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STA Travel Blog

Surf’s up, drink up: the best bars in Surfers Paradise

Here at STA Travel, we understand that when it comes to drinking (responsibly, of course) there are usually four different types of ‘sessions’ you could be feeling on any number of days. You’ve got the day drinking session, which is something you tend to go for when it’s nice and sunny outside or you’ve got enough time to get over the hangover before work the following day (hello Sunday sessions!). Then you’ve got the pre-drinking session, whether that’s something you do at Uni in order to make your night out cheaper, or you’re just wanting to go to a few places and get in the mood before you head to the main place. Then you’ve got the classy and sophisticated session, where you’re thinking of just going to dinner and a few drinks, maybe some cocktails a la Sex and the City. Last but not least you’ve got the ‘out out’ session where you’re planning on going hard (and not going home).
We’re delving into the nightlife (or day drinking life) of Surfers Paradise, and have grouped our top venues in terms of these four sessions.

Day drinking

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Who doesn’t love to go out on a sunny day and sit in a beer garden with friends, catching up, laughing and just generally having a great time? Australia does day drinking very well, it’s probably to do with their laid-back attitude, great weather, and beach front locations. Surfers Paradise ticks all three of these boxes, and here’s some of our top picks for a good day drinking session:

HOUSE OF BREWS
If you can’t tell from the name, this place is all about the beers (they have over 30 to choose from) add a rooftop cocktail bar, some live music, a big BBQ and a casual dress code and you’ve got yourself a pretty epic day drinking venue.

SURFERS SANDBAR
Another place that is all about the beers, Surfers Sandbar is a classic Aussie beach bar, very chilled out with a good view of the ocean, and to top it off it also has a brekky buffet every day of the week … so really you could start in the morning if you wanted to. PAAAAAAACE YOURSELF.

SURFERS PARADISE BEER GARDEN
The name says it all really, every word attracts us. Surfers, yes. Paradise, of course. Beer, yes please. Garden, cute. This place is known affectionately by the locals as “the beery” and is a loungey place where you can enjoy a bit of sunshine day drinking into the night – or even predrinking – it’s got a casual dress code, live bands, large balconies to hang out on, jugs of beer, pub grub and good vibes … what more do you need?

Pre-drinking

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Sometimes you need a good pre-drinking bar to get you and your mates in the mood before a night out, or if you don’t tend to actually head to the main bar ‘til 12 then you need somewhere to hang out beforehand. Enter these venues:

CENTRAL LOUNGE BAR AND DINING
A good place for all occasions, with meals, desserts and drinks (not to mention DESSERT COCKTAILS!) and of course it’s centrally located, if they didn’t make that obvious enough. Perfect position for a pre-place.

HOWL AT THE MOON
This place has a tapas menu created by none other than celebrity chef Guy Grossi, with live musicians performing old school songs to sing your heart out to, DJ’s playing mainstream tunes, an outdoor balcony overlooking the river, and daybeds to relax on if you fancy starting your night even earlier. It’s actually a good place to start or end your night, but we’re gonna go for start.

AVENUE RESTAURANT AND SALOON
They describe themselves as “a destination to dine, drink and party ‘til your feet fall off” and that’s exactly what you can do here. You’ve got a pizza oven cooking ‘til 2am, so you don’t even have to wander out to find the local takeaway. There are live music and comedy acts every day of the week, including DJ’s and MC’s. A great place to start your night, or even spend your entire night if you wanted to. We were sold at the mention of pizza ‘til 2am…

Classy and sophisticated/dinner and chill

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Sometimes you just want to feel a bit flashy, get dressed up, and have some quieter drinks to catch up with your friends (and maybe some dinner thrown in too). Well Surfers Paradise isn’t just about crazy and tacky night clubs, they do sophistication too:

STRINGRAY LOUNGE
This is part of QT hotels and resorts, so you know it’s a good one. A classy little lounge bar, where the dress code is ‘dress to impress’. They have a resident DJ, a unique cocktail list, quirky furniture and industrial design. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? Well throw in the fact they do Taco Tuesdays too …. sold!

SKY POINT
Having cocktails in the world’s tallest residential tower, with 360 degree views of the Gold Coast, it doesn’t get much classier than that. They play some seriously smooth beats and are damn good at fixing up a great cocktail too.

BLACK COFFEE LYRICS
If you like something that is a bit different to your classic cocktail bar then it’s worth checking out this cool and quirky place. It’s hidden away in the upstairs of the centre arcade on the boulevard, so you have to know about it to find it (you’re welcome). It’s a boutique kinda bar, with live jazz, antique furniture, a laid-back atmosphere, a whole lotta rum bourbon and whisky, PLUS coffee cocktails! Definitely a one for the cool kids.

