You don't have to travel far to enjoy your summer holidays

If you're looking for some day trip inspiration over the summer break you've come to the right place. Whether your travels are based around food and drink adventures, or you're drawn to the outdoors, we're fortunate to be surrounded by some outstanding experiences.

Here are our top 30 picks for things to do around Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley, and the Central Coast, starting with...

Food + Drink

1. Love oysters? We're lucky to have some of the freshest and best on our doorstep, and there's no better way to experience them then going straight to the source. Hawkesbury River Oyster Shed is as fresh as you get, as is the ‘Immerse Yourself’ in-water experience with Sydney Oyster Tours. Visiting Port Stephens, head to Holberts Oyster Farm and their waterfront outlet at Cromarty Bay. If you prefer your oysters in restaurant comfort, here's our guide on some of the best oyster eating experiences in the region.  

Oyster Farm Hawkesbury River

2. If baked goods are your jam, continue indulging into the New Year with some of the region's best. Get started at Gigi & Chix Bonbon at Hunter Valley Gardens, Icky Sticky Patisserie in Lorn, Burnt Honey Bakery in Long Jetty or Copacabana. For iconic Italian treats head to Central Coast Cannoli at Lisarow and Long Jetty or if you’re in Ettalong, Rise Artisan Bakery and Mamigato are a must. In Nelson Bay its Two Bobs Bakery, also located on Hunter St Newcastle, whilst you’re in the area Uprising Bakery in Maryville, Pekárna in Adamstown and Bootleg Bakery in Merewether are ones to add to the list.

Central Coast Cannoli

3. Ettalong is awash with awesome places to dine out, starting with lunching by the water at The Box, there's South American flavours at Chica Chica, for Turkish mezze head to Safran, and it's Yusu for Japanese. Escape to Italy at Bar Toto, or get your Mexican fix at LA Taco. To experience the best of the land and the sea, cooked over wood in a charcoal oven head to Osteria iL Coccia

osteria il coccia ettalong central coast nsw

4. Broke is one of the Hunter Valley Wine Region's most beautiful areas, you could easily spend the day touring the many vineyards which include Krinklewood, Margan Wines & Restaurant, Whispering Brook, Greenway Wines, Winmark Wines, 1813, Running Horse Vineyard, and Talits Estate. You might be best to book and stay the night!
Where: Broke

30 Day Trips to take this summer

5. Lake Macquarie's dining scene has taken a giant leap forward in recent years with 8 at Trinity continuing to get attention and more recently Martha at the Belmont 16s. The iconic waterfront building has undergone a massive reno and should be at the top of your 2024 dining list.

Martha 16s Lake Macquarie

6. Heading to Port Stephens? Make sure you include some of the region’s most outstanding dining experiences whilst you’re visiting. For quality locally sourced seafood it’s Rick Stein at Bannisters, equally so The Galley Kitchen at The Anchorage. For an authentic Greek menu and atmosphere to match its Atmos in Shoal Bay, and waterside views can be caught at Restaurant 2317 at Soldiers Point and Little Beach Boathouse in Nelson Bay.

Restaurant 2317 Port Stephens

7. One of the most anticipated openings of 2023, if you haven’t yet taken a drive to Allworth to check out The Farmer’s Wife Distillery this is your time. Take a seat in the Tasting Room, Cafe, and Bar to experience the distilling magic of Kylie Sepos and her boutique batch of hand-crafted gin. Or why not book a ticket to the Mid-Summer Festival on January 13th. 
Where: 1378 The Bucketts Way, Allworth

Farmer's Wife Distillery

8. Want to live it up a little? There’s an ever-growing list of award-winning restaurants situated in Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and Central Coast. Work your way through this phenomenal dining list starting with Hunter Street's Humbug and Wickham’s Flotilla, Muse and Bistro Molines in the Hunter Valley or take a drive to Ettalong’s Osteria Il Coccia.

muse restaurant hunter valley nsw

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, including Cakeboi's, Reece Hignell newest addition — Acacia. Check out our eats and artsy-themed day in Maitland for more inspiration.

30 day trips to take this summer newcastle hunter valley

10. Spend the day in the quaint village township of Morpeth and explore all the flavours. From cute cafes to country pubs, delis, and Boydell's boutique cellar door, there’s something for everyone.

Boydell's Cellar Door Morpeth

11. Peppers Creek Village in the Hunter Valley has a fabulous offering. Skip between Wild Ren Wines, Charteris Wines and Comyn’s & Co for all your wine-tasting experiences, enjoy breakfast or lunch at the much-loved Cafe Enzo, take an olive tasting at Pukara Estate Tasting Room and for the shoppers, Fetch Gifts & Homewares is a delight.
Where: 1946 Broke Rd, Pokolbin.

