Local Escapes

50 Free (Or Cheap) Things To Do On The Gold Coast

By Brooke Darling - 13 Mar 2018

free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
things to do on the gold coast
things to do on the gold coast this march
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
things to do on the gold coast
things to do on the gold coast this march
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast
free things to do on the gold coast

What a pain! You’ve got 20 bucks burning a hole in your pocket and you don’t know how to spend it. Said no one, ever. After all, money doesn’t grow on trees, at least not on the Gold Coast, so the more fun you can have for less, the better!

With that in mind, we’ve foraged together 50 awesome things to do on the Gold Coast that are fun, sometimes tasty and maybe even free!

  1. Soon you can order an espresso martini with a side of golf! One of the best new things to on the Gold Coast on the cheap, Holey Moley is where cocktails and bar snacks collide with crazy putt putt golf and good times galore. Located in Surfers Paradise, nine holes here will set you back $15, just bring extra cash for beers and burgs. 
  2. One of our all-time fave things to do on the Gold Coast when you're on a budget? Snag one of the best seats in the house for drinks and a mid-week $10 lunch special at the characterful Rainbow Bay Surf Club. Knock back the cheapest pot of Balter in town, with views over the same surf break where the legendary shark-punching world champ Mick Fanning, and his mates, got their water wings.
  3. Sofar Sounds is a global phenomenon originating in London way back in 2009 and celebrates the intimacy of music. Intriguingly set at a private space somewhere on the Gold Coast, these secret pop-up events happen each month, with BYO bevvies, a team of passionate volunteers and swag of talented local musos. Register your attendance and have locations sent to your inbox the day before each event.  
  4. Get your hands dirty with you-pick veggies and fresh produce from these fertile farms in the region. It’s one of the best things to do on the Gold Coast and will cost you next to nada. Did someone say sunflower selfies?! 
  5. Nothing exemplifies the Gold Coast’s bohemian slash surf culture and the creativity of our talented populace than a Sunday morning stroll around Burleigh’s beloved The Village Markets (8:30am to 1pm, first and third Sunday of the month). It’s free to wander and enjoy the live tunes, but be warned, you’ll wanna buy one of everything! Though if your wallet is tight, all is not lost. At the first market of each month, the TVM rack sale includes dozens of pre-loved stalls and literally hundreds of new-to-you outfits to ponder. 
  6. Speaking of markets, Gold Coast is home to a ridic selection, and is without question one of the best things to do on the Gold Coast if you’re on a budget. For cheap street eats, vintage finds, free live entertainment and all those feel-good community vibes, start with this list of some of the city’s best markets.  
  7. Clear every Tuesday for the remainder of the season and hit all the Coast’s best Taco Tuesdays, starting with $5 morsels and hand-pressed tortillas at Fire Cue. Hola! 
  8. Love beer? Of course you do! You don’t need a fat wallet to explore Gold Coast’s burgeoning craft beer scene. Soak up the brewhouse atmosphere and order a tipple from each brewery—starting with Balter, before moving north to Burleigh Brewing, Black Hops and Miami newbie, Lost Palms. Fridays and Sundays are your best bet if you want to hit them all. #handsupnotdriving
  9. Shoot the shit with the bar flies at Gold Coast’s most characterful old school pubs
  10. Skip boot camp and hike to the base of Purling Brook Falls in the always-lush Springbrook National Park. Don’t forget to tag your #purlingbrook pics on Insta, or we’ll totally know it never happened.
  11. Tackled Purling Brook? Lace up your sneakers and explore any of these incredible national parks in our immediate backyard.  
  12. While you’re at it, these stellar local bush walks will get you amongst nature—‘cause the best things in life are freeeee, baby. 
  13. Warm up with a steamy pot of herbal tea (with lemon, mint and ginger plucked fresh from the garden) at Currumbin Valley Harvest, open every weekend. Or climb Tomewin Range for coffee and homemade cake with killer views at Freeman’s Organic Farm. It’s one of our fave cheap things to do on the Gold Coast if you’re on a budget. 
