14 Fun Things to Do on the Gold Coast for Free

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The Gold Coast is the ultimate playground for beach lovers, surfers and family holidays. From Surfers Paradise to Burleigh Heads and beyond, unspoilt beaches, national parks, museums and open-air fun are to be found everywhere. However, staying at one of the most popular holiday destinations doesn't have to mean expensive.

There are lots of family-friendly and wallet-friendly activities to enjoy. Forget about overpriced water parks and indoor attractions. This part of the world is all about getting outdoors and making the most of what's on offer.

To save you the time and effort of hunting down things to do in the Gold Coast for free, we've pulled together a list of some amazing, cash-free activities. All you need to do is pack your swimmers, charge your camera and get ready for a holiday that memories are made of.

  1. Currumbin Rock Pools
  2. Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets
  3. Awesome Central Coast Festivals
  4. Whale Watching
  5. Beach-Hopping Days
  6. Springbrook National Park
  7. Gold Coast regional Botanic Gardens
  8. Feed The Pelicans at Ian Dipple Lagoon
  9. Southport Rockpools & Broadwater Parkland
  10. Federation Walk Coastal Reserve
  11. Gold Coast City Art Gallery (HOTA)
  12. Choosing the Best Gold Coast Accommodation
A Man Carrying A Surf Board In The Water

1. Currumbin Rock Pools

Pack a picnic, throw on a bathing suit and get ready to discover one of the Gold Coast's best-hidden gems, the Currumbin Rock Pools. Just 30 minutes by car from the hotel, it's a place where childhood memories are made. Rock pools come in all different depths and current speeds, making them the perfect place for the whole family.

Spend the day soaring above the creek on one of the many rope swings. Test your nerve by leaping off of the ledges into the cool water below. Or just pitch up on a rock and soak up the rays as you listen to the water gently trickling by. Surrounded by nature, it's a rare treat that lets you disconnect from daily life and rediscover the beauty of Australia.

Just a short 800-meter walk takes you to the cascading waterfalls that feed to pools below. It's here that you'll find an original bush sawmill, perfect for exploring and snapping a few shots for Instagram. When it comes to free things to do on the Gold Coast with kids, this one is hard to beat.

2. Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets

Just a short 15-minute walk from the hotel, you'll find the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets. With a modern yet traditional vibe, it's the ultimate place to stock up on trinkets and souvenirs during your holiday. Of course, this list is all about free things to do, so what is there to see without needing to reach into your pockets?

The street performers and live music are enough of a draw on their own. You can chat with the artists and stallholders to learn more about how they craft and create their products. Or you can just enjoy browsing through the handmade artisan goods. You'll probably want to spend a few dollars here though, as the products on offer are almost irresistible.

Once you've had your fill of the Beachfront Markets, a stroll along the shoreline is the perfect end to the day. Enjoy the warm breeze coming off the ocean and take five before hunting down the perfect place for dinner. The markets open at 3 pm and wind down at 8 pm every Wed, Fri and Sun, making them a perfect school holiday activity.

A Group Of People Watching A Band On Stage In Front Of A Crowd

3. The Best Gold Coast Festivals

If you're searching for a wallet-friendly experience, festivals are an absolute must to add to your itinerary. The vibrant city of Gold Coast plays host to a variety of fun festivals all year round, catering to a diverse range of interests. Whether you're a music aficionado, an art enthusiast, or simply looking to soak up the lively atmosphere, you'll find something that tickles your fancy. The best part? These festivals are designed to be enjoyable for the whole family, ensuring that everyone can take part in the excitement.

Surfers Paradise Festivals 2023


Prepare to be swept away by the ever-popular Sand Safari Arts Festival, an extraordinary celebration that encapsulates the spirit of sand and sea.

This highly popular family-friendly event has gained a huge following, attracting visitors from far and wide. Immerse yourself in a world of awe-inspiring creativity as you marvel at colossal sand sculptures, meticulously crafted by talented artists from across the country.

