Australia’s amusement park capital is a barrel of fun for all ages. From roller coaster rides to nature experiences, fun at the beach and a whole raft of other attractions, there are plenty of things to do on the Gold Coast with kids.
Your only problem will be trying to decide what to do and how to cram everything in.
Tick these activities off your list and your kids will be grinning for ear to ear.
When you’re done with having fun on the Gold Coast, there are plenty more places to visit in Queensland to tick off your bucket list.
- 20 things to do on the Gold Coast with kids
- 1- Ride the roller coasters at Movie World
- 2- See the animals at Sea World
- 3- Check out the view from SkyPoint Observation Deck
- 4- Enjoy Australian Outback Spectacular
- 5- Have fun with the animals at Dreamworld
- 6- Splash around at Wet ‘n’ Wild
- 7- Wander around the Gold Coast markets
- 8- Go Shopping in the Gold Coast Malls
- 9- Cool down in Whitewater World
- 10- Meet the birds at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
- 11- Explore Tamborine Mountain
- 12- Experience the thrill of a Jet Boat adventure
- 13- Go Stand up Paddle Boarding
- 14- Have fun at Surfers Paradise Kids Week
- 15- Relax and bond around a resort pool
- 16- Join a swim class at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre
- 17- Go on a family picnic
- 18- See the sculptures at the Swell Sculpture Festival
- 19- Go skydiving
- 20- Take a surfing lesson
- 21- Watch a show at the Gold Coast Arts Centre
20 things to do on the Gold Coast with kids
1- Ride the roller coasters at Movie World
Be a daredevil and try the Batwing Spaceshot, Warner Bros. Movie World’s adrenalin-pumping ride.
The 4.5G vertical launch up a 60-metre tower is followed by a freefall drop that will have you screaming your lungs out.
Built around motion picture and superhero themes, Movie World’s rides include the looping Superman Escape rollercoaster where riders are rescued from an earthquake by Superman who propels their carriage vertically at 100 kph and the head-spinning Lethal Weapon ride which has five upside down experiences travelling at 85km an hour.
The atmosphere is Disney-like, with movie characters roaming the theme park.
If you’re not really a fan of big roller coasters, try the Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster.
Your carriage is whisked through a haunted castle in the dark before plunging down an indoor roller coaster.
First-class rides, action-packed shows and celebrity characters make this Gold Coast theme park a fun-filled environment.
There are movie-themed rides and attractions ranging from slow river rides to roller coasters and motion simulators.
Learn all the road safety aspects — a kid’s version — at the Junior Drive School.
Get a photo with one of the many costumed characters who patrol the park: Scooby Doo, Batman, Marilyn Monroe, The Mystery Inc. Gang, Austin Powers.
Enjoy the street shows and all-star parades on movie-themed floats.
Many films and television series were produced in the adjoining Warner Roadshow Studios, so when you visit, resurrect memories of the first Scooby-Doo film, House of Wax, the 2003 Peter Pan film, Ghost Ship, The Condemned and Fortress, to name but a few.
2- See the animals at Sea World
Swim with the sharks at Sea World’s Shark Bay.
The Animal Adventures programme has a range of activities including snorkelling in the tropical reef, scuba diving with the sharks, wading with the dolphins and a behind-the-scenes peep at the polar bears.
There are display areas with fairy penguins, dugongs and seals as well as lots of themed rides.
The daily programme includes a host of entertaining shows.
Don’t miss the daily dolphin show, which is a spectacular performance and includes crowd pullers such as dolphin trainers who speed around the dolphin enclosure standing on top of their 200-kilogram dolphins.
Wildlife encounters are the drawcard to this premier marine animal park in Australia.
Even though it has animal exhibits and other attractions, Sea World endorses preservation not only through education but also with the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured or orphaned wildlife.
The oceanarium and theme park was founded by entrepreneur Keith Williams in 1958.
3- Check out the view from SkyPoint Observation Deck
The 42-second elevator journey from the ground floor to the Observation Deck on the 77th floor at Q1, the world’s tallest residential tower, could almost qualify as a ride itself.
The 360-degree view is stunning, especially at night, and one of the most impressive Australian landmarks in Queensland.
At 322.5m and 80 storeys high, taller than the Eiffel Tower, the 526-unit Q1 Resort & Spa has one-, two- and three-bedroom serviced luxury apartments.
