Everything You Need To Know Before You Go To The Gold Coast

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From the tacky to the tranquil, the Gold Coast in Queensland’s southeast has guaranteed to have something for everyone.

A tourism mecca since the 1960s for its stunning beaches, the Gold Coast has grown to become the ultimate go-to local holiday destination for Australians.

From the bustling nightlife of Surfers Paradise and world-class theme parks to the more peaceful, laid-back surroundings of Burleigh Heads, the Gold Coast has everything covered no matter how you like to holiday.

The Best Things To Do On The Gold Coast

Surfers Paradise Beach - Gold Coast

The Gold Coast has hundreds of attractions and continues to add more and more as it grows as a tourist destination. The question really is, what sort of experience are you looking for while you are on the Gold Coast?

I’ve put together my top picks to help you make the most of all that the Gold Coast has to offer.

In terms of beaches, I’m not going to list them. As the name of the region implies, there is a huge stretch of stunning beaches the entire length of the Gold Coast you won’t have any trouble finding a good one.

As always with my guides, there is still plenty more to discover, but these will give you an idea of where to start.

Theme Parks

Let’s start with the theme parks because that is probably what the Gold Coast is best known for.

The three major theme parks Dreamworld, Movie World and Sea World are the stars of the show and one of the key reasons so many people flock to the Gold Coast every year.

The best thing to keep in mind when planning to visit the theme parks is that they are owned by two major companies. So lookout for the multi-park/experience pass options, where you can visit multiple parks/attractions over the series of a few days.

I’ll outline the different subsidiaries of the two groups below.

Dreamworld

Dreamworld - Gold Coast

Australia’s biggest theme park, Dreamworld was opened in 1981 and has continued to grow and evolve.

Dreamworld offers something for everyone with a mix of experiences, including thrill rides, wildlife attractions, and children’s entertainment.

The park is divided into separate themed areas and is the most diverse of the Gold Coast theme parks with over twenty different rides, including seven major thrill rides.

The entrance takes you straight into Main Street where you can immerse yourself in the park experience. It’s also where you will find several retail and food outlet spaces.

Gold Rush County was the very first expansion of the original park and although it is undergoing revamp at the moment, it still features a lot of the first rides that Dreamworld offered.

And if you want to ride one of the original rides from Dreamworlds opening back in 1918, the Vintage Cars are now found in the Corroboree section of the park, which is also where you will also find the wildlife attractions, along with Tiger Island.

Ocean Parade is one of the newer areas of the park and features a beach theme, tying in nicely with the Gold Coast experience. It’s also the largest area of the park with the bulk of the major thrill rides.

If you are travelling with kids, they can be kept entertained in the ABC Kids World and DreamWorks Experience sections of the park.

It’s also worth noting that Dreamworld also has a separate water park, interlinked but with its own entry fees, called WhiteWater World. It’s open over the summer with its own attractions, including ten different waterslides and a wave pool.

Movie World

Movie World - Gold Coast

Dubbed Hollywood on the Gold Coast, Warner Bros Movie World as it is officially known, is Australia’s only film-related theme park.

If you are seeking a predominantly thrill ride experience Movie World is the park for you.

Not nearly as big as Dreamworld, what it lacks in size it makes up for in adrenalin rushes as the home of the “longest and fastest HyperCoaster in the Southern Hemisphere” as one of three major superhero-themed rollercoasters that definitely get the heart racing.

Don’t stress, if you have younger children as well. There is a whole WB Kids section designed especially with younger kids in mind. But for most people, the star of the show is definitely the big coasters.

Also, make sure you don’t miss out on Movie World’s famous Hollywood Stunt Driver show which really ties the whole movie-making theme together.

Movie World is also part of a massive precinct owned and operated by Village Roadshow (who also own Seaworld which we’ll get to shortly). That complex also features a working movie production facility, although the park doesn’t offer backlot tours like you might expect if you have visited Universal Studios or Disney’s MGM Studios.

The Movie World precinct also features a number of other separate attractions, each with its own entry fees (although you can get some combined tickets) including Wet ‘n’ Wild Gold Coast, Paradise Country, the Australian Outback Spectacular and Top Golf.

