTA Gallery (which looks somewhat like a giant Rubik’s Cube from the air!). It’s located in the Home of the Arts precinct and is well worth a closer look.

Watch our video of ten amazing things to do on the Gold Coast:

10 Great Things to Do on the GOLD COAST, Queensland, Australia, 2022 | Travel Guide

Queensland’s glittering Gold Coast is best known for its beaches, theme parks, and nightlife, but there’s a whole lot more going on. In this episode of our online travel series, we bring you tips for ten top things to do on the Gold Coast.

5. Splash down on the Duck Bus

For an amazing sightseeing experience on the Gold Coast, you can’t beat Quack’r’Duck! Their modern, environmentally friendly amphibious vehicle — the Quack’r’Duck duck bus — offers a unique land and sea adventure the whole family will love. It’s a one-hour tour of Surfers Paradise on both land and water. You’ll travel by road past many of the main attractions in town, before driving down a boat ramp and splashing into the water — where your duck bus seamlessly becomes a duck boat! From there, you’ll sail through the Gold Coast canals and along the beautiful Broadwater, taking in many of the most spectacular sights Surfers Paradise has to offer. This is the ultimate land and sea adventure, and you can book your spot on the tour here.

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Image: Quack’r’Duck Duck Bus

6. Eat by the beach

Beachfront dining is definitely ‘a thing’ on the Gold Coast, and Rick Shores does it best in beautiful Burleigh. This upscale pan-Asian eatery offers a diverse menu of dishes designed to share. However, you can keep things deliciously simple with a serving of their famous Moreton Bay bug rolls and a glass of French champagne to wash them down. Sit and watch the world go by on the beach, just metres from your table.

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads. Image: Destination Gold Coast

7. Go for brunch

Gold Coast locals are a social bunch, with brunch being the most popular time to catch up with friends. If you want to sample the local cafe culture, make the most of the great weather and go al fresco at The Paddock Bakery (Burleigh Heads), Bam Bam Bakehouse (Mermaid Beach), Custard Canteen (Palm Beach), Tarte (Burleigh Heads), Hot Shott (Main Beach), Elk Espresso (Broadbeach), or BSKT (Nobby Beach).

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast: Custard Canteen. Image: Marj Osborne

8. Try a local tipple in Miami

If you fancy something slightly stronger than coffee, head for the backstreets of Miami. They’re home to two craft breweries (Precinct Brewing and Black Hops Brewery), and Granddad Jack’s Craft Distillery — which makes gin, vodka, whiskey, and a range of liqueurs. The distillery honours the life of the co-founder’s real-life grandfather and there’s a wealth of personal memorabilia on display. Granddad Jack’s has won an array of awards and is open to the public for tours/tastings from Friday to Sunday. It’s best to book ahead on their website.

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Granddad Jack’s Craft Distillery, Miami. Image: Destination Gold Coast

9. Shop ’til you drop

Shopaholics will find their happy place at Pacific Fair in Broadbeach, which has more than 400 stores. Shop for designer and chain labels, and enjoy an array of dining options. Bargain hunters should head for Harbour Town — a massive outlet shopping centre where you can buy those same designer brands, but often at far more competitive prices. For a more organic retail experience, check out the bi-monthly Village Markets at Burleigh — home to many aspiring local creatives.

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
The Village Markets, Burleigh Heads. Image: Destination Gold Coast

10. Visit the Hinterland

The lush Gold Coast Hinterland is the ‘green behind the gold’, and encompasses Mount Tamborine, Springbrook and Lamington national parks (both part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia UNESCO World Heritage Area), and the wider Scenic Rim region. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in Lamington makes a great day trip from the Coast. Take the turn off from Canungra and ascend the Lamington plateau to reach the property, which is surrounded by verdant subtropical rainforest.

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast: Lamington National Park

The O’Reilly family began hosting guests here back in 1915 — the same year that Lamington was declared a national park. Today, day visitors can do a variety of hikes, conquer the Tree Top Walk, hand feed wild birds, enjoy a serving of scones with jam and cream in the cafe, and watch the amazing Birds of Prey Show. You’ll also learn the story of Bernard O’Reilly’s epic 1937 rescue of two survivors from a Stinson air crash in the park. It was quite a feat, given the rugged and heavily forested terrain.

Where to stay on the Gold Coast

Vibe Hotel Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is totally geared towards making happy holiday memories — and your choice of hotel has an important part to play in the process. Situated just a stone’s throw from the heart of Surfers Paradise (two minutes’ walk from the river end of Cavill Avenue and a maximum ten-minute stroll to the beach), Vibe Hotel Gold Coast offers a resort style stay that perfectly complements the Goldie’s good vacay vibrations.

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Vibe Hotel Gold Coast. Image: TFE Hotels

First impressions count and it’s thumbs up for the airy foyer, which is imbued with a sense of ‘beach chic’. Think high ceilings, beaded chandeliers, a pastel colour palette, and driftwood accents. Surfboards adorn the walls, and a sweeping staircase leads up to Curve Café on the mezzanine level (a buffet breakfast is served here daily).

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Driftwood Social, Vibe Hotel Gold Coast. Image: TFE Hotels

The foyer flows through to a fabulous pool deck/cocktail bar, collectively known as Driftwood Social. Channelling the quintessential Miami pool club, it overlooks the Nerang River and our bet is you’ll spend much of your holiday right here. Stake your claim on a sun lounge or snaffle a poolside cabana, as cool tunes drift by on the breeze. There’s a lengthy cocktail list and well-crafted menu of pool snacks on offer, and life-size lawn games will keep the kids entertained.

Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Vibe Hotel Gold Coast. Image: TFE Hotels

Upstairs, the guest rooms are clean and comfortable, and feature Vibe Hotels’ signature cloud-like beds, tasteful soft furnishings, and well-appointed bathrooms. Those staying on the western side of the building (overlooking the Nerang River) get a ringside seat for sunset.

This post was published thanks to Quack’r’Duck.

For more travel inspiration, visit www.destinationgoldcoast.com.

Browse our range of Gold Coast tours and experiences here.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best things to do on the Gold Coast? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Marj Osborne

About the writer

Marj Osborne has been reviewing restaurants for over twenty years, formerly for Mietta’s Eating and Drinking in Australia, and more recently for her own blog — Good Food Gold Coast. Her work has also been published in Cafe Culture, Cove Magazine, the Gold Coast Bulletin, and Blank Gold Coast. A researcher, teacher-librarian, and former hospitality educator trained in vegetarian cooking and wine appreciation, Marj believes in positive living and thinking, and spending time enriching the body, mind, and soul. She finds joy on country road trips discovering hidden gems.

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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  1. I’ve been trying to come up with a list of things to do with my family when they arrive on the Gold Coast – and being a local, it’s harder than I thought it would be! Sometimes I think it may be difficult to take yourself out of your everyday routine to see what tourists would like to experience. Your post has given me some great ideas!

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