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The ultimate itinerary for five days away on the Gold Coast with kids.

When you live on the Gold Coast it’s easy to take for granted all of the amazing places and activities we have on offer.

From the well-known and much-loved theme parks like Dreamworld and Warner Bros. Movie World, to secret beautiful nature spots like Tallebudgera and Currumbin Creek, we’re spoiled for choice.

So, to help you make yours, I’ve taken it upon myself as a local of 37 years, to craft a five-day itinerary for your next Gold Coast stay.

Why? Because as a parent I know how hard it is to plan a holiday that’s at the right pace with the right mix of fun, exploration and relaxation.

I recently put this to the test over five days during the school holidays. I made it my mission to take my kids in and around our hometown to truly appreciate what we’ve got.

I knew it was going to be a challenge keeping each of us happy, but my plan was to spend one day being super active and one day being chilled to ensure we all managed to keep our cool.

If you’re coming up to the Gold Coast with kids, try this:

Day 1

Kick it off with a little adventure! I took my kids to two of my favourite theme parks: Dreamworld and WhiteWater World.

You get the best of both worlds with plenty of rides for kids of all ages, plus amazingly cute and cuddly animals you can get up close and personal with. The beauty of these two is they are right next door so you can go between them easily, and included in the one ticket.

At Dreamworld, we couldn’t go past Tiger Island to see these beautiful animals in real life. We also loved Corroboree, an Indigenous space that brings to life Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through interactive exhibitions, while also letting you get up close and personal with Australian wildlife.

Over in the DreamWorks Experience, the newly opened Trolls Village is super-cute for the little ones with an awesome live show to get them dancing.

Dreamworld
Hair-raising fun. Image: DreamWorks Trolls Village: DreamWorks Trolls © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All rights reserved.
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We spent the morning here enjoying rides like the Wipeout, Giant Drop and Buzzsaw. When I say "we" I mean my kids...I was more interested in cuddling a koala in the Corroboree wildlife area!

That moment I got to hug a koala. Image: Katie Jones

After we worked up a sweat at Dreamworld, we wandered over to WhiteWater World and I pulled up a sun lounge while the kids ran off to their favourite rides like The Green Room, a huge tunnel with a splashdown that's worth taking a photo of!

The little kids can enjoy the Cave of Waves and Wiggle Bay, which are much calmer and definitely more my style. After a few hours, we were exhausted and ready to head home, our first adventure day a success.

WhiteWater World: The biggest water theme park in Australia. Image: Destination Gold Coast
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Hot tip: Currently there's a three-day pass for the price of a one-day ticket. There's also Dreamworld, Dreamworld Corroboree and WhiteWater World tickets for $85 for kids, and $95 for adults. Details here.

Day 2

After our huge day at Dreamworld we were all keen to take it a little slower on our second day so we decided to head to Burleigh, where you can chill on the beach or, if you're feeling a little energetic you can walk through the Burleigh Head National Park which can be done by people of all ages as it's only a 40-minute hike.

Once I bribed the kids with a smoothie from Nook Espresso, we set off for the hike and headed over the hill to Tallebudgera Creek, which has to be the best beach for kids on the Coast. Along the walk you can stop and take in the breathtaking views north towards Surfers Paradise and on the other side looking south down over the creek toward Coolangatta. When the tide is low you can walk from one side to the other and the blue of the water will take your breath away.

Burleigh Point, one of my favourite local spots. Image: Katie Jones.
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After our walk we cooled down in the Creek and then headed back around the hill to our car in Burleigh. I was ready for a cocktail and I knew exactly where to find one with a view: A 20-minute drive back up toward Surfers Paradise and to the Q1 Resort & Spa, which is the tallest building on the Coast.

The SkyPoint Observation Deck is the perfect place to see the whole coastline, watch the sunset and enjoy some nibbles and a cocktail or mocktail for the kids.

I've been lucky enough to climb the building on the outside a few times with the Instagram page I co-admin, @igersgoldcoast, and my kids love the views from the observation deck too. A perfect way to end the day.

Day 3

Getting the pace back up, we headed to Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet'n'Wild. The key is to take it slow and don't try to do everything - be selective and make sure the kids know they literally don't have all day.

Now, Movie World has some very cool rides, like the Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster Next Generation ride, which is great for kids from eight to 12. For the more thrill-seeking kids (and parents!), the new DC Rivals HyperCoaster is the tallest, longest and fastest HyperCoaster in the Southern Hemisphere, at 61.6m high, 1.4km long and reaching up to 115km per hour. *GULP*

Personally, I was more keen to check out the Aquaman - The Exhibition for reasons I shouldn't have to explain (am I right ladies?!). I'm a fan of Jason Momoa so this was a no-brainer!

 

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There are also some great shows you can't miss like the Hollywood Stunt Driver 2, The Lego 4D Movie Experience and the gorgeous characters wandering around the park who are always up for a cuddle.