  14. Go to the beach! With literally dozens of sandy spots the entire length of the city, what better way to spend a cash-free day than with a good book and a beach towel? It’s one of the best free things to do on the Gold Coast and that year-round weather, well, she’s (almost always) beaut’! We've rounded up some of our fave beaches here
  15. Bank account looking dismal until payday? Eat your way through this long list of best cheap eats on the Gold Coast. You can thank us later. 
  16. If you’ve got energy to burn, one of the best year round free things to do the Gold Coast, is challenge yourself to a Mount Warning hike. Be blown away by the stunning scenery and clear vistas that await at the top of this sacred mountain. Want more? Check out these awesome mountain hikes around the Gold Coast
  17. If you love dining out, but don’t have wads of cash to splash, one the local’s favourite things to do on the Gold Coast is weekend brunch. There are endless choices, so hit our list of best cafes for breakfast and find something delicious near you. 
  18. Take a run or power walk around the headland pathway from Burleigh Heads to Tallebudgera Creek. It won’t cost you a cent, plus you get to workout with some pretty incredible views. A local’s top pick among the best free things to do on the Gold Coast? You betcha. 
  19. Wanna know where the cool local creatives and dreamers hangout? Arthaus Projects warehouse in Mermaid Beach is always hosting grassroots pop-up music events, art exhibits, suitcase rummage sales and movie nights. Keep an eye on their Facebook page here
  20. If you’ve got kidlets or out-of-town visitors in tow, one of the cutest things to do the Gold Coast is grab a dish (by gold coin donation) and feed the wild lorikeets at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Happening daily at 8am and 4pm. 
  21. How many times have you stopped to ponder how bloody blessed we are to live on the edge of 50-plus kilometres of jaw-dropping beaches and, just 30-minutes inland, towering ranges bursting with ancient rainforests, waterfalls and wildlife? Life is good, eh? Consider this your guide to exploring Mount Tamborine and the surrounding hinterland. 
  22. Join a Deep Peace Meditation class at the Australian School of Meditation’s community classes in Mermaid Beach, Southport, Nerang and Labrador. Did we forget to mention that it’s FREE?! #Zen 
  23. Water activities? On the Gold Coast? You know it! With boards hired from Currumbin Creek’s Boatshed for just $15 for the hour, SUP’ing is the perfect activity for your tourist pals. Whether you’re a pro or newly learning, it’s a sure-fire way to create some serious deep-belly chuckles. Or check out these top spots to SUP around the Coast.   
  24. Nothing beats a cheap and flaky pastry for brekkie or lunch from one of the best bakeries on the Gold Coast. We’ve got you covered with our faves here
  25. Get wet in Currumbin Valley’s Cougal Cascades. This little slice of paradise is hidden among some lush south east Queensland greenery and is the perfect place to chill out and swim without being attacked by a vicious wave.
  26. Want more free (or almost free) fitness classes? Gold Coast City Council’s Active and Healthy initiative is one of the country’s most extensive programs for residents and visitors. From boot camps to Tai Chi and Xtend Barre, yep, our surf city is blessed! 
  27. Throw a sickie and spend a weekday trawling the best op shops on the Gold Coast. Wanna dress like the locals? Go vintage and you’ll be safe. 
  28. Chase waterfalls, folks! Don’t listen to TLC; getting lost surrounded by nature is the best medicine, always. Also, it’s the perfect backdrop for your next profile picture. Check out our favourite waterfalls around the area and beyond. 
  29. Dance like nobody is watching, while you shimmy and sway your way into that bikini, with these adult dance classes to get you groovin’. From swing to Beyonce, it’s all here. 
  30. Head to Brunswick Heads for a daytrip. Think: hippie-loving markets, cafe hopping, and crystalline saltwater creeks to float around in (that look just like the Caribbean, well, close enough). 
  31. Burleigh Hill is the greatest picnic spot on the Gold Coast and our absolute weekend arvo go-to when guests are in town. Unless you hate crowds and looking for a place to park, in which case it could be the worst. But, for most of us, the sweeping views from Burleigh Hill up to the glitter strip and the ‘always Sunday’ mood make it well worth the effort.
  32. While you’re there, you’ll wanna show off your cheese board game. Here’s our 101 guide to making your friends jelly of your new found skills. 
