Best Weekend Drives With Kids Near Melbourne

By: Claire Halliday, ellaslist

Remember the Sunday drive? The way working weeks have changed, thanks to flexible work practices and the way the online space has helped more and more people run home-based businesses, the days of the Sunday drive have changed but – no matter what day of the week you have up your sleeve – it’s nice to know there are a heap of interesting places to explore. For the best family-friendly weekend drives near Melbourne, try these suggestions:

1. Port Fairy

It’s not a short trip – but it’s a good one. Its history is in the gruesome days of whale and seal hunting but today the vibe is more relaxed, as artists have moved in to add their quirky creativity.

Whether it’s sunny or windswept in the winter chill, it’s a good spot to do a beach walk for some sealife spotting. Seals? Dolphins? And when it’s the right season, there are even whales. Really.
It’s far enough away that you’ll want to book some accommodation to rest your travel-weary heads. Somewhere in between, visit the local historical society for a glimpse of the way life used to be in this seaside town (pictured above). 

And the next day? Grab some fish and chips for lunch after building up an appetite with a big coastal walk and the kids might even fall asleep on the drive back home.

What You Need To Know

Via the Great Ocean Road, the drive is 385 kilometres from Melbourne (and then you need to drive back…)

More information: visit the website

2. French Island National Park

If your kids love nature and getting away from it all, the 15 kilometres of coastline here are a dream discovery.

First? Drive to Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula, then make the 15-minute passenger ferry journey to the island. Once you’re there, you can explore by bus, bike (for older kids/teenagers) or on foot. There is bush-style camping available too

What You Need To Know

That 81 kilometres adds up to more of a journey once you allow for the multi-vehicle travel arrangements required but it’s worth the effort. Make sure you book your spot on the ferry (the 24-hour

Information line is (03) 9585 5730). And be aware that, even with your perfectly made plans, always check ferry timetables and weather conditions because ferry services are sometimes cancelled with short notice.

More information: visit the website

3. Wilsons Prom

Wilsons Prom

If the kids are old enough and experienced in the ways of geography, they might appreciate that a trip here is taking them to the most southern tip of the Australian mainland.

And if that news doesn’t thrill them, the fact that this is home to spectacular rainforests, granite mountains and beautiful beaches, is another family-friendly bonus. Serious hikers will find plenty to discover but if your children are smaller and less adventurous, try a more gentle one-hour stroll along Squeaky Beach. Native animals are easy to spot too – a great place for a drive with a difference.

What You Need To Know

It’s 196 kilometres via the Gippsland Highway – enough of a distance for small kids to cope with without too much stress.

More information: visit the website

4. Daylesford

It’s a short road trip and one that is bathed in relaxation.

There are luxurious spas in Hepburn Springs nearby but they’re best visited if you have grandparents or relatives to look after the little ones for a bit while you indulge. If you don’t have that luxury, there is plenty for the kids to do with you in the town and nearby areas – including horse-riding, antique stores, parks and gardens and other family-friendly attractions.

In the warmer weather, local swimming holes are a fantastic place to visit and there are plenty of local markets in the region, with lots of gourmet food that everyone in your family will appreciate.

What You Need To Know

This is an easy drive – just 112 kilometres along the Calder Freeway. Pack some snacks and water and get them singing along to their favourite music – then settling down to some quiet reading or colouring in to help you arrive calmly.

More information: visit the website

5. Marysville


The devastating bushfires in 2009 hit the community hard but it bounced back, thanks to a strong community – and it is still a beautiful place to visit.

With so many walks to discover in the surrounding Great Dividing Ranges, you can work out the right thing for your family to do, depending on how old and adventurous your kids are.
The Marysville Lolly Shop is a sweet haven that your kids will love – all the old favourites from your own childhood are probably there and if you stop there just before you head home to Melbourne, dividing up the bounty will occupy them on the drive.

What You Need To Know

Via the Maroondah Highway, a trip here is just 98 kilometres. Traffic? Well? That’s out of our control…

More information: visit the website

6. Beechworth



Want to take the kids on a journey back in time?

Have we got the place for you…Many of the trees and buildings your kids will see here have been standing since the historic goldrush days. And the food from the Beechworth Bakery? It’s classic too. An education about our most famous criminal, Ned Kelly, is in order and the gaol that first hosted him is here.

And don't forget the lolly paradise at the Beechworth Sweet Company - it has all the very best sweets around.

It’s a bit of a drive but with older kids, it’s more than manageable – especially if they have things to do in the backseat.

What You Need To Know

Two ways to get there – depending on your preference. If you take the Hume Freeway, it’s a 286-kilometre trip. On the Melbourne-Lancefield Road, you’ll add another 25 kilometres.

More information: visit the website

7. Queenscliff

This lovely seaside town has held on to its historic appeal and it’s a lovely place to discover with family. There are a heap of museums, galleries and maritime centres that offer a glimpse into life as it used to be in this part of Victoria’s coast.

This town has a real community vibe and has enough interesting shops and interesting parks and playgrounds to keep the kids entertained. And if the weather is nice? There’s always the beach…

What You Need To Know

If you drive there direct, it’s a mere 104 kilometres from Melbourne. Of course, you can take the scenic option of driving to Sorrento and then catching the 40-minute ferry ride across the Bay. The ferry departs hourly between 7am-7pm – and you can find information about tickets and booking at this site:

More information: visit the website