Charteris Wines Hunter Valley

12. Sticking around in Newcastle over the summer holidays? Spend your time wisely exploring the city's long list of exceptional dining venues. From award-winning hatted restaurants to casual eateries that are punching well above their weight, you're going to be kept busy.     

Humbug Newcastle restaurant

13. B Farm by Murray’s offers guests a range of activities including wine and beer tasting, elegant and casual dining experiences, baked goods, homewares and a brilliant entertainment deck to chill out on and catch their regular lineup of live music.
Where: 3443 Nelson Bay Rd, Bobs Farm

14. Terrigal is teeming with restaurants, bars, and cafes. The newly-launched Mediterranean-inspired Meribella restaurant at Crowne Plaza Terrigal is a fantastic place to start.
Where: Pine Tree Ln

Merribella Terrigal

15. There’s been a mass of new restaurant and bar openings across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie at the back end of 2023, so much so we’ve barely been able to keep up. We’ve wrapped them all up in this neat little article so you can easily see what you might have missed.

Places to Visit and Things to Do

16. Reconnect with some of your favourite furry and scaly friends at Hunter Valley Wildlife Park. The team are helping to make the summer holidays more fun and affordable with generous discounts available until the end of January.
Where: 138 Lomas Lane, Nulkaba

Hunter Valley Wildlife Park

17. If you’ve hiked the summit of Tomaree Head then why not challenge yourself a little further and take the Tomaree Coastal Walk. The multi-day adventure in the heart of Port Stephens takes you to Tomaree Head Summit Walk and beyond discovering along the way some of the hidden gems of the Port Stephens coast.

30 day trips to take this summer newcastle hunter valley

18. Before the lavender season comes to a close, take a drive to Hunter Lavender Farm for a stroll through the fields. Whilst you're there enjoy the Beekeeping & Honey Harvest Experience, enjoy a lavender-flavoured yoga session or brush up on your photography skills with a mini lavender photo session.
Where: 25 Adams Peak Rd, Broke

30 day trips to take this summer newcastle hunter valley

19. Located along Swansea Channel, explore Pirrita Island Reserve. Wander along the boardwalk which connects the point to the sandy shoreline at Swansea Bay, along the way enjoy the unique fauna and flora of the local area.
Where: Swansea

Pirrita Island Nature Reserve Swansea

20. For a wild animal encounter, head to Fly Point in Nelson Bay — take your snorkel and goggles and you might be lucky enough to spot one of the local groupers!
Where: Victoria Pde, Nelson Bay

21. For a leisurely boat ride in Port Stephens, book a ticket on the ferry which heads over to Hawks Nest and enjoy some French fare at Tillermans.
Where: 77 Marine Dr, Tea Gardens

22. Known for their whale-watching tours departing from Newcastle Harbour, you can also jump aboard CoastXP’s summertime experience in Lake Macquarie. The Nature and Wildlife Tour has you taking off on a guided boat tour, bushwalk, and picnic lunch and runs from November - May.

CoastXP Lake Macquarie

23. See the bay in a different way with a kayak tour or a paddling picnic package from Port Stephens Paddle sports.
Where: Shop 25, Shoal Bay Village, 47-51 Shoal Bay Rd, Shoal Bay

24. Whether it’s horse riding, quad biking, kayaking or abseiling, Glenworth Valley on the Central Coast is the perfect day trip destination for those looking to get out into nature and get active.
Where: 69 Cooks Rd, Glenworth Valley

25. 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.
Where: Strickland Forest Rd, Somersby

strickland state forest central coast nsw

26. Spend the day at Caves Beach. Time your visit to be there at low tide so you have the most amount of time to explore the caves. Are you brave enough to take on the tunnel crawl through? Wanting to burn up some more energy, take the Caves Beach Coastal Walk from Caves Beach to Pinny Beach in Wallarah National Park.
Where: Mawson Close, Caves Beach

Caves Beach

27. 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

Bouddi Coastal Walk Central Coast

28. 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

29. 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.

30 day trips to take this summer newcastle hunter valley

30. Dust off your SUP board and head to these fab coastal locations for some water time. Take a lap around Pirrita Island or head to Swansea’s Naru Beach and Salts Bay. If you want to explore the Hawkesbury then head to Snake Island or head north to Fingal Bay in Port Stephens.