Rolling hills, dense bushland and sprawling acreage – the Hunter Valley is New South Wales’s most established wine region and is one of the most romantic weekend getaways. But families are quickly catching on to Hunter Valley’s family-friendly side, with outdoor activities in abundance, vineyards with dedicated kid zones and well-equipped hotels. Combine all this with a serious dose of country hospitality and you know your family are in for a real treat – and it’s all within easy driving distance from Sydney.
To help with planning, we have rounded up the best family-friendly places to visit, eat and stay in the Hunter Valley.
For a family weekend away in the Hunter Valley be sure to…
Start your day with a coffee and breakfast hit.
The hearty breakfast at the Redsalt Restaurant in the Crowne Plaza is hard to pass up. For a classic breakfast roll or eggs benedict, The Deck Café in Lovedale serves classic Australian breakfasts, plus they have a kids menu.
Stock up on fresh local produce.
For the best produce in the region, drop by the Handmade in the Hunter markets; held each Saturday and some Sundays. For cheese, cured meats and accompaniments, the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory showcase the best produce of the region.
Fit in a retail therapy hit.
The Hunter Valley Gardens has a small little village with select speciality stores – The Australian Alpaca Farm and Village Books are perfect for the weekend. For a touch of nostalgia, head straight for The British Lolly Shop.
Explore the region.
From electric bicycles to Segway’s, there are plenty of different ways to get around and explore the Hunter. For the more adventurous, opt for a trail ride with Hunter Valley Horse Riding & Adventures.
Soak up the vistas and local history.
The Hunter Valley is surrounded by national parks – Yengo and Werakata National Parks are home to swimming holes and walking trails. Head to The Rock near Pokolbin Mountain Road for a view of the valley. For history buffs, take the Singleton or Wollombi Heritage Walk’s.
Make sure to...
Grab a casual lunch.
For a relaxed lunch, Amanda’s on the Edge is set on a grassy hill with vistas and has a modern Australian menu to match. Potters is a pub-slash-brewery with casual pub fare. For a cosy lunch by the fireplace and kids play area, Harrigan’s Irish Pub is the place to be.
Teeming with sweet treats, ice cream and drool-worthy fudge, the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company is a welcome break from the vineyards. Plus, the open grassy area is perfect for running off the sugar high.
Some cellar doors around the Hunter Valley are catering to the entire family, namely Scarborough Wine Co with activity packs and giant Jenga, while Misty Glen Wines has a dedicated kid zone. There is free child minding at Mistletoe Winery and Wandin Estate’s open, outdoor space is perfect for the kids to run free.
Time for dinner.
It’s hard to go past the Lovedale Bar and Restaurant at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. It’s a casual eatery with modern Australian dishes and a dedicated kids menu. For something a little bit fancier, head to Bistro Molines.
Before You Leave, Make Some Time to Visit…
Located 10 minutes from Pokolbin, the Hunter Valley Zoo has a modest collection of native and international fauna. Throughout the day there are keeper talks, but for a more interactive experience you can get up close and personal with a meerkat and feed farmyard animals, kangaroos and birds.
The Hunter Valley Gardens is a beautiful backdrop to a family day out. Take the Gardens train around the site to soak up the perfectly manicured gardens. The Shopping Village has general stores and wine cellars for a picnic among the sprawling grounds. Take a dip on the super slide or go around on the Ferris wheel. Come Christmas time, the Gardens are lit up in a festive spectacular.
For an authentic country experience, check-in to the Starline Alpaca Farmstay resort. The cottage style accommodation is perfect for families and the expansive grounds include a swimming pool, spa, sauna, tennis courts, children's playground and alpaca farm, where you can feed them.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley has made it easy for families with their kids’ club. Featuring a games room, carousel and train, on weekends there are fully supervised sessions available. With recreation and dining facilities on site, you’ll be hard pressed to get the kids to leave the resort.
Situated in the Hunter Valley Gardens, the Mercure Resort is close to everything you need. Literally. The accommodation is modern, yet cosy, with a range of rooms available to suit your needs, and you can step out to enjoy the gardens or be at cellar doors within minutes.