The 10 best places to visit near Sydney by car

Looking for an unforgettable road trