The round up: The Gold Coast’s top kid-friendly restaurants
Anyone with little humans in tow knows how challenging it can be to eat out at an actual restaurant. Sure, you will probably spend most of your meal trying to get your offspring to stop mashing miscellaneous food into the table, or making a speedy bee-line for the nearest exit, but you don’t have to do the cooking or washing up so it’s still a win. Whilst most restaurants do their best to accommodate tiny tribes with the addition of high chairs and kid’s menus, some places have kid-friendly dining down to a fine art. To help make things a little easier on parents and carers, we’ve compiled a handy list of family-friendly restaurants and cafes that make eating out a breeze. Okay, maybe not a breeze, but breezier perhaps.
Backyard Cantina, Nobby Beach
Slinging tacos, tunes and top-notch tipples, Backyard Cantina is a vibe. The daytime coffee den has expanded to the neighbouring carpark and created a casual Mexican-inspired beer garden complete with giant lawn games, festoon lights and plenty of picnic tables. The only downside is that Backyard Cantina only exists on Friday and Saturday nights. Open from 3:00 pm, it’s the perfect pad for families. There’s a dedicated kids menu as well as plenty of space to roll out a rug for the little ones. It’s been known to get busier as the evening rolls on so best get there early to nab a spot.
Stones Throw, Currumbin
If you’re on the hunt for a kid-friendly cafe with top-notch brews of the caffeinated kind, make haste to Stones Throw at Currumbin. Order inside and then make your way down the nearby driveway and you’ll be greeted with a leafy outdoor seating area with plenty of room for the kids to roam. The Fonzie Abbott coffee and imaginative menu of all-day eats is a winner in our books.
Southport Sharks, Southport
We have three words that are guaranteed to make any parent or carer’s ears prick up – supervised. play. area. The Wobbygongs Kids Fun Zone is a purpose-built fully supervised play area for children aged three to 12 years, complete with a rock-climbing wall, mini basketball court, PlayStations, theatrette, home corner play area and drawing tables – the hardest part is getting them to come back to the table to eat. It’s $4.50 per kid per hour but the opportunity and bookings are essential. There’s also a free kids show every Sunday from 5:00–7:00 pm.
Alfred’s Diner, Mermaid Beach
Dishing up primo brews, chews and killer tunes, Alfred’s Diner on the Gold Coast Highway is a cruisy spot for a bite with the wee ones. Pull up a patch of grass or commandeer a picnic table, just be sure to watch the gate so there are no escapees! There are always a few doggos to pat too, so bonus points for pooches.
Custard Canteen, Tallebudgera
Long, salty, sun-kissed days at Tallebudgera Creek are a fave for many so this one is a bit of a no-brainer. Custard Canteen enjoys prime position at the front of the Tallebudgera Leisure Centre, shaded by greenery and eye-catching red-and-white striped umbrellas. There are picnic tables sitting pretty alongside sun loungers and plenty of space to sprawl. Eat-in or grab your Portuguese custard tart to-go, either way, Custard Canteen is a treat for kids and grown-ups.
The Historic Rivermill, Mount Nathan
Okay so this one is more of an all-day kind of outing rather than a quick catch-up over coffee but it’s definitely worth the trip. Nestled in Mount Nathan Shire in the Gold Coast Hinterland, approximately 10 minutes inland from Nerang, you’ll find this sprawling family-friendly gem. Spread across 6.4 hectares, there’s plenty of room to roam, you may even catch a glimpse of the resident alpacas, deer, ducks, chooks and turtles. There’s ponies every Saturday from 9:00 am to midday. Oh, and did we mention there’s an on-site cafe? It’s a win-win.
Pasture & Co, Currumbin
Forming part of Ground at Currumbin, Pasture & Co is popular among the parent folk thanks to its expansive grassy outdoor area. Hang out under the towering fig trees or roll out a rug and sip your latte as the kids explore. The all-day menu has been designed to suit all tastes, from grab-and-go bites to nourishing sit-down meals. Pasture & Co is open daily from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm (kitchen closes at 2:00 pm).
Valley Espresso, Elanora
If you have tiny humans in tow on week days, you need Valley Espresso in your life. The cafe nook is nestled next to Rebound Land at Elanora and is open every day from 5:30 am to midday, however on Monday and Wednesday there’s a free jumping castle in a gated picnic area. Sipping your coffee while it’s hot? That’s some serious parent goals right there.
