While you’re probably more familiar with Burleigh’s seedier, more popular cousin, Surfers Paradise, Burleigh Heads has been a popular weekend destination for locals in the know for a very long time. With a well-established foodie scene, prime location for both beach hopping and bushwalking, and shopping galore, Burleigh pretty much has something for everyone when it comes to a weekend escape. And it’s all only an hour and a half away from sunny ol’ Brisbane.
Pack the car, gather the squad, and let us be your guide to all the hidden goodies Burleigh has to offer with this handy-dandy list of must-sees (and tastes) to include on your trip.
Here are 14 reasons you need to visit Burleigh this weekend:
With killer views over the southern end of Burleigh Beach, The Fishhouse is the perfect place to dine with someone special or just to celebrate being privileged enough to gorge yourself on the freshest seafood you ever did see. Menu highlights include Patagonian Toothfish (yes that’s a thing and you can eat it), Moreton Bay Bugs with tagliolini, and coconut pannacota with mango, blueberries, and honeycomb. Our stomachs are growling just thinking about those sweet, sweet eats. No, you’re drooling.
With a carefully-curated Asian fusion menu of contemporary dishes from Vietnam, Thailand and further afield, this Burleigh Beach waterfront favourite not only offers lust-worthy views across the table but some of the most delish dishes we’ve tucked our knife and fork into. Hot tip? Rick Shores’ outdoor walk-in patio seats are all-time for a vino or frosty beer with a view, plus that golden hour around sunset is extra magical, so plan your night accordingly.
The Little Plate
This hole-in-the-wall tapas style restaurant is located a little bit away from the main action in Burleigh but it is more than worth the trip. Inspired by the many flavours of the world, the Little Plate offers share plates that will take your tastebuds from the bustling streets of Taiwan to the incense-filled markets of Persia to the indulgent restaurants of Italy – all without leaving stunning Burleigh. Our favourites? The Karaage chicken popcorn with sriracha mayo always packs a punch, while the Persian lamb with hummus and pomegranate will leave you lining up to order more. The Little Plate definitely deserves a spot in your Instagram Hall of Fame.
Govinda’s Pure Vegetarian
If luxury dining’s not really your thing, why not give local favourite Govinda’s Pure Vegetarian a try? Bringing homemade Indian cooking to an Aussie audience at a price you simply can’t walk past ($9 for a generous slice of homemade vegetarian lasagne, this is not a drill people), Govinda’s is a popular local haunt for a very good reason. Don’t forget to grab a few kofta balls and some mouth-watering potato bake before heading over to the beach for a truly authentic Burleigh experience. Psh, who needs fish and chips anyway.
The Paddock Bakery
You guys, if you’ve never been to The Paddock Bakery, you’re just not living. Specialising in Aussie cuisine with no vegemite in sight, The Paddock Bakery’s breakfasts are nigh on legendary. Toad in the Hole – two fried eggs cooked in the middle of a sourdough loaf with bacon, smashed avo and house chilli sambal – is a Paddock staple, and the Purple Toast is sure to have all your Instagram followers seeing green. Oh boy, don’t even get us started on their sweet treats, like their pineapple meringue tarts with caramelised pineapple. It’s a good thing Burleigh is so far away or we’d actually have to consider hitting the gym more often.
The Beautiful Beaches
A trip to Burleigh just wouldn’t be complete without a dip in the surf at Burleigh Beach or a long walk across the golden sand to stave off the post-brunch-coma. Sunrise at Burleigh Beach is a particular stunner and gives you an ample amount of time to eat your way around the headlands afterwards. Did someone say weekend plans sorted?
Ah, Palm Beach, the local favourite they really don’t want anyone else to know about. We’re talking turquoise water, foamy waves and sand so white you’ll feel bad walking on it, and all this without the droves of tourists that flock to the more popular Burleigh Beach over the weekend. Sorry Gold Coast locals, this gem doesn’t deserve to be kept a secret any longer. Everyone needs to be able to bask in its beauty – honestly, it would be a crime not to talk about it.
