Gold Coast theme parks are a lot of fun. From Wet ‘n’ Wild to Seaworld, Dreamworld to Movieworld, there’s no shortage of entertainment. But theme parks don’t come cheap and can often take up a large percentage of the family holiday budget.
Want more from your family holiday budget than theme parks? Check out our guide to the best free or low cost activities on the Gold Coast.
1. Hit the beach
This might be an obvious one, but the Gold Coast beaches are not to be underestimated. Famous for fun they’re renowned as being some of the best in Australia and home to some of the world’s best surf breaks. You don’t have to be a surfer to enjoy them though – you can swim, body surf, boogie board, make sandcastles and soak up some sun.
2. Play at the park
With swings, slides, spinny things, bars, cubby houses, flying foxes, wobbly bridges and more, there’s a heap of free fun to be had at Gold Coast’s playgrounds. Find some of the best at Coolangatta Beach, Kurrawa Pratten Park, Broadwater Playgrounds, Palm Beach and Labrador.
3. Take part in a festival
The Gold Coast loves a celebration and no matter what time of year you visit you can rest assured there will be some kind of festival going on. Favourites include Blues on Broadbeach, Cooly Rocks On, Swell Sculpture Festival, the Quicksilver Pro, Bleach Festival and Surfers Paradise Festival.
4. Cycle the Gold Coast Oceanway
If you’ve got the bikes in tow, the Gold Coast Oceanway offers a fantastic day out to get some exercise and fresh air while taking in the spectacular coastal views. From Point Danger Lighthouse in Coolangatta to Gold Coast Seaway, the network of pathways runs a total of 36km. If you don’t have the bikes with you, there are plenty of bike hire establishments with bike hire starting from $10 a day.
5. Lorikeet feeding at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
If you don’t want to pay the full $49 admission price for Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, get there early in the morning or late in the afternoon for lorikeet feeding. Every day at 8am and 4pm hundreds of rainbow lorikeets descend from the surrounding trees and visitors can feed the birds for free.
6. Whale watch from the headlands
If you’re visiting the Gold Coast between May and October, make your way to one of the spectacular headlands with your binoculars in tow and see who spots a whale first. Thousands of humpback whales migrate north from Antarctica, passing up and back down the coast and coming close into shore they are usually pretty easy to spot.
7. Go for a hike
The Gold Coast is spoilt for choice when it comes to national parks you can hike. Burleigh Heads National Park is a central, pretty and a short 2.5km coastal walk. Also check out Lamington National Park and Federation Walk at the northern end of the Gold Coast Oceanway. For beginner’s, a favourite walk is to Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park, a 2km round-trip.
8. Currumbin Rock Pools
The Currumbin Rock Pools are a favourite with the locals and are the perfect setting for a picnic on the grassy river bank. There are tables, BBQs and toilets close at hand, plus there’s various pool depths, rope swings, rock slides and ledges to jump off. You could also check out the Mount Cougal section of Springbrook National Park, taking the 800 metre walking trail to find cascading waterfalls, more rock pools and a historic bush sawmill.
9. Pelican feeding
The pelican feeding at Labrador is an amazing experience with nature. Hundreds of pelicans swoop in over Ian Dipple Lagoon at 1pm every day, landing at the rear of Charis Seafoods. The feeding frenzy is on, so stand back, give them plenty of room and marvel at these amazing birds.
10. Take sunflower selfies
You know those sunflower field photos that are blowing up all over Insta? At Farm & Co in Cudgen (just south of the border) you can get in on the action and wander amongst the sunflowers, through open spaces and natural grounds for a $5 entry fee. Meet Hank the vegan pig, say hi to some happy chickens and see how the food you love is grown.
11. Play mini golf
Mini golf is a reasonably cheap activity that the whole family can enjoy. The cheapest on the Coast has to be at Carrara Markets where kids under 15 are free with a paying adult. That means a family of four can play 36 holes of mini golf (two courses) for just $30. There are three indoor courses to choose from and an ancient temple outdoor course.
12. Watch a drive-in movie
Fill a car with up to six people and take a trip down memory lane with a movie at Yatala Drive-In. See the latest blockbusters, get some hot chips from the 1950s diner, or pack your own picnic dinner. Get there early to find a good parking spot and take some blankets and pillows to get comfy.
Want to keep the bargain activities coming with a cheap dinner on the Gold Coast? Head on over to the Cooly Hotel restaurant for some delicious food at great prices. With unbelievable specials throughout the week, it’s the perfect way to end your fun Gold Coast days on a budget. Book a table today.