Sea World

Sea World - Gold Coast

The Gold Coast’s original theme park, which first opened in 1971, Sea World is predominantly a marine life park, but it still has its thrill rides.

Having started out as a small park in Surfers Paradise with water ski shows and dolphins experiences, Sea World has grown and evolved into the park that can be experienced today. That said it hasn’t completely thrown away its roots.

Sea World on the Gold Coast is best known for its animal attractions with special exhibits that you can’t experience to the same degree elsewhere in Australia.

It’s the only place in Australia where you can see polar bears in person, and it is home to a variety of penguins including a special king penguin exhibit.

While the ever-popular sharks and stingrays can be found in the world’s largest man-made lagoon system for sharks called Shark Bay. Not to mention the park’s world-famous dolphin breading and sealife protection programs.

There are also a number of shows from informational animal experiences to just pure entertainment that run throughout the day.

It’s also worth noting that a trip to Sea World doesn’t mean missing out on the rides either. The Nickelodeon section of the park has a number of rides specifically catered to kids, while there are two big thrill-ride rollercoasters for everyone else.

As of September 2021, the park is currently undergoing some renovations with another large rollercoaster and few other attractions under construction.

Just keep in mind that since Sea World, Movie World, Wet and Wild and the Australian Outback Spectacular are all owned by the same group, you can save a lot of money on the experiences by buying a bundled ticket deal.

Cavill Avenue

Cavill Avenue, Gold Coast

The heart of Surfers Paradise, Cavill Avenue is a buzz of activity both day and night.

As the central tourist hub of Surfers Paradise, there are restaurants, attractions, shops, bars, nightclubs… Just a little bit of everything going on in this part of the Gold Coast.

Cavill Avenue can be a bit too much for some people, it is a bit of a sensory overload particularly at its busiest on weekends. But I do still strongly recommend visiting if you’ve never been before.

During the week and in the morning Cavill Avenue is very relaxed, but as the day goes on the hustle and bustle builds and especially later in the week. If the bars and nightclubs aren’t your things you will find some great restaurants and other great attractions including:

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

From the intriguing to the straight-up bizarre, Ripley’s Believe It or Not is a novelty well worth a visit while you are on the Gold Coast.

Part of the global chain of Ripley’s experiences, the Surfers Paradise Ripley’s Believe It or Not is unique in Australia.

Obviously, if you’ve been to one of the other Ripley’s around the world you will have some idea of what to expect but I can’t really explain it to you. It’s a combination of art, interactive experiences, weird momentos, just a little bit of everything.

Short answer, you really need to see it for yourself. There is some weird stuff, but it does cater to all ages, and it’s open until late.

Also, make sure you do the 7D Moving Theatre experience as well.

Timezone Surfers Paradise

Timezone isn’t exactly unique to the Gold Coast, I get that. But the one in Surfers Paradise is one of the bigger arcades with plenty to keep everyone entertained. Especially if you need a break from the sun or get out of the rain.

Located above the shopping mall on Carvill Avenue, Timezone Surfers Paradise not only features your typical range of arcade games that everyone loves. It also offers a glow in the dark putt putt golf course, laser tag, bumper cars and a mini-bowling lane.

If you are looking to mix up your time in Surfers Paradise, just looking for some light-hearted fun for a couple of hours while not breaking the bank, Timezone is a great option to keep in mind.

Holoverse

For something truly different, Holoverse offers an immersive interactive hologram experience like something you would have seen in those sci-fi movies. Certainly unlike anything else I’ve seen around.

Located in the shopping mall on Carvill Avenue, this experience is definitely targeted more towards kids, at least the Dinosaurs and Aquarium experiences. That said, they do offer one Monsters experience for those slightly older.

The only thing I will note with this one is that Holoverse’s setup is very temporary as the section of the shopping center closest to the beach gets redeveloped (as of October 2021). So if you reading this in several months’ time they may have relocated.

Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets

Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets - Gold Coast

If you just happen to be staying in or around Surfers Paradise, on Friday and Saturday nights the Surfers Paradise boardwalk along The Esplanade transforms into a hive of activity with the Beachfront Markets.

