Gold Coast neighbourhoods guide
The cosmopolitan heart of the Gold Coast
The Oracle's twin high-rises loom large over Broadbeach, a quiet corner of the Gold Coast which pulls off the difficult trick of being close to the buzz but just far enough away to ensure your holiday is a relaxing one.
This cosmopolitan beach-side suburb features ample opportunity to swim, surf or just contemplate the waves with a coffee or drink in hand. One of the best places to do that is the Kurrrawa Surf Club, which has recently taken the bubble-wrap off an AUD $15.5 million new building, a replacement for the 60-year-old clubhouse. One thing that hasn't changed are the incredible seafront views and a surf club institution - a cold beer and a 'chicken parmy' (parmigiana).
Also getting a makeover is The Star Gold Coast (formerly Jupiters Casino). Six new restaurants, refurbished hotel rooms and the Gold Coast's first six-star hotel are just some of the attractions here so even if you don't fancy a flutter, there's plenty to keep the whole family entertained.
You're going to need something new to wear for all that dining out, and luckily one of Australia's largest shopping malls is within cooee. Pacific Fair ('Pac Fair' as the locals call it) offers more than 400 luxury global and local brands at its recently refurbished Hooker Boulevard location.
One of the best ways to see the Gold Coast is from the water and when you're done eating and shopping, hop on a Wyndham Cruise which plies some of the 400km of man-made canals that flank the city's narrow coastal strip. It's also a good opportunity to have a sticky-beak at the sprawling mansions which line these waterways.
Take me to funky town
Burleigh Heads began life as a small fishing community but today it's world famous for its world-class surf breaks, funky cafe culture and relaxed coastal vibe. However this sun-kissed suburb retains its small-town charm: just beyond the beach, James Street is lined with cool boutiques, homeware stores, surf shops and numerous cafes and bars. If you want to eat so close to the beach that you're almost in the water, try the iconic Rick Shores, which boasts uninterrupted views of the Surfers Paradise skyline.
It's hard not to be healthy in Burleigh - join the locals heading out for a surf, running/walking the seaside trail under fragrant pine trees, grabbing an acai bowl or watching the sun rise while doing stand-up paddle-board yoga (yes, it's a thing).
When it's time for a drink, head to the suburb's new micro-breweries, Burleigh Brewing, Black Hops and Balter, the latter owned by former world surfing champs Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson who can often be seen behind the bar.
You can also tour the nearby Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary the easy way - on a Segway. Check out the beloved sanctuary from the comfort of two wheels and don't forget to hug a koala before you leave (Queensland is one of only three states in Australia where it's legal to handle arguably the cutest marsupials on the planet).
The green behind the gold
Less than an hour's drive from the Gold Coast's bustling high-rises is the hinterland, a slice of greenery that's home to Queensland's oldest national park and World Heritage-listed tropical rainforests said to have inspired the film Avatar.
Named after the Aboriginal word for the wild lime trees that grow there, Mount Tamborine is a must for nature and adventure lovers. At the TreeTop Challenge you can zip-line through a landscape that looks much the same as it did when dinosaurs roamed the planet. Once you've had enough adrenaline-pumping activity, head to the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, a leisurely 1.5km eco-adventure stroll which allows you to explore the stunning upper rainforest canopy via 300m of high-tech steel bridges and forest floor trails.
By now, you'll be ravenous so make the short drive to O'Reilly's Vineyards at Canungra Valley, a spectacular 1859 homestead where you can sample and buy their delicious wines. If you ask nicely, they'll prepare a picnic lunch that you can enjoy next to the Canungra Creek (look out for the resident platypus family). The region is also dotted with other wineries and artisan cheese producers, so if you're still peckish, drop by on your way back to the city.