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9 out-of-the-box Gold Coast date ideas

Miami Marketta (image supplied)

Sometimes dinner and drinks just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the Hunger Games-style arena that is the Gold Coast dating scene and since Valentine’s Day is quickly creeping up on us again we’re here to help you up your game.

Here are 9 out-of-the-box ideas you’re welcome to steal when you next need to impress the potential love of your life. 

See some live music
Is watching live music not the best thing you can possibly do? Even better if you’re with someone you don’t know that well when there’s a strong possibility of running out of things to talk about. There’s also unlimited opportunities to bust out your best dance moves and impress the hell out of anyone with eyes. At a safe distance of course. Check out our list of live music venues on the Gold Coast here.

Go scuba diving
Underwater activities are an excellent date choice in that they offer the perfect opportunity to not talk and, on the flip side, will be a great story to tell the grandkids should you get to that point. Plus, you know, there’s plenty of pretty marine life to get up close and personal with and being immersed in the ocean will help you chill out should you be suffering from some form of fear – of the first date or great white shark varieties perhaps.
Where: QLD Scuba Diving, Mariners Cove Marina, 60 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach

Taste wine and cheese
What could be better than eating as much cheese and tasting as much wine as is humanly possible with the object of your affections? Nothing, that’s what. Have a little look through our list of wineries that are within a 45 minute drive of the Gold Coast here. That’s a top date idea if ever we’ve come up with one.

Drive in movies
How romantic is setting up a sweet snuggle spot in the back of your car, filling it with snacks and enjoying a movie marathon in (relative) privacy under the stars. If that sounds like your jam, the Yatala Drive-In is your next date night adventure. It’s open seven nights a week and you can choose to do a Double Feature night and sometimes there are sing-a-longs.
Where: 100 Jacobs Well Road, Stapylton

Take a cooking class
Cooking together is a fun way to learn something new while also having a laugh at how hard it actually is to shake a cocktail while looking semi-cool. There are several fun cooking classes on the Gold Coast that offer everything from Chocolate Desserts to Spanish Paella so you’re guaranteed to take home some new skills that you can use on your next date. Genius. Check them out here.

Play all the games
Guys, 20 years later, Timezone is still one of the greatest places around. What could be better than racing your date on the Formula One track or whacking weird animals with giant sticks? It’s a laugh a minute. If you’re any good, you can impress ‘em with a giant stuffed animal they’re sure to keep forever. Just makin’ memories.
Where: Timezone Coolangatta – The Strand, 72-80 Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Timezone Surfers ParadiseParadise Centre, Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise

Icon the Cookery School (image supplied)

Walk through the trees
Getting high on a first (or second or third) date probably isn’t a great idea, unless of course it involves getting amongst the trees on a 15-metre high suspension bridge. Which of course, is a thing, at Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk in the hinterland. There’s a 40 metre cantilever bridge high above the creek and rainforest which is the perfect excuse for holding onto someone REAL tight.
Where: Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, 333 Geissmann Drive, Mt Tamborine

Watch whales
This one might be a little later in the year, but plan a future date to see everyone’s favourite sea-dwelling creatures when they make their way back down south with their tiny (but also giant) babes in tow. You could pack a picnic and perch yourselves on one of many local headlands or, for guaranteed up close viewing, book yourselves onto a whale watching boat and prepare to have the best date ever. Spirit of the Gold Coast offer epic tours when the season kicks in.
Where: Anywhere you can see the sea OR 60/70 Seaworld Dr, Main Beach (for a tour)

Go ice-skating
If you’re a lover of snow and ice and all things winter, but live here with the rest of us in South-East Queensland, all your prayers have been answered in the form of Gold Coast Iceland in Bundall (who knew). Take your mate for a few spins around the ring while adorably holding hands and pretending you’re in NYC’s Central Park.
Where: 15 Strathaird Road, Bundall

Words by Kirra Smith.