The Sand Safari Arts Festival is a true feast for the senses, captivating both the young and the young at heart. It's a perfect opportunity to create lasting memories with your loved ones, as children and adults alike become enthralled by the wonders that await them.

Come and be part of this remarkable celebration of art, sand, and the boundless possibilities of the imagination.


Get ready to groove to the rhythm of the blues at the epic Blues on Broadbeach music festival. Taking over the vibrant precinct of Broadbeach from May 18th to 21st, this extraordinary event promises four days of non-stop entertainment. Prepare to be captivated as 20 different stages come alive with the sounds of talented national and international artists, offering an incredible lineup of blues, country, folk, roots, and rock music that will leave you craving for more.

Legendary artists such as The Turner Brown Band, Tommy Emmanuel, and Emma Donovan & The Putbacks are just a glimpse of the incredible talent that awaits. Each artist will bring their unique flair and style, creating an unforgettable experience for music enthusiasts of all ages.

Blues on Broadbeach is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere and laid-back vibe. Grab your mates, bring along your appetite, and make your way to the festival to enjoy a bite to eat and a refreshing beverage as you soak up the melodic tunes.


Get ready for an unforgettable weekend filled with excitement at SeaFire, the Gold Coast’s most popular free family-friendly event. Kicking off at 6 pm, SeaFire is the perfect occasion to plan an extended stay in Queensland's oceanside playground.

This year, witness an epic battle on the shores of Surfers Paradise Beach as Africa and South America compete for the prestigious title of the competition. The captivating displays of pyrotechnics are set to a backdrop of music, creating a symphony of light and sound that will take your breath away.

At 7 pm and 8 pm, the sky will come alive with a spectacular fusion of colours, choreographed perfectly to the rhythm of the music. But the excitement doesn't end there! Brace yourself for the grand finale, a mind-blowing display of pyrotechnic artistry that will illuminate the night sky at 8.45 pm, leaving you in awe of the sheer beauty and splendour.

SeaFire is an event that guarantees an unforgettable experience for the whole family. Immerse yourself in the magic and wonder as you watch the sky come alive with an explosion of vibrant colours and breathtaking fireworks.


Mark your calendars for an extraordinary arts extravaganza across the Gold Coast from August 3rd to 13th. Presented by Placemakers, the Gold Coast's premier arts organiSation — this festival has established itself as one of Australia's leading cultural events. Prepare to be captivated as the stunning spaces of the Gold Coast transform into magnificent theatrical backdrops for a multitude of unique and thought-provoking installations and performances.

First Nations cultural experiences take centre stage, providing a powerful and authentic representation of Indigenous heritage and storytelling. Dance performances, both contemporary and traditional, will ignite the stage with their energy and passion.

Be prepared to be moved by powerful narratives, as storytelling weaves its magic through captivating performances. Immerse yourself in a world where creativity knows no bounds, where the Gold Coast becomes a vibrant canvas for artistic expression.


Welcome to the biggest outdoor sculpture exhibition in Queensland and on the Gold Coast, the SWELL Sculpture Festival. Held on the picturesque shores of Currumbin Get ready for an immersive artistic adventure as you explore sculptures created by local, national, and international artists.

Across the region, you'll find pop-up exhibitions that showcase ever-creative wonders. Make sure to visit the SWELL Smalls Gallery, nestled in its beachside venue, and indulge in the cultural programming at SWELL Fringe, located in Wallace Nicoll Park, Currumbin.

Delve into a world of unique experiences offered by the festival. Embark on guided twilight walks through the captivating artworks, immerse yourself in live music performances, share laughter during comedy shows, enhance your skills through masterclasses, engage in artist talks right beside the sculptures, and unleash your own creativity in artist-led workshops.

The SWELL Sculpture Festival is a transformative event that sparks inspiration and captures the hearts and minds of all who have the pleasure of visiting. So, join us on this artistic journey and let the sculptures ignite your imagination, leaving an indelible mark on your soul.