At the Beachfront Markets, you will find all the typical stalls that you would expect at this style of pop-up market, food and craft vendors being the most popular. But it’s the musicians performing and the laid-back atmosphere that really sets these markets apart.

If you just happen to be in the area or on your way into Cavill Avenue for the evening, it would be well worth making the short stroll through the markets either to see if something grabs your attention or even just to soak up the atmosphere.

SkyPoint Observation Deck

How would you like to see all the Gold Coast from a single vantage point? Q1 Resort is technically the tallest building on the Gold Coast.

I say technically because the lighting-rod/communication tower on Q1 is easily the highest structure, but there have been a handful of new buildings that have just recently been finished or are in the process of being finished (as of October 2021) that have rooms that are slightly higher. But we won’t dwell on that.

If you aren’t staying in one of those fancy new buildings, then a visit to Q1’s SkyPoint Observation Deck on a clear day is definitely worthwhile to just simply understand the scale of the Gold Coast. It’s a bigger area than a lot of people give it credit for.

The Observation Deck is worthwhile, there are some stunning views that I do recommend that you have to see for yourself.

What I would really recommend is heading up to SkyPoint’s Bar and Bistro for dinner and watch the sunset over the Gold Coast. It’s a unique experience, but in saying that the food isn’t as nearly expensive (or overly fancy) as some of these other high vantage point restaurants you might have been to. It’s priced (and menued) the same as a decent pub, just with arguably better views.

If you really want to take the whole experience to the extreme, as with all these tall buildings, there is a climb to the very top. In fact, SkyPoint Climb is Australia’s highest external building climb. The climb which starts at the SkyPoint Observation Deck (for an additional fee) takes you 270 meters above sea level.

Springbrook National Park/Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge - Springbrook National Park - Gold Coast

Just to mix things up for a moment… There is more to the Gold Coast than beaches and expensive attractions.

In fact, if you are willing to go for a bit of a drive the Gold Coast has plenty of natural wonders to explore as well. The most notable of which is Natural Bridge, located within the Springbrook National Park.

Natural Bridge is a stunning rock formation best known for the underground waterfall which makes for spectacular photos often featured in the tourism promotion for the Gold Coast.

If you are willing to hang around, after dark the cave transforms with another amazing display as the home to Queensland’s largest glow-worm colony.

You’ll find Natural Bridge located off Nerang Murwillumbah Road. It is well signposted and really easy to get to.

The 1km walk isn’t strenuous and you will find all the usual national park facilities you would expect at a major attraction like this if you would like to make a day of it. Just keep in mind that this isn’t a swimming spot.

However, there is so much more to Springbrook National Park than just the Natural Bridge. Part of the World Heritage Listed Gondwana Rainforests along the New South Wales and Queensland border, these forests pre-date the dinosaurs.

There is a number of walking/hiking trails and other fantastic wonders to discover in the area, particularly endangered wildlife local to only this area. If that grabs your attention, there is plenty to explore within the Springbrook National Park.

Tamborine National Park/Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk

Sticking with the getting out in nature theme for a second, at the northern end of the Gold Coast is Tamborine National Park.

An expansion on the oldest national park in Queensland, Tamborine National Park was first declared back in 1908 and offers another great option away from the beaches to get outside and stretch your legs.

The park features a number of trails, lookouts and picnic areas, but what it is best known for are Witches Falls and Curtis Falls.

That said, the best way to get a proper understanding of the rainforest that makes up much of the Tamborine National Park is to visit the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk.

Advertised as an eco-adventure, the Skywalk not only allows you to get up into the rainforests canopy but also features an “Eco-Gallery” with a couple of enclosures to allow you can see some of the harder to spot wildlife that calls the rainforest home without forcing you to be overly adventurous.

Infinity

Infinity - Gold Coast

I don’t even know where to begin to try and explain what Infinity is.

Part maze, part sensory experience… Infinity can only be described as like funhouse-style attraction from a carnival, but it uses a combination of illusions, special effects and music to immerse you in this unique, dare I say trippy, experience.

The only thing I can say with any certainty is that you have to experience it for yourself. Then you’ll understand what I’m trying to convey.

