Gold Coast summer: Family fun in the sun
A local’s guide to kid-friendly things to do on the Gold Coast.
With its pumping point wave, national park, boutique shopping and white-sand beach, Burleigh Heads, hailed as the new Byron Bay, makes for an idyllic place to spend a day with your tribe. Grab a croissant from Burleigh Baker or a strong brew from Borough Barista on the esplanade and hit the patrolled beach for a morning of surf and sun. There are a few kids’ playgrounds scattered along the beachfront – opt for the one right on the headland so you can watch the surfers ride perfect waves while the kids play – and plenty of shade to throw a rug down and have a picnic or some fish and chips.
There are some easy walking tracks that will take you from Burleigh Headland through native rainforest to Echo Beach. Within the Burleigh Head National Park at the northern side of Tallebudgera Creek, this scenic, sheltered spot is an ideal place for swimming and exploring with the kids.
The bustling Miami Marketta is a family-friendly night out.
For a quieter walk on the wild side, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a must. This heritage-listed haven is an icon of the Southern Gold Coast, just a stone’s throw from Currumbin Beach. Founded by beekeeper Alex Griffiths in 1974, the sprawling 18.7-hectare property provides a rare opportunity to see hundreds of native Australian animals in bushland and rainforest settings.
There’s a train that travels around the entire property so you can hop on and off to enjoy the attractions and enclosures, and the shows are all informative and entertaining. With its flowing streams, walkways and lush fauna, the sanctuary’s Lost Valley attraction is simply breathtaking.
Like the culinary and retail landscapes, the Gold Coast’s cultural scene has transformed in recent years with new bars, restaurants, galleries and distilleries popping up all over. The city’s market scene now also rivals the bazaars and fashion markets found in some of the world’s cultural capitals.
On the first and third Sunday of the month, locals, families and fashionistas head to Burleigh Heads State School for The Village Markets. One of Australia’s most-loved boutique designer markets, TVM was the launchpad for international brands such as Kivari, Children of the Tribe, Duke of London and Peony and boasts a slick edit of 100-plus children’s wear, fashion, swimwear, homewares and ceramics stalls plus food trucks, live music and workshops for the kids.
For a fun family night out, Miami Marketta, a lively street food market tucked into an unassuming industrial area, is a must. On Fridays and Saturdays, the festivities kick off at a kid-friendly hour – 5pm on Friday and 4pm Saturdays – with live music provided by local blues, jazz, roots and independent artists.
The family-friendly outdoor dining space boasts communal tables – you can now pre-book online – two bars serving boutique wine, beer and cocktails, and a host of food stalls cooking up cuisine from all parts of the globe. Plus, the kids will love the Dessert Hall, particularly the cakes at Reid Street Kitchen, and dancing to live music with free-spirited locals.
Explore the Gold Coast's beautiful beaches.
Thrills and spills
While the Gold Coast’s food and fashions might be luring tourists in droves, its theme parks are still a major drawcard for families. Affectionately known as the “theme park capital of Australia”, the Coast’s iconic attractions have been delighting locals and tourists for decades.
Sentimental favourites Sea World and Wet’n’Wild never disappoint and both cater for seasoned thrillseekers as well as the younger family members. Don’t miss Sea World’s new PAW Patrol on Holiday Show for the little ones, while The Battle Boats ride is always a family favourite – just don’t forget your towel.
Restaurant tables at Miami Marketta.
The Gold Coast might be famous for its 57km stretch of golden sandy beaches, but the green behind the gold is just as spectacular.
For a scenic drive, head out to Freeman’s Organic Farm, a 103-year-old family fruit and vegetable patch at Currumbin Valley. Enjoy coffee and cake at the farm cafe(open Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and take in the spectacular vistas to the north and north-east, right down the Currumbin Valley. The kids can pick their own organic vegetables, herbs and seasonal fruit from the farm stall, and chat with the farmers about what's in season. Freeman’s now run personalised tours every Sunday, guided by Farmer David, which are full of educational value. Tickets are $15 per adult and children, with students free.
Photos: Destination Gold Coast.