From caffeine-loading and hinterland-hopping to rooftop-drinking and market-feasting, our sunny surf city is chock-full of things to do.
Whether you’re a foodie, creator or fashionista, a fitness feign, nature lover, or all of the above, we’ve rounded up 50 things to do on the Gold Coast before you kiss goodbye to 2016.
1. This year will go down in history as the biggest foodie revival our surf city has ever seen. And there’s plenty more where that came from! You’re going to wanna whip your to-dine list into shape before the year is out. Have you ticked off these newbies? Balboa, Fire Cue, Harry’s Steak Bistro, Backbone Bar, Sandbar, and Gold Coast’s first dedicated espresso martini bar.
2. Foodies, have your mind = blown with a weekend visit to Tweed hinterland gem, Portager at Carool. With its dreamy kitchen garden, this is farm to plate philosophy in every sense of the word.
3. Rather than lusting over the works of those talented creatives on Insta or at The Village Markets, why not learn a new skill for yourself? The Craft Parlour has a loaded calendar of workshops from macramé plant or wall hangers, to crocheting and ceramics, or perhaps your very own hand-crafted kimono!
4. Commandeer a designated driver, call an Uber, take a bus, do whatevs, just make plans to spend a night at Palm Beach. This humble pocket of the GC is laying foundations for a very exciting future. Right now, we are totally digging 8th Ave. Terrace and Bstow... and The Collective opening Boxing Day!
5. We freakin’ love a solid Gold Coast farmer’s market, but you can do one better and pick your own! Keen? Head for Freeman’s Organic Farm or Currumbin Valley Harvest; you’ll never look at your supermarket fruit and veggie aisle the same way.
6. When you’ve ticked off all the things to do on the Gold Coast, burst out of your neighbourhood bubble this summer, with these fab cafes and restaurants totally worth the road trip.
7. Did you know we’re blessed with one of the country’s most comprehensive council-run activities and fitness programs, many of which will cost you nada? Check out the loaded offerings here.
8. What the heck is floating? Stop wondering and try it for yourself, folks! We checked out Burleigh’s Freedom Float Centre and it was nek-level relaxation.
9. Work your way through our pick of the best burgers on the Gold Coast, the 2016 edit. Which one is most deserving of the crown? You decide.
10. Aim to be a better version of yourself when the clock strikes midnight on NYE 2016. Warehouse No.5’s inspiring roster of educational, motivational, and craft workshops is a damn good place to start.
11. Tight on cash? We feel ya! You can still do date nights regularly for the remainder of 2016, with the best cheap eats on the Gold Coast for every day of the week—your stomach and bank account will thank us.
12. Think you’ve dined everywhere there is to dine on the Gold Coast? What about these 10 fab underrated foodie gems, as voted by our readers.
13. Cruiser bike ride along the foreshore as far as your legs will carry you; stopping for coffee, eats, and bevvies at every neighbourhood along the way.
15. Balmy Gold Coast weather got you all hot under the collar? Take a jaunt up to the cooler air of Mount Tamborine. Grab a triple cream brie from Witches Chase Cheese deli and wash it down with a $20 beer tasting paddle from Fortitude Brewery next door.
16. Cheese and craft beer devoured, but want more mountaintop adventures? Here’s 19 spots in the Gold Coast Hinterland you need to check out, from swimming holes and waterfalls, to hikes, tea houses, fudge stores, and jaw-dropping views galore.
17. BYOP, that’s bring your own picnic! And make an afternoon adventure in the great outdoors with any of the Gold Coast’s best picnic spots.
19. Have a barbie at any of the public BBQ setups along the Coast’s foreshore and inlets. Seriously, this is THE place to watch the afternoon light disappear ‘cause the best things in life are freeee.
21. Gather your squad, tie up your runners, and track down these stunning hidden lookouts we probably shouldn’t tell you about.
22. Hire a party pontoon on the Broadwater. Dock on Wavebreak Island for a BBQ and beach cricket, ‘cause this untouched shrub-covered oasis may not stay untouched forever.
23. Try a different Gold Coast breakfast spot every weekend, starting with one of our absolute faves, Burleigh’s Canteen Kitchen.
24. Get out of town with one of these awesome day trips.
25. Find yourself a friendly designated driver and take a crawl of the Gold Coast’s shiny new craft beer bars: Black Hops, Burleigh Brewing, and Balter. Friday afternoons are you best bet if you want to hit all three. Without question one of our fave things to do on the Gold Coast.