6 romantic spots for a local winter weekend escape

Cedar Creek Lodges glamping (image supplied)
Cedar Creek Lodges glamping (image supplied)

Is there anything more romantic than spending a weekend tucked away with your nearest and dearest? Picture the scene: you’re both mountainside snuggled up in front of a crackling fire, glass of red wine in hand and soft jazz caressing your ears. Sounds almost too good to be true? It’s all yours for the taking though, come the impending — albeit short — winter ahead! So it’s time to pull out that roll neck jumper (that, let’s face it, hasn’t been used much) and get planning! To help you along the way, we’ve found the six most romantic cabins and mountain lodges for you, right at our doorstep in the Hinterland.

Cedar Creek Lodges
A mere 40-minute drive from Surfers Paradise, but once you arrive you will feel like you’ve entered an entirely whole new world. Welcome to stunning Tamborine Mountain! Cedar Creek Lodges provide you with a full range of options. The 2, 3 or 4 bedroom self-contatined lodges are situated on your own private section of the gurgling and beautiful Cedar Creek — the perfect romantic getaway to immerse yourself in nature! But if glamping is more your style, look no further than their brand new Lotus Tents taking glamping to the next level with an ensuite allowing you to shower under the stars. The adjacent Thunderbird Park also offers horseback riding for the more adventurous romantics among you. We’re confident when it comes time to check out; you won’t want to leave.

Binna Burra Mountain Lodges
You may recognise the name, as in the 2019 bushfires, most of the property was sadly lost to fires. But where there is a will, there is a way. Rising like a phoenix from the ashes, the newly rebuilt and renovated Binna Burra is an authentic heritage-listed lodge offering one of a few genuine Australian experiences in nature. Just imagine, the lodge has been welcoming guests since the early 1930s and still retains its original charm and character. They’ve also been listed in the top 10 eco-lodges and green hotels globally with their unique isolation. If you’re after the perfect escape from everyday life and a chance to get back to basics, leave your phone at home and look no further.

Binna Burra Mountain Lodges (image supplied)
Binna Burra Mountain Lodges (image supplied)

Witches Falls Cottages
Total privacy is the maxim at Witches Falls Cottages. Sip on a glass of wine (from nearby Witches Falls Winery, of course) in your private courtyard garden, relax in front of your cosy fireplace with a book, or just soak away in your own double sized spa bath and reconnect with that special someone. A traditional style breakfast is even part of your stay and delivered to the door — including fresh homemade bread — so you won’t have to leave your room if you don’t fancy it.

Edges Lodge
Another romantic Tamborine Mountain retreat is Edges Lodge, the faultless suggestion for a well-deserved getaway with your lover. Sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean and our Gold Coast skyline will have you captivated from the moment you arrive. The lodge itself is shared between three deluxe suites, but fear not, the large, sophisticated communal areas are more than enough for you to escape to and feel tranquil — or feel free to socialise if you want to. There is a long list of extras for you to enjoy, but our suggestion is you arrange a massage in the privacy of your room! Sign us up!

The Polish Place (image supplied)
The Polish Place (image supplied)

The Polish Place Cottages
Your romantic stay on Tamborine Mountain starts at these charming European-style chalets only an hour from the beach and surrounded by a myriad of walking trails, waterfalls, and wineries: a hidden gem — within an hour of arriving, you will feel any stress disappear as you take in the spectacular view overlooking the Scenic Rim! How does a cosy woodfire fireplace within a loft-style chalet with private balcony, double sized spa (in your lounge room no less) and full breakfast basket provided daily sound like to you? Idyllic, no? Well don’t forget that at The Polish Place, wildlife, lorikeets and birds come to say hi on your balcony. Add to this the amazing onsite restaurant serving up all your favourite Polish winter warmer dishes like their famous Roast Duck for two with cherries (trust us, order it!) accompanied by a couple of Polish beer or vodkas, you’ll be glad checkout isn’t till 12pm!

