It’s synonymous with sun and surf, but the Gold Coast has more to offer visitors than a tan. Especially when you step off the strip.

But to know where to go, first you need to centre yourself. There’s hundreds of attractions in this town built on activities and adventuring, and just as many accommodation options. Orchid Avenue straddles the north end of the Esplanade and offers close access to the beach, markets and nightime dining and neon treats to explore. Bunker down here at Hilton Surfers Paradise – which also houses The Deck, featuring four heated pools, sauna, spa and bar – and make your way into the sunshine.

Blow out the cobwebs with breakfast at Sandbar, a refurbished waterfront venue five minutes’ walk from your hotel. Hung with greenery, Sandbar’s vibe is laid-back and beachy. Breakfast staples include the Good Ol’ Bacon and Eggs, and Feast de Resistance, with sausages and hash browns and everything in-between. For the health conscious, there’s Lean and Green (crushed peas, asparagus, kale, pesto, poached eggs and more), cauliflower rice (with grilled haloumi, shredded beetroot, dukkah, avocado and eggs) and extravagant smoothie bowls topped with fresh sliced banana, apple, strawberry, coconut, chia seeds and house-made granola.

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If you’re craving coffee after your iced matcha green tea latte, head to Stairwell Coffee for a mid-morning hit – it’s a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop favoured by locals for espresso and cold brew made from locally roasted beans.

Some of the best shopping on the Gold Coast can be found at Pacific Fair, Broadbeach, a 10-minute drive from the Hilton. Among the 400 stores are high-end luxury fashion houses, including Louis Vuitton and Gucci, as well as top local retailers such as Alice McCall, Camilla, Ginger & Smart and Incu.

Refuel by heading 10 minutes further south for lunch at Paddock Bakery, one of the Gold Coast’s favourite destination cafes. Open seven days, Paddock occupies a quaint weatherboard cottage in Miami. In 2017, a new indoor space was added to the cafe with the creation of The Loft, a treetop homestead lovingly restored and filled with antiques. The all-day breakfast and lunch menu features dippy eggs, house-made sausage rolls, salads, sandwiches and burgers. It’s only lunch, but don’t skip dessert -– Paddock is famous for its decadent and endlessly inventive baked treats: Crunchie-topped cruffins filled with chocolate ganache and salted caramel, semi-sourdough doughnuts filled with raspberry jam or crème brulee, and strawberry and vanilla bean custard tarts.

From your accommodation, you have your pick of the Gold Coast’s beaches within close reach – regardless of whether surfing or sunbathing is your preferred beachside pastime. Head over to Miami Beach for an afternoon dip and afterwards, enjoy a cocktail at Hilton’s Fix bar, a chic venue featuring a glamorous 1930s-inspired interior and frosty drinks (there’s also a poolside bar, if you want to multitask).

Arrive early for dinner at Social Eating House – a no-bookings policy means this acclaimed Broadbeach eatery fills up quickly. The restaurant’s sharing menu is designed for grazing. Start with natural oysters served with mignonette and lemon, hot sauce, or nahm jim granita, before moving onto a selection of small plates: jumbo Iluka king prawns, spiced soft shell crab served with green mango, and succulent barbeque pork collar with carrot, brussels sprouts, speck, hazelnut and native plum.

Larger share plates feature generous servings of tender salt bush lamb shoulder slow-roasted in sheep’s milk yoghurt and free-range organic chargrilled Barossa Valley Chook served with lemon, garlic and fresh herbs. A hot tip: don’t forget to check the specials board for sashimi and market fish of the day.

The dessert menu provides the toughest decision of the night – should you choose the milk chocolate and peanut butter marquise (served with salted caramel, hazelnut soil, and banana ice cream); the yuzu cheesecake cannoli with matcha tea custard, black sesame ice cream; or a classic affogato with espresso and a cheeky shot of liqueur?

Finish proceedings at the Gold Coast’s premier tequila bar, Bon Bon, next door to Mexican taqueria Bonita Bonita at Mermaid Beach. On the menu you’ll find a mean Margarita, delicious spiced sangria and an assortment of Mexican beers. Catch a taxi back to the Hilton at Surfers and wake up overlooking this ever-sunlit slice of Queensland.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Hilton Discover. Hilton Discover encourages travellers to discover a destination like a local.