9 Best Melbourne Day Trips For Families To Enjoy
With no shortage of long weekends and holidays coming up, it's the perfect time to start planning some fun day trips from Melbourne or weekends away for the whole family to enjoy. Melbourne is the perfect base from which to explore, with plenty of regional areas within a couple of hours drive, full of activities and attractions to keep everyone happy. But being so spoiled for choice can make planning a trip overwhelming, especially if your family wants to see it all.
That’s why I’ve created this handy guide to the best day trips Melbourne has to offer, so I can help make the decision process a bit easier and you can easily pick the best spot that perfectly fits what your family needs and is looking to enjoy.
Best Melbourne Day Trips
Looking for a spot history buffs and foodies can enjoy? Head to Victoria’s third largest city, Ballarat, which is roughly an hour and a half drive from Melbourne. The location has a vibrant arts culture, historical buildings and award-winning country restaurants, making it a magnificent regional town for families.
Visiting in the winter? Then you shouldn’t miss out on The Ballarat Winter Festival – a yearly occasion where Ballarat comes alive with a host of wonderful events and activities perfect for a family getaway! Read the Full review.
Things to do:
- For locations with family-friendly options, check out The Forge Pizzeria, Yellow Espresso and The Hydrant Food Hall.
- For wine lovers, take a 20-minute drive to Eastern Peake – a vineyard offering award-winning wine, or stay in the city and head on over to Mitchell Harris Wines for equally delicious wine offerings.
- Explore more of Ballarat by taking a walk around Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree or wander through the beautiful Ballarat Botanic Gardens and take a stop at the Robert Clark Conservatory – a striking modern build harbouring an oasis of seasonal displays that’s a hub for the Ballarat Begonia Festival held each March.
For more ideas on things to do in Ballarat, check out my post on the Best Things to Do in Ballarat with Kids.
2. Bellarine Peninsula
The Bellarine Peninsula is a beautiful coastal region that offers visitors fantastic wineries, beautiful beaches, luxurious accommodations and (most importantly) great food! Though it’s been overshadowed by Mornington for a while now, we’re happy to hear that this equally amazing location is starting to pick up attention from travellers!
The best part about this location is that it’s only a little over an hour away from Melbourne.
Things to do:
- Bellarine Peninsula offers great cafe culture. For top tier suggestions, grab a bite to eat at Cafe Zoo, Annie’s Provedore or Mr Grubb. Other great places to eat at are Merne for epicurean menu offerings and Queenscliff Brewhouse for classic pub eats!
- See wildlife in action at Jirrahlinga – a sanctuary for Australian native wildlife like kangaroos, echidnas, reptiles, dingoes and more.
- Get a dose of adrenaline rush at Adventure Park, which offers some exhilarating water slide fun!
- Build a sandcastle, sunbathe, swim or surf at Ocean Grove beach
- Bring your bike on the trip to cycle through the 35-kilometre Bellarine Rail trail.
3. Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most spectacular day trips Victoria has to showcase and is one of Victoria’s most popular tourist destinations. It is as little as ninety minutes or you can keep driving for four hours or more from Melbourne. The location offers loads of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, horse riding, surfing, sailing and more! It is also simply a spectacular drive, even without leaving the car.
Things to do:
- If you don’t know how to surf or are looking for some refresher lessons, the Torquay Surfing Academy offers lessons on the sport that will have you surfing like a pro in no time. They also offer gear for purchase or hire should you need it.
- Not up for surfing? You can opt to instead swim or walk along Torquay, Anglesea or Lorne’s beautiful front beaches (or one of the many others along the Great Ocean Road).
- Does your little one love horses? Take them horse riding along the beach or through the bush with the help of Blazing Saddles Trail Rides, where they offer horses and trails for every level of rider.
- Hungry or maybe looking to take something home with you? Pick up fresh, locally sourced food at GROW Cafe in Anglesea.
4. Yarra Valley
Just an hour’s drive away, one of Melbourne’s closest and one of Victoria's most recognised wine regions, the Yarra Valley, doesn’t just offer delicious wineries but also parks, walking trails, art galleries, local produce and plenty of fun things for families to enjoy and do together.
The cool region is perfect for a mini break whether you’ve only got time for a day trip or a weekend.
Things to do:
- Go on a sunrise hot air balloon experience followed by a sparkling wine breakfast with Global Ballooning.
- See the fantastic and thought-provoking exhibitions at the TarraWarra Museum of Art.
- Treat your sweet tooth at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery
- Go shopping, grab a snack to eat at a cafe or purchase some local delights to bring home from the picturesque Healesville Village
- See the native animals and watch the mesmerising Spirits of the Sky show at Healesville Sanctuary.
5. Mornington Peninsula
Perhaps Melbourne’s favourite day trip location, the Mornington Peninsula is a region perfect for a family break, an outdoors adventure or a weekend of indulgence. Ideally suited for a weekend drive or maybe a long weekend away, Mornington Peninsula is only an hour away from Melbourne and is the place to be for lavish accommodation, award-winning hot springs, flavoursome meals, world-class wineries, gorgeous beaches and scenic walking trails.
Things to do:
- Soak up at the minerals at Peninsula Hot Springs – a natural hot spring and day spa centre that is perfect for treating yourself and your kids too
- Get up close to Australian animals at the Moonlit Sanctuary – a small private animal sanctuary and zoo which is a great place to learn about Australian wildlife and our native environment.