The food is great here with my fave Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, and Dirty Harry Bar and Grill serves some awesome Mexican snacks too. After we had lunch we walked over to Wet'n'Wild to cool down and the kids rushed off to the Tornado, which is a huge funnel ride they love. I found myself at Calypso Beach, which is where you jump on a donut and drift around the lazy river at a more relaxed pace. PEACE - all you could ask for.

I then headed to the wave pool where the kids came and met me after riding the Black Hole and Kamikaze rides. Once again, I'd found a sun lounge and relaxed while they got their ride fix!

After another massive day, the kids were exhausted in the best way. Day 3, done and dusted successfully.

Hot tip: If you want to do Movie World, Wet'n'Wild, Sea World and Paradise Country, there's a deal for four parks over four days for $139, with $100 bonus value. Conditions apply. Details here.

Day 4

The Gold Coast hinterland is where it's at. We're talking lush rainforest and breathtaking waterfalls, right here on the Gold Coast.

Today we headed up to Mount Tamborine to hike to Curtis Falls and check out the gorgeous cafes and shops on the top of the mountain.

Tambo, (as the locals call it) is just a 30-minute drive from the coast, and as you drive higher up the hill the views back to the coastline are spectacular.

My first priority is always coffee and my favourite place to get it is from St Bernards Hotel. This gorgeous hotel was built in 1898 and has the most beautiful gardens to walk around, delicious coffee and cakes and the best part, a beautiful St Bernard dog who greets you at the door as you arrive!

Hey friend. Image: Katie Jones.
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I could sit here and watch the view for hours in the stunning gardens but the kids were keen to get to the waterfall so we drove 10 minutes further up the mountain to get to the start of the hike.

Enjoy the views at St Bernard's on Mount Tamborine. Image: Katie Jones.

The walk to Curtis Falls can't even be called a hike, really! It's actually a short 15-minute walk through beautiful rainforest and then you arrive at a stunning waterfall that is very popular on Instagram.

It's so easy to get to and so pretty, it's definitely perfect for families with younger children. Just take a look below.

Curtis Falls: You'll fall in love. Image: Katie Jones.
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After hiking back to the top of the falls, we browsed the antique shops back in town along the Gallery Walk. There are arts and crafts stores, fudge shops and even beautiful wines from the region. Tambo = pure relaxation.

Day 5

For our last day we headed to Sea World, which doesn't seem to be as fast-paced as the other theme parks. You can really take your time walking around checking out the stunning underwater aquarium at Shark Bay, the colourful Sea Jellies Illuminated exhibit (a must-see), the gorgeous polar bears and their antics, or perhaps if you're so inclined, feed the stingrays.

Sea Jellies Illuminated is one Sea World's must-see attractions. Image: Destination Gold Coast

The kids' favourite rides are the Jet Rescue Coaster and the Storm Coaster, but the little kids are in their element here with Nickelodeon Land and the newest precinct The Reef at Castaway Bay, which is a super-cool interactive splash zone that even the teenagers can't get enough of.

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By the time you've walked the length of the park, you're so ready to jump on the Monorail and get back to the entry to ease those weary feet!

By early afternoon we needed to cool off, so we decided to head to The Spit for a swim at the beach, which is only five minutes' drive from Sea World, and one of the best beaches on the coast.

The Spit is home to a popular dog beach and also has the sand pumping jetty which is famous for photographers at sunrise. It's very much a locals' beach.

My kids love it here as they can get their dog fix while they have a swim - a perfect way to end a huge five days of exploring.

The best part? Reconnecting with my kids and getting them off their devices - even if I spend a little too much time on mine taking photos!

Gold Coast for families
Another gorgeous place for your Instagram photos: The Spit. Image: Destination Gold Coast.

If you're in need of more inspiration, there are some great Gold Coast deals and packages available right here.

For more recommendations and beautiful photos from Katie and other Gold Coast locals, visit @igersgoldcoast or visit @destinationgoldcoast on Instagram.

Now, tell us: What's your favourite thing to do with kids on the Gold Coast? We want your recommendations below!

This content was brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, Tourism & Events Queensland, Destination Gold Coast, Ardent Leisure & Village Roadshow Theme Parks.

Tourism & Events Queensland, Destination Gold Coast, Ardent Leisure & Village Roadshow Theme Parks

Seek adventure with the whole family, from the heights of the hinterland to the sounds of the sea. The Gold Coast is where Australia comes to play.
There’s more to enjoy with discounts on tickets to your favourite theme parks so now is the time to check out the latest packages and create memories to last a lifetime. The Gold Coast is glistening with all that’s new, and set amongst your old-time favourites. Feel at home among thrilling theme park rides, stretches of coastline and tantalising restaurants, or getting back to nature beside a rushing waterfall. Whatever adventure it is you seek, come and play on the Gold Coast.

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