26. Rally the squad and hit up the Coast’s hottest new Sunday session destination—Hideaway Kitchen and Bar in Broadbeach.
27. Study our handy guide to whip up the best cheeseboard spread of your life, then take advantage of Justin Lane’s super cute pedal-powered pizza delivery service— direct to your Burleigh Hill picnic blanket.
28. Track down these totally splashable waterfalls you can swim under. Hidden among some lush South East Queensland greenery, these are the perfect spots to chill out without being attacked by a vicious wave.
29. Sink a few frosty pots at the legendary Rainbow Bay SLSC; it’s one of the best things to do on the Gold Coast when friends are visiting from out of town… Or any one of these surf clubs with the best views.
31. Impress your mates by boosting your knowledge of your favourite brew with introduction to cupping classes at Paradox Coffee Roasters (free on Wednesday arvos from 5pm!).
32. Do something you’ve spoken about for ages and get that tattoo.
33. Skills in the kitchen no match for MKR? Before the year is out, grab a mate and book yourself into one of the Gold Coast’s best cooking classes.
34. Set yourself a foodie challenge of epic proportions, with these bucket list Gold Coast desserts you must try at least once.
35. Which brings us to our next point, you’ll be wanting this if you still plan to squeeze into a bikini this summer—our pick of the best free fitness activities on the Gold Coast.
36. If you’ve not checked yourself in for burgers and brews at Eddie’s Grub House in Coolangatta, we challenge you to make the trip before the year is out. Just tell them we sent you.
37. It’s the era where everyone is going cray cray for food trucks, and the Gold Coast is no exception. Hunt down all six of our fave new food trucks… especially Zicatela, who we are crushing on big time right now.
38. Make your way to Currumbin for a coffee and treats at Dust Temple; the eclectic reno is jaw-dropping and is sure to initiate an impromptu photo shoot. #nofilter
39. Didn’t manage a free show courtesy of Mother Nature as the humpback whales migrated north to birth their darling whale babies? Don’t miss your chance as they return home right through until November; any vantage point on a calm day with a clear view of the vast blue yonder will do the trick.
40. Surrender that you perhaps don’t know the local foodie scene as intimately as you like to think. Book an excursion with Gold Coast Food and Wine Tours and meet the chefs, producers, and mixologists behind some of the Coast’s faves restaurants and cafes.
41. Instead of a trip to Dan Murphy’s to stock up on vino for your next dinner party or Burleigh Hill Sunday sesh, take a roadie to the best wineries within spitting distance of the Gold Coast. #handsupnotdriving
42. Be a tourist for one night and take your bestie to iFLY indoor skydiving. Experience the wicked sensation of free fall without needing to jump out of a perfectly good plane. Don’t try to pretend you’re not intrigued…
43. Or, ditch the Gold Coast entirely and get your fill of Nasi Goreng and epic sunset bars with our bucket list guide to Bali.
44. Relive the good ol’ days of choc tops and flicks under the stars with a visit to the Yatala Drive-in Theatre.
45. Take a day trip to Cabarita’s Halcyon House and order glamorous cocktails by the pool.
46. You lot went kinda cray cray when we broke news the Gold Coast was getting its own cat cafe. Sahhhh… have you visited yet? Crazy Cat Cafe is now open in Surfers Paradise and is taking hour-long bookings for pussy lovers!
47. Taste test the sweet life of a millionaire with a swanky Friday arvo sunset cruise on the Broadwater with new operator, Crystal Blue Yacht Cruises.
48. Try your best to look coordinated while walking on water on magical Currumbin Estuary, or at any one of these epic stand-up paddle boarding spots.
49. Before the year is out, tie up your boots and work off all those cocktails, doughnut crawls, and burger feasts with a five-hour round trip hike to the summit of Mt Warning. Come on peeps, it’s one of the best things to do on the Gold Coast and now’s the time to finally tick it off your bucket list!
50. If your dining to-do list wasn’t already exploding (we’re sorry if it’s our fault…), you’re not gonna believe your eyes next time you visit Robina Town Centre. The Kitchens has delivered 55 new foodie vendors to the Coast; we’re stuffed just thinking about it.
Once you’ve tackled our epic list of things to do on the Gold Coast before the year is out, check yourself into a pamper treatment with one of the Coast’s best beauticians, as voted by you. You’ll need it.
Photo Credit: Brooke Darling for Metropolist