You don't have to travel far to enjoy your summer holidays
Here in Newcastle, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by an endless list of things to do, places to see, food to try, views to absorb, and activities to enjoy! If you’re looking for ways to keep busy, here are our top 30 picks for things to do around Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley, and the Central Coast.
Food + Drink
1. It’s only January, and already it’s one of the most anticipated openings of 2023. Take a drive to Allworth and check out the new Farmer’s Wife Distillery Door, Tasting Room, Cafe and Bar to experience the distilling magic of Kylie Sepos and her boutique batch of hand-crafted gin.
Where: 1378 The Buckets Way, Allworth
2. Keen to continue indulging over the festive season? We all love a good bakery or patisserie, and thankfully, we’re spoilt for choice in our little corner of the world! Get started at Gigi & Chix Bonbon in the Hunter Valley Gardens, before trying Icky Sticky Patisserie in Lorn and Choux Patisserie at Charlestown Square for one (or 10) of Nic's famous eclairs. Alternatively, a visit to Burnt Honey Bakery in Long Jetty or Copacabana. If you’re in Ettalong, Rise Artisan Bakery and Mamigato are a must.
3. Want to spend some time lakeside? Whether it's lunch or dinner, be sure to visit 8 at Trinity this summer, to make the most of Lake Macquarie’s beautiful waterfront.
Where: 81 Trinity Point Drive, Morisset Park
4. Ettalong is awash with awesome foodie spots to indulge in, starting with brekkie at Coast 175, or a coffee stop at Lords of Pour. Enjoy the waterfront views over lunch at The Box, or, if you’re after a more multicultural experience, check out Safran for some Turkish mezze, escape to Italy at Bar Toto, visit Yusu for flavours of Japan, a South American menu at Chica Chica, or get your Mexican fix at LA Taco.
For a gourmet day out, we recommend booking in at Osteria il Coccia, recently awarded one hat in the 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards.
Where: Ettalong, Central Coast
5. Keen for some wine tasting? Broke’s thriving wine region is a summer must-do. If you’re planning a visit here, some places you need to check out: Greenway Wines, Krinklewood, Whispering Brook, Winmark Wines, 1813, Running Horse Vineyard, Margan, and Talits Estate.
6. Looking for a little barefoot luxury? Bannisters Port Stephens is your spot. From Margaritas and Mexican on the Terrace at Julio's, for the freshest seafood and boutique wines book into Rick Steins at Bannisters, or if you're wanting to keep it casual but tasty at the same time, you can't go wrong with the Cheeky Dog.
Where: 147 Soldiers Point Road, Soldiers Point
7. Love oysters? Then get your hands on the freshest seafood in the game, right on the edge of the Hawkesbury at the Hawkesbury River Oyster Shed or get wet with the ‘Immerse Yourself’ in-water experience to sample succulent oysters while standing waist-deep in water from an exclusive sandbank on the Hawkesbury River.
Where: 6 Kowan St, Mooney Mooney
8. Prefer your restaurants to be of the awarded kind? There’s a long list now in Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and Central Coast. If it's a view you’re looking for, head to the European-inspired Bistro Molines. For extraordinary flavours, we recommend Muse, or for a unique farm-to-fork experience check out Margan in Broke. Check the full list here.
9. There are plenty of reasons to visit Maitland. Whether it's for your morning coffee or a craft beer, getting active riverside, catching the newest exhibition at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery, or enjoying a beautiful dining experience at Maitland's ever-evolving food scene, there’s something for everyone! For a foodie and artsy-themed day in Maitland, check out our guide here.
10. Before the season ends take a trip to the Hunter Lavender Farm for a stroll through the fields, do some lavender-flavoured yoga, or get involved in a Honey Harvest.
Where: 25 Adams Peak Rd, Broke
11. Take a day trip to Port Stephens and either hike it up Tomaree Head Summit Walk, or float around in the crystal clear waters of Fingal Bay before making your way to Little Beach Boathouse for some modern Australian cuisine and those spectacular views.
Where: 4 Victoria Parade, Nelson Bay
12. Spend the day in the quaint village township of Morpeth and explore all the flavours. From cute cafes, to country pubs, delis and boutique cellar doors, there’s something for everyone.
13. Peppers Creek Village has some fab new little cellar doors for you to check out - Wild Ren Wines and Charteris Wines are located smack bang next to one another and offering wine tasters a fresh new wine tasting experience. Only steps away you'll also discover the much-loved Cafe Enzo, Pukara Estate Tasting Room and for the shoppers Fetch Gifts & Homewares is just beautiful.
Where: 1946 Broke Rd, Pokolbin
14. Land yourself at Murray’s and experience their newly launched renovations and browse their new food, drink, and homeware retail offering.
Where: 3443 Nelson Bay Rd, Bobs Farm
15. Located along Swansea Channel, take some time this summer to explore Pirrita Island Reserve along the newly installed boardwalk, which allows walkers to experience the unique landscape of the local area.
16. For an animal encounter in the wild, head to Fly Point in Nelson Bay—if you’re lucky you might even spot a grouper!
Where: Victoria Pde, Nelson Bay
17. Known for their whale-watching tours departing from Newcastle Harbour, CoastXP has launched a brand new summertime experience, complete with a guided boat tour, bushwalk, and picnic lunch with the Nature and Wildlife Tour running from November - May.
More Info: click here
18. Jump aboard the ferry at Port Stephens to head over to Hawks Nest to enjoy the French fare at Tillermans.
Where: 77 Marine Dr, Tea Gardens
19. See the bay in a different way with a kayak tour or a paddling picnic package from Port Stephens Paddlesports.
Where: Shop 25, Shoal Bay Village, 47-51 Shoal Bay Rd, Shoal Bay
20. Have a lazy day around the Central Coast and pull up a spot at one of our favourite picnic spots!
21. Explore the unique and disconnect with the four-kilometre loop Ridge to Rainforest track in the Strickland State Forest. Take your time and take in the impressive variety of flora and fauna species, which has to date recorded containing 350 plant varities, 98 birds, 29 reptiles, 27 mammals, 20 amphibians and 4 fish species.
Where: Strickland Forest Rd, Somersby
22. Escape the crowds and spend the day at Kingsley Beach, whilst you’re there take a dip in the rock pools and have a crack Jump Rock; just watch those tides!
Where: Port Stephens
23. Head off on the Bouddi Coastal Walk! 8-kilometres one way, this stunning Central Coast walk traverses boardwalks and bush tracks, exposing expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, gorgeous coastal scenery, shady bush, and lush rainforest!
Where: From Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach
24. Grab a bunch of mates and head up to Allyn River. Try camping at Ladies Well, where you can immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the serenity of cool waterholes.
Where: 71 Allyn River Rd, Upper Allyn
26. Get up close and personal with marine life at Anna Bay’s Irukandji Shark & Ray Centre to have an unforgettable experience.
Where: 2 Jessie Rd, Anna Bay
27. Enjoy birds-eye views of the Hunter Valley from a helicopter, with Aerologistics Helicopters. See our iconic wine region from a different perspective with their range of different scenic flights.
Where: 455 Wine Country Dr, Pokolbin
28. Only an hour from Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, the charming little village of Dungog is known for its picturesque natural beauty and world-class mountain biking trail called the Dungog Common.
29. Grab your SUP and paddle out to Snake Island on the Hawkesbury.
30. Reconnect with some of your favourite furry and scaly friends at Hunter Valley Wildlife Park!
Where: 138 Lomas Lane, Nulkaba