Want to take a short drive and get out of Melbourne for a change of scenery? Let me give you some suggestions, from a long-time resident here. These are 6 of the best day trips from Melbourne, all much-loved and iconic sites that locals and tourists enjoy. They are all an easy drive from the city, where you can appreciate nature and some awesome activities for the whole family.
Explore Rural Victoria
Get out of Melbourne and explore a little of rural Victoria. Get in touch with nature with one of these 6 best day trips from Melbourne, which are all under 2 hours drive from the city. Whether you are looking for beaches, mountains, wildlife, hiking, relaxation, or fun with the kids, I’ve got you covered.
Of course, if you prefer a short stay for a couple of days, all of these locations offer various types of accommodation, so you can enjoy these magnificent places a little longer.
1. Sovereign Hill, Ballarat
One of the most popular places to visit for families is Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum / theme park, in Ballarat. It’s a replica of the old gold mining town that was nearby in the 1800’s, historically accurate in every detail.
Here you can pan for gold, learn about the history of gold mining in Victoria and immerse yourself in the lifestyle of a bygone era. You can easily spend a whole day here, with many different activities and attractions to enjoy such as mine tours, exhibits, workshops, animal stables and more. Hotels, restaurants and shops line the streets, and people dressed in clothing from the era mingle and have photos taken with you. At night there is a sound and light show too.
I came here as a child, and also brought my own children when they were young. Kids love gold panning and are allowed to keep any specks of gold they find.
2. Mornington Peninsula
The Mornington Peninsula is one of the most popular beach destinations from Melbourne, as it’s only about an hour from the city and easily accessible by car via freeway. The ideal day trip if you’re after sand, surf and sun in the Summer months. Plus, there are wineries, mineral springs, and a myriad of shops and restaurants to explore. Have a read of my article Melbourne Beach.
Another popular day trip is the town of Daylesford, approximately 90 minutes drive from Melbourne, for natural springs, spa and wellness therapies, art galleries and cafes. Furthermore, the Botanical Gardens here and the man-made lake offer plenty of walking trails and scenery to enjoy. People love to swim and enjoy boating at the lake too. Read my article A Quick Guide To Daylesford for more.
4. Dandenong Ranges
If you love mountains, you must visit the nearby Dandenong Ranges just an hour from the city, known affectionately as The Dandenongs. An awesome low mountain area of national parks and lush rain forests. The ferns are particularly striking. Driving up the scenic, winding route of Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, you will find many awesome places at which you will want to stop.
The Dandenongs offers so much to see and do for everyone. Explore the hiking trails, waterfalls, dams, lakes, gardens, picnic grounds, cafes, and quaint little shops and plant nurseries.
A huge attraction here and one of the main reasons families come to the Dandenongs is the famous Puffing Billy Steam train rides. The views of the green landscape whilst hanging out of the side of the carriages is a fond childhood memory of everyone who grew up in Melbourne. You can board Puffing Billy from a few different locations. Tickets are required.
5. Phillip Island Penguin Parade
Phillip Island is super popular for fairy penguins. These adorable little guys waddle out of the ocean up the sand to their burrows here at dusk. People love to visit and watch the penguin parade. Of course, it’s a huge attraction and you must buy tickets. There are various viewing platforms.
The scenery along the coastline here is stunning. There are plenty of boardwalks and walking trails with lookouts to enjoy the views.
Also, seals can be seen on The Nobbies rocks, where a huge colony of them live.
Located at the beginning of the famous Great Ocean Road, about 1.5 hours drive from Melbourne, Torquay is famous for its surf beaches. Many would call it the surfing capital of Australia. Bells Beach and Jan Juc attract surfers here in droves, especially for the yearly Bells Beach Pro competition. If you want to learn how to surf, this is the place.
Torquay even has a Surfing Museum full of Australian surfing memorabilia. The Australian National Surfing Museum is A$12 per adult to enter.
For walking enthusiasts, the Surf Coast Walk, a 44km trail route, begins in Torquay and continues along the Great Ocean Road. Various lookouts give you opportunity to appreciate the coastal views.
I hope you get to enjoy some of these best day trips from Melbourne, because a little road trip away from the city helps us unwind and get back to nature.
Let me know your thoughts below.
Bye for now.