A Perfect Weekend on the Gold Coast

Jimmy Russell, Staff Writer

Once evoking an excess of tacky, the Gold Coast of today has reinvented itself. The city that gave the world glorious gold-sand beaches and tourist clichés is now home to an out-of-this-world food scene, modern art galleries and world-class shopping.

You could spend endless days exploring the Gold Coast, but if you only have a weekend, we have you covered.

Saturday: Morning

Start your day right with a twice-baked sourdough almond croissant at ESPL Coffee Brewers in Surfers Paradise. Enjoy multimillion-dollar views as you sip on your daily fix just footsteps from the beach. On a hot day (and there are many of them here), the cold brew goes down a treat.

The sun-kissed beaches are unquestionably the best thing about the Gold Coast, so it’s only fair to tackle them first. You could be forgiven for thinking the Gold Coast is just one long stretch of sand, but once you get familiarised, you’ll realise each beach is different.

For the bathers and paddlers, there are the calm waters of Currumbin Creek, Surfers Paradise Beach, The Spit and Burleigh Beach. While surfers flock to the great point breaks at Kirra Beach, Rainbow Bay, Main Beach and Snapper Rocks. The Gold Coast is also home to year-round diving sites with the most diverse marine life in any Australian city. Head to Palm Beach Reef, Wave Break Island or South Wall to explore the underwater ridges and channels.

If you don’t feel like tackling the beach this morning, head to the Gold Coast’s dreamy new pottery workshop, POT studios. Here, everyone from beginners to skilled potters can create a handmade piece to take home and treasure forever.

Saturday: Afternoon

Next, enjoy lunch at Justin Lane in Burleigh Heads. Regarded as one of the best bars on the Gold Coast, this unique spot offers handmade sourdough pizzas, pasta and share plates with a side of coastal views from its rooftop booths.

Experience another aspect of the Gold Coast’s beautiful environment with an afternoon at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of 27 hectares of Currumbin rainforest as you meet native Australian and exotic wildlife. Take a photo with a cuddly koala, feed kangaroos and lorikeets, see the Wildlife Hospital work their magic before marvelling at saltwater crocodiles.

Saturday: Evening

For an authentic hawker-style dinner head to Chop Chop, a new foodie precinct of fashioned laneways serving up Asian street food. A selection of vendors is on hand to offer restaurant-quality dishes in a relaxed setting, favourites include the curries at Fragrance of India and Dumpling Mama. The thirsty can end the evening with a visit to Bangla Road bar for a refreshing cocktail.

Should you still have the energy, find out for yourself why The Avenue and Elsewhere are some of the highest-rated bars among locals. Just don’t forget your dancing shoes.

Sunday: Morning

Start your morning at Elk Espresso, which has a reputation for serving one of the best breakfasts in Broadbeach. Embrace its arty, alternative vibe, and savour a speciality coffee from some of the Coast’s finest baristas. For something lighter, Cardamom Pod delivers an array of Instagram-worthy acai and smoothie bowls in the heart of Broadbeach.

If it’s the first or third Sunday of the month, you’re in luck. Nothing exemplifies the Gold Coast’s bohemian surfer culture and creativity like Burleigh Head’s The Village Markets. Take a stroll around the blossoming talent pool of artfully selected small businesses, emerging designers and creatives. If you’re still peckish, grab a bite from the Coast’s best street vendors and food trucks. Don’t forget to bring cash!

Alternatively, switch the glitz and glamour for natural beauty. The Gold Coast Hinterland (Mount Tamborine in particular) is an oasis of lush greenery ready to be explored. Journey through the spectacular Glow Worm Caves, chase cascading waterfalls at Cedar Creek Falls, lace up your boots for a tranquil bush hike or explore the beautiful rainforest canopies on the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk.

Sunday: Afternoon

Our pick for a leisurely Sunday lunch is White Rhino Bar & Eats: casual dining with a menu of fresh, local ingredients and a big emphasis on seafood.

Lunch out of the way, now’s the time to explore the Gold Coast’s burgeoning craft beer and spirits scene. Soak up the laidback atmosphere and order a schooner from Balter Brewing Company, relish a boutique gin and whiskey tasting at Granddad Jacks or experiment with an exotic potion at Bine craft beer bar.

For something completely different, test your axe-throwing skills in dedicated lanes at Lumber Punks in the coastal suburb of Miami. Or channel your inner Woods or Gilmore as you whack micro-chipped golf balls at Topgolf, a state-of-the-art facility in Oxenford.

Sunday: Evening

Alfresco is the Gold Coast’s signature style, so why not breathe in the fresh air and bask in the slowly sinking sunshine as you enjoy dinner at the Burleigh Pavilion? Located on the edge of Burleigh Beach, the local produce-filled menu serves up freshly shucked oysters, prawns on ice and perfectly seared barramundi. Other dishes include grass-fed rump, woodfired pizzas and pumpkin rigatoni.

Alternatively, say ‘hola’ to Frida Sol, a boutique Mexican taqueria and tequila bar located in Palm Beach, serving classics with a modern twist. You can’t go wrong with traditional favourites such as grilled corn, beef cheek empanadas, market fish ceviche and sangria… lots and lots of sangria.

After an incredible weekend in the Gold Coast, you’ll realise Australia’s iconic holiday destination offers more than just beautiful beaches. Its incredible brunches, amazing bars and unique experiences are a joyride for all the senses.

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