O’Reilly’s Safari Tents
If staying at the base of a world heritage listed rainforest is at the top of your list, you’ll be happy to know, you can do that only an hour from the surf. A the end of 2020, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat launched 17 safari tents within their new campground found at the Green Mountains Camping Area in Lamington National Park. The new world class ecotourism attraction is set amongst the rainforest of World Heritage Lamington National Park meaning you get to soak up the mountain magic in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Being right at the doorstep of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat certainly has it’s advantages, you’ll have access to all the same experiences and adventures you love about O’Reilly’s including hikes, romantic rainforest picnics, visiting O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards for a tipple or two (where you can also now have a picnic with the alpacas!) or just kick back together and breathe in the fresh air.

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

O'Reilly's Campground, Image by Visit Scenic Rim, Susie Cunningham

10 of the best Gold Coast picnic spots

The times they are a-changing Gold Coasters (again, yes). We are now allowed to venture out of our homes with those we have been spending ALL OF THE TIME with for a picnic. How nice. While we’re still practicing all of the social distancing precautions, it’s good to be able to sit down somewhere that isn’t the backyard for a spot of cheese and biccies.

To celebrate that, here’s a list of 10 pretty spots to throw down a blanket on the Gold Coast.

Hinze Dam, Advancetown
This underrated hinterland destination will be your new favourite picnic spot. There are several parks that surround Hinze Dam, so take in the stunning scenery, sip on a cold glass of bubbly and generally enjoy the company of family and friends. There’s a BBQ area, kids playground and even a small cafe in case you need fresh supplies. Make sure if you’re taking the pooch to one of the designated areas, they’re kept on a leash to preserve the wildlife.

Cedar Creek Falls, Mt Tamborine
Mt Tamborine is picnic paradise and has more picnic areas than a year has days, Cedar Creek Falls being by far one of the best. Driving up the winding roads and taking in the scenic beauty is almost enough entertainment, but that’s not all. Cedar Creek Falls are located just metres from three waterfalls and countless walking tracks, making it the perfect place to spend your next Sunday.

Macintosh Island, Surfers Paradise
This little oasis nestled in Surfers Paradise (most commonly used for getting around the GC600 every year) is great for picnic dates of all sorts. The tranquil setting with cascading water running through the park is home to many birds, so don’t forget your stale bread. There’s also that super fun bridge previously built for the Indy in 2007.

Burleigh Hill

Gold Coast Regional Botanical Gardens, Benowa
Hard to believe that this beautiful little piece of paradise is just a mere 10 minute drive from Surfers Paradise. Take the whole family or soak up some solo serenity, it’s the perfect setting for both and anything in between. There’s even a butterfly garden for your gazing pleasure.

Cascade Gardens, Broadbeach
Cascade Gardens can be found between Surfers and Broadbeach and there are plenty of barbecue and undercover picnic shelters. This peaceful riverside sanctuary is the perfect date spot and with a huge area to run around, it’s also popular for families wanting to keep the kids entertained for hours (hopefully not on a date).

Ed Hardy Park, Miami
Next to North Burleigh Surf Club the park offers great people watching and a few BBQ areas perfect for that Sunday arvo picnic with the gang. Walk up Miami Hill and take in the views or have a sneaky swim in the ocean. There’s a takeaway bottle shop across the road if you need to stock up on sips.

Burleigh Hill, Burleigh
In unsurprising news, Burleigh Hill is probably the most popular picnic spot on the Coast. You can’t beat the Insta-worthy views overlooking the Surfers Paradise skyline. If you want to get a good spot on a Sunday get there early `cause the whole Gold Coast likes to unite here to see and be seen – at a safe distance obviously.

Tallebudgera Creek

Tallebudgera Creek, Tallebudgera
The battle between which side to choose continues. But no matter which is your go-to, Talle Creek won’t disappoint as favourite picnic spot. The calm creek waters are perfect for a little splash before devouring your mobile buffet. Beware the hungry bush turkeys!

Long Tan Park, Currumbin Valley
Not many people know about this pretty but somewhat hidden picnic spot in Currumbin Valley. It’s the perfect spot to get away, relax by the creek and pop in for a dip. There are no toilets or BBQ stations and uninhibited nature is purely the theme here, so go prepared. Drive along Currumbin Creek Road and take a right turn at Bains Road, the park is situated just over the bridge.

