More than three million visitors holiday on the Gold Coast each year, and many of them are families. After all, this is a playground for all ages, with plenty of options for couples, thrill seekers and singles out for a good time, but there’s no doubt that it’s extra special for kids.
Most children are happy if they have a swimming pool at the hotel or apartment, a beach with plenty of sand for their artistic creations, and a park where they can run riot on the play equipment.
The Gold Coast is a huge winner in all departments, and when it comes to parks, we’re not talking a few swings and a slide: we’re talking about the four best theme parks in the country!
Sea World, Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, Movie World and Wet’n’Wild Water Park are every child’s idea of the perfect holiday. Parents can be assured of a peaceful night, as after a day at one of these parks, the kids will be plum tuckered.
How do I get there?
Australian visitors normally travel to the Gold Coast by car or plane. The Gold Coast is around a 10-hour drive from Sydney and a 20-hour drive from Melbourne. An overnight stop is recommended when driving from Sydney, and three stops from Melbourne. The Gold Coast is roughly a 2-hour drive from Brisbane.
The main domestic airport serving the Gold Coast is Coolangatta Airport.
When to go, Weather
The Gold Coast averages 300 days of sunshine per year and enjoys a pleasant temperature year round.
|Average Min/Max Temperature
|Summer (December to February)
||20 - 28°C|
|Autumn (March to May)
||15 - 25°C|
|Winter (June to August)
||11 - 21°C|
|Spring (September to November)
||15 – 25°C|
Where to stay
As one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia, the Gold Coast boasts a massive range of accommodation, from budget motels to some of the most luxurious hotels and resorts in the country. From Cabarita Beach in the south to Beenleigh in the north and Beaudesert in the west, there are 36,000 rooms with something to suit every budget and need. For families, apartments are a good option, giving you the choice to cook your own meals. For mums who don't want to lift a finger, try one of the many luxury resorts or hotels – most with exceptional facilities. Whatever type of accommodation you go for, its advisable to book accommodation well in advance, especially if you'll be staying during school holidays.
Click here for family-friendly accommodation on the Gold Coast.
Food and Drink
The Gold Coast boasts a huge range of dining opportunities. There are plenty of great family restaurants as well as a myriad of smaller outlets for grabbing a snack at any time of day or night. Dining highlights include fresh seafood and modern Australian cuisine along with brilliant French, Italian and Japanese. One of the culinary centres of the Gold Coast is around Tedder Avenue in Main Beach where the Gold Coast's top restaurants and bars conveniently line either side of the street. Other parts of the Gold Coast such as Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise also offer good variety. Surfers Paradise is a popular dining area for families with many cafés and eateries offering well-priced family meals.
Shopping is a major tourist activity in the Gold Coast, with an incredible range of shopping resorts, boutiques and themed shopping villages. Sanctuary Cove, Pacific Fair and Robina Town Centre are the major developments, but you'll find a treasure trove of fashion, art, crafts and gifts around every corner, as well as monthly or bi-monthly markets in places like Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads, Coolangatta and Robina Town Centre. Harbour Town offers outlet shopping and is only 15 minutes' drive from Surfers Paradise. Shopping hours for major stores are 8.00am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday and 8.00am to 5.00pm Saturday. Selected shops are also open 9.00am to 4.00pm Sunday.
There are two points of entry for domestic arrivals: the Gold Coast Airport and Brisbane Domestic Airport. The Gold Coast Airport is located in Coolangatta in the southern part of the Gold Coast, near the NSW border. The airport has recently been revamped; new facilities include bars, al fresco dining, gift shops and retail outlets.
Gold Coast Airport: If your hotel or package deal doesn't include transfers from the airport, there are a few options available for getting from the airport to your accommodation. Taxis are available outside the airport. Private shuttle bus services run from the airport into major resort areas and drop off at most hotels. These can be booked in advance. Rental cars are available from the airport. We recommend booking a car in advance.
Brisbane Airport: Coachtrans operates a service between Brisbane and Surfers. The Airtrain is another option to get to the Gold Coast.
Getting around for families
If you're not bringing a car with you to the Gold Coast, car hire is definitely a good option for exploring the area. Another option is to purchase a Freedom Pass or a Smartpass. This pass provides unlimited travel on the Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle and includes door to door* Gold Coast Airport and theme park transfers plus unlimited travel on the Surfside Buslines network. Passes are available for 3, 5 or 7 days.
*Door to door pick up may not be available from all Gold Coast properties.
What to wear
Casual lightweight clothing is the norm in the Gold Coast. A jacket or warmer clothing may be required for cooler winter evenings. Long pants and comfortable walking shoes are recommended if you plan to do any bushwalking or horse riding. To ensure adequate protection from the sun, wear a broad-rimmed hat, sunglasses and SPF 30+ sunscreen. These are essential all year round.
HWK Travel Tips
Book a tour just for the kids. Tours For Kids gives parents the day off with their fully supervised tours for kids aged 6 to 12 years. The tour includes free pick-up and return to your hotel or unit, as well as entry to venues like David Fleay Wildlife Park, Tropical Fruit World and Thunderbird Park.
For the ultimate theme park experience, Dreamworld and WhiteWater World are the only theme parks in Australia located in the same location - a World Pass allows unlimited entry to both parks on the same day! 2 Parks. 1 Ticket. 1 Great Location.