Looking for things to do in Hunter Valley? You know it’s not all about wine! There’s much more to discover which makes it a great family day out from Sydney. From the Hunter Valley Gardens, to A Day On The Green, you’ll definitely want to visit the awesome Hunter Valley restaurants.
Even if wine isn’t your thing and you’re wondering what to do in Hunter Valley, we’re here to let you know how you can have a fantastic day trip from Sydney, if not a brilliant weekend away from Sydney too!
You CAN visit Hunter Valley on a budget!
We found some awesome cheap restaurants – you’ll want to keep coming back time and time again.
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Watch our Hunter Valley video below!
Want to do a Hunter Valley tour from Sydney?
If you’d prefer to do a Hunter Valley wineries tour instead of driving the three hours it takes to get there from Sydney, there are plenty of tours to choose from.
This tour will pick you up from Sydney and will take you to many wineries and provide you with a gourmet lunch so you don’t need to think about any of the logistics involved!
The Mercure Resort is a fantastic family hotel in Hunter Valley and has all the amenities for a perfect family getaway from Sydney.
The staff were friendly and welcoming, the buffet style breakfast was big enough to really feel like you were getting a big hotel breakfast.Breakfast at Mercure Resort
The room was also a life saver from the 41C first day. Thank you aircon! We had a lovely sunken bath which was a novelty but we didn’t get a chance to try it out.One of the reasons I picked this hotel was because of the swimming pool. This pool was completely perfect for the extremely hot day we were hit with.
One of the great things about this hotel are the short cuts to some of the vineyards like Miguigans (literally next door) and the Hunter Valley Gardens and village. You could even do a self guided wine tasting tour all within walking distance of this hotel (more on this later!).Ariel shot of Mercure!
As always if we were looking for budget style or backpacker accommodation, we would book with YHA Hunter Valley. YHA in Australia is a fantastic basic option. The rooms are spotless and the offer up a great service for budget friendly options.
For the mid range accommodation options, we recommend staying at Chateau Elan. They have an awesome swimming pool, outdoor tennis courts, a jacuzzi and more. This is a great option for a romantic hotel!
Let’s start with the restaurants because there are so many to choose from.
Hunter Valley restaurants can be quite pricey – we’re talking $40+ for a main course – but we found some awesome cheaper options that aren’t crazy expensive. Here’s our favourite places to eat!
1. Hunter Valley Gardens Village
There’s some cheap cafes in the Hunter Valley village in Polkobin. We went to Oscars and had a salad which cost $22 which wasn’t too badly priced at all. Sometimes we don’t need to eat rich gourmet meals, every single time. Well maybe.
2. Harrigan’s Irish Pub
On our first night, we just kept it casual and went to Harrigans Irish Pub which really brought back memories of the UK in a good way! The steaks are huge and are excellent!
It’s a proper pub where you’ll be asked if you want a half or a pint – no schooners or midi’s here, thank you very much!Our main meals came to under $30 each and the incredible chocolate fondant dessert was about $12.
3. Cafe Enzo
The food is reasonably priced and pretty much all meals are under $30. The tagliatelle above was a real winner with everyone!
We absolutely loved Cafe Enzo which is a fantastic restaurant and a complete gem if I say so myself. I literally found it by trawling through the internet for ages, trying to find some decent priced restaurants.
Cafe Enzo is located at the back of an Alpaca shop but it’s got a lovely outdoor area and affordable great food. The courtyard at Cafe Enzo.
4. Hunters Quarter
For Steve’s birthday dinner, I took him to Hunters Quarter because the view out to the vineyard look amazing. I also liked that they had a 5 course tasting menu for $100 or with matching wines for $140 which was fine with me. The staff were lovely and we had a great evening there.
Fancy doing a food tour?
If you’re a bit stuck for dinner options, check out THIS after dark foodies tour.
Check out these awesome foodies tours below!
5. Book a hop on hop off winery tour bus
Obviously, the trip wouldn’t be complete without a bit of wine tasting in Hunter Valley. There are various hop on hop off bus tours like this one you can do so you don’t have to drive. RESULT!
Tempus Two winery knew everything about wine and described each wine like no one else could. I was impressed with the service here and really enjoyed the experience. Did I mention the wine tastings are FREE?
7. Brokenwood winery
Even though it’s just over the road, Brokenwood winery have a completely different and laid back vibe like you’re standing up by the bar. You do have to pay $5 each to do wine tastings at this winery.
8. Miguigans winery
Miguigins is located right next door to our hotel – Mercure Resort. It’s a great walk in for wine tasting 😉 It’s also FREE to do their wine tasting as well!
There’s a cheese shop next door and you can do some tasting there to finish off your day!
9. Visit Hunter Valley Gardens
We only saw it at night time. Image Credit – visitnewcastle.com.au
Because we went just before Christmas, we were able to go to see the Christmas lights at the Hunter Valley Gardens.
Our hotel had a special 2-4-1 deal so we couldn’t pass it off. The gardens were open during the day and then back again from 6pm-10pm.
We actually turned up at 9pm after dinner and there were still a fair few families around which is an excellent family activity in Hunter Valley!Think of it being like Vivid but not as big. It’s a great place to take the kids, all the children around us were absolutely loving it! They have some fair ground rides as well.
10. Take a sunrise hot air balloon flight
On the morning of The Aussie’s birthday, I woke him up at 4am so I could take him on a surprise! We went on a sunrise hot air balloon in Hunter Valley here. I was surprised that we had to meet so early but it’s not just a balloon flight, it’s actually more of an experience lasting about three and half hours.
If you’re looking for places to propose in Sydney, I have to admit, there was a couple who got engaged on a hot air balloon ride that same morning we went there! The ride also comes with breakfast and champagne!