5 ways to experience the new Gold Coast

These days, a trip to the Gold Coast involves more than surfing and theme parks. Here's where to experience the region's food, culture and arts scene.

The Burleigh Pavilion is one of many exciting new venues now open in the Gold Coast.
  • Katrina Lobley
  • April 2019

No trip to the Gold Coast opens in new window is complete without some beach time but there’s much more to this region than sand and surf. We’ve rounded up the best places to get your fill of arts, culture, gourmet delights and excellent craft beer in this sunny destination.

Eat a Moreton Bay bug

Pan-Asian eatery Rick Shores opens in new window shot to fame with the bug roll (or was it the other way round?). This starter of tempura-style Moreton Bay bug meat is famous for good reason: it’s crunchy and soft, light and spicy, and leaves you wanting more. They're not alone: Burleigh Pavilion opens in new window , right upstairs (shown in image above), serves the bugs in their seafood platter, while Luckies Diner in collaborative eatery The Collective opens in new window does their own version of a bug roll. Lauded Greek restaurant Hellenika opens in new window , at Nobby Beach, also serves bugs with spaghetti.

Take in indie art

Two stylised black dogs, painted on a cinder-block wall, guard the entrance to 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace opens in new window. The street frontage is as striking as gallerist Terri Lew, known for her avant-garde taste in fashion, and the space showcases an intriguing mix of genres (think pop art to portraiture). For a more sweeping cultural experience, there’s HOTA – Home of the Arts opens in new window – which houses two cinemas, an outdoor amphitheatre and sculpture walk.

HOTA is the Gold Coast's greatest up-and-coming performance venue
HOTA is the Gold Coast's greatest up-and-coming performance venue.

Do a cultural tour

Trish Kane, a Bundjalung woman and cultural promotions officer at the Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre opens in new window, leads the way on a cultural tour in Burleigh Head National Park. The 2.5-hour tour runs Monday to Friday and takes you along a 1.2-kilometre trail, tracing the northern bank of Tallebudgera Creek, past ancient shell middens created by the Kombumerri people, before opening up to ocean views. A more challenging rainforest circuit takes you over Jellurgal mountain. Keep your eyes peeled for koalas in the eucalypt forest, eastern water dragons scurrying through leaf litter and, in winter, humpback whales cruising the “humpback highway”.

Learn about indigenous culture on a scenic tour of Burleigh Head National Park
Learn about indigenous culture on a scenic tour of Burleigh Head National Park.

Wander street markets

In a backstreet awash with workshops and warehouses, live music drifts out into the evening. The hubbub springs from Miami Marketta opens in new window, a family-friendly laneway dining precinct that seats 700 people on Friday and Saturday nights (a smaller version operates on Wednesdays). The stage has hosted big names including The Cat Empire, while vendors serve pizza, smoked brisket rolls, bao and fried-before-your-eyes calamari, while the dessert hall doles out donuts and gelato. Cocktail aficionados can hit The Gin Parlour and Infusion Bar opens in new window, which stocks 90 gins.

Find great music, food and drinks every weekend at Miami Marketta.
Find great music, food and drinks every weekend at Miami Marketta.

Try some craft brews

You’re never far from a boutique beer on the Gold Coast. In Currumbin Waters’ industrial estate you’ll find Balter opens in new window brewery, where a light box reading “Thirsty?” sits above a dozen taps at the bar pouring the hop-forward Hazy IPA among their other beers. On weekends, the joint jumps with DJs spinning tunes and food trucks dispensing salty, deep-fried goodness. In another industrial precinct 11 kilometres north in Miami, the Lost Palms Brewery opens in new window is the perfect spot to enjoy a balmy evening sipping the signature Summer Blonde Ale or more experimental Key Lime Pie Sour.

Learn about indigenous culture on a scenic tour of Burleigh Head National Park
Balter's is just one of the many craft breweries popping up around the Gold Coast.

Travel tip

The G:link opens in new window light-rail system – known as “the G” – is a good way to travel between beaches and shopping precincts. Start at the Cypress Avenue stop and work your way down to Broadbeach South.


Looking for more Gold Coast holiday ideas? Here's a destination guide on great things to see and do there. Don't forget to check out our great low fares to the Gold Coast as well.