Tallebudgera Creek Beach
Popular with families and water sport enthusiasts, Tallebudgera Creek Beach is another less-populated secret beach only a short drive from Burleigh’s main strip. Tallebudgera itself is framed by the Burleigh Heads National Park on one side and Palm Beach on the other and is home to idyllic Tallebudgera Creek, which is the perfect spot for kayakers and picnickers. Basically, it’s about as close as you’re going to get to heaven and it’s only an hour’s drive from Brisbane. Sign us the heck up!
ALL Of The Shopping!
BIKINi & me
Anybody who’s ever packed their bags for the perfect beach getaway and promptly forgotten to include their swimmers please raise your hand. Yeah, we’ve all been there, which is where BIKINi & me comes in, offering swimsuits and fashion from Australian brands to suit every style. Stocked brands include Zimmerman, Tigerlily and Alice McCall so you know you’re going to look fly AF when you strut your stuff on the beach. Maybe forgetting your beachwear wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
Listen up all décor and interior design nerds, the Village Stores might actually be heaven on earth and we are so not sorry for introducing you to it. Offering everything from decorator items and furniture to lighting and rugs, Village Stores is either going to bring out massive envy in you for the people who get to access this stuff all the time or inspire you to up your house decorating game. Either way, you’ll walk away with a smile on your face and a credit card that would weep if it could. Don’t worry about it, that’s a problem for future you.
The Village Markets
Designed to celebrate the Gold Coast’s creative community, The Village Markets are definitely worth a look if you’re in the area. Described as a collaboration between the Gold Coast’s small businesses, designers, artists, creatives, foodies, musicians, culture seekers, and lovers of good vibes, The Village Markets pops up every first and third Sunday of the month at Burleigh Heads State School. Highlights include fashion by emerging and local designers, vintage clothing sourced from around the world, high quality pop-up shops, handcrafted furniture, unique art, and homewares. Oh and food trucks, because who doesn’t love a good food truck.
Activities To Get The Heart Racing
David Fleay Wildlife Park
While it’s not as touristy and big-budget as Australia Zoo or the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, David Fleay Wildlife Park is still an impressive reminder of how beautiful Australian flora and fauna can be. Dedicated to continuing the work of Dr. David Fleay, an Australian scientist who was dubbed Australia’s father of conservation, the park now serves as a mecca for scientists and locals who want to get up close and personal with their native fauna. Animals that call the park home include the greater bilby, the mahogany sugar glider, the platypus and the Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo, which is basically the cutest thing we’ve ever seen.
Jellurgal Walkabout Tour
Proudly hosted by guides from the Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Tours and Information Hub, the Jellurgal Walkabout Tour covers a two and a half hour track from Burleigh Cove to the Dreaming Mountain, Jellurgal. Guests on the tour are involved in an ancient smoking ceremony and ochre anointment before your guide leads you on a journey through the traditional sites used by the Yugambeh people. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the indigenous origins of Burleigh and how its original owners used to live, this tour is definitely not to be missed.
What do you get when you take a massive indoor trampoline park and combine it with reliving your childhood? Why Air Factory of course! Boasting a main area that is 33 metres long and 16 metres wide, Air Factory was literally made for an afternoon of tumbling fun with your squad. Just make sure you have let out that excess energy before you hit the foodie scene or things could go south real quickly. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
It’s an Aussie tradition and one you just can’t pass up while you’re in Burleigh. Grab your favourite people and head to the Burleigh Heads Bowls Club for a night of classic barefoot bowling with a sneaky bevvy in your other hand. Plus, this bowls club is only a hop, skip and a jump away from Burleigh’s main drag on James Street, so you could totally play a few rounds with your mates before heading out for the night's gastronomic feast. Why, that certainly does sound like a dream come true.
Need more travel inspiration to feed your wanderlust? Check out this list of the most beautiful camping spots in Brisbane.
Image credit: Hayley Williamson for The Urban List