- Enjoy a ‘putt-tastic' game of golf at Moonah Links.
- Head to the beach for some windsurfing or swimming. Dromana Bay, Mornington Beach and Rye Beach are some of the best to check out.
- Head to the Rosebud Foreshore Playground, where the kids can enjoy a multi-level play area.
- Pick your own strawberries and munch on delicious desserts at Rocky Creek Strawberry Farm (formerly known as Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm).
For more ideas on things to do while visiting the Mornington Peninsula, check out my post on the Best Things to Do in the Mornington Peninsula with Kids.
Are you looking for a beautiful and historic place to visit that's not too far from Melbourne? Consider Castlemaine – a lovely and welcoming town, which makes for a fantastic mini-break with the kids. Plus, it’s less than ninety minutes away from Melbourne, so you can easily get there and back in a day.
Things to do:
- If you’ve got a little one who is a fan of trains, then they’ll love hopping on board the steam engine train at Victorian Goldfields Railway
- Grab something to eat at Mulberry's Delicatessen, Johnny Baker or the Kangaroo Hotel
- Book lovers will love visiting and buying great reading finds at Soldier and Scholar and Mount of Alex
- If your visit falls on the second Saturday of the month, stop by the Maldon Market for some local produce, homemade food and handcrafts. You can find it right next to The Kangaroo Hotel.
For more ideas on things to do in Castlemaine, check out my post on the Best Things to Do in Castlemaine and Maldon with Kids.
Home to eighty percent of the country's mineral springs, Daylesford is traditionally known as an area for relaxation and a romantic adult getaway. Though it’s the perfect spot for enjoying spa treatments and growing high-quality produce, the beautiful town is also great for a family getaway too! Here are some of the fun things to see and do with kids at Daylesford.
The region is extremely popular with weekenders from Melbourne, and once you visit, you'll soon realise why many of them decide to make the tree change.
Things to do:
- Take a breather and relax at the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa
- See artwork from all manner of historical periods and styles at the Convent Gallery.
- Enjoy a peaceful afternoon, keep an eye out for birdlife or go on a picnic at the tranquil Lake Daylesford
- Learn about the history of Daylesford at Alice's Journeys by joining one of their walking tours which are held around three times a week.
- Enjoy live music acts, watch a live comedian performance, or see an art show or forms of live entertainment every night at The Palais Hepburn Springs.
- Sip on some delectable afternoon tea at Macedon Regional Park after viewing the Mount Macedon War Memorial Cross
- Take a walk through Macedon Regional Park to see natural mineral springs and relics of the gold mining era.
- See the longest single drop waters in Victoria at Trentham Falls.
- For places to eat, check out Lake House or the Great Western Hotel in Ballan.
Best Melbourne Day Trips (Weekend Trips)
The next two locations are slightly further to drive (more like two or three hours) but they are both stunning and exciting regions that deserve a mention. An ambitious early rising family could do each drive in a day trip but we think it would be better to plan these regions around a long weekend to make the most of them!
8. High Country
Whether you’ve got time during the holidays or a long weekend, you can’t go wrong with taking a family trip to the Victorian High Country, where there is plenty more than just snow to explore. Yes, you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding and snow play in the cooler months, but it is equally beautiful to explore this region in the warmer months.
Perhaps slightly ambitious for a day trip, although not if you set off bright and early, the location is a three hours drive from Melbourne and offers rich history to explore and breathtaking views to see as you walk, cycle or paddle through the area.
The High Country is also home to the region’s award-winning craft beer, wine, spirits and produce, making it the perfect day trip location for families who love to bond over a good meal or drink.
Things to do:
- Visit one of their wineries, such as Brown Brothers, Campbells, Boynton's or Ringer Reef
- Go for a scenic stroll along The Beechworth Gorge Walk or Lake Kerferd to Lake Sambell walk.
- Bring your bike and cycle through High Country’s more than 250 kilometres of bike trails, then stop at one of their many cyclist-friendly bars, restaurants, cafés, wineries and breweries.
- Learn a bit about High Country’s history by taking a tour through the historic Old Beechworth Gaol
- Head over to The Ovens River for a swim, whitewater kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.
- Taste some award-winning craft beers by planning a stop at one of their craft breweries. Check out this High Country Brewery Trail by Visit Victoria.
9. Phillip Island
Located two hours from Melbourne is the fantastic Phillip Island, a family-friendly destination perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway. The location offers stunning turquoise waters, beautiful sandy beaches and incredible wildlife encounters.
Phillip Island has plenty to keep the kids entertained. With fun-filled family attractions like the Penguin Parade and the Nobbies Centre, Phillip Island is a must on your list of must-see destinations in Victoria.
Things to do:
- At night waddle on over to see little penguins return home at sunset to one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia during the Phillip Island Penguin Parade
- Go on an interactive Antarctic experience at the Antarctic Journey at The Nobbies Centre
- Visit the historic Churchill Island Heritage Farm, where you can watch demonstrations of daily farming activities, enjoy a picnic on the historic grounds or have lunch at the cafe.
- Stroll through the eucalypt woodland and come face-to-face with koalas in their natural habitat at the Koala Conservation Centre
- Hop aboard Wildlife Coast Cruises for a one-hour Cape Woolamai Cruise
- Take the kids to the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory to enjoy lunch at their onsite café and create their own chocolate bar at Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate.
For more ideas on things to do on Phillip Island, check out my post on the Best Things to Do on Phillip Island with Kids.