A Yellow Boat Sitting On Top Of A Beach

4. Whale Watching

Each and every year, humpback whale migration makes its way past the Gold Coast. This gives ample opportunity for you to see them in real life. The best part is that you don't have to head out into the ocean to catch a glimpse. Especially when many of the elevated headlands work just as well.

It's surprising just how close to shore the whales come as they pass by. Both Burleigh Heads National Park and the Miami Headland are great places to go whale watching. The best time of year to view the whales is from May to October.

Nobody knows when or where the whales will appear, so it's a good idea to pack up a picnic to enjoy while you wait. In both of these areas, there are also some fantastic walking trails and sweeping views of the coastline to take in. A great way to spend the day for the whole family.

A Large Body Of Water

5. Go Beach-Hopping

When people think about the best Gold Coast beaches, Surfers Paradise always comes out on top. It really is the poster child for the area. However, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches. Especially when you consider the coast is made up of over 56 km of unspoiled, pristine beaches.

Whether you're more into surfing or prefer something more suitable for the kids, there is definitely a Gold Coast beach perfect for you. Here are some of the best nearby beaches to explore:

  • Tallebudgera Creek
  • Main Beach
  • Broadbeach
  • Mermaid Beach
  • Nobby Beach
  • Burleigh Heads
  • Currumbin
  • Rainbow Bay
  • Coolangatta Beach

When having a beachside holiday, hitting the beaches is one of the best free, fun-filled ways to spend your days. With so many options available, you can literally spend every day of your vacation on a different beach, helping you keep each day fresh and unique.

A Group Of People Swimming In A Body Of Water

6. Glow Worm Extravaganza

Make your way into the Gondwana Rainforests for a truly spectacular experience the whole family will love. In the Western quarter of Springbrook National Park is the Natural Bridge. Here, you'll be greeted by cascading waterfalls, stunning rock formations and the 1km walking trail.

As you slowly descend into the Gondowa basin, you'll spot plenty of local wildlife. From koalas and tree frogs to sooty owls and green catbirds. The stars of the park are the magical glow worms and glowing fungi.

The best way to safely see the forest light up at night is as part of a guided nocturnal tour. You'll be taken into Cave Creek, which takes on a whole new look and feel at night. The forest comes alive with the sound of crickets and frogs while glowworms and luminous fungi put on their very own natural light show.

A Group Of Palm Trees Next To A Tree

7. Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens

Sometimes, the best way to spend a day is surrounded by manicured yet wild landscapes. At the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens, feed your senses with thousands of sweet-smelling blooms. Inside, you'll find a Native Butterfly Garden, a mangrove to mountain walk, and a gorgeous rose garden.

Kids will love the playground, which will keep them entertained for hours on end as they play under the shade of the trees. Make your way across the stepping-stones or pitch up by the lake and enjoy an Alfresco picnic with the whole family.

There are also plenty of awesome walking tracks perfect for all abilities and age levels. You'll also find barbecue facilities, picnic areas and shelters dotted around the gardens. Explore the best that nature has to offer and get ready to build some lasting memories in this little slice of heaven.

A Close Up Of A Flower

8. Pelican Feeding Fun

If you're looking for something fun and free to do near Surfers Paradise, feeding pelicans is an amazing experience. Make your way to the Ian Dipple Lagoon and hand-feed these mighty and majestic birds by hand.

Feeding times start every day at 1.30 pm, so make sure you arrive nice and early for your chance to join in. The lagoon is also a top spot for enjoying a swim or digging into a picnic under the sun. Plenty of open space gives the kids a chance to run free and burn off any excess energy.

You can also enjoy up to two hours of free parking here. Reaching the lagoon and pelicans from the hotel takes under 15 minutes by car, making it ideal for a last-minute day out.

A Pelican Standing Next To A Body Of Water

9. Southport Rockpools

Southport Rockpools are by far one of the best free things to do with kids on the Gold Coast. Think of it as an all-in-one destination that doesn't cost you a dollar. This aquatic entertainment complex is the perfect place for kids to run free and cool off from the heat of the day.

