We’ve all heard the rumblings that one of Australia's long-established beachy tourist destinations is coming of age. But it’s the glittering pocket that first put the Gold Coast on the world tourist stage that’s truly thriving under the shake up.
If you prefer to put yourself in the thick of the action (yet are past the days of endless raucous nights crawling bar street), then we’ve curated the ideal long weekend escape for the food-lover in all of us.
Yep, the Gold Coast’s ever-buzzing Surfers Paradise has grown up, and these are the best foodie finds worth hunting down, all within walking distance. Go on, book that Friday rostered day off and make it a three-day break. You know you deserve it.
1PM Craft Beers, Poke Bowls & Salty Vibes At Sandbar
Quickest way to slip into the holiday groove? With craft beers at lunchtime and melt-in-your-mouth poke bowls brimming with fresh local catch! A short stroll from the tourist trail, Sandbar is a towel-flick from the beach; and with 100-plus craft brews to choose from (including much-loved local faves Balter, Black Hops and Burleigh Brewing on tap), you’ll feel the rat race-induced stress melt away instantaneously.
3pm Get Your Bearings From The Clouds—Literally
It’s one of the tallest residential towers in the world, which not surprisingly makes for some ridiculously fine views. Open all day, erryday, SkyPoint Observation Deck is situated on level 77 of the Q1 Building. Head up the elevator for uninterrupted vistas of the Pacific Ocean and the vast Gold Coast Hinterland to the west (which is overflowing with nature walks and waterfalls BTW, if you’re up for a half day exploration). Grab a cheeky mid-afternoon vino and cheese tower, while you get your bearings for the beaches and suburbs that form this sprawling coastline. Just don’t forget your camera!
6PM Rooftop Hangs & Sunset Cocktails At The Island
A symbol for the changing face of Surfers Paradise, in 2017 this dated backpacker underwent a staggering renovation at the hands of an experienced hospitality family. Today, The Island sits proudly at the beating heart of Surfers Paradise, where you’ll wanna start your long weekend with cocktails on the expansive rooftop, served with a side of salty sea breezes. As the sun dips, sashay downstairs for a contemporary Italian menu in The Island’s bistro with wood-fired pizzas and generous local cuts of beef.
9AM Get Caffeinated At Paradox Coffee Roasters
We encourage you to find your way to The 4217 precinct early on in your visit. Home to a handful of tasty operators (Nutella waffles at Tella Balls, anyone?), there’s a high probability you’ll be planning a return visit. Start with industrial vibes at Paradox Coffee Roasters and their in-house roasted coffee blend, followed by hearty brekkie feeds from a hot salmon smoked salad to pork belly eggs benny—if you’re still feeling the effects of last night’s cocktails.
1PM Cruiser Bike Ride The Beach Esplanade
Did you know the Gold Coast has a staggering 57 kilometres of coastline, intersected only by a few tree-covered headlands and crystal blue estuaries? Well, you do now. It also makes for perfect cruiser bike riding territory—past squeaky soft beaches and azure crashing waves. Pick up a beach cruiser at Bike Hire Gold Coast or Happy Hire (or perhaps try new bikeshare operator Mobike), and choose your route north to Main Beach and The Spit, or loop down to Broadbeach and back, stopping at cafes and surf clubs along the way for smoothies and acai bowls. Just leave enough juice in the tank to turn around and pedal back.
6PM Devour Nek-Level Japanese Eats & Whisky Cocktails At Yamagen
After all that adventuring, you’ll be pretty hungry. So, head to our pick of one of the absolute best restaurants in Surfers Paradise. The new-look Yamagen is a funky izakaya with Japanese whisky cocktails and beautifully presented dishes that are seriously nek-level and will leave your foodie friends at home green with envy when your brag shots hit the ‘gram.
8:30PM Nightcaps At Stingray Lounge
It’s the weekend, and you’re already warmed up from fine whisky cocktails. Good thing it’s a short strut next door to QT Gold Coast’s Stingray Lounge! With 50 tequilas lining the back bar and a healthy mix of both locals and tourists, this may be the end of your night, or just the beginning. You choose.
9AM Morning Pick-Me-Ups & Beach Hangs
If getting caffeinated is a high priority, grab a takeaway from Sandbar on the beachfront. Walk across the road for a barefoot stroll along the water’s edge to maximise that holiday vitamin D intake. Or, throw a towel down and stay a while. We would.
2PM Carb Load With Pizza & Pasta-Making Classes At Salt Meats Cheese
From the Italian owners to the Italian staff, Salt Meats Cheese is about as authentic as you can get. Located in The 4217 precinct, Sunday afternoons alternate between pizza and pasta making masterclasses where, under careful tutelage from one of their cheery chefs, you’ll learn how to mix, roll, throw and stretch your dough; sprinkle the perfect mix of ingredients and the careful science of pizza placement in the wood-fired oven. Just wanna let someone else do all the work? Order a charcuterie tower with ‘the lot’ or spaghetti beef and pork meatballs, washed down with an ice cold Aperol Spritz. Because, holidays.
7PM: Seafood Feasts & Dreamy Ocean Vistas At Seascape
Got a weakness for seafood? Beeline to the esplanade where you’ll find Seascape Restaurant & Bar. Sprawling over three levels, nabbing a prime possie with uninterrupted Pacific Ocean vistas won’t be too difficult. Go casual with a generous seafood platter in the bistro, or frock up for a divine seafood spread starting with fresh cuts of sashimi, seared Alaskan scallops with truffled white bean puree, to swoon-worthy Pernod Bouillabaisse bursting with mussels, prawns and Moreton Bay bugs. When in Queensland, right?
Located in the thick and curlies of Surfers Paradise, The Island is a magnetic new addition to the glitter strip, and one of our absolute faves if you’re on the hunt for a long weekend stay that’s outside of the ordinary. Recently undergoing a bangin’ renovation, today this iconic piece of the city’s history oozes retro holiday vibes with Insta-brag opportunities around every corner. From the boutique rooms to the rooftop cocktail bar, breezy Italian bistro and funky poolside garden terrace—there’s a lot to love about The Island.
QT Gold Coast
Surfers Paradise’s QT Gold Coast is a fine example of hotels going all new age to entice the emerging savvy holidaymaker. If you already know and love the brand (you can find QT in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Queenstown and North Queensland), you’ll know to expect a whole swag of character and playfulness wrapped up in a vibrant 60s Pop Art design. After a long weekend with QT Gold Coast you’re unlikely to go back to a boring hotel brand again. More than just a place to lay your head, QT Gold Coast is home to the Coast’s best buffet (AKA Bazaar Interactive Marketplace, serving all-you-can-eat breakfast, dinner and Sunday brunch), plus the all-new Yamagen Izakaya and always buzzing Stingray Lounge.
To keep planning your epic always-summer getaway, click here.
Editor’s note: This article is proudly sponsored by Destination Gold Coast and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.