We’re quite the lucky folk us Brisbanites… we get the joys of big city living and just a mere 50 minutes down the highway we’ve got one of Queensland’s best stretches of beach. While there are many cliche things to do, with different attractions to reel in the tourists at the Gold Coast, there are a bunch of great “things” to do, see, eat and dive into that are well worth the drive down from Brisbane, even if it is just for the day.
Skip the big 4 theme parks and a trip to Cavil Avenue, Surfers Paradise because they don’t really get you into the grind of the GC vibe. In our experience it’s not always about what’s hot, popular and trendy to fill your day – it’s all about a mixture of things to do that aren’t on offer in here in Brisbane.
Burleigh Head Hill and chips on the headland (Burleigh Heads Fish Mongers – 7-9 James St, Burleigh Heads): Better known as the “Burleigh Hill”, or officially, “Burleigh Heads National Park” the BT team agree that the best thing to do at the end of your GC day, is what the locals do best. Get a park (3-4 streets back from the headland), walk down to Fish Mongers and get hot chips and a basket of fish (if you’re a seafood lover), find a patch on the headland and watch one of the prettiest sunsets the GC has to offer.
Paddle Boarding at Currumbin (2 Thrower Drive, Currumbin, Gold Coast, Queensland): Whether you’re a paddle boarding pro or a rookie who wants to give it a go, Currumbin Alley is the place to do it. You can hire boards at the shop or if you’re a bit an avid SUP-er and have your own, it is the perfect spot to chill out, paddle and swim.
Harbour Town Shopping Centre (Brisbane Road, Biggera Waters): They don’t call it a “town” for nothing…coming in at Australia’s number 1 outlet centre, it has everything you could ever need, including an onsite cinema, 220 stores that offer a minimum of 30% off the original retail price (generally), international and local iconic labels, 27 cafe’s/restaurants, and of course, Woolworths and JB HI-FI is right at your fingertips too. For more information, handy tips and what stores we love at Harbour Town, check out this post where we shopped up a storm and share our bargains!
The Paddock Bakery (20 Hibiscus Haven, Miami): Located in an old weatherboard house that had no life for years, a couple loved the lush green garden landscape and the antique vibes and the rest is history. Offering all day breakfast and lunch, Paddock is the perfect Melbourne inspired hang out right in the middle of the Gold Coast. For “fotos” that will give you “fomo” follow them on Instagram.
Breakfast at Elk Espresso (16 Chelsea Ave, Broadbeach): Hidden in the backstreets of beautiful Broadbeach but within a close walk to the Oasis precinct, tourists, locals and foodies flock to Elk before the doors open at 7am for their morning coffee fix. Open for breakfast, lunch, and for the time being Friday night dinners- it’s definitely one to add to your hit-list. They have meals for a range of palette’s – “The Very Green Salad” for the health foodies, an outstanding “Avo and Feta Mash” for the avo lovers, “The Bang Bang Korean Chicken Burger” if you’re into Asian Fusion delights and speciality drinks like the famous “Oreo Thickshake” if you eat to drink. The cafe is small and fills up quickly, but we can assure you the bites and flavour are BIG.
The Village Markets (Lower Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads QLD 4220): While you’re in Burleigh, if vintage, markets and young designer pop-up’s are your thing, then The Village Markets are a must visit for you. Luckily for the Brisbanites, there is parking on site – open on the first and third Sunday of every month, we believe these markets showcase some of the best the GC has to offer right in the Burleigh hub.
Springbrook National Park – Natural Bridge (Nerang-Murwillumbah Road, Springbrook, Gold Coast Area): Immersed in the Springbrook National Park, a rock formation formed by the force of the waterfall over the cave area is easily one of the most picturesque waterfalls in QLD. If you’re lucky some of nature’s creatures may come out to say hello while you’re in the park. If you’re a foodie like me, while you explore the park, you may or may not get hungry… if so not to worry… The Dancing Waters Cafe is a close drive away and just quietly has vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian options available.
Surfers Paradise (Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise): Brisbanites and local GC people won’t recommend it, but if you’re travelling from interstate or you’re a tourist exploring the land down under, you can’t deny yourself a trip to the infamous Cavill Avenue strip and the Surfers Paradise stretch of sand. While you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets, Infinity if you’re keen to get your “mind-blown” or take a ride up to the Q1 Skypoint Observation Deck.
Cronuts at Blackboard Coffee: (7/240 Varsity Parade, Varsity Lakes):With a cafe with famous coffee and equally famous cronuts, why wouldn’t you want to drive from Brisbane for that combination. With an exclusive “Cafe Academy” it certainly checks out that these guys know their coffee. Blackboard also sells brewing equipment and wholesale’s brewed coffee to anyone who enquires. Back to the cronuts …. they are insane. Given that pictures speak louder than words, check out Blackboard Varsity’s Instagram and start drooling.
Grocer and Grind (Shop 1/1 Sunshine Blvd, Broadbeach Waters): Open 7 days for breakfast and lunch, Grocer and Grind knows food. On the corner of Sunshine Boulevard, previously a convenience store it is hard to miss with the masses of people on one small corner. Aiming to serve organic and hearty meals from local produce this burb’ favourite does exactly that. The Egg’s Benny’s below were certainly a hit.
Gelato Messina at Coolangatta (33/72-80 Marine Parade, Coolangatta): Since opening their first store in Darlinghurst in 2002, the Sicilian inspired creative genius’ who go by Gelato Messina have spread their flavours across 11 stores along the east coast of Australia and 1 store In Las Vegas. But for all of the Queenslanders who have been waiting for Messina to hit our border, it is finally here! Famous for their ice cream cakes and for keeping it real with 5 new flavours each week – on top of the 35 flavours they already have there is plenty to choose from. The flavours incorporate the perfect mix of tradition with a twist. Coolangatta – the most southern suburb of QLD allows you to look back on the Gold Coast Skyline (day or night this is still an awesome view), swim along the last stretch of QLD’s beach and enjoy a meal before topping it off with Gelato Messina.
Surf: Whether you are a Brisbane local and have holidayed by the beach years or your trips to the waves are few and far between, you absolutely must visit the Gold Coast for a spot of surfing. Before you go, check out Surfguide for the predicted surf and weather conditions before you plan your surf trip jump in the car. You can see all of the info you’ll need for the Gold Coast here.
BBQ on the beach – whether you want to a classic Australian BBQ on the beach at Broadbeach or Burleigh or quite literally wine and dine as close to the beach as you can get….the GC has got it covered. Here are our top 5 BBQ on the beach destinations:
I think it’s safe to say that if you are going to get all 13 “things to do” done in one day, it would have to be one very productive day, but we’d love to see you give it a shot!
What is your favourite thing to do on the Gold Coast? Tell us in the comments below and share the love with our fabulous community who loves exploring in Brisbane and beyond.