If you are looking for an indoor activity in Surfers Paradise, this one is for you. Infinity is located in the Chevron Renaissance Shopping Center not far from the Surfers Paradise tram station.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a little bit different from the other wildlife experiences you will find on the Gold Coast, and around Australia for that matter.

The park in Currumbin is actually heritage-listed having been originally built in 1947. Back then the part was primarily a bird sanctuary but over the years it has diversified and is home to a wide array of animals.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is probably best known for its twice-a-day lorikeet feeding which you don’t even need to buy a ticket to witness. Each day at 8am and 4pm the 70-year tradition sees huge flocks of wild lorikeet descend on the park for the feeding experience out the front.

Inside the park, you’ll be able to see a number of local species including a Saltwater Crocodile, Tasmanian Devils, Dingos Kangaroos, Cassowaries and Koalas just to name a few. While there are some notable international inclusions including Red Pandas, Binturong and Tamarin Monkeys.

The star of the show is, however, the newish Birds of Lost Valley sanctuary with a huge variety of free-flying birds from around the world.

Just don’t let the size of the park as it appears from the road deceive you. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is much, much bigger than it looks from the road. The design is actually quite clever and you wouldn’t pick it unless you’ve been there before.

iFLY Gold Coast

Ever wanted to try sky diving, but the thought of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane seems like a silly idea? iFly might be the alternative you are looking for.

iFly isn’t unique to the Gold Coast, in fact, they have locations in a couple of cities around Australia, but it is the sort of thing you don’t tend to do unless you are on holiday, and that is why it’s on this list.

Located just a short walk from the heart of Surfers Paradise, the iFly on the Gold Coast is extremely convenient, with a range of experiences to cater to all ages and sky diving experience levels.

Obviously, if you’ve done it before you will know what to expect, but they do cater to first-timers as well. If you aren’t quite sure what you might be signing up for you can watch someone else from the observation deck before committing to it yourself.

King Tutts Putt Putt

King Tutts Putt Putt, Gold Coast

To be fair there are many Putt Putt/Mini Golf options around the Gold Coast, but King Tutt’s Putt Putt is one of the bigger options with three separately themed 18 hole courses to choose from.

Located at the northern end of Surfers Paradise, King Tutt’s reasonably priced and offers an Egyptian-themed course, Jurrasic Park one, as well as the one outside which is the most difficult. If you are super keen, you can play all three in one day!.

If you just can’t get enough Putt Putt, you’ve got an abundance of options right across the Gold Coast. I would also suggest taking a look at Holey Moley Surfers Paradise, Putt Putt Golf Mermaid Beach and Boulders and Badlands. They each offer their own unique experience that caters to different age groups.

Quack’R’Duck Gold Coast

If you’ve never been to the Gold Coast before, or at least it’s been a long time since your last visit, then Quack’R’Duck is a great way to get an overview and insight into the key attractions with a city tour and river cruise.

As with all these amphibious style tours the main attraction is getting out on the waterways, in this case, the Gold Coast Broadwater and Nerang River where you’ll see the true variety of the Gold Coast. But the city tour is also a great way to get your bearings.

It’s also worth noting that Aquaduck (an entirely separate company), offers a very similar service and tour. And they priced very similarly as well.

Stunt Park

Inspired by your trip to Movie World to take up a career in movies? Maybe you are just an avid fan of those Ninja Warrior-style TV shows?

For something very different, Stunt Park allows you to live out your stunt person dreams with a variety of experiences.

Located in Nerang, Stunt Park allows you to sampling the limelight as the leading character in your own action film as one of a number of experiences that they offer from a ninja obstacle course all the way through to proper stunt training so you can take up a role as a stunt double in the movies!

It’s probably better as a group activity, and they do cater for hens and buck parties, but they have activities catered to all age groups.

Slideways Go Karting World

Yes, there are a lot of go-karting options on the Gold Coast, in fact, there are a lot of options all over Australia.

But what makes Slideways stand out, is where other karting tracks frown upon you sliding the karts around and bouncing off the walls. They’ve purposely set it up for you to be able to do it.

