A Guide to Australia's Gold Coast

October 22, 2019

Most people, when traveling to Australia for the first time, tend to design their trips to revolve around one of two cities: Sydney or Melbourne.

This is perfectly understandable, as these are far and away the two most famous cities in the country. Sydney is a place we've all been introduced to in numerous ways throughout our lives, whether that means memories of watching the 2000 Olympic Games, annual news feeds to the first fireworks of the New Year, or even fondness for the beloved animated film Finding Nemo, which involves Sydney's famous harbour. And if it's none of those things, we at least all recognize said harbour for its above-water attractions - most notably the iconic opera house.

As for Melbourne, it's a city that draws attention purely as a pretty, fun-loving destination, as well as one that caters to international sporting interests. People around the world tune in to watch the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne each January; likewise, the Australian Grand Prix draws the eyes of international Formula 1 fans. And there are entire online betting markets devoted to the Melbourne Cup, which is one of the most prestigious horse racing events on the planet. It's mostly aimed at thrilling Australians, but more than most horse races, it too draws attention from abroad.

As much attention as these two cities attract though, for all of those reasons and more, it's a shame to think of Australia as consisting only of a few major destinations. And one more place we wouldn't want anyone to overlook is the town of Gold Coast. Located on Queensland's southeast corner, just south of Brisbane, it's a place where there are endless things for travelers to enjoy, from amusement parks to white-sand beaches. In fact, when you really start digging into it, the breadth of activity in Gold Coast is almost daunting - and every bit the equal of Sydney or Melbourne.

Here's our rundown on some of the very best things to do in the area.
Parks & Attractions
One of the things the Gold Coast is best known for is its collection of theme and amusement parks. If you like the water, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild should be some of your first stops. You can learn a great deal about Australian marine life at Sea World, and then become a water creature yourself at Wet'n'Wild, spending an afternoon on water slides and in wave pools.

If you consider yourself to be a big fan of the movies, Warner Bros Movie World is another necessary stop - a great place to see exhibits on the movies you loved as a kid, and even interact with your favorite characters.

Lastly, Dream World is the best place to go to get your adrenaline pumping. The roller coasters here are not for people afraid of heights, high speeds, and flipping upside down, so be sure to read about all the rides before you hop in a lengthy line. But even if you don't go for the big rides, there are plenty of tame, family-friendly activities around the park as well.
The Beaches
We would of course be remiss not to mention the attractions that give the Gold Coast its name in the first place: the stunning beaches. The beaches here are some of the most beautiful in all of Australia, which is saying something. They're also incredibly convenient - close enough to the city to make them unique, yet so serene you'd have no idea a big city is behind you while you stare out at the ocean.

One of our favorites is Burleigh Beach, regarded as Queensland's answer to Bondi (a world-famous beach in Sydney). It's an incredible place just to hang out, though even if you've never attempted to surf before, you absolutely must give it a go while you're there, as it's almost like a rite of passage on the Gold Coast.

Meanwhile, if you really love being in the water but you don't take to surfing, there are plenty of other sports to try, like stand-up paddle boarding or jet skiing.
Our last recommendation for what to do in Gold Coast is to let yourself indulge in a little shopping. There are plenty of places to shop around the area, whether you're looking for your a great mall experience or would prefer smaller, local markets. Gold Coast is home to the largest outlet mall in all of Australia, Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Center, so if you want to look for your usual brands at steep discounts, be sure to seek it out. For those looking to get a more unique taste of Gold Coast, however, we'd recommend the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets, where you'll find heaps of handmade products, live entertainment, and of course, more stunning views of the ocean.

At this point we imagine you are pretty sold on the Gold Coast as a travel priority. Throw in plenty of great bars and restaurants and smaller crowds than you'll see in Melbourne or Sydney, and it's about as good as it gets. So safe travels!

*contributed post*

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