Everything from man-made waterfalls and creeks to exhilarating water jets and fountains is here to be enjoyed. There's also an amazing play park located at Broadwater Parkland, just a couple of minutes walk away. Bouncy pillows, climbing zones, a flying fox and much more are a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

You'll definitely want to pack up some snacks and drinks when heading here. It's also a good idea to take plenty of sunscreen with you too. Forget about expensive water parks when you have something equally as awesome the kids will love, and best of all... for free.

A Group Of People On A Beach

10. Federation Walk Coastal Reserve

Federation Walk Coastal Reserve is one of the best places to enjoy an early morning or late afternoon bush walk. The main trail meanders it's way past areas of forest and macaranga groves. If you have little ones in tow, a mix of local wildlife and rolling sand dunes will keep them entertained.

There are literally hundreds of species of bird to be found here. From colourful cockatoos, kingfishers and parrots to mesmerising owls, eagles and hawks, it's a bird lover's paradise. Make sure you take your phone to get plenty of those all-important holiday snaps.

Running alongside the coastal reserve is a large, pristine beach perfect for cooling off from the heat of the day. Take a bucket and spade and let the kids spend the afternoon building castles and forts. It's also another great place to enjoy a picnic and make the most of the free and natural beauty of the area.

A Close Up Of A Bird

11. Gold Coast City Art Gallery (HOTA)

For something a little bit more relaxed and detached from the hustle and bustle of the world outside, the Gold Coast City Art Gallery (HOTA) is a great choice. It's a fantastic place for adults and kids alike, with plenty of fun and interesting things to see and do.

Inside the gallery, you'll find plenty of inspirational kid-friendly activities and exhibitions that let them explore their creative side. For adults, a world of local and international art designed to provoke the mind is waiting. Both historical and contemporary displays highlight the evolution of Australia in unique and creative ways.

Throughout the year there are plenty of events held here. You can also enjoy the Riverside Evandale sculpture walk, which places artistic sculptures against a backdrop of the City skyline. Entry is free, and it's an experience that's both educational and entertaining.

12. Gold Coast Beaches

The Gold Coast is renowned for its stunning beaches, and choosing the best of the best can be tough. Each beach has its own unique charm and attractions, ensuring there's something for everyone to enjoy. So grab your towel, sunscreen, and a sense of adventure, and discover the beauty of the Gold Coast's world-class beaches. Here are some of the top beaches that consistently rank among visitors' favourites that are well worth a visit:

  • Surfers Paradise Beach: As one of the most iconic and popular beaches on the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise Beach offers a vibrant atmosphere, pristine sands, and a bustling esplanade lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.
  • Burleigh Heads Beach: Located in the picturesque suburb of Burleigh Heads, this beach is known for its natural beauty, with lush headlands, crystal-clear waters, and a relaxed atmosphere. It's ideal for swimming, surfing, or simply enjoying a peaceful stroll along the shoreline.
  • Coolangatta Beach: Situated at the southern end of the Gold Coast, Coolangatta Beach is a picturesque spot that offers a more laid-back and family-friendly atmosphere. It's known for its fantastic surfing conditions, pristine sands, and stunning views of the coastline.
  • Main Beach: Just north of Surfers Paradise, Main Beach is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. It boasts a beautiful stretch of sand, calm waters suitable for swimming, and a scenic backdrop of high-rise buildings.
  • Rainbow Bay: Nestled between Snapper Rocks and Greenmount Beach, Rainbow Bay is a hidden gem known for its natural beauty and superb surfing conditions. It's a quieter and more peaceful beach, offering breathtaking views and a tranquil atmosphere.
  • Currumbin Beach: Located near Currumbin Creek, this beach offers a mix of natural beauty and recreational activities. It's perfect for swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and picnicking in the adjacent parklands. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the famous Currumbin Alley, known for its great surf breaks.
  • Palm Beach: Situated between Tallebudgera Creek and Currumbin Creek, Palm Beach is a picturesque beach destination with a relaxed vibe. It's an excellent spot for swimming, fishing, and picnicking, with lovely parklands and a scenic walking track.