Kirra Lookout, Coolangatta
Kirra Lookout is the Burleigh Hill of Coolangatta, just not as busy and with more parking opportunities (we like the sound of that). You can either drive or walk up, but be warned, it’s quite steep, you’ll burn off your picnic before you make it to the top. Enjoy the view whilst nibbling on some crackers and sipping on an icy cold one, it’s pretty special!

Words by Kirra Smith

Kirra Lookout

22 puppy-friendly places on the Gold Coast

Doggo at Palm Springs Burleigh (image supplied)
Doggo at Palm Springs Burleigh (image supplied)

Dogs are man’s best friend. There’s no disputing it and we don’t want to hear a word said against it.

But in all honesty, we doubt any of you locals out there are going to argue against this ethos — as it’s rather easy to see we utterly love our dogs here on the Gold Coast.

Did you know that on Tuesday the 23rd of March it’s National Puppy Day? An occasion to remember how much these guys bring to our lives in way of their cuteness and unconditional love. Because let’s face it — where would we be without them.

If they aren’t running at breakneck speed down the beach, pottering about in a body of water somewhere, or just drooling themselves into a comatose under the couch, there’s a good chance they can be found with their loving owner sharing a coffee and living their best life in one of our many great cafes.

Knowing which cafes are more receptive to your four-legged friend is sometimes a bit tricky. To alleviate the puzzlement, we’ve put together the finest and most convenient cafes where taking your pooch is most certainly welcomed.

Double Barrel Kitchen
Two locations mean double the doggie good times. Double Barrel Kitchen not only serves up delicious eats and plenty of good vibes, they also allow pups to join in the fun.
Where: Shop 4/64 Karbunya Street, Mermaid Waters and 1 The Concourse, Benowa

Ground N Sound
House-made cakes are one of the greatest things cafes can do. Wash that down with a cuppa, (or some wine if you like) a bit of live music, and your dog by your side and that’s pretty much the best time we reckon you can have. Do it at Ground N Sound.
Where: 6/23 Musgrave Avenue, Chirn Park

Le Vintage Boutique Cafe Puppy (image supplied)
Le Vintage Boutique Cafe Puppy (image supplied)

Papercup Coffee
The prettiest of spots, found in two locations Papercup Coffee has some stellar coffee and of course some delicious treats you can share with your furry mate. Perfect. Puppacino, anyone?
Where: 16 Frank Street, Labrador and 201 Ferry Road, Southport

Parc Bah Espresso
Opposite an awesome dog park, this Southport cafe welcomes your four-legged furry friend while you dine. There are even special doggie treats to keep your best friend occupied while you catch up with your human-friends.
Where: Shop 4/5, 19 Alicia Street, Southport

Cafe Catalina
Cafe Catalina is located along the picturesque shores of the Broadwater Parklands and is the absolute perfect way to end a walk of your furry friend around the parklands. Sit on the deck and watch as the world passes you by both on land and sea!
Where: Broadwater Parklands, 10/11 Gold Coast Highway, Southport

Roller Door Espresso
At the heart of it, this hole-in-the-wall nook is incredibly easy on the eyes. After you’ve managed to peel your gaze off all of the incredible interior goodness, it’s down to business with fine baked treats and welcome arms for you and your doggo.
Where: 2/85 Ashmore Road, Bundall

Palm Springs
What these guys don’t know about coffee isn’t worth knowing. With the freshest looking aesthetic around, this new Burleigh Heads hangout is a great place to bring your pooch grab a coffee and just watch the day drift by. Plus, with surroundings as good as this, how could you not want to do a quick photoshoot of your pup?
Where: 1878 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads

Wildflower Distillery & Bar is dog-friendly (image supplied)
Wildflower Distillery & Bar is dog-friendly (image supplied)

Wildflower Distillery
Seems every man and his dog is making craft spirits these days, and we couldn’t be more thankful for it if we tried. Wildflower is the place to round up your crew and go sample some great gins, and now fantastic vodka. Don’t forget to take your furry friend as well because they are made most welcome!
Where: 2/486 Scottsdale Drive, Varsity Lakes

