Vineyards and kids go hand in hand in the Hunter with family-friendly vineyards, cafes and attractions. There are several large resort style hotels with apartment or villa style accommodation, pools and playgrounds. So check out the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley and the Mercure Resort Hunter Valley, next door to the Hunter Valley Gardens and the shopping village. Based around the Greg Norman-designed golf course, The Vintage has holiday homes to rent so are great for families to share.
For supplies there are supermarkets in Cessnock and Hunter Valley Gardens Village has a butcher, general store and the Pokolbin Village Pharmacy, open seven days. The Smelly Cheese Shop sells deli items and pizza as well as cheese and has picnic ingredients for sale. Sweet spots include the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company at three locations and kids can watch the chocolatier and fudge-maker at work at the factory on Broke Road.
If you have little kids there’s no sleeping in, so you’ll be up and about early. Have breakfast at your accommodation or head out to Fawks Foods Kitchen & Bakery or Café Enzo.
Hunter Valley wineries are renowned for their hospitality and many are family friendly. Pick vineyards with tasting rooms that open to garden areas – that way you can enjoy some tasting while the kids are running around within sight. Many wineries offer play areas and children’s activities to keep the kids entertained so parents can “enjoy the wine without the whine”.
Calais Estate is kid-friendly, has space to run around and is home to Restaurant Kawul with a kids’menu.
Audrey Wilkinson has a beautiful cellar door with expansive views (some of the best in the Hunter) of the Brokenback Ranges, surrounded by child-friendly lawns. Bimbadgen Estate is a fairly formal winery and restaurant, but kids are welcome. They love spotting fish in the pond and can run around on the grass area below the restaurant veranda while parents take in the view. Scarborough Wines has a warm, welcoming atmosphere, free cheese platter with wine tastings and kids’ activity packs to keep them busy.
Tintilla Estate on Hermitage Road, has olive groves and lovely gardens where kids can play while mum and dad taste wine! Tulloch is known for being family friendly with a great terrace and grassy areas for the kids to run around.
More Hunter Valley Itineraries
Many restaurants have a kids’ menu and resorts such as Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley have their own family-friendly dining options.
Harrigan’s Irish Pub : Family-friendly pub with accommodation and bistro with grown-up faves such as beef and Guinness pot pie. Eat indoors or out – kids’ meals come with a free ice block and activity pack (12 years and under).
The Old Brickworks Brasserie : At Potters Brewery with distinctive heritage brick ‘beehive’ kilns, the extensive menu caters for every taste, including pizzas and steaks. Match your meal with beer brewed on site. With both indoor and outside seating and a children’s playground, this is an option for breakfast, lunch or dinner
The Brokenback Bar : At Tuscany Wine Estate Resort, the Brokenback Bar offers that relaxed feeling, overlooking the local vineyards and Brokenback Ranges.
Despite its small size, the Hunter Valley Zoo is home to many native and exotic animals. Special enclosures allow kids to have hands on experiences including patting wombats or koalas and feeding kangaroos and goats.
The Hunter Valley Gardens are lovely for younger kids. Take a train ride around the at the beginning of your visit for an overview of the ten individual feature gardens. Kids love the Storybook Garden. Outside the gardens there’s a large grassy picnic area with BBQ’s and room for kids to run around. Hunter Valley Gardens Village has cafés and a range of small shops.
Hunter Valley Gardens Aqua Golf and Putt Putt offers aqua golf and an 18 hole Putt Putt course beside the lake.
Grapemobile Bike Hire: Bus pick-up and return service from your accommodation.
Suttons Electric Bikes: Baskets big enough for picnic supplies.
Horse riding tours, Segway adventures and electric bike hire are available at the Adventure Centre at the Hunter Valley Resort.
For trail rides go to Hunter Valley Horse Riding & Adventures.
(Big shout out and thanks to Deborah Noyce for family-friendly advice.)