Dreamworld is home to the greatest number of traditional theme park rides on the Coast with all the roller coasters, water slides, bumper cars and gravity defying, stomach churning contraptions you could ever want. It's also host to the Big Brother house from the popular Australian TV series. If it's a quintessential theme park you're after then Dreamworld is it. Buy Dreamworld tickets online at http://www.dreamworld.com.au
Part theme park, part movie studio, part giant Warner Bros propaganda factory, Movie World is a theme park for those who like movies. With one of the best roller coasters on the coast and a good handful of movie related rides (think Bugs Bunny, think Scooby Doo, think Harry Potter, think Batman) Movie World lacks the range of Dreamworld, but makes up for it in 'behind the scenes' movie stuff and stunt shows to keep the whole family entertained for the best part of a day. Buy Movie World tickets online at http://www.movieworld.com.au
With an obvious emphasis on things that live in the water, Sea World has a fantastic range of fish, sharks, dolphins, seals, Polar Bears and other assorted animals on display in realistically natural environments. Throw in a bunch of great rides, water slides, roller coasters and stunt shows, and Sea World emerges as perhaps the best all-round theme park on the coast. Buy Sea World tickets online at http://www.seaworld.com.au
With nothing but amazing water slides, swimming pools and 'dive in movies', Wet 'n' Wild is probably the greatest water park in Australia, if not the world. In winter everything is heated so you won't get cold, and on a hot Gold Coast summer day, you'll have a hard time finding a better place to be. Buy Wet 'n' Wild tickets online at http://www.wetnwild.com.au
Crocodiles, wallabies, kangaroos, koalas and almost all of the other famous Australian native animals have representatives living in the Sanctuary. You can look at them, feed and pat some of them or just experience the fantastic 27 hectare bushland setting - an oasis of wildlife amidst the Gold Coast bustle. Buy Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary tickets online at http://www.currumbin-sanctuary.org.au
By day there are any number of touristy things to spend your time on, but as the sun sets, the thriving nightclub industry comes alive.
While there are countless bars and restaurants, the Coast is host to almost two dozen nightclubs, most of which are situated in the heart of Surfers Paradise. Drinks are reasonably cheap compared to big city prices and you shouldn't really expect to pay much more than $A5.00 for your average beer or spirit.
As you'd expect with any tourist town, the Gold Coast has a restaurant on every corner - except that unlike a lot of other tourist towns, most Gold Coast restaurants are really quite good. You won't find the cultural diversity here that you will in Sydney or Melbourne, but if you're after modern Australian cuisine or Asian food your tastebuds are going to be indebted to you for some time.
There are plenty of fantastic, cheap sushi places (mostly in Surfers Paradise) and the competition among Australian restaurants is fierce, so the quality is usually excellent.
If you're after a cheap meal by the ocean pretty much all of the surf clubs (found in pretty much every oceanside suburb of the Coast) have a bistro where no matter what you choose you'll find a huge pile of great food sitting on your plate for less than $15. Menu options are generally limited to veal parmigiana, fish and chips, spaghetti bolognaise or the seafood platter, but you can't beat the value or the view.
If you want to go even cheaper still, find a corner shop (there's one on every second corner by the beach) and you'll pick up a hamburger with the lot (including pineapple - no one knows why) for $5 and fish and chips for about the same price.
Surfers Paradise is a great spot for families with its perfect swimming beach. Free beach volleyball competitions offer fun for all ages, while the nearby cafes and shopping areas make it easy to take a break with an ice-cream or a cool drink. The huge Paradise Centre on the main shopping street Cavill Avenue, has enough games and rides to keep everyone entertained.
Every Friday night a craft market is set up along the beach esplanade where you can find quality handicrafts and gifts.