Six Of The Best Places To Take Kids In The Hunter Valley
By Helena Leung, ellaslist explorer
Let’s be honest. Whenever you think of the Hunter Valley it’s probably boozy weddings and cheeky weekenders. Great for adults, visiting dozens of wineries but not exactly exciting for children you might think. However, there are some great attractions and activities to do with kids in the Hunter Valley. Here’s our pick of the best!
1. The Hunter Valley Gardens
If you want acres of beautiful scenery for the kids to soak up nature, and see life-sized Story Book characters that will thrill their little minds, then the Hunter Valley Gardens is the place to visit! An outing to the gardens will take between 2-3 hours and all the pathways are stroller friendly. There is also a fun train ride for the littlies or for those who may find walking all over 60 acres of the garden too tiring. Also, the Garden Terrance serves delicious bistro food. Grab a table on the deck so you can view the beautiful Oriental garden while you eat. The baby change area is near the entrance, and don’t forget to check out the lovely souvenirs in the gift shop!
2. The Hunter Valley Zoo
The perfectly-proportioned Hunter Valley Zoo houses a menagerie of interesting animals, from dingos to iguanas and monkeys and, coming soon, lions! Kids will love hand-feeding some of the animals, including kangaroos, llamas, goats, chickens, emus, and camels. Zoo highlights include patting a koala, as well as an informative meerkat feeding talk. It’s fun to watch the meerkats poking their heads out of the burrows. There are also BBQ facilities for those keen to make a day out of it. If you want something with a bit more adventure, why not try your hand at horseriding? Hunter Valley Horse Riding & Adventures at Hill Top offer riders of all experiences a chance to trot off into the countryside. We especially love their Sunset Rides where you're taken on a ride with the Kangaroos and Wallabies in the light of the beautiful sunsets.
3. Aqua Golf and Putt Putt
Right next to the Hunter Valley Gardens is an Aqua Golf range offering fantastic prizes for those lucky enough to hit their ball into one of the nets. It’s probably a bit challenging for very young kids, but they’ll have fun watching Mummy and Daddy smacking golf balls into the water (and therapeutic for the parents!) More appropriate for those 4 and over is a family game of putt putt. Show them how it’s done and they’ll soon be putting their way all over the greens. Don’t be too rigid on the scoring though; the main idea is to have fun!
4. The Hunter Valley Gardens Village
This is the place to go if you’re looking for a bite to eat, souvenirs and knick-knacks or plain forgot to bring your toothbrush from home. The Gardens Village is a collection of just over 20 different shops and sells sweets, honey, wine, chocolate, candles, books, toys, handmade crafts and loads more. Children may like to visit the British Lolly Shop and stare at the rows of British sweets or glance at the books and toys at Village Books. There is also a small playground adjacent to the Village, so grab a gourmet hamper from Oscars or a cheese platter from Ye Olde General Store and enjoy a picnic. The kids will also love to visit the ice-creamery after lunch!
5. The Chocolate and Fudge factory
This is where all the magic happens for the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company. It’s not Willy Wonka’s, but it will still give your kids a buzz. The factory makes all kinds of chocolate goodies like honeycomb, mint slice and giant jaffas, as well as handmade choccies, poured into the shape of penguins and other assortments. Watch the kids’ eyes light up in front of the jelly bean towers or the chocolate fondue fountain. Fancy some watermelon fudge? The factory also sells an impressive range of fudge and you can taste test a few of their favourites. For an odd reason though, the café has a sign with Adults Only. Takeaway might be the best option!
6. Tempus Two for Meals, Cheese and Gelato!
If you want to visit a few different eateries in one location you should definitely try the restaurants at Tempus Two. I can highly recommend the shared plates menu at Goldfish Bar and Kitchen. The whole (deboned) baby barramundi is divine as well as the melt in your mouth black Angus beef carpaccio. My kids loved the pizzas and the crunchy pig's ear fries! Just next door you can also get your cheese and gelato fix at the Smelly Cheese Shop, where they sell a cheese-tastic range of local and international cheeses. Order a family platter of gelato and everyone can choose a flavour. We chose chocolate, salted caramel, blueberry, mango, mint, and pink guava. Locals also recommended we try the mouth watering Japanese and Thai food at Oiishi, but sadly, time did not permit. It’s just another restaurant we’ll have to try on our next visit to the Hunter Valley!
Where To Stay
We recently did a weekend trip to Gypsy Willows, a homestay quietly tucked away a few kilometres from historic Wollombi. We loved the simple life here, greeted by kangaroos, cows and horses and even Shetland ponies, and waking up to beautiful mist rising from the country fields. Read more about our stay here.
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