FREE stuff to doon the Gold Coast
In spite of being known as the ‘Glitter Strip’, the Gold Coast isn’t all money, money, money. There are plenty of fun things to do that won’t cost you a cent.
While the Gold Coast beaches are the obvious choice, you're not necessarily limited if you don't like the water (or sand for that matter). You can easily spend a day without getting your feet wet which will keep kids, teenagers and people of all ages and interests entertained.
We've put together a list of some of our favourite free things to do on the Gold Coast which are sure to provide an amazing experience. From the beach to the hinterland, beautiful parks, markets, shopping centres and music festivals, there's bound to be something you'll want to check out.
Visit a National Park in the Hinterland
There are plenty of bushwalking trails and clubs to help you navigate the terrain. Most of these trails lead to amazing look-outs that show off the Gold Coast's pretty skyline, beaches or hinterland.
For more information about national parks visit our page on the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Check out O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk
The first of it's kind in Australia, the walk is 180 metres in length, made of 9 suspension bridges, with most of the walkway hovering 15 metres above the ground. There are 2 observation decks along the way, the highest being 30 metres above the ground!
Check out O'Reilly's Tree Top Walk
Go Swimming at the Beach
The Gold Coast is home to some beautiful beaches that are always a holiday favourite, with Burleigh, Kurruwa, Mermaid Beach, Tallebudgera Creek, Burleigh Beach and Coolangatta the most popular for tourists. It's a safe, fun day for the whole family, and so long as you keep yourself between the red and yellow flags you'll be under the watchful eyes of the Gold Coast Lifeguards.
Read our beach guide for more information on beach safety. If you're worried about the waves, or the wildlife, there's a protected swimming enclosure in Southport, just opposite Australia Fair in Marine Parade.
Currumbin Rock Pools
Starting from the picnic area, a 1.6-kilometer trail winds through the Mount Cougal National Park, showcasing the natural beauty of Currumbin Valley. This walk offers a closer look at the valley's lush greenery, diverse wildlife, and the calming sounds of nature. It's a great way to stretch your legs, enjoy a leisurely stroll, and appreciate the tranquillity of the surroundings.
So, whether you're seeking a relaxed day by the water or an adventure exploring the natural wonders of the area, the Currumbin Rock Pools and the surrounding trails offer a perfect blend of relaxation and outdoor fun for everyone to enjoy.
Feel free to let the kids enjoy the playground equipment, engage in a game of ball, or simply unwind with a picnic or BBQ. Best of all, apart from the cost of bringing your own food and drinks, these recreational spots are entirely free!
Interested in specific playgrounds? Check out some of our favourite spots below like Broadwater Parklands, Kurrawa Park, and Cascade Gardens for memorable family outings. If you really want to impress your kids, take them to Laguna Park in Palm Beach - a huge adventure playground hosting a pirate ship.
Here's a list of some of the best Gold Coast Playgrounds:
- 945 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach
- Marine Parade, Southport
- Broadwater Parklands North, Southport
- Old Burleigh Road, Broadbeach
- 1505 Gold Coast Hwy, Palm Beach North
- 414 Coolangatta Road, Tugun 4224
- Adj 133 Murtha Drive, Elanora 4221
- Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin Valley 4223
- Opp 23a Yodelay Street, Varsity Lakes 4227
- 2 Omao Ave, Burleigh Waters QLD 4220
The 'Best of All Lookout' in Mudgeeraba is one of the top spots, but there are plenty of others to explore for great holiday pictures. At Canyon Lookout in Springbrook National Park, you can see two waterfalls and get a distant view of the Gold Coast's main area. In Burleigh Head National Park, a short walk takes you to a fantastic view of the beach from the top of the headland. There's also Lores Bonney Lookout a bit further up north.
You'll find fantastic views of the ocean from lookouts at Point Danger, Snapper Rocks, Currumbin Rocks, Kirra Hill Lookout, and many more spots all across the Gold Coast. These lookout points let you enjoy the beautiful Gold Coast scenery from different places. Each one has its own unique view, making sure you'll have lots of great memories and photos to take home.
Walk on the Beach at Sunrise, or After Dark
Experiencing the beauty of a sunrise or a moonlit walk on a beach with views is truly special. The soothing sound of the waves, the fresh sea breeze, and the vast ocean create a serene and picturesque setting. It's a chance to cherish nature's beauty, whether it's the beginning of a new day or the enchanting glow of the moon over the beach at night.
Beaches are generally safe for evening walks, especially when there are people around. Just use your common sense—avoid walking alone in deserted places late at night, particularly around 3 am. Stick to beaches where others are present from around 6 am to midnight, and you'll likely feel safe and secure.
Experiencing the beauty of a sunrise or a moonlit beach walk is truly special. The calming sound of the waves, the fresh sea breeze, and the wide-open ocean make it a serene and beautiful time. It's a chance to appreciate nature's beauty, whether it's the start of a new day or the enchanting glow of the moon at night
Art & Craft Markets
Find a market to satisfy your curiosity, including art and crafts markets, farmers markets and even car boot sales. You’ll discover all manner of unique gift ideas, innovative designs, locally made fashions and wonderful artworks. Browse for ideas or shop for a discount; the choice is yours.
