From wild national parks, creative retail pop-ups like Blank Canvas 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 sojourn. Wander through the hinterland wilderness, browse the local markets or treat yourself to a shopping spree, this coastal gem is so worth escaping the city for. Here’s our pick of the best things to do on the Central Coast ̶ the perfect list to share with your friends to kick start the holiday planning.
Best Things to do on the Central Coast: Arts & Culture
Photo credits: House of Lacuna, TRADE the MARK, Jessica May Creative
Celebrate the local creatives of the Central Coast with Blank Canvas, a month-long showcase and retail pop-up is all about harnessing the creative spirit of the Central Coast and their local makers and artisans. Twelve local creatives will be highlighted during the festival, hosting weekly takeovers at the Blank Canvas spaces at Ettalong Beach and Long Jetty. Showcasing everything from local fashion brands like House of Lacuna, to photography and even leather making. Homewares and ceramics from TRADE the MARK make the perfect souvenir or keepsake. Through this month-long celebration of creativity, you can meet local artisans, hear them talk about their work, buy direct from creators and support small business owners. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this is the perfect way to give back to makers and creators who had been adversely affected by the bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday 1st April – Friday 30th April
Retail pop-up store locations:
199A Ocean View Road, Ettalong Beach
Shop 11, 314 – 316 The Entrance Road, Long Jetty
Visit the Gosford Regional Gallery
For those with even the slightest appreciation of art, a visit to the Gosford Regional Gallery is a must. Beautifully set on 22 hectares of public park on the shores of Caroline Bay in East Gosford, the gallery showcases a wide variety of visual art, photography, sculpture and design. Plus, there’s an onsite café and the Edogawa Commemorative Garden with its Japanese landscaping offering a zen setting.
36 Webb Street, East Gosford
Book your spot at Centred Ceramic’s Wine and Clay Friday
For a fun night that will bring out your inner artist, book a seat at Centred Ceramic’s Friday night workshop. You’ll get expert advice as you sculpt your cup, mug or small platter, and better still, you can BYO vino. Bonus!
246 West Street, Umina Beach
Take an art class at Exhale Art Studio or Pinot & Picasso Terrigal
Head to Long Jetty for a creative session with Exhale Art Studio. Known for their range of creative art classes and workshops they host everything from paint and sip to life drawing.
Enjoy a wine and art session with Pinot & Picasso in the heart of Terrigal, as you perfect your art in a social evening class.
Exhale Art Studio - Unit 7, 314-316 The Entrance Road, Long Jetty
Pinot & Picasso Terrigal - 2/6 Pine Tree Lane, Terrigal
Book it in – see a show from the nation’s finest at The Arthouse Wyong
Some of the hottest acts head to The Arthouse – from comedy, music, performance and theatrical; think The Whitlams, Tommy Little, Lior, The Sydney Comedy Showcase, and much more. Book in for the rescheduled line-up, starting from October 2020.
19-21 Margaret Street, Wyong
Best Things to do on the Central Coast: Eat & Drink
Photo credit: Glee Coffee (Top), Rise Mofo (Left), Lords of Pour (Right)
Take the Central Coast's unofficial coffee tour
Local roasting house Glee Coffee at Wyong is a neighbourhood favourite. Housed in the historic Chapman Building precinct in the heart of the village, you'll feel at ease sipping the day away and snacking on their delectable brunch bites. In Toukley, stop into Rise Mofo for your morning brew, and be sure to take a look at their beautiful, sunny yellow mandala mural before you leave. At Lords of Pour in Ettalong, you can expect a delicious brunch feast. This uber-cool locale serves up specialty coffee and simple breakfast classics with a modern twist. We have our heart set on the pulled pork toastie. Delish!
Glee Coffee- Shop 9, 14 Alison Road, Wyong and Shop 4, 490 Central Coast Highway, Erina Heights
Rise Mofo- 3/327 Main Road, Toukley
Lords of Pour- 199a Ocean View Road, Ettalong Beach
Enjoy a long lunch at Bon Bon
The Central Coast's cool hangout, The Bon Pavilion’s Bon Bon is the perfect locale for a mid-week catch up or weekend brunch. Start with bubbles and shared snacks, and make your way through their hearty classics and premium drops.