13. Gold Coast Nature

These natural attractions on the Gold Coast offer a delightful contrast to the bustling city and provide ample opportunities to connect with nature, unwind, and appreciate the region's stunning landscapes. Whether you're exploring ancient rainforests, encountering native wildlife, or enjoying the pristine beaches and waterways, the Gold Coast's natural beauty is sure to leave you inspired and rejuvenated. Here are some highlights that showcase the region's natural wonders:

  • Gold Coast Hinterland: Just a short drive from the coast, the Gold Coast Hinterland is a lush, mountainous region filled with ancient rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking vistas. Explore Lamington National Park, which is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, and discover its diverse flora and fauna, challenging hiking trails, and stunning lookouts like the famous Natural Bridge.
  • Springbrook National Park: Located within the Gold Coast Hinterland, Springbrook National Park is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. Its lush rainforest offers captivating walking trails, including the renowned Natural Bridge circuit, where you can witness the mesmerising glow worms at night. Purling Brook Falls and Twin Falls are also popular attractions within the park, offering stunning views and refreshing swimming spots.
  • Burleigh Head National Park: Situated on the headland between Burleigh Heads and Tallebudgera Creek, this national park showcases the region's rugged coastal beauty. Take a leisurely walk along the scenic Ocean View Track, which offers panoramic views of the coastline and opportunities for wildlife spotting. Keep an eye out for dolphins, sea turtles, and even migrating whales during the whale-watching season.
  • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary: As one of the Gold Coast's most beloved attractions, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary allows visitors to immerse themselves in Australia's unique wildlife. Explore the sanctuary's lush grounds and encounter kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles, and various bird species. Don't miss the opportunity to witness the daily Lorikeet Feeding, where hundreds of colourful lorikeets gather for a feeding frenzy.
  • Broadwater Parklands: Located along the Broadwater in Southport, the Broadwater Parklands is a waterfront oasis perfect for outdoor activities and relaxation. Enjoy a picnic by the calm waters, go for a swim in the lagoon, or explore the walking and cycling paths that wind through the parklands. The Rockpools water playground is a hit among families, providing a fun and safe water play area for children.

14. Gold Coast Street Markets

Nestled along the iconic Surfers Paradise Beach, the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets offer a vibrant and bustling atmosphere that captures the essence of the Gold Coast. Every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evening, this open-air market comes alive, showcasing a wide array of unique arts, crafts, fashion, and delectable local treats. As you stroll along the beachfront promenade, you'll be greeted by a sea of colourful stalls, each offering a treasure trove of handmade jewellery, artwork, clothing, homewares, and souvenirs.

Live entertainment adds to the festive atmosphere, providing a backdrop of music and performances that further enliven the market experience. The Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets are not just a shopping destination; they're an immersive cultural experience that showcases the creativity and diversity of the Gold Coast. Whether you're searching for unique treasures, enjoying the lively ambience, or simply taking in the beauty of the beachside setting, a visit to these markets is a must-do for locals and tourists alike.

Other Notable Places of Interest

  • Visit Macintosh Island Park
  • Make your way around Cavill Mall
  • Explore the Esplanade at night
  • See Peacocks at Les Rodgers Memorial Park
  • Catch live entertainment at Cavill Avenue

Gold Coast Accommodation Made for Getaways

A Tall Building In A City

At voco® Gold Coast our stylish and modern accommodation are perfect for amazing family holidays and beach escapes. Our rooms and suites fit everybody's needs, with everything you need for a comfortable and relaxing stay in Surfers Paradise. Sun, sand and the buzzing atmosphere of Surfers Paradise are raring to go. Are you?

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voco® Gold Coast

31 Hamilton Avenue Surfers ParadiseGold Coast QLD 4217, Australia
+61 7 5588

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This hotel is owned by Salter Brothers (Surfers Paradise) Hotel Pty Ltd and operated by InterContinental Hotels Group.