Those whom have had to travel with kids will surely comprehend that not all tourist attractions are suitable and enjoyable for kids. For this reason, we’ve come up with the following tried-and-tested list of Top 9 Places to visit in Gold Coast for families with these little gems in tow.
Gold Coast: Australia’s Playground
Referred to as “Australia’s playground” by some, Gold Coast is a major holiday destination down under, with Surfers Paradise (suburb/beach) being the focal point of most activities. A coastal city an hour’s drive south of Brisbane, Gold Coast’s subtropical climate (with relatively consistent temperatures year-round) and its seducing surf beaches affirm its popularity with visitors for the past few decades.
(List in random order)
#1: Movie World (map)
With its high density of theme parks (5 major parks), Gold Coast is widely considered “Australia’s Theme Park Capital”. It is no coincidence that we start our list with one of the most popular amongst them: Warner Bros Movie World.
Started in 1991, it is the only movie related theme park in Australia. Containing many movie-themed rides, attractions and shows, the park has a good mix of entertainment/activities for visitors of all ages. In particular, the Looney Tunes section caters to younger kids.
As with many theme parks, costumed character performers roam the park to interact and entertain visitors. The highlight of the day is the daily 3.30pm “All Star Parade” at the main arcade which features “Batman, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. Gang, Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes characters and the famous DC Superhero and Villains”.
#2: Sea World (map)
Opened in 1971, Sea World is a marine-mammal based theme park located right at the heart of Gold Coast. It includes various-themed rides, attractions, live shows and animal exhibits. Its newly opened (late-2015) Nickelodeon Land has a number of rides and show (Dora the Explorer) targeting young children.
#3: Wet ‘n’ Wild (map)
Located next to Movie World, Wet ‘n’ Wild opened its gates in 1984 and is one of Australia’s largest water-based theme parks. It received more than 1million visitors in 2009, ranking it the top water-based theme park in Australia and eighth in the world.
The park plays host to some of the biggest and most exciting water rides in Australia. Younger kids are not left out either, as an entire section of the park (Wet ‘n’ Wild Junior) is dedicated to them. It comes complete with a multilevel interactive play structure (with a giant tipping bucket!) and a number of miniature water slides that mimics the larger versions thrill slides in other “grown-up” parts of the park.
#4: TreeTop Challenge
If treetop obstacle courses are your idea of a great adventure, then TreeTop Challenge is the place to go! It is Australia’s first Theme Park in the trees and has been operating since 2007.
Suitable for and enjoyed by both older kids (must reach 160cm at the palm of their hand) and adults. It has a number of self-guided courses posing various rope/wire/plank/ladder challenges, numerous ziplines and “tarzan swings”. Without doubt an excellent activity especially for kids who enjoy outdoor explorations.
It currently has 2 locations in Gold Coast: Mount Tamborine (see pics) (an hour drive west from Surfers Paradise) and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (near to Gold Coast Airport).
Aquasplash is Australia’s first open-water inflatable slides fun-park and is centrally located on the beach in Southport (barely 5 minutes drive from Sea World). It is a large sea-based inflatable playground complete with huge slides, trampolines and obstacle courses, all a short swim off the beach. This is serious open-water fun for all ages (from as young as 1 years old).
There are 2 sections of the park: the main play area of “Aquasplash” and the “Minisplash” area catered to younger kids. Participants do need to be able to swim unassisted for a short distance in order to be allowed into the “Aquasplash” main play area. Tickets are sold based on time slots, with 45 minutes per slot. All participants will be mandatory equipped with life jackets. Being a sea-based activity, it only operates during the warmer months.
Mainly patronized by locals, not many overseas visitors are aware of this. So differentiate yourself from other regular tourist and try this out!
Looking for some real go-karting action? With over 100 go-karts and 3 professionally designed go-kart tracks, Kingston Park Raceway is Australia’s largest and most technically advanced outdoor go-kart racing venue. It caters to participants from 5 years old. Definitely not your usual go-kart tourist traps, Kingston Park Raceway is serious stuff; rated number 1 in Australia and one of the Top 10 Best in the world.
Depending on the race package purchased, each cohort of drivers can expect to race a certain number of races with rest intervals between. Each race starts with the same safety briefing (video) before the race conductor dispatch all drivers in a certain order. After each race, the cohort will be given the race results and ranking. Consolidated/overall rankings will be given after the last race for the cohort.
#7: Surfers Paradise (map)
Surfers Paradise is without doubt the centerpiece of Gold Coast. A visit to the famed pristine beachfront is a must for every visitor to Gold Coast.
The biggest permanent weekend marketplace in Australia, Carrara Markets is an open-concept market with over 400 stalls. The categories of wares here are what you’ll typically expect of similar markets in Australia, including: fresh local produce, clothing, housewares, toys, souvenirs, arts and crafts and the odd activities for kids. As expected, there are a number of cafes/eateries here catering to the weekend crowds.
It is a mere 12 minutes drive from Surfers Paradise and opens every Saturday/Sunday 7am to 4pm (except Christmas). Do plan to visit early, as the activities tend to wind down after lunch. Certainly a great place to pick up some interesting stuffs!
Gold Coast is not only about the sun, sea and theme parks. For those in need of retail therapy, Harbour Town Gold Coast is Australia’s largest outlet shopping centre with over 220 stores. It has a good range of brand outlets, speciality retailers, alfresco dining, entertainment and services. Easily accessible, it is a short 20 minutes drive north of Surfers Paradise. Time to whip out those credit cards!
Tip: As with many Australian retail outlets, Thursday is “late night shopping” day. Harbour Town closes late at 7pm on Thursdays compared to the typical 5pm/5.30pm on other days.
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