Decorated in space-age white and gleaming stainless steel, apartments have glittering views of either the city and sweeping views of Surfers Paradise and the ocean.
4- Enjoy Australian Outback Spectacular
Australian Outback Spectacular is a 90-minute outback extravaganza with mustering, colt breaking, whip cracking and spectacular riding.
At the beginning of the show, members of the audience are provided with complimentary stockman hats and divided into two rival stations – Austral Downs and Wondoola.
The performers (most are real jackaroos recruited from stations around the country) pit their skills and horses against each other.
It’s a fun evening that leaves you with a taste of life in the outback.
A three-course dinner is provided during the show.
Here’s a novel way to experience the courage, splendour and fearlessness of some of the inspiring Australian stories from the outback.
You have to saddle up to be captivated by the passage that takes you to the snow-peaked mountains of the high country where enthralled murmurs and fabled stories thrive with the most stirring narratives of Australian characters.
5- Have fun with the animals at Dreamworld
Although Dreamworld has a reputation for hair-raising rides with stomach-churning names such as The Claw, Tower of Terror, Giant Drop, Cyclone and Wipeout, don’t overlook the Australian Wildlife Experience.
Cuddle a koala, feed the kangaroos and pat a wombat.
The wildlife enclosure is one of Queensland’s largest native wildlife parks and is home to over 800 native animals.
Not so native are the tigers at Tiger Island, which is a cageless habitat and educational conservation attraction that donates part of its proceeds to saving tigers in the wild.
Spend an hour strolling next to a fully grown tiger or have your photo taken with a magnificent white Bengal.
Younger children will love the colourful Wiggles World, the official Australian home of The Wiggles.
Australia’s biggest theme park is jam-packed with family fun, live entertainment and rides.
Each of the several themed lands (Wiggles World, DreamWorks Experience, Goldrush Country, Tiger Island, Rocky Hollow, Ocean Parade and Dreamworld Corroboree) have a selection of rides, animal exhibits, shows and food outlets and merchandise shops.
6- Splash around at Wet ‘n’ Wild
Slip into your swimsuit and dive into this water-based theme park.
The Whirlpool Hot Springs offers a relaxing soak in a 36°C hot tub.
The Extreme H20 Zone is an aquatic adventure with thrills such as the Tornado where riders blast down a 40-metre long tunnel into the middle of a storm before spinning around the Tornado’s funnel in a four-person clover-leaf tube.
Warner Village Theme Parks has a three-park super pass that includes entry to Movie World, Sea World and Wet ‘n’ Wild prices start from $135.
Splish-splash your way into an aquatic wonder world with some of the biggest and most extreme water slides in Australia.
An area for children under 10 years old called Wet ‘n’ Wild Junior features pint-sized water slides, a sandcastle-themed lagoon area and kid-friendly water slides.
There’s also a multi-level interactive play structure, with eight slides and a giant tipping bucket.
All the pools and slides in the park, which opened in September 1984, are heated during winter.
7- Wander around the Gold Coast markets
Markets on the Gold Coast have evolved from being a place to shop and have turned into entertainment hubs.
Most markets have loads of entertainment, with bands and roving magicians and acts.
Also look out for workshops, face painting and other fun activities for the kids.
The best Gold Coast market for kids is Carrara Market, which is a huge market with fun activities such as pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting and a bungy trampoline.
From Coolangatta to Sanctuary Cove, there are heaps of markets on the weekends and you’ll most probably find one close to your accommodation.
Also, bookmark our list of Gold Coast cafes.
8- Go Shopping in the Gold Coast Malls
The Gold Coast is Queensland’s most diversified shopping destination, with shopping pockets that range from international designer precincts to discount outlet stores, charming craft villages to bustling markets.
Top malls for families are:
- Pacific Fair
- Harbour Town in Biggera Waters
- Robina Town Centre
Pacific Fair is a massive shopping mall that has a parents room, stroller hire and a free kids club (Little Paccas) for preschoolers and three play area for kids.
The most impressive play area in Pacific Fair is Play Street (behind UNIQLO), where the young ones will love the climbing course, slide and the interactive toddler room.
But if bargain hunting is your cup of tea, then head for the designer outlet warehouses at Harbour Town in Biggera Waters.