Go to a Museum or Art Gallery
You’ll find exhibits of local art at the Robina Art Gallery in the Robina Community centre. The Gold Coast Sporting Hall of Fame showcases the region’s proud sporting history and greatest athletes. Just head down to Southport’s Owen Park on a Wednesday or Sunday.
Take a step back in time at the Gold Coast Historic Museum in Bundall, where you can learn all about the early settlers and see some of the first buildings in the area. There is even a replica of one of the first pioneering slab homes of the area, complete with memorabilia and pieces of machinery dating back to the 19th century. It’s open on the first Sunday of every month or by appointment.
Visit HOTA Gallery, the top art destination on the Gold Coast, for a completely free and book-free experience. Explore over 4000 artworks on display, and don't miss the dedicated children's gallery with a plethora of engaging activities for the little ones.
We've listed more art galleries here.
Events & Festivals
As you’ve probably gathered, the Gold Coast is big on culture and the arts. There are several free events and festivals throughout the year celebrating musicians, art, sports and even our multicultural society.
Blues on Broadbeach is held every year in May and nurtures Australian talent, bringing together the best blues and soul music from all over the country. There are multiple stages and shows creating a musical experience like no other while still remaining a non-ticketed event.
The Kirra Kite Festival is a celebration of kite culture, music, arts, food and street performance, usually in November of each year. Check the Kirra Kite Festival facebook pagefor current event details.
Every year Currumbin Beach becomes home to dozens of sculptures by local, national and international artists for the Swell Sculpture Festival. For the 10 days of the festival visitors can experience the sculptures for free on twilight walks and even talks from some of the artists.
The Bleach* Festival celebrates the art and culture of the Gold Coast’s beach lifestyle. The next festival will present three weekends of music, arts and culture at various locations up and down the Gold Coast.
The Gold Coast Multicultural Festival is held annually and is a great place to take the family for a day out, the entertainment is free however the interesting food and drink from all over the world is not - full details www.goldcoastmulticulturalfestival.org.
Enjoy the View on a Picnic
The Gold Coast can be such a beautifully scenic area, whether you’re on the coast or deep in the hinterland. There are sites by rock pools, lakes and tranquil bushland. For a picnic area to suit your tastes take a look at the long list of sites with BBQ facilities on Connecting Southern Gold Coast's guide to picnic areas throughout the southern end of the Coast.
For a proper Australian holiday lunch you can make the most of council maintained barbecue facilities. Many of the local beaches and Gold Coast parks have public BBQs that are free to use, with nearby picnic tables, restrooms and playground equipment. Fill an esky with drinks, fresh snags or steaks, some bread rolls and salad, and cook yourself up a storm.
Below is a list of some of the best parks on the Gold Coast eith BBQ facilities, but keep an eye out as there are plenty more throughout the local parks and reserves.
- Justins Park on the Burleigh Heads Esplanade
- Goodwin Park, Snapper Rocks, Coolangatta
- Currumbin Valley Rock Pool, Currumbin Creek Rd, Tallebudgera
- Laguna Park, 130 Laguna Ave, Palm Beach
- Harley Park, Marine Parade Labrador
- Esplanade North Park, The Esplanade, Paradise Point
- Cascade Gardens, 2730 Gold Coast Hwy, Broadbeach
- Kurrawa/Pratten Park, Old Burleigh Rd, Broadbeach
- Evandale Park, 135 Bundall Rd, Surfers Paradise ( Bundall)
- Springbrook Centenary Parklands, 3 Carricks Rd, Springbrook
Evandale Sculpture Walk
Located right on the Nerang River in the heart of the Gold Coast, the Evandale Sculpture Walk represents a wonderful collection of local and international sculptors. There are a number of sculptures on display that have been commissioned specifically for this cultural headquarters, while many others are on loan from artists and institutions.
You’ll find pieces by highly regarded international artists such as Phillip King, William Tucker and Kenneth Armitage, including Australian artists like Robert J Morriss and Stephen Newton.
All you need to do is visit the Arts Centre Gold Coast on Bundall Road for free access. From there it’s a tranquil walk among well maintained gardens, a purpose made salt water lake and 49 artistic displays.
Lahey's Canungra Tramway Tunnel
East of Canungra on Beaudesert/Nerang Rd is a tramway tunnel built in the days of the timber mills to transport timber from the surrounding area. During World War II it was even used as an ammunition dump. It has since been restored (the live ammunition is gone) and it’s open every day and the entry is free.
Due to heavy rains causing instability at the entrance and inside the tunnel, the tunnel has been closed, though the approach track is still open.
Visit the Canungra Information Centre on Lamington National Park Road for more details or phone: 07 5543 5156
Visit the Broadwater Parklands
Are kids driving you crazy? Take them down to the Broadwater Parklands to get all that crazy out in a day of fun and excitement.
There is a bouncy pillow, much like a jumping castle, open seven days a week for them to jump and tumble all over and the Rockpools, a water playground for children of all ages. Made with a coastal theme, a variety of pool areas and a creek bed to simulate coastal tides with the water filling and emptying on timers. But watch out for the pop jets that squirt water randomly through the play area. Either join them in their madness or stay in the BBQ area, relax on the green or fish off the pier.
There really is something for everyone! Find out more about Broadwater Parklands here.
Images courtesy Tourism & Events Queensland, Tourism Australia, Destination Gold Coast & Getty Images