Top 10 things to do in the Gold Coast
1. Eat like a local
One of the best places to find those hidden foodie gems, known only to locals, is with a food and wine tour. Professional guides, such as Gold Coast Food & Wine Tours, will introduce you to new, and not so new but still fabulous, eateries and bars in Surfers Paradise, Burleigh Heads and Broadbeach.
2. Have a whale of a time
If your visit coincides with the whale migration season - May to October - then spotting these majestic creatures is a must. Numerous cruise boat operators run whale watching tours just off the coast.
3. More watery fun
If cruising through the city's 400km of man-made canals - more than Venice and Amsterdam put together - with a cocktail in hand sounds more like your thing, then book a Wyndham Cruise which plies these mansion-flanked waterways.
4. Soar above
For a bird's eye view of the Gold Coast's blonde beaches, high-rises and the green hinterland, jump in a helicopter for a tour of the coast. If you prefer to feel the wind in your face while you soar above the city, a sunrise hot air balloon ride will provide you with unforgettable memories (and photos).
5. Have a flutter
Think Lady Luck is on your side? Have a go at The Star Gold Coast, formerly known as Jupiters Casino. There's also lots of other fun to be had at this refurbished complex - from six new restaurants to the Gold Coast's first six-star hotel.
6. Enjoy some time out from the kids
Sassy, energetic laughs abound at Dracula's Comedy Cabaret & Restaurant, Australia's longest running and most successful dinner theatre for adults. A ghost train will drop you off at a three-course dinner, before the top-notch singing, dancing, circus aerial acts and live music will make you laugh until your sides hurt.
7. Saddle up
You may not be in the outback but you can experience a taste of it at the Australian Outback Spectacular Show, which features true blue Aussie characters and some of the best horsemanship that side of the Tasman, as well as a delicious three-course dinner.
8. Flex the plastic
The Gold Coast is shopping nirvana with some of Australia's biggest and best shopping centres, including Pacific Fair and Robina Town Centre. Market-lovers are also well catered for, while bargain-hunters will hit the jackpot at Harbour Town's factory outlet stores.
9. Head for the hills
It's less than an hour's drive from the Gold Coast, but the hinterland is almost another world. Get out into nature with national parks, tropical rainforests, thundering waterfalls and amazing native bird-life, along with some of the region's best artisan food and wine producers. And when you're ready for some heart-racing action, head to the Canyon Flyer at the Tamborine Treetop Challenge.
10. Feel the sand beneath your toes
Whether you're a water baby or prefer to walk on the beach, the Gold Coast's 70km of stunning coastline has something for everyone. Highly recommended is the Gold Coast Oceanway walk which runs from Southport Spit to Point Danger at Coolangatta.