9- Cool down in Whitewater World
Located right next to DreamWorld, WhiteWater World has rides and slides for the whole family.
It’s a fun water park that the kids will love and there are attractions for all ages.
Activities include learning to surf at the Cave of Waves, a 2,685sqm artificial surf that swells to heights of 1.5 metres, or slide down the Supertubes Hydro Coaster.
10- Meet the birds at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Set within natural rainforest and bushland, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has an extensive array of Australian native wildlife, with more than 100 species of mammals, reptiles and birds.
This wildlife sanctuary is serious about wildlife conservation and operates the Community Wildlife Hospital for sick, injured and orphaned animals.
11- Explore Tamborine Mountain
The picturesque hinterland mountain village of Mount Tamborine is straight out of a children’s picture book.
Mount Tamborine a haven for local artists.
Cute timber cottages and European-style village buildings house cafes and galleries with original paintings, sculptures, ceramic art and hand-made crafts.
12- Experience the thrill of a Jet Boat adventure
A thrilling jet boating cruise is like a roller coaster ride on the water.
Jet boats spin around the Gold Coast Broadwater offering a mixture of scenery, cruising past Sea World and Sovereign Island, and thrills, such as 360° spins and high-speed drifting.
Most jet boating adventures are suitable for kids aged four and above.
13- Go Stand up Paddle Boarding
The Gold Coast has a network of waterways that are perfect for Stand Up Paddleboarding and plenty of places to hire boards and paddles.
The best spots to go are Tallebudgera Creek, Currumbin Estuary and Budds Beach on the Nerang River.
If you’re not an expert, a great way to start is to take some lessons.
You’d be surprised at how quickly the kids pick it up.
14- Have fun at Surfers Paradise Kids Week
During Surfers Paradise Kids Week, which happens during the September/October school holidays, you’ll find more than enough things to do with kids on the Gold Coast for free.
Each year, there’s a fun theme with workshops, arts and crafts, as well as sporting events.
15- Relax and bond around a resort pool
As the Gold Coast is a family-friendly destination, there’s a huge choice of resorts that are suitable for kids.
They range from the luxurious Palazzo Versace (pictured) to budget family resorts and caravan parks.
Some favourites are:
- Paradise Resort Gold Coast, which offers a range of family rooms including the fun and funky Junior Bunkhouse.
- Big4 Gold Coast Holiday Park, where the kids will love the BMX track, jumping pillow, peddle carts and petting zoo.
16- Join a swim class at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre
There’s something really cool for kids about swimming at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.
The little ones will be swimming in the same pools where the athletes of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games competed in 2018.
This international aquatic centre has six heated pools, including a 10-lane championship pool, diving training facilities and a cafe.
17- Go on a family picnic
There are plenty of places to have a picnic on the Gold Coast.
Not far from Currumbin Beach is Currumbin Rock Pools a perfect place for a day of swimming in the freshwater rock pools.
It’s fantastic for families as it has picnic tables, shelter, grassy river banks, BBQs, and other amenities.
Worth doing also is the 1.6km walking trail through Mount Cougal National Park and the Currumbin Valley.
18- See the sculptures at the Swell Sculpture Festival
In September each year, Currumbin Beach comes alive with the work of local and international sculptures at The Swell Sculpture Festival.
It’s a free event and you are very likely to be able to meet and have a talk with some of the artists.
The event is a great place to encourage creativity in your kids.
19- Go skydiving
Adventurous kids 12 years and above might like to try skydiving if their parents will let them!
A tandem skydive landing on Kirra Beach is guaranteed to be a thrilling experience and one that everyone in the family will talk about forever.
20- Take a surfing lesson
The Gold Coast is a quintessential Queensland surfing destination and going on at least one surfing lesson is something every kid should do.
Surf schools are right across the Gold Coast – almost every beach has one.
Even though Gold Coast surfing is world class, there are plenty of surf beaches suitable for kids and beginners including Greenmount, Currumbin Allen, “Kid’s Corner” (in front of the Burleigh Pavilion), Rainbow Bay and The Spit.
21- Watch a show at the Gold Coast Arts Centre
If you’re looking for things to do on the Gold Coast after dark, catch a show at the Gold Coast Arts Centre in Bundall.
If you don’t want to bother going in, there’s a great spot to sit on the canal where you will get a lovely view of the city.