The track surface has been designed to encourage drifting so you can slide your way around the multi-story track, just as the name implies.

Definitely a group activity, but so much fun. While they do have two tracks on the Gold Coast, the indoor facility at Nerang is best.

If you are looking for a little more conventional karting experience, Game Over is another option.

Where To Stay On The Gold Coast

Where To Stay On The Gold Coast

Being such a popular tourist destination, the Gold Coast is chock full of accommodation options.

Your only real concerns will be how much you are looking to spend, what sort of experience you are looking for, and how centrally located you would like to be.

That said, in my experience not all accommodation options are equal. If you know what you are looking for, you can spend exactly the same amount of money on a much nicer, better-located accommodation option as something that is older and just far enough away from things to be inconvenient.

I’ve picked out a couple of my suggestions, with a few extra tidbits, that will help you choose the right accommodation for your stay on the Gold Coast.

Surfers Paradise

If you are looking for the full Gold Coast experience, then you have to stay in Surfers Paradise.

It’s the go-to for most first-time visitors and extremely popular for those who are looking to make the most of everything that the region has to offer.

You will find a vast array of accommodation types around Surfers Paradise, but holiday apartments are definitely the most popular option.

If you are looking to stay right in the heart of the action then I would suggest Mantra Towers of Chevron, Hilton Surfers Paradise or Circle on Cavil. Either on or just off Carvill Avenue, all three of these accommodation options are ideal for those who are looking to enjoy their nights out in Surfers.

For a little bit of a quieter option, while still within a comfortable walking distance from Carvill Avenue then I would recommend either Rhapsody Resort or Q1 Resort & Spa. Both are very modern buildings with a variety of room/apartment options. But the best part is the views that these two buildings offer as some of the tallest on the Gold Coast.

However, if you are looking for something a bit cheaper, don’t stress. Surfers Paradise has plenty of options for those who are a little more budget-conscious (those theme park tickets are expensive after all!).

If you are travelling as a couple or family then I would suggest The Shore Apartments for the views and convenience while not being overly expensive.

While if you don’t mind roughing it in a dorm, Aussie Dream Hostel and Backpackers In Paradise Resort are the best backpacker hostel options.

Broadbeach

If you are looking for a quieter Gold Coast experience, but still with all the convenience of being able to walk to restaurants and the beach, Broadbeach is a great alternative to Surfers Paradise.

Honestly at this point, Broadbeach is the southern end of Surfers Paradise. The two suburbs are all but interlinked, but Broadbeach does allow you to enjoy all that Surfers has to offer and then take a short tram trip (or even just walk) to somewhere a little bit quieter with its own shopping centers, restaurants (see below) and more relaxed atmosphere.

In saying that the range of options in Broadbeach is quite limited. There are plenty of apartment buildings offering that style of accommodation, but there aren’t really any other options.

Ideally, go with one of the newer buildings. I don’t know why, but all apartments seem to go for very similar prices, but the newer buildings have more modern features.

I’d suggest you look at Oracle Broadbeach, The Wave Resort or Peppers Broadbeach as your key options in Broadbeach. All have great food options within a couple of hundred meters from their receptions and the tram stop is a short stroll away. All very, very good options.

Burleigh Heads/Currumbin

Down on the southern end of the Gold Coast, both Burleigh Heads and Currumbin and the surrounding suburbs, are great options for a much quieter and more relaxed experience.

If your main reason for visiting the Gold Coast is to catch some waves, relax and maybe enjoy some local cafes, either Burleigh Heads or Currumbin good places to stay.

Again it’s mostly apartment-style accommodation, but they do have a bit more variety for families.

If beach views are important to you I would suggest The Rocks Resort at Currumbin or Gemini Court Holiday Apartments at Burleigh.

Alternatively, The Village at Burleigh is a bit of a cheaper option a short walk from the beach. While if you are travelling as a family with kids, Burleigh Beach Tourist Park might suit you a little better.

Just keep in mind that the tram system doesn’t stretch this far south yet, so having your own transport is going to be important if you want to explore the rest of what the region has to offer.

Southport Spit

If you are looking for the ultimate luxury experience for your Gold Coast stay, then look no further than the Southport Spit.

