Gold Coast: best food, arts and cultural experiences
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.
- April 2019
- Updated November 2020
No trip to the Gold Coast 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 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.
Take in indie art
Two stylised black dogs, painted on a cinder-block wall, guard the entrance to 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace. 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 – which houses two cinemas, an outdoor amphitheatre and sculpture walk.
Do a cultural tour
Trish Kane, a Bundjalung woman and cultural promotions officer at the Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, leads the way on a cultural tour in Burleigh Head National Park. The 2.5-hour tour 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”.
Wander street markets
In a backstreet awash with workshops and warehouses, live music drifts out into the evening. The hubbub springs from Miami Marketta, a family-friendly laneway dining precinct open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. 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, which stocks more than 90 gins.
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 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 is the perfect spot to enjoy a balmy evening sipping the signature Summer Blonde Ale or more experimental Key Lime Pie Sour.