Top 10 hangouts for students on the Gold Coast

All uni students need a bit of a breather and time to soak up some midday sun with good food, music and coffee on a budget. Tourist hotspots aside, Bond University student Milly explores some of the best uni hangout spots for students on the Gold Coast so you can go where the locals go.

1. Little Beans
If you want to know where to find most uni students on a Sunday sesh, head to Little Beans café at Nobby’s Beach. This place gets ridiculously packed on weekends, so if you’re not there by early afternoon, forget it. Little Beans gets pumping because it offers some of the best coffee, scrumptious food and live music. What a great way to wind down the week with your friends.

2. Miami Marketta
A more recent invention, Miami Marketta has drawn students in from far and wide. It’s a free mini monthly festival on Friday night, featuring some of the best art, music and food that the GC has to offer. It’s funky and fresh, featuring an additional food festival every Saturday from 4pm – 10pm. As a student, you’ll get sick of Subway soon enough, so why not sample some diverse international cuisine, mingle with the locals and explore artsy market stalls. A student “starter bar” loyalty card soon to be introduced will also give members discounts on Saturdays, featuring DJs, 50% deals and $5 specials.

3. Elk Espresso
Undoubtedly one of the most popular GC hangout spots, Elk has a great rep in the coffee industry. Their breakfast and brunch menu is also very popular, with students walking to the beach, only a few metres away. Don’t judge this place from the outside though; you’ll just see a giant shed. Elk’s décor is like something out of a Frankie magazine – simplicity reigns with delicate vases, fern leaves and hand-drawn reindeer paintings. They also run quaint events like Curry by Candlelight. With a friendly atmosphere, this place is always happening and it’s hard to find parking in the mornings, so get in quick.

4. 3 Beans
What’s not to like about a 24 hour coffee place? Situated in the heart of Broadbeach, 3 Beans attracts insomniacs and early birds alike. You’ll often find the café humming at all kinds of odd hours during the day and night. It’s a small, cosy kind of place offering pretty good coffee and milkshakes. Students love hitting it up for midnight coffee runs pending late nights completing assignments.

5. Black Coffee Lyrics
Forget signs; only the real locals know where to find this place. Once in the Surfers Paradise glitter strip, walk through the mini China town and up the dodgy looking stairs. Keep walking right till the very end and you’ll stumble upon BCL, often dubbed “hipster central”. It’s a café by day, filled with vintage books, collectibles and board games. BCL is known as sporting the best fair trade coffee on the Coast, and turns into a wicked bar by night. Their breakfast menu is also a must. Don’t be surprised if you get raised eyebrows upon entering though – this place is known to attract artsy purple-haired, suspender-wearing, jazz-loving types, so be sure to dress the part if you want to fit in.

6. Beer Garden
This place caters for all tastes and styles (as long as you're over 18!). Each night of the week is differently themed, from Pool Comp Night to Twisted Thursdays, a local music night. However, for the biggest and best head down on Tuesdays, which is uni/backpacker night. Beer Garden draws quite a crowd and is always great fun dancing to party anthems. There’s a bar, dance platform, pool tables and large outdoor deck for those that just want to sit back and mingle. What’s not to love about great music, cheap drinks and a mix of locals and backpackers?

7. The Cave at Nobby’s
The Cave is an eclectic hotspot for locals and tourists alike, supporting GC artists on weekdays and weekends. This lounge café hosts scrumptious tapas and three different daily menus. If you want somewhere to settle back with music, this is the place to go. There is also a trivia night on Wednesdays which is great fun with friends. With comfortable scruffy-looking couches, chilled-out staff and vintage décor, the Cave is a must check-out spot.

8. Starbucks, Broadbeach
Situated on that very well-known corner of the food strip in Broadbeach is Starbucks, with its all-too-familiar green logo. At any day of the week, you’ll find it filled with locals, relaxing after a busy day at work or catching up with friends. It’s where all the socialites go, sipping their ice-cold Frappuccinos, watching the world go by. It’s the perfect spot to people-watch or write a promising novel on your laptop. Starbucks always maintains a positive atmosphere, with people bound to bump into familiar faces.

9. Parkwood Tavern, Southport
Just up the road from Griffith University, Parkwood Tavern is the place to go for uni students aged over 18 years. Thursday night is packed with students, so if you’re a Griffith student, this is the pit stop for you. Parkwood Tavern always gets high reviews from the locals, with a great vibe and friendly new faces to be found. You’ll mix and mingle right into the night.

10. James Street,  Burleigh Beach
James Street is the go-to place for caffeine lovers, hippies and artsy types. It is a little blend of life reminiscent of Byron Bay. The street features lots of interesting shops including vegetarian cuisine (Govinda’s is a must!), delish coffee shops, op shops and eclectic brands. James Street is right next to Burleigh beach – one of the GC’s most popular and iconic beaches. So hit up the sand, surf and sun after a great breakfast or coffee catch-up. This is what the GC is all about!