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The Sunshine Coast is most well known for it’s laid back coastal charm, and we recently shared with you some of the fun coastal and aquatic things you can do in this region.
But, it’s not all just sand and surf, there are many activities and experiences you can have away from the water as well.
The great news is on the Sunshine Coast these activities aren’t too far away from the beach anyway!
Things to do on the Sunshine Coast
1. Aussie World
Aussie World is a fun family theme park without the crowds. You’ll have a minimal wait time, and the staff treat you like you’re one of the family.
I was chatting with my mother-in-law over coffee today about their recent trip to Disneyland and the insane crowds they encountered, which reminded me of how lovely the experience was at Aussie World. We had plenty of time to wander and experience all the rides with zero hassle.
Entry price to Aussie World covers unlimited rides – there are no upside down roller coasters, or thrilling rides, but for the younger crowds, it offers vintage family fun!
I loved taking Kalyra on the Wild Mouse for the first time, tearing up the dodgem cars with Savannah beside me yelling to ‘go faster and win the race, and experiencing my very first Ferris Wheel ride. Can you believe it?!
Don’t forget to check out the Illusionsarium, a place of infinite dimensions and possibilities – it’s psychedelic baby!
We had a lot of fun with the girls and loved the relaxed and upbeat vibe. (You can see more in the video below)
2. Australia Zoo
Founded by the late, and much-loved animal conservationist, Steve Irwin and his family, Australia Zoo is one of the top things to do on the Sunshine Coast with kids and probably Australia’s most famous zoo.
I love visiting Australia Zoo because you feel the passion and animal love very strongly. We’ve been scores of time – Craig used to work there when Kalyra was born and helped construct the African animal enclosures!
Australia Zoo offers a fantastic day out for the family where you can feed and pat kangaroos, visit the African savannah and see a broad range of Australian animals. Its famous Wildlife Warrior bird and croc show is held in the Crocoseum every day at 12 pm and is a definite highlight.
Don’t forget to visit the wildlife hospital to learn about all the great work they do in protecting our wildlife.
Tip: It’s okay to bring your food and drink into the zoo, so if you’re feeling budget conscious, just grab a spot on the lawn for lunch instead of fighting the crowds at the food court.
3. Gardner Falls
We’re showing you non-coastal Sunshine Coast activities in this post, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay dry and hot. A hidden waterhole is waiting for you within the forest at Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Gardner Falls is perfect for families as it’s just a short walk in from the car park. There are a few cascading waterfalls, which makes the perfect setting for a family picnic. For the brave ones, there are several ropes to swing off into the water below.
4. Montville stroll and divine chocolate cake views
I’m not a big sweet eater – I’m gluten free and mostly sugar-free. On the odd occasion when I divulge (gluten free of course), I expect it to be out of this world.
The chocolate raspberry mousse at Mayfield Patisserie & Chocolates in Montville gave me out of this world. I savoured every bite with groans of intense foodie pleasure.
You will have a lot of choices for places to sit in Montville for coffee, cake, and views, but I highly recommend on your first visit head straight for the best at Mayfield Patisserie & Chocolates. (psst – it was also the cheapest place for coffee and the views stretching over to Sunshine Coast beaches are the same as anywhere else a.k.a. extraordinary.)
5. Lake Baroon
Good for picnics, bushwalking, swimming, fishing and canoeing, Lake Baroon is situated in a secluded valley in Montville.
We never knew of its existence until we recently stayed at Natures Escape Rainforest Retreat right near there and had lunch in the rainforest at Secrets on the Lake. We highly recommend you make a stop here for a delicious lunch and beautiful views over the lake.
6. Maleny Botanic Gardens
For exquisite views of the Glasshouse Mountains and the coastline, visit the Maleny Botanic Gardens. I think it’s one of the best botanical gardens in the world and one of my new favourite things to do on the Sunshine Coast (away from the coast).
The gardens are surrounded by rainforests and have 6 kilometres of walking paths through terraced gardens, past secret waterfalls, over ponds and lagoons and amongst colourful plants and exquisite landscaping.
Plan to spend some time here so you can relax and enjoy the aviary tour and the different styled gardens, such as the Oriental Garden, a rainforest walk, an orchid garden, and a fairytale garden.
The story of the owner, Frank Shipp, is also fascinating to learn more about how he’s spent years tirelessly creating this vision and plans to continue to grow it into a unique and special place for people to visit and get back in touch with nature.
Don’t forget to soak up those views with a Devonshire tea from the pavilion.
7. Bellingham Maze
I never thought racing around a maze with your kids would be enjoyable. We’ve done a few now, and it’s one of our favourite activities we do as a family, and memories the girls share all the time. The Bellingham Maze in Tanawaha didn’t disappoint.
The star-shaped hedge maze made from lilly-pillies is the main event. Along the way you can search for gnomes and coloured letters on poles to help solve some riddles.
Once you find your way to the tower and back out again, check out the other smaller mazes, like the Tyre Maze, the Ropes Maze and our favourite, the timber Scrabble Maze. Find the jumbled letters down the dead ends and then solve the riddle! It’s a great learning exercise for the kids (and perhaps you as well!)
You can check out more of the fun we had in this video:
8. Yandina Markets
Yandina is one of the oldest towns on the Sunshine Coast and famous for the ginger factory and its sleepy tropical feel.
When we lived on the Sunshine Coast, I was not one for ginger, so never visited the factory, but Craig’s mother loved to go and always raved about it. I now love ginger so would be very interested in visiting.
We recently met a traveller who had not long visited the factory and spoke about how much they enjoyed the Overboard ride, reminiscent of ‘It’s a Small World’ with a gingerbread man twist (oops sorry for getting that song stuck in your head). There’s also a historic cane train for a ride around the property and tropical gardens to explore.
For me, Yandina was about the farmer’s market held every weekend. It’s casual and rustic and gave me a chance to grab my fresh produce but also to peruse through people’s old treasures and choose some new pot plants for our house. Craig’s mum picked up three pots of frangipanis once to take home and plant in her garden.
Yandina has such a great community feel. I’ve heard rave reviews about The Spirit House, one of Australia’s most famous Asian restaurants and high on my list of things to check out on a return to the Sunshine Coast. The Spirit House is
9. Glasshouse Mountains
There are a few places in Australia (and the world) that captivate you and pull you in with their spiritual essence. Uluru and Kakadu are two of them, and right alongside them are the Glasshouse Mountains!
They have an aura that speaks of ancient wisdom and timelessness and its hard to pull away your gaze.
There are several panoramic viewing spots of the glasshouse – sometimes as your driving along the highway and seeing them is magnetic enough.
A few of our favourites
- The Mt Ngungun walk, an easy 2.8 km return walk up to the peak for spectacular 360-degree views of all four major peaks of the Glass House Mountain
- You can drive to The Lookout for 180-degree panoramic views of the mountain peaks
- We also heard sunrise and sunset views are great from Wildhorse Mountain
10. Eumundi Markets
If you want to experience the vibe of a historical Queensland village, Eumundi in the Noosa hinterland is the place to come. Historical buildings, some dating back to 1890-1930, line the street and are filled with art galleries, boutique wineries, and cafes.
When we lived in Mooloolaba, the Eumundi Markets was always on our list of places to take our visitors – and we had a lot. The markets are held every Saturday and Wednesday and are one of the largest artisan markets in Australia.
I loved spending the day browsing the stalls filled with clay figurines, paintings, jewellery and listening to the buskers and didgeridoo players. We’d grab some food from the food stalls or sit at one of the cafes on the main street for a rest with live music after our day of browsing.
Wednesday markets are the best to escape the crowds; Eumundi is always busy on a Saturday.
11. Kondalilla National Park
The Kondalilla National Park is a lush rainforest situated in Montville in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The beautiful 4.7km Kondilla Falls circuit beautiful walking trail takes you from the top of Kondalilla Falls, past rock pools, and stunning views, down the escarpment to a picnic area.
Unfortunately, there was no water flowing from the falls when we visited, and we could not walk any further than the rock pool due to dangerous falling rocks, but Kondalilla Falls is said to be spectacular and drops 90 metres into the rainforest valley. At the base of the falls you’ll find bunya pines,
At the base of the falls you’ll find bunya pines, piccabeen palms and patches of lush rainforest, but be prepared for a 100 step climb back out from the bottom.
Pack your swimmers so you can cool off at the rock pools if it’s a hot day.
12. Noosa Farmers Market
You can see we have a thing for markets. It’s one of my favourite ways to spend a morning, as well as to check out the local vibe.
The Noosa Farmers Market is full of fresh organic produce, but can be busy. However, totally worth it for a visit to the Sunflower Hotel for the best smoothie I’ve ever had.
On our last visit to Noosa, I begged the family to allow space in our day for me to cram in a quick run in and out to grab one. We ran through the squelchy mud, frantically trying to find it in the maze of stalls, only to find out that the owners were getting married and so not opened that day!!!! I was gutted.
Seriously the Earth Mother smoothie was so good, I can still taste it two years later and will be the first thing I hunt down when we return. If you follow us on Snapchat, you know I am a green smoothie addict.
13. Mt Coolum
Mt Coolum might be near Coolum Beach, but there’ll be no ocean to cool you down on this sweaty scramble to the top. Sadly, it is not something we have done yet.
In case, you didn’t know we lived on the Sunshine Coast when Kalyra was a baby, and we went through our financial disaster so I did not have the physical or mental capacity to climb Mt Coolum. I know plenty who have and have loved the experience.
14. Strawberry picking
Treasured family memories are made here at Strawberry Fields by getting back to nature and enjoying the outdoors, picking your own strawberries, having a picnic lunch in the lovely manicured gardens or treating yourself to a tea or coffee and something Yummm and strawberry flavoured from the Strawberry Fields Cafe.
Pick your own season opens from June – November.
We’ve been traveling 20 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights, and car rental. Below are our preferred partners. If you book through these links, we do receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps us continue to provide inspiring and helpful travel content for free on this site. Do you have any other favourite things to do on the Sunshine Coast that don’t involve the coast? Share in the comments!
Plan Your Trip to The Sunshine Coast
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We’ve been traveling 20 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights, and car rental. Below are our preferred partners. If you book through these links, we do receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps us continue to provide inspiring and helpful travel content for free on this site.
Do you have any other favourite things to do on the Sunshine Coast that don’t involve the coast? Share in the comments!