Out Out

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This is for the hard core partiers among you, the ones who are always going “out out”:

ELSEWHERE
If you’re all about the alternative EDM, then go ‘elsewhere’ – see what we did there? This is an interesting and eclectic hipster hang out, that looks so cool it’s been used as a backdrop for fashion labels, commercial TV and even National Geographic! They care a lot about what they stand for and collaborate with cultural events and music festivals so they’re always bringing their A game. Check out their website for their cool and quirky events.

SIN CITY
Exactly what it says on the tin – this place is full of sin! Couches that look suspiciously like beds, topless waiters, waitresses in underwear, and cages and podiums to shake what your momma gave you. It’s got some world-class multi-million dollar décor, and is a haunt for A-List celebs like Chris Brown and Lil Jon. With an exclusive Cîroc bar, and ladies nights on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it would be rude not to check out this “playground for gold coast socialites”.

THE RUBY TRAMP
Completely the opposite of trampy, this place is definitely an upmarket lounge bar. Although you’d be expecting this in the ‘classy and sophisticated’ section of this post, the place is pretty slow until 11pm when people fill in and start the party. It’s got a trendy, rustic style (leather lounges, coffee tables, fireplace, deer heads, antique lamps), and it’s all about the electro tunes. A contrast that definitely works for them.

Feel like partying at Surfers after reading this? Check out our packages to get yourself over there now. There’s no party like a Gold Coast party!

7 alternative places to visit in the USA in 2017

Forget the Hollywood Sign, Empire State Building and Grand Canyon! We’re here to share with you those little hidden gems you’ve never thought about visiting in the USA. From prisons housing the world’s most infamous criminals to speakeasies hidden behind telephone boxes, museums full of shrunken heads and sleepy sloth sanctuaries, here’s our pick of 7 alternative places to visit in the USA in 2017…

1. Antelope Canyon

antelope canyon

Where?

Arizona, located within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.

Why?

Due to its high levels of flash flooding Antelope Canyon is a particularly dangerous spot to visit. So dangerous it can only be reached with the help of a tour guide. However, thanks to millions of years’ worth of wind and water erosion Antelope Canyon’s sandstone is smooth, flowing and just downright gorgeous, making it one of the most photographed and visited slot canyons in America. Just THINK of those Instagrams!

2. Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Where?

San Francisco Bay, California

Why?

In all its 29 years of operation no prisoner has ever successfully escaped this prison… or so they claim! Also known as ‘The Rock’, Alcatraz held many famous American criminals such as Al Capone, Bumpy Johnson, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz). Take a tour and learn all about its rich history or for a bit of extra spook opt for the night tour!

3. A Sloth Sanctuary

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Where?

Rainer, Oregon

Why?

Just look at his little, smiling sloth face! How could you not want to go? Sloth Captive Husbandry Centre in Oregon is home to the largest captive population of adult sloths in the WORLD! The guys over at the sloth centre are dedicated to the care and research on these unusual animals. The centre allows small groups to have up close encounters with the sloths. Imagine meeting the world’s most chilled out animal?

4. Telsa Coil at Griffith Observatory

telsa coil

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Where?

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California

Why?

This is one of the most impressive things you will see at the Griffith Observatory. The Telsa Coil throws out lightning bolts every hour on the hour. Situated in a newly designed alcove of the observatory, the loud zapping noises are amplified for maximum wow factor! Forget ALL about the views on the outside of the observatory.

5. Please Don’t Tell

t Tell speak easy entrance

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Where?

St. Mark’s Place, New York City

Why?

Well firstly, you have to enter via a telephone box! Even in this social media age, where nothing remains a secret, Please Don’t Tell seems to do a pretty good job at keeping itself hush hush.  A throwback to the speakeasy, prohibition days Please Don’t Tell is a glamourous little bar where the menu is unknown until entering. Its website is literally one page with a reservation phone number on it. Head to Crif Dogs, a late night fried hot dog joint, enter via the telephone box, dial the secret telephone number and the most exciting part is about to start!

The Museum of Weird

Museum of weird Austin Texas

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Where?

Austin, Texas

Why?

Because dime museums are a dying breed! It may not look like much at first but Austin’s Museum of Weird is actually a very rare thing indeed. Created by Steve Busti artist and entrepreneur, it’s situated in the back of his ‘Lucky Lizard’ store. The museum houses many curious attractions including the feejee mermaid, a cyclops pig, a hand of glory (dried and pickled hand), two-headed chicken, shrunken heads and a mummies. It may cost a little more than a dime now, but the weirdness is certainly worth it!

6. San Fran Street Slides

STREET SLIDES SAN FRAN

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Where?

Seward Street, San Francisco

Why?

Slides. Grown-up slides people! Need we say more? Grab a trusty piece of cardboard, head to Seward Mini-Park and you’ll discover two giant slides tucked away behind the bushes. The sign on entering says ‘Adults must be accompanied by children’, it’s a whole heap of fun and a hidden treasure you’d never expect to find in San Fran!