159 Mann Street, Gosford
Indulge the sweet tooth at Bouffant the bakery
Located in a heritage building in the heart of a transforming Gosford central, pop into this brand new creative wonderland to satisfy your sweet treat cravings. Serving up a variety of sugary confections, doughnuts and other delectable treats, you'll find it hard to order just one pastry.
38 Mann Street, Gosford
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.
74 Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal
Book a seat at fine diner Yellowtail
Situated in the heart of Terrigal village, this cosy restaurant is all about flavour and creativity. Yellowtail’s fine dining menu heroes Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines, and each dish highlights their signature culinary flair.
3/1 Campbell Crescent, Terrigal
Sip and snack at Bar Toto
This Italian trattoria is the local go-to for cocktails and antipasti. You’ll want to try the calamari fritti, arancini and burrata truffle. Delicious!
83/189 Ocean View Road, Ettalong Beach
For more amazing foodie destinations, be sure to check out our round up of the best restaurants on the Central Coast
Best Things to do on the Central Coast: Shop
Pick up some sustainable threads at Shadow Bang Apothecary and Supply
Not only housed in the most delightful triangular shopfront (just calling out for an Insta-photo) it’s also home to fashion and beauty with heart. They are known for stocking sustainable brands by female creatives who are committed to providing ethical or small batch alternatives to commercial products for women.
310B The Entrance Road, Long Jetty
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 Markets (located at Peats Ridge).
Ettalong Markets- 189 Ocean View Road, Ettalong Beach
Mountain Growers Markets- 1109 Peats Ridge Road, Peats Ridge
Buy some chic threads at La Boheme Lifestyle or Franki & Co
La Boheme Lifestyle boutique at Terrigal channels a relaxed Byron Bay vibe, with fashion brands, homewares, accessories and new age wellness products.
Franki & Co at Norah Head has a stylish mix of both fashion and homewares, showcasing a great selection of much loved Australian coastal brands.
La Boheme Lifestyle - 1/271 Scenic Highway, Terrigal
Frankie & Co - 15B Mitchell Street Norah Head
Coastal Road at Toukley, a multi-roomed treasure trove of unique pieces and striking interior design, reflects the Central Coast’s relaxed coastal feel. You’ll need extra boot space for your trip back to Sydney after a visit to this beautiful store.
137 Main Road, Toukley
Treat yourself to Haven at Home’s bespoke collection
The treasures continue at Haven at Home in Erina Heights. An inspiring blend of homewares and gifts sourced locally and overseas, you can’t go past their beautiful array of jewellery. From Kirstin Ash finery to A LA’s stone rings, you won’t go home empty handed.
490 Central Coast Highway, Erina Heights
Indulge in retail therapy at Bohemian Traders
Popular online brand Bohemian Traders calls the Central Coast home with their HQ based in Erina. Run by husband and wife team Emily and David Berlach, you can expect classic European designs in beautiful patterns and colours, alongside trendy seasonal looks.
Shop 2A, 490 Central Coast Highway, Erina
Best Things to do on the Central Coast: Play
Go stand-up paddle boarding on Avoca Lake
Burn off all that delicious food and drink by paddle boarding or kayaking on the beautiful Avoca Lake. You can rent gear from the team at Aquafun.
Heazlett Park, 15 Ficus Avenue, Avoca Beach
Pack your swimmers, sunscreen and towels and head to the beach. Our favourites are Terrigal Beach, Umina Beach, Toowoon Bay beach, Copacabana Beach and Frazer Beach or Lobster Beach for a little more privacy.
For the best beaches on the Central Coast, check out our hit list here.
Learn to surf
Want to learn how to carve it up? The Central Coast Surf Academy runs classes at a string of beaches along the coast. You’ll be a surfer girl in no time!
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 swimmers 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.
For more amazing hiking trails, you can check out our list of the best Central Coast walks here.
Best Things to do on the Central Coast: Explore
With secluded beaches, bays, rainforests, trails and thriving marine and wildlife, the park is incredible. You could spend days exploring it, or you could do the Bouddi National Park Coastal Walk. One of the most famous coastal walks in Australia, it’s the perfect snapshot of the Central Coast. Keep an eye out for migrating whales!
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.
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 any time, and best at sunset.
Hidden behind Wamberal Beach, the lagoon is peaceful and pristine, and ideal for water sports and wildlife-watching.