Hop on the highway, and in three hours you’ll be in the Hunter Valley – aka Australia’s oldest wine region. If you’re on a health kick, you’re gonna have to abandon that for the weekend because the Hunter is allllll about living your best, most indulgent life!
What to do in the Hunter Valley
*Pls see the ‘where to drink’ section below. But here’s what to do when you ‘forgot’ to spit out the 37158 wines you tasted yesterday.
Go on a trail ride
Trot your way through wine country with Hunter Valley Horse Riding & Adventures. They have tours for riders of all levels, so don’t stress if you’re saddling up for the first time.
Check out the Yengo National Park
This humungous park is home to walking trails, swimming holes and waterfalls, so do yourself a solid and wear sneakers and swimwear. If you too hung to explore a national park, just pop past The Rock to take some pics of the valley.
Check out the Hunter Valley Gardens
Hello, plant inspo! The lush botanic garden sprawls over 60 acres, so set aside an afternoon to explore.
Or the Hunter Valley Zoo
It’s no Taronga, but you can get up close and personal with kangaroos, meerkats, and a rainbow array of birds.
Get your grape-stomp on
The Hunter Valley Resort runs a grape-stomping competition, and it’s the next best thing. It gets messy, so maybe don’t wear your Showpo best!
Wander through the Handmade in the Hunter markets
Held on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, these markets sell everything from fresh produce to clothes, accessories, ceramics and beauty products.
Swing by the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory
It’s a slice of heaven. Pro tip: If you’re on a budget, stock up on cheese and charcuterie here and make your own platters.
Treat yourself to a spa sesh
Spa Anise at Spicers Estate and The Spa at Château Élan Hunter Valley are beautifully bougie and the best places to go for a lil pampering.
The Hunter has a handful of unique boutiques, like Wilson & Hunter and Village Books. Love lollies? The British Lolly Shop will take you riiiight back to being a kid.
Sign up for a tour
For a stress-free trip, leave the planning to the pros. Cloud9 will chauffeur you between vineyards (and can even pick you up from Sydney) and My Ultimate Hens will make sure the bride-to-be says see ya to single life in style with wine tasting and a long lunch.
Where to eat in the Hunter Valley
Mingle with the coffee snobs at the Hunter Valley’s best cafes
Café Enzo, The Deck Café and Redsalt Restaurant (in the Crowne Plaza) will keep you caffeinated all weekend.
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Settle in for a long lunch at Circa 1876
The restaurant is tucked inside a cute-as-a-button cottage. You can order a la carte or stuff yourself silly with the two-, three-, or five-course tasting menu. The Champagne Lounge is perfect for pre/post drinks, too.
Splash out on EXP Restaurant
The chef, Frank Fawkner, is kind of a big deal, and the only thing that’s constant about the menu is that it changes all the time.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Cocoa Nib
Part of the Keith Tulloch winery, this adorable shop serves up handmade chocolates and T2 tea. #cosy
Dress up for date night at Muse Dining
Foodies flock to this restaurant at Hungerford Hill Winery. The chefs only use locally grown ingredients, and you can really taste the difference. Too fancy for you? The sister spot, Muse Kitchen, is casual but just as good.
Grab dinner at Margan
The owners make everything from scratch, and the gnocchi is SO GOOD.
And dessert at Sabor in the Hunter
Sitting pretty on the Lambloch Estate, this dreamy dessert bar dishes up the best chocolate soufflé ever, along with every other sweet you can imagine.
Test your spice tolerance at Leaves & Fishes
When you’re over the Modern Australian eats, this place serves up Asian fusion – and it’s HOT. You’ve been warned!
Where to drink in the Hunter Valley
Hit as many wineries as humanly possible
It’s a crime not to! There are over 150 vineyards in the Hunter Valley, and these are some of our faves:
- Calais Estate. After your tasting, pick up a bottle and a picnic hamper and head down to the lake.
- Spicers Estate. There’s a day spa too…
- Vinden Estate
- Hart & Hunter
- The Carriages
- Bimbadgen. PS. This vineyard hosts concerts in its amphitheatre. Check the event calendar.
Organic and limited-edition wines
- Piggs Peake Winery
- Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard
- Tempus Two
Switch to cocktails at The Goldfish
The chic cocktail bar has a sunny deck and live music on the weekends.
Or vodka at the Hunter Distillery
This spot reminds us of science class, but it’s a vibe. The flavoured vodkas are served in test tubes, and the warehouse setting wouldn’t look out of place in Alexandria.
Have a good ol’ pub night at Harrigan’s Irish Pub
When it comes to pubs, the Irish do it better. This one is as lively as it gets.
Where to stay in the Hunter Valley
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Casa La Vina
Walk in, and you might think you’re in Morocco. There are three villas with courtyards, fireplaces, kitchenettes and interiors TDF, and an outdoor spa.
I Villini Estate
Going on a girls trip? Book this beaaautiful villa. It sleeps up to 14 people across five bedrooms and is very Instagrammable thanks to the pool and olive trees.
Wild Edge Retreat
If it’s just you and your guy, stay at this cottage. It has a private plunge pool, a fireplace and a deck – what more do you need?
The Carriages Boutique Hotel
Not into self-contained accommodation? This country house has eight suites, plus a saltwater pool, a tennis court and room service. Oh, and the award-winning winery is about 10 steps away.