7.Cadillac Ranch

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Where?

Amarillo Texas, Route 66

Why?

Because who doesn’t love a Cadillac art installation? The Cadillac ranch is an iconic pit-stop along Route 66, not far from Amarillo. Also known as the ‘Caddy Ranch’ this public artwork display was created in 1974 by artists from San Francisco known as the Ant Farm. They wanted to show off the Cadillac’s tail fins and perplex the residents of Amarillo. The cars are supposed to be tilted at exactly the same angle as the faces of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, in Egypt! Ever since 1976 visitors have painted graffiti on them, so why not join in and take the ultimate Instagram snap?

There are so many undiscovered gems in the states. It’s not always about the tourist hot-spots! What will you discover on your USA adventure?

A day in Melbourne

Our Student Ambassador Katya from RMIT University has moved to Melbourne from Newcastle and shares her top tips on where to go in the city

Forget Sydney, London and New York – Melbourne is the most livable city in the world and this is why…

Best Bars
No.1 – The Croft Institute - 21 Croft Alley, Melbourne
Hidden down a laneway in Chinatown, The Croft Institute is a wonderfully, creepy science lab- inspired bar. Even the toilets look like a mental asylum!
Open 5pm – 1am (Mon –Thurs), 5pm – 3am (Fri -Sat), closed Sunday

Image: wa2up.com

No.2 – Boston Sub / Jungle Boy - 96 Chapel St, Windsor.
Don’t be fooled by the exterior fish and chip shop, the big fridge door leads you to an outside bar!
Open 5pm – 1am every day

No.3 – Naked for Satan
With a cocktail list larger than a novel and a glorious west facing balcony – this gem will not disappoint.

Image: nakedforsatan.com.au

No.4 – Rooftop Bar and Cookie
Inspired cocktails and tasty Thai food, with sweeping views of the city at the cleverly named ‘Rooftop Bar’ – this is bar far one of my favorite destinations for an atmospheric night with friends

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No.5 – Asian Beer Café - Melbourne Central Level 3, 211 La Trobe Street Melbourne Central
A uni student’s heaven with cheap drinks and meals overlooking the hustle and bustle of Swanston street.
Open 11am – 1pm every day

Feel like exploring…

• Degraves Street- the quintessential Melbournian laneway
• Hosier lane/ACDC lane- street art on steroids
• Fitzroy- vintage clothing and an array of restaurants and cafes
• Lygon Street- love Italian food? Eat here!
• The State Library of Victoria- this historical and picturesque library makes you want to study
• Eureka Skydeck 88 – 360 degree views of Melbourne

No weekend plans? Perfect!
• The free tram zone means you can literally jump on and off where you like
• Federation Square
• National Gallery of Victoria
• Queen Vic markets
• Camberwell markets (Such a treasure trove)

That will keep you busy! How would you spend the perfect day in Melbourne?

Top spots along East Coast USA!

Thinking of a summer road trip in the states? Excellent! But before you go any further, forget those West Coast ideas and get ready to drive the lesser known road of East Coast USA. From Boston to Miami you’ll embark on a roadie that’s jam-packed with history, charming towns, iconic cities, buzzing nightlife and some of the most fantastic food you will ever eat, move-over California, we’re all about cruising the East Coast this year! To help you plan this epic drive, here’s our pick of ultimate East Coast stops along the way…

Boston

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11 reasons to visit the Gold Coast

Hanging out on the beach all day getting your tan on, or grabbing a surfboard and hitting the waves – this is the epitome of the Australian dream. One of the places where you can do all this and more is the Gold Coast. Need further explanation as to why you should visit? You greedy thing, you. Here’s our 11 reasons to get on a plane/in a campervan and get yourself to the east coast of Australia!

Beaches that are out of this world

Image: Gold Coast

If beaches are your thing, the Gold Coast has got you covered. The coastline stretches for 57 kilometres (35 miles) and you can pick from 20 different beaches; what better excuse to take a 20-day holiday than visiting a new Aussie beach every day? Surfers Paradise is probably the most well-known of them all, and is highly distinctive as the skyline is practically on the beach. Then a little further South of Surfers you will find yourself on Mermaid Beach, unfortunately it’s not named after the abundance of mermaids nearby (we were sad too), but it is known for its laid-back appeal, which can be great if you’ve been going crazy in Surfers Paradise for the last few days. You can also take a trip down ‘Millionaire’s Row’, look at the fancy mansions and maybe have a little cry about how much you want one. South of Surfers you’ve got Burleigh Heads, which is famous for its surfing spots (or just for ogling the surfers!), and if you move even further south you’ll find yourself in Coolangatta, another top spot for surfing and a great place to visit if you love the old-school charm of a seaside town.
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