Currumbin RSL, Currumbin
If your kindred is of an age where you can watch them from a little further afield, Currumbin RSL’s deck area is ideal. There’s a newly built pirate playground right out the front that is fully fenced, just be sure to book a table close by so you can keep your peepers peeled. There’s also live music on the deck every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Miami Marketta, Maimi
With live music, a mouth-watering array of street eats and chill vibes, it’s no surprise that Miami Marketta is a favourite for families. The kids will love wandering down the laneway deciding what to eat before having a little boogie on the d-floor. It tends to get pretty busy around 7:00 pm so best to beat the rush and get there early. Miami Marketta is on every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm to late.
Robina Pavilion, Robina
If you’re yet to check out the new-look Robina Pavilion, consider this the sign you’ve been waiting for. There’s a dedicated kids area but The Lakeside is also super family (and doggo) friendly so you can bring the whole kit and cavoodle – see what we did there?
Currumbin Community Markets, Currumbin
Held every Thursday from 7:00–11:00 am, the markets were started by a couple of local mums who didn’t fancy dealing with weekend crowds. Pick up some fresh produce direct from local farmers while the kids play merrily at the colouring table. There’s live music (for kids and grown-ups) as well as a handful of food vendors if you’re feeling peckish. Hot tip, wrap your mitts around one of MiO’s loaded creations, you won’t regret it!
Cadence Cafe, Nerang
At the back of a bicycle shop may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of family-friendly dining but Cadence Cafe (at the back of Just Ride in Nerang) dishes up a mouth-watering menu of cafe-style nosh as well as some top-notch brews. Oh, did we mention there was a gated playground? As a rule, if there’s a fence surrounding it, we’re here for it.
Burleigh Town Tavern, Burleigh Heads
Since opening its doors in 1981, the Burleigh Town Tavern has established itself as a true ‘local’ of the Burleigh area. There’s something to suit every member of the fam with a gated playground and kids menu for just $6.
The Sanctuary Markets, Currumbin
Feeding time at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary takes on a new meaning every Friday evening as The Sanctuary Markets roll in from 4:00–9:00 pm. The Market operates on The Village Green’s new deck section and incorporates a wide variety of international foods including Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Brazilian, Turkish, Venezuelan, South African and Chilean. The venue is also fully licensed, there’s live music and free off-street parking available. The Market is very family orientated and any funds the Sanctuary generates will go back towards its operation in Currumbin.
A few south of the border
Okay, we know we said the Gold Coast’s top family-friendly restaurants, but it would be remiss of us not to mention these places. So here we are breaking the rules because these are 100 percent worth the drive. Thank us later.
It’s known as ‘the sunflower place’, but Cudgen’s Farm & Co is so much more than an Instagrammer’s haven. The fully operational family-owned-and-run Kingscliff farm and cafe is the perfect place to roll out a rug and have a picnic or pull up a seat outside. Stroll around the farm and meet Hank, the resident vegan pig, pick some sunflowers, zen out in the hammocks beneath the trees, crack open macadamia nuts and, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch Hank and the chickens at feeding time (it’s quite a sight).
Cubby Bakehouse, Chinderah
If you’ve been to Cubby, you might be raising a curious eye at this inclusion given it’s directly fronting the main road, but hear us out. If you do manage to peel yourself away from the treats cabinet (a truly impossible task), there’s actually quite a spacious grassy area to the side of the cafe, which is lined with picnic tables. It’s semi-fenced but if you’ve got a runner or explorer on your hands, this one may not be for you. If, however, your offspring responds to a bribe of baked goods, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Club Banora, Banora Point
Again, hear us out. Forget everything you think you know about Club Banora because once you get a glimpse of the outdoor area, you’ll appreciate why this one had to be included. Trust us when we say, this place is made for kids with putt-putt, a bike track (mainly for younger kids on trikes), totem tennis, table tennis, a sandpit, playground, and more, it’s actually the perfect place for a casual bite and a beverage.
Tabatinga Family Play Centre at Seagulls, Tweed Heads
Conveniently located at Seagulls, Tabatinga has spaces to suit kids of all ages, from a toddler play area (0 to four years), a multi-level climbing area (0 to 12 years), glow-in-the-dark mini-golf course, bumper car arena, chill out movie area and a cafe with free Wi-Fi for parents to chill and have a bite to eat. Note to parents, children must be supervised at all times.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg! The Gold Coast and surrounds are filled with family-friendly venues so if your favourite has been overlooked, give us the hot tip at [email protected]
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Gold Coast dining guide with more than 870 places to eat, drink, shop and play.