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 – think family friendly facilities such as pools and playgrounds. Check out the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, Kirkton Park 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, great for families to share
For supplies there are supermarkets in Cessnock and the 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 – at the factory on Broke Road kids can watch the chocolatier and fudge-maker at work.
If you have little kids there’s no sleeping in, so you’ll be up and about early for breakfast at your accommodation or head out to Café Enzo for Campos coffee, great breakfasts and kids’ menu including babycinos. The café is also open for lunch.
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. Several wineries offer play areas and children’s activities to keep the kids entertained so parents can “enjoy the wine without the whine”.
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.
Love Kitchen : Mostly organic and with gluten-free and vegan options – breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
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 a perfect 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. Open seven days from noon until late with beer on tap, variety of local wines, tapas meals, pizza’s and pasta and a kids’ menu including spaghetti and chicken nuggets.
Despite its small size, the Hunter Valley Zoo is home to many native and exotic animals. It is set up with special enclosures allowing 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.)