  33. While we pile on the layers in autumn and winter, others are flocking to the warmer Queensland waters in droves. Yep, May to November is whale migration season and you can gawk at these wondrous creatures as they frolic and splash their way north. Our top picks for a free nature show? Burleigh Hill, Point Danger, The Spit and Miami Lookout.
  34. When it comes to food trucks, Gold Coast’s obsession can squarely compete with our capital city cousins. There seems to be a food truck round-up somewhere most weekends, or hunt down some of our faves wherever they hang out: The Weiner Haus, Zicatela, Little Wahaca, Barraca and JR’s Smokehouse.
  35. Scoop up your date or family and head to Yatala drive-in. Here, two tickets will set you back just $15 each (or $20 for a double viewing) and leave plenty of coin for choc-top ice cream cones. Good ol’ fashioned fun.
  36. Head out for a sunset bike ride from Main Beach to Burleigh (or vice versa). While everyone else is stuck in traffic racing home from the office, there’s nothing better than winding down with a cruisy pedal along the bike-friendly foreshore. You’ll work those buns and be in awe of the gorgeous sunset.
  37. Flick off the thongs for a pair of Nikes and pound the pavement between Kirra and Froggies Beach, or any of these pretty walks. Stunning views and increased heart rate come complimentary. 
  38. Grab a swag of blankets, your cuddliest buddies, a phone with some fab playlists, dips, crackers and your mad cheese board skills, then set up a picnic with your friends. Any of these awesome picnic spots will do just fine. 
  39. Dine at one of the best BYO restaurants on the Gold Coast and you’ll easily come out on top. Leaving more cashola for #allofthecocktails. 
  40. We can’t get enough of Miami Marketta, one of the best cheap things to do on the Gold Coast. Happening every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night, a meager $8 to $15 will score you a delicious international street eats plate—though good luck deciding! This leaves room in the budget to sink tipples from Marketta’s jam-packed wine and cocktail bar well into the evening while grooving to FREE house DJ beats or live bands.  
  41. Taking the G:Link from Broadbeach to Helensvale is one of the best things to do on the Gold Coast if you’ve got a day to explore new ‘burbs. For only $3.20, this travel option can’t be beaten on price value when getting to know our pretty city from the rails. Or light rail pub crawl, perhaps?
  42. Is your skin cracking from the weather and your comfort food diet causing a break out? Treat yourself to a mid-season facial with one of the Gold Coast’s best day spas. It may not be a penny pincher’s first choice but, then again, you can’t put a price tag on your skin. 
  43. Check out the recently renovated Pacific Fair Shopping Centre (a shopaholics dream!) and cry in front of the Givenchy and Tiffany stores, then drown your feelings with Ben and Jerry ice cream. Cheap as chips!
  44. Ask any international visitor and they’ll attest we’re damn lucky to have free BBQs in almost every public park. Take advantage of cooking in the great outdoors, with these top BBQ spots with epic views
  45. Get stuffed with Salt Meats Cheese’s $25 all-you-can-eat pizza deal every Monday night. It’s one of the best feed-yourself feasts on the Gold Coast where you have total permission to pig out. 
  46. Book into Burleigh Heads Barefoot Bowls on Sundays (12pm to 5pm) for fun that even gramps can get into. $8 will cover all equipment, as you lounge around with the locals and lap up the savings you’ve made. Bookings essential. 
  47. Fifty bucks doesn’t go far at the cinemas these days, but at Harbour Town’s Reading Cinema all movies are just $9.50. Take the whole crew. 
  48. For sticky fingers and cold beer, head to Bine Craft Beer Bar for 50-cent wings and $5 craft beers every night between 4pm and 6pm. Hands down one of the best dinner deals in town. 
  49. Take a scenic drive to the wilderness of Springbrook National Park and get adventuring with a casual bush walk or intensive hike. One of the top free things to do on the Gold Coast is visit the aptly named Best of All Lookout and gaze over our sprawling hinterland views. 
  50. Go appreciate the wealth of artists that call the Gold Coast home. A trip to 19 Karen Artspace in Mermaid Beach, The Walls in Miami or Home of the Arts in Bundall is where you should start.   

On the hunt for more free things to do on the Gold Coast? Hunt down these hidden lookouts that we probably shouldn’t tell you about.

Image credit: Hayley Williamson and Brooke Darling for The Urban List 

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