Alfred’s Diner
Home to one of the Coast’s best breakfast burritos and all of the cool kids from Mermaid Beach this chilled garden space off the highway is a dog-friendly nirvana. Alfred’s Diner has also recently extended their trading hours, you can now even take the pup along with you for dinner! No more leaving them at home on date night!
Where: 2389 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach

BSKT Cafe
BSKT Cafe makes taking your dog out for a date easy, as you won’t need to remember to pack water as they have plenty of dog bowls placed in the outside area. So you can sip on your favourite juice while your furry companion keeps hydrated too!
Where: 4 Lavarack Road, Nobby Beach

The Henchman
The big Miami beauty boasts plenty of space for all of your daily dose of tail wagging. Who knows what can happen when there are opportunities for your pooch to make new friends? Grab yourself some tasty eats and kick back in a hammock at The Henchman while the dogs have a play date.
Where: 8 Henchman Avenue, Miami

Paddock Bakery
Arguably one of the hottest breakfast spots on the Coast, Paddock Bakery is a stylish weatherboard cottage with a leafy garden that welcomes you and your four-legged friend any day of the week. Dippy eggs + doggos = good idea.
Where: 18 Hibiscus Haven, Miami

Paddock Bakery Puppy (image supplied)
Paddock Bakery Puppy (image supplied)

Lakeview Cafe
Lakeview Cafe is a hidden Burleigh Waters gem and an absolute favourite amongst the locals (not only humankind either). You can buy doggie treats and have your dog join you in the spacious outside area.
Where: 100 Burleigh Street, Burleigh Waters

Commune
Your favourite Burleigh local has a huge outside area with plenty of shade for you and your pup to enjoy. Weekend brekkies just got that much better!
Where: 1844 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads

Street Corner Espresso
The family-run lower Gold Coast Highway cafe has great food, great service and a spacious outside area that any dog will love to lie down and soak up the sun in. Sounds like paw-fection!
Where: 1/1840 Lower Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads

Espresso Moto
Tried and tested many a time, Espresso Moto is as pup-friendly as they come. There’s a bowl for doggo drinking water and, if you’ve got a very good boy (or girl) on your hands, they may be lucky enough to score a treat. Fun for everyone.
Where: 2/1389 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach or 1/88 Markeri Street, Mermaid Waters

Portside Coffee
Portside Coffee is an entire family-friendly cafe in Currumbin’s industrial area. When we say ‘entire family’ we mean your fur baby too. It’s an entirely outdoor area so there’s plenty of space so you can soak up some sunshine while you’re getting caffeinated.
Where: 42 Currumbin Ck Road, Currumbin Waters

The Salt Mill
Merely steps off the beach, this popular hole-in-the-wall has seating and will often have a congregation of dogs mingling with each other as their owners sip coffee and enjoy one of the coast’s best acai bowls. Once you’re done, slip onto the sand and take your puppy for a paddle!
Where: 785 Pacific Parade, Currumbin

Barefoot Barista (Image supplied)
Barefoot Barista (Image supplied)

Le Vintage Boutique Cafe
This VERY popular little spot found in beautiful Worongary is serving up some of the best coffee around. And they’re all about the doggo’s too. It’s a unique little spot, once you’ve found it, and one you’ll want to lock in to visit again.
Where: 1 Kurilpa Street, Worongary

Parkway Coffee
The newest of the bunch is Parkway Coffee, a sweet little garden hideaway by the gals at Third Base Coffee, Palm Beach. There’s great food, great coffee and the best thing of all, pups are of course welcome!
Where: Robina Quays, 16b, 361 Robina Parkway, Robina

South East Cafe & Bar
This southern extremity is bringing great food and even better coffee to the beachy back streets of Coolangatta. Better yet, when you’ve come off the sand and have salty hair swing by here for the best dog-friendly vibes.
229 Boundary Street, Coolangatta

Barefoot Barista
This laid-back Palm Beach institution dishes up amazing food and consistent quality coffee, best of all – they’d love you to bring your dog along.
Where: 15 Palm Beach Avenue, Palm Beach

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

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