At about 2½ hours north of Sydney, the Sydney to Hunter Valley drive is ideal for a weekend away. But when visiting the Hunter Valley, instead of heading straight to the wine, stop off at a few fun, outdoor sights along the way.
The lush beauty of the Hunter Valley is unmistakable. Its rolling green landscape is vast and the endless rows of vines are like soldiers on parade. But sadly wine regions don’t tend to hold the same fascination for kids as they do for adults.
This trip has something to keep everyone happy!
Alternatively, get out of Sydney for a –
- 1 Sydney to Hunter Valley drive
- 2 Things to do in the Hunter Valley with kids
- 3 Where to stay in the Hunter Valley with kids
- 4 Where to eat in the Hunter Valley with kids
Sydney to Hunter Valley drive
Stop off between Sydney and the Hunter Valley to stretch your legs and give the kids a chance to run off some energy.
Our favourite spots are Terrigal, where you can splash at the beach or scramble over rocks at The Skillion (or both!), and the Australian Reptile Park.
Terrigal has a beautiful beach with sand for miles and plenty of cafes and shops nearby.
Crowne Plaza Terrigal will provide you with a bag full of beach toys if you stay overnight on the Family Getaway package. Or take your own!
The Skillion, Terrigal
A picturesque 15 minute walk will take you from Terrigal Beach around the coastline to the start of the short, steep climb up to The Skillion headland and lookout. Alternatively you could park at the base.
After taking in the view the kids will love rolling or running down the grassy hill.
At the base of The Skillion is a rocky landscape perfect for young adventurers.
Australian Reptile Park, Somersby
At only 1¼ hours from Sydney, the Australian Reptile Park makes for a fun day trip on its own.
The name is not a true reflection of the wide range of Australian animals that you will find here. Yes there’s plenty of reptiles, including Elvis, the ginormous crocodile, but there are also koalas, kangaroos, platypuses, echidnas, Tasmanian devils and many more.
The playground is always a big hit too.
Things to do in the Hunter Valley with kids
Hunter Valley Gardens
The Storybook Garden alone is worth a visit to these glorious gardens, especially when visiting the Hunter Valley with kids. The kids love seeing their favourite nursery rhyme characters depicted in colourful statues.
Take the little train for the easy way to view the rest of the 60 spectacular acres. The novelty factor is sure to keep the kids entertained. Best to book ahead for the train though. It’s very popular!
My full Hunter Valley Gardens review is here.
Audrey Wilkinson winery
Scheduling in 5 wineries might be pushing the kids’ patience a little, but a couple of well-chosen ones will satisfy the wine-lover in you.
Head to Audrey Wilkinson for the views. Its elevated position gives you that picture perfect outlook over the stunning countryside. Taste a couple of delightful drops and let the kids hunt for grapes on the roadside vines.
Peterson Champagne House
We love having breakfast here. The food is amazing and the outlook is gorgeous.
But whether you eat here or not, a glass of bubbles takes away your cares at any time of day. Pink bubbles is even better!
So explore the beautiful grounds, be tempted at The Hunter Valley Chocolate Company onsite store and sample some delicious bubbles.
The fabulous thing about so many of the Hunter Valley wineries is the vast amount of space. Even if there’s nothing else for the kids to do, at least they can run their little legs off.
Tempus Two is housed in a magnificent architect-designed building together with the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese shop and the Hunter Valley Gelato Company.
Grab an ice cream for the kids to enjoy while you get busy at the cellar door.
Where to stay in the Hunter Valley with kids
Crowne Plaza Terrigal
Crowne Plaza is conveniently located in the heart of Terrigal, across the road from the beach.
It offers very family friendly hotel-style accommodation with a fabulous buffet breakfast, wonderful pool area and a kids club on the school holidays.
My full Crowne Plaza Terrigal review is here.
Harrigan’s Irish Pub & Accommodation
You might not think so by the name, but Harrigan’s has very comfortable motel-style accommodation which is ideal for families.
We had a Premier Suite with two bedrooms, lounge, terrace and spa bathroom. It was wonderful to have so much space!
Where to eat in the Hunter Valley with kids
This is where I’m heading next time we’re in Terrigal. Massively popular, opposite the beach and super cool to boot.
Looks like a winner to me!
Sushi is always an easy option for the kids, but when they discovered sushi train they were in love! Endless entertainment and yummy food – a fabulous kid-friendly combination.
Nothing’s far from anything in Terrigal, but Sushi Canape is right in the centre of town. Lovely service and delicious food.
Harrigan’s Irish Pub
Make sure you give the Irish Pub a try at Harrigan’s. It is essentially a family-friendly bistro with a cosy atmosphere and activity packs with the kids meals.
And having dinner on-site means a short walk back to your room afterwards, rather than having to drive. As I was solo parenting when we were here, I made good use of the opportunity to sample some local wine over dinner.
Peterson Champagne House
The pancakes here are divine, they have a kids’ menu and they serve bubbles with breakfast. That’s three big ticks in my book!
They are well set up with the restaurant overlooking the vines and garden, so when the kids have finished eating they can go out for a play where you can see them.