Ten Of The Best Places To Take Kids In The Hunter Valley
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. However, there are some great attractions and activities to do with kids in the Hunter Valley!
Here’s our pick of the best places to play and stay in the Hunter Valley for the whole family.
The Best Places To Take Kids In The Hunter Valley
1. 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 imaginations, then Hunter Valley Gardens is the place to visit. An outing to the award-winning themed 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 14 hectares of the garden too tiring. Explore a 10m high waterfall, topiary displays, man-made ponds, statues, murals, beautiful architectural structures and much more. The Gardens hold special signature events throughout the year, including Snow Time in the Gardens, the Mega Creatures Night Safari, Christmas Lights Spectacular and the mega Easter Hunt. There are carnival rides during event periods and 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 surrounding Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village is a quaint place to go if you’re looking for a bite to eat, souvenirs and knick-knacks or forgot to bring your toothbrush from home! The collection of over 20 boutique stores sells sweets, honey, wine, candles, books, toys, handmade crafts and loads more. Children may like to stare at the rows of sweets at the British Lolly Shop or glance over the books and toys at Village Books. There is a small playground adjacent to the Village.
2. Hunter Valley Wildlife Park
The Hunter Valley Wildlife Park is one of the region's best attractions and home to a menagerie of native and exotic fauna from dingos to iguanas and monkeys to lions! Having been recently acquired by Sydney Wildlife Parks, Hunter Valley Wildlife Park is now part of the biggest private collection of animals in Australia, delivering world-class care and a unique, up-close experience. Kids will love hand-feeding some of the farmyard animals, kangaroos and birds in the walk-through interactive yards, or you can take it to the next level with an amazing animal encounter where you can feed and interact with exotic creatures like Meerkats, Lemurs and Tamarins. There are daily zookeeper talks and BBQ facilities for those keen to make a day out of it.
3. Aqua Golf and Putt Putt
Right next to the Hunter Valley Gardens is Hunter Valley Aqua Golf & Putt-Putt. The driving range is a 50,000m2 lake with a number of floating target nets, and they off fantastic prizes for those lucky enough to hit their ball into one of them. It’s probably a tad challenging for very young kids, but they’ll have fun watching mum and dad smack golf balls into the water (and it's therapeutic for the parents!).
Kids four and over will have a ball playing a game of putt-putt on the 18-hole course beside the lake. It winds through landscaped gardens within the stunning Hunter Valley Gardens Village and is an idyllic place for family fun that is super affordable - a family pass is only $20. Allow around 30 minutes to complete the course - and remember the lowest score wins!
4. The Chocolate and Fudge Factory
It’s not Willy Wonka’s, but it will still give your kids a buzz! This factory is where all the magic happens for the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company. They make all kinds of chocolate goodies like honeycomb, mint slices, giant jaffas and sprinkles, as well as handmade choccies disguised as penguins and frogs, and chocolate-covered jelly snakes and pretzels. Watch the kids’ eyes light up in front of the jelly bean towers or the chocolate fondue fountain. The factory also sells an impressive range of fudge, candies and nuts and you can taste test a few of their favourites.
5. Hot Air Ballooning
Get your camera ready! For a super special sky-high adventure that will delight the kids and take your breath away, turn fantasy into reality on a hot air balloon flight. Float high above picturesque Hunter Valley wine country with the award-winning Balloon Aloft - the most experienced balloon operator in the region. They offer unforgettable sunrise ballooning adventures every day where you can ascend with the dawn in your colourful balloon.
You will all be completely secure in your basket as you are guided by the breeze above the treetops ascending to heights of 2000 feet or more. Soak up unrivalled views of the vineyards on a magical one-hour tour over the iconic regions of Pokolbin, Lovedale, Rothbury or Broke, followed by a Gourmet Champagne Breakfast at Peterson House winery.
6. Mortels Sheepskin Factory
Look for the world's biggest ugg boots along Weakley's Drive and you've found Mortels Sheepskin Factory - an Australian owned and operated company founded in 1958. As well as seeing this local landmark, you can watch the world-famous Australian product being made on a fully guided interactive tour through the shearing-shed-style factory.
The in-house Sheep’s Back Museum also offers a unique insight into the history of UGG boots, Mortels and sheepskin in Australia For a laidback lunch after taking it all in, the Café @ Mortels has a newly built 'shed' plus a great Little Lambs Menu for kids. Of course, you can also pick up some Ugg boots before you leave, straight from the source! Mortels also holds a seasonal artisan market for a fun day out with a variety of quality locally made products and live music. Check The Sunday Muster for dates.
The Best Places To Stay With Kids In The Hunter Valley
1. Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley
Nestled in beautiful wine country in the aptly named township of Lovedale, the family-friendly Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley is a luxurious retreat for parents that boasts amazing on-site activities to keep kids entertained, including the only splash park in the region.
Equipped with a dedicated Water Dragons Kids Club, teen lounge and games room, indoor crafts, mini train rides, a carousel and the new guests-only heated water park, your little travel buddies will have a ball at the Crowne Plaza. While they're in Hunter Valley heaven, make sure you tee up a round of golf or book in a treatment at Ubika Spa for yourself!
2. Harrigan’s Hunter Valley
The newly refurbished Harrigan’s Hunter Valley is another favourite for those with kids in tow, complete with a swimming pool, family-friendly accommodation and extensive food options for the whole family! With spacious rooms and apartments, you can soak up the stunning outlook over local grapevines and across to the Brokenback Ranges or get cosy in front of your own fireplace.
Harrigan’s is also a stone's throw from all the best attractions, including Hunter Valley Gardens and Hunter Valley Aqua Golf and Putt-Putt, so it is an excellent place to base yourselves for your stay. With beautifully renovated spaces, Harrigan’s still maintains its relaxed village charm with a new-look bistro that incorporates charming fireplaces and booths, plus an alfresco dining and bar and the new Harrigan’s Burger Bar, all offering family-friendly dining and live music for a fun night out!
3. The Farm at Hunter Valley Resort
The Farm at Hunter Valley Resort is a family-owned and operated estate with 35 rooms and cottages perched on 70 acres of lush, secluded countryside among 45-year-old shiraz vineyards. Little explorers will be enthralled with horse riding, segway tours and electric bike hire at the Adventure Centre, plus farm animals, an on-site pool, a tennis court and an abundance of wide-open spaces to play in and explore.
For little foodies, The Farm Hunter Valley also hosts a cooking school, pizza making classes and candy making classes. While the kids are entertained, grown-ups can sign up for the wine school or visit the wine theatre!
4. Château Élan at The Vintage
A celebrated, comprehensive resort with an integrated championship golf course, casual eateries, fine dining, an award-winning spa, a pool and plenty of lush green grass for outdoor activities, the luxurious Château Élan at The Vintage is a summer haven for family fun. Their spacious private villas are equipped with deluxe amenities and balconies or terraces overlooking the vibrant fairway, cascading hillside and rolling vineyards.
Soak up the breathtaking scenery with a Château Élan at The Vintage picnic hamper for a decadent treat in the great outdoors and look out for local wildlife. Throughout summer you can also kick back with live music every Friday on the Terrace.
Book your Hunter Valley Accommodation now.
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