Nestled between the Broadwater and the beach, the Southport Spit is home to the most luxurious resort options that the Gold Coast has to offer, Sheraton Grand Mirage and Palazzo Versace. These five-star resorts offer the most premium experience on the Gold Coast with their own restaurants and bars. They are also just a short drive (or a fairly long stroll) to Surfers Paradise.

Something else unique to Southport is the Sea World Resort. Attached to the iconic theme park, the resort is more suited towards families with its own waterpark and restaurants. If you stay at Sea World Resort you can take advantage of the exclusive entrance to the park (tickets to the park can be packaged in with your accommodation booking) which does open earlier than the main entrance as well.

Alternatives

I’ve obviously catered the above suggestions for longer stays on the Gold Coast so I’ve picked out places I’ve stayed that are both comfortable and convenient. That said, there are so many options for places to stay.

Here are a couple more interesting options to keep in mind while planning your trip to the Gold Coast

If you are looking for just a cheaper stay on the Gold Coast, these options:

  • Nightcap at Hinterland Hotel Nerang – The best of the cheaper options with its own resturant and bar for a quick overnight stay.
  • Coomera Motor Inn – Oppersite Dreamworld its proximity to the motorway makes it ideal for a really quick cheap overnight stay.
  • Quest Robina – Better option if you need a short couple of day stay.

Getting Around The Gold Coast

Getting around the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is actually a pretty big place and if you really want to explore it properly, having your own car is going to make your life so much easier.

That said, the public transport around the region will get you to most places you’d like to go. Including the major theme parks.

In 2014 the local tram line, known as the G:link was opened and currently operates between Broadbeach and Helensvale. Following the beach and the major road, the 20km route links a lot of the key tourist areas of the Gold Coast.

The Helensvale end on the G:link connects with the Gold Coast line of Queensland Rail’s train service. The line that heads all the way to Brisbane Airport via the city.

Currently the G:link ends at Broadbeach right next to the Pacific Fair shopping center but an extension is underway that will see the tram continue all the way to Burleigh Heads. Although it won’t be completed until 2024.

If you are staying in the main tourist areas of Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise or South Port, the G:link is a convenient, cheap and extremely reliable way to get between the main part of town, with a tram every few minutes during peak times.

Beyond the tram service, busses also operate around the Gold Coast.

Some key bus routes to look for are as follows:

  • Sea World: 705 (from Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise) or 704 (from Southport)
  • Dreamworld, Movie World and Wet ‘n’ Wild: TX7 (from Helensvale Station)
  • Gold Coast Airport: 700 or 777 (from Broadbeach)

Just note that you will need a Go card to travel on Queensland’s public transport system, but they can be easily purchased at train and tram stops as well as most convenience stores around the Gold Coast.

For more information about the public transport options around the Gold Coast head over to the Translink website for more detailed service information.

The Gold Coast is also well serviced by taxis and ride-sharing services including Uber and DiDi.

Getting To and From Gold Coast Airport

Getting To and From Gold Coast Airport

The Gold Coast actually has its own international airport, so you don’t need to fly into Brisbane if you are planning on visiting the Gold Coast exclusively.

Located down at Coolangatta, Gold Coast Airport is so close to the New South Wales border that the runway actually crosses over it.

Given that location, the Gold Coast Airport is also frequently used by travellers who are planning on visiting NSW towns including Tweed Heads and Byron Bay just on the other side of the border.

To give you a better idea of the distance, it’s about a 30-minute drive from the airport to Surfer Paradise, while if you are going to use the public transport options, it will take you at least an hour to cover the same distance.

The easiest way to get to and from the airport currently (assuming you haven’t rented a car) is either a taxi or ride-sharing service like Uber. To give you an idea of cost, expect to pay somewhere between $35 and $80 depending on where you are staying on the Gold Coast. The further south (closer to the airport) the cheaper it will be.

In terms of cheaper public transport options, over the years there has been talk that the Gold Coast’s tram service (G:link) will be linked up to the airport, however at this stage, as mentioned above, the tram only travels as far south as Broadbeach.

You can link up with the G:link by catching either the #777 or the #700 bus service from the airport which will take you all the way to Broadbeach where you can link up with the tram.

The #777 bus operates out of the airport terminal with fewer stops, but if you are really eager to save money the #700 operates from the main road just outside of the airport and is a fair bit cheaper.

Where To Find Food/What To Do In The Evenings?

What To Do In The Evenings on the Gold Coast

It can be said that the Gold Coast really comes alive after the sun sets.

The beaches, theme parks and other attractions are great for families, but after dark is when the young adult crowd shows up and the area kicks up a gear. Especially around Surfer Paradise and to a slightly lesser extent Broadbeach.

Restaurants, bars, nightclubs and so much more… The Gold Coast really has it all covered. That is probably why it’s such a popular destination for Schoolies (the local end of high school party), and Bucks and Hens weekends.

Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise is the go-to for most people looking to enjoy a night out with a number of restaurants and bars to get things started.

If you were to ask me for a couple of recommendations, I would suggest Costa D’oro Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria for a good wholesome Italian meal, White Rhino for your typical style pub grub meals and drinks, while Brazilian Flame Bar & Grill is a good option for something a bit different.

If you are looking to kick on beyond that, there are no shortage of options around Surfers Paradise. Two of the more popular nightclubs are Cocktails and Retros, but there is a myriad of options, just wander around (along Orchard Avenue in particular) until you find the vibe you are looking for.

Broadbeach

Broadbeach is another good option for a night out.

You will find more variety of sit down restaurants and bars down in and around Broadbeach. A couple of my favourites include Miss Moneypenny’s for a proper gourmet experience, The Loose Moose Tap & Grill House is a more casual option, while along the Victoria Avenue mall you will find some other really good options.

Just keep in mind that there are always new restaurants and experiences opening up around the Gold Coast. It’s very easy to just walk around the Broadbeach or Surfers Paradise areas to see where might have the vibe you are looking for.

So always worth going for a wander and exploring.

Dracula’s Cabaret Gold Coast

Dinner and a show… Dracula’s is a staple of the Gold Coast experience having first opened in 1985.

The longest-running and most successful dinner theatre in Australia, Dacula’s throws together a little bit of everything for a memorable night out.

It all starts from the moment you walk into the venue and then take the ghost train into the actual theatre. An experience in itself.

The included dinner is a semi-set three-course meal, but the highlight is the signature dessert. The drinks are also themed! While the performance is an entertaining mix of burlesque, comedy and horror (kinda). It’s a unique mix, you might have a fright, but you will certainly have a laugh.

Dracula’s is certainly not for all ages (15+ I believe is what they suggest), but they do have a separate kids-centric experience at certain times of the year, which you might want to keep an eye out for.

Miami Marketta

For something a bit different, check out Miami Marketta.

If street food is your thing, Miami Marketta is the best place to find it on the Gold Coast and it is located between the main tourist areas of Broadbeach and Burleigh.

Open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights the market-style food stalls offer a huge variety of options to eat. While the atmosphere is, especially the local music acts, make the whole experience a fun night out.

Beyond The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast really is a big area, with plenty to keep you occupied, no matter how long you are planning on visiting. However, there is also plenty to explore beyond the Gold Coast as well.

A quick day trip up to Brisbane is always an option.

About an hour up the motorway (depending on the traffic) the Queensland capital offers plenty especially if you are looking to explore some museums or art galleries etc, things that aren’t as common on the Gold Coast.

Make sure you check out my comprehensive guide to Brisbane for more suggestions on things you can do there. Just make sure you don’t drive there (or back) during peak hours. The motorway is notorious for lengthy delays during typical peak travel times.

Also given the Gold Coast’s proximity to the New South Wales/Queensland border, both Tweed Heads and Byron Bay are popular day trips as well.

Check out my guide for driving between Brisbane and Sydney for some suggestions on things to do in these NSW towns.

Early morning surf on the Gold Coast

If you’d like to get some more information to help in planning your trip to and around Australia… I’ve got a whole series of blog posts with all sorts of tips and advice for you.

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Best Places To Stop on the Pacific Highway Between Brisbane and Sydney

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