From wild national parks and sun-kissed beaches to bustling bars, boutiques and trendy food haunts, the Central Coast is one of the best – and closest, Sydneysiders can be there within 90 minutes – places to escape for a weekend with the girls. Wander through the wilderness, browse the local markets or treat yourself to an indulgent spa session, this coastal gem is so worth escaping the city for. Here’s our pick of the best places to eat, drink, stay and explore.
COFFEE & DAYTIME EATS
Catch up over coffee and breakfast at Bar Botanica
Do as the locals do and head to Bar Botanica for freshly-roasted coffee and garden to plate cuisine. Created by Julia and Dan Hughes (aka Mr Goaty Gelato), the rustic interiors, light-filled space and beautiful greenery, make this the ultimate weekend hangout.
Pop into Ludo’s Gourmet Patisserie for a French pastry
People travel near and far for Ludo’s sweet and savoury delights. While you’re there, stock up on goodies for later at Ludo’s Gourmet Pantry.
Taste-test the all-day brunch at The Glass Onion Society
For the morning after a late-night cocktail stint… Perched on Long Jetty, this warm and welcoming spot serves a delicious modern Australian-style brunch. It’s all day too, so it doesn’t matter what time you decide to rock up.
Stop at Bellyfish for brunch
As you enter Terrigal, Bellyfish is the first café you’ll see and it’s well worth a visit. The chefs pair up with local producers for a fun, modern Australian menu that changes with the seasons.
Get your caffeine hit at The Rollerdoor Espresso Bar
Open from 6:30am, the Rollerdoor Espresso Bar in Erina is perfect for the weekend coffee run. Regardless of why you're stopping in, make sure to take full advantage of the pastries on offer... you won't regret it.
FROM CASUAL LUNCHES TO FINE DINING
Nestled in the bushland of Mt White, Saddles is the shiniest new addition to the Central Coast’s foodie scene. Owned by the dream team behind Bombini, the menu supports local producers and wine-makers, with most produce plucked from the kitchen garden.
Fuel up with a burger at Chop n’ Grind
These aren’t just any old burgers – Chop n’ Grind has been awarded the ‘best burgers on the Central Coast’ by AGFG for two years in a row. They’re a little juicy, a little messy, and very delicious.
Tuck into fresh seafood at Woy Woy Fishermen’s Wharf
Because nothing beats a serving of fish n’ chips after a sunny morning on the sand. This place – which boasts a prime waterfront location – has been in business for four decades, so you know it’s good.
Dine straight from the grill at Bonfire
Boasting a downtown New York feel with leather finishings and moody interiors, the open kitchen allows diners to get close to the behind the scenes action.
Splash out on a fine dining dinner at Cowrie Restaurant
Overlooking Terrigal Beach, this beautiful restaurant has scooped up a slew of awards over the years. The menu is Modern Australian with a seafood focus, but to try a bit of everything, go for the tasting menu. You won’t be disappointed.
Indulge in homemade pasta at Young Barons
In Woy Woy, this hotspot serves a perfect plate of pasta every time, along with a handful of Italian-inspired mains. The delicious tagliatelle is our pick, topped with lamb ragu, parsley, and pecorino.
Dig into smoky delights at Sounds on West
Part of the Six String Brewing Company, this moreish smokehouse dishes up Southern-style meats, sides and sauces along with boozy and non-boozy drinks (like the best lemonade you’ve tasted), all made on-site.
Get a taste of Italy at Bombini
Sitting pretty on two acres of rolling greenery, this local Italian is famous for its seasonal, sustainable fare and incredible wine list. Go for dinner and whatever you do, order the housemade sorbetti for dessert. Bombini also has a cooking school – if you and your girlfriends are keen cooks, sign up for the woodfired pizza or gnocchi-making class!
Sip on cocktails at Pocket Bar
This Central Coast hangout is wildly popular, thanks to bespoke cocktails (if your favourite tipple isn’t on the menu – just ask the bartender to whip it up), a long wine list, and a solid selection of tapas plates.
Soak up the scene and listen to live music at Terrigal Hotel
Just steps from the ocean, Terrigal Hotel is a sprawling space with plenty to keep you occupied. The lively local watering hole has it all: pub grub, music and karaoke nights.
Grab G&Ts at Distillery Botanica in Erina
Run by Phillip Moore – herbalist turned gin maker – this boutique distillery is a must-visit. While you’re sipping, wander through the three-acres of ‘fragrant gardens,’ which is where Phillip picks the aromas for his gin.
Get a drink at Six String Brewing Company
Central Coast’s first boutique brewery. It’s all about the buzz at Six String Brewing Co. Pull up a chair and enjoy an ale in the sun. On weekends, you may be treated to live music and a pop-up Mexican cantina, too.
Take a seat at Bon Bon Bar, the Central Coast's cool supper club
Stop in for a cheeky Tom Collins with the girls, and stay for a delicious share plate and wine-fuelled evening.
THINGS TO DO
Stroll the Ettalong Markets and Mountain Growers Markets
Treasure hunt for clothing, art, and handcrafted jewellery at Ettalong, then pick up fruit and veggies, freshly baked bread, antiques and homewares at Mountain Growers (located at Peats Ridge).
Go stand-up paddleboarding on Avoca Lake
Burn off all that delicious food and drink by paddleboarding or kayaking on the beautiful Avoca Lake. You can rent gear from Aquafun.
Swim and sunbake at the Central Coast’s iconic beaches
Pack your cossies, sunscreen and towels and head to the beach. Our favourites are Terrigal Beach, Umina Beach, The Entrance Beach, Copacabana Beach and Lobster Beach for a little more privacy. Want to learn to surf? The Central Coast Surf Academy runs classes at a string of beaches along the coast.
Picnic and splash around at Somersby Falls
The waterfall itself is stunning, and the surrounding area is perfect for picnics, with BBQs, tables, and lush rainforest views.
Kick off your morning with the Patonga to Pearl Beach hike
The 2-hour hike begins at the Patonga Boat Ramp and takes you on a scenic climb through Brisbane Waters National Park. Stop at Warrah Lookout for breathtaking views of Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River. Wear your cossie so you can go for a refreshing dip when you reach Pearl Beach. A quicker option is the Box Head Track, which takes about an hour.
Laugh your way through a dance class at the Central Coast Dance Centre
A girls' getaway isn’t complete without a good story to tell, and a dance class will more than deliver. You can book a private class (we’ve heard the Beyoncé one is fun), and you’ll get bubbly and nibbles upon arrival.
Catch a movie at the Avoca Beach Picture Theatre
Rained in? Make the most of it by watching a flick at this award-winning cinema, which screens arty, classic and blockbuster films.
Pack a picnic and make your way to Maitland Bay. Walk down the 2km trail to the secluded bay, where you’ll find a shipwreck dating back to 1898. The bay is great at anytime, and best at sunset.
WHERE TO STAY
From $1000 per night (Per person, twin share)
This boutique hotel has 25 suites, each of which feature Hamptons-style décor with luxe detailing, like a bath overlooking the lake. Bells is famous for its sprawling acres of manicured gardens, as well as its pool, day spa and restaurant.
From $380 per night
This four-bedroom designer retreat is as idyllic as it gets. It’s quintessentially Australian, with a coastal-chic fitout, open-plan living areas, and a deck that overlooks the ocean.
From $900 per night (Minimum 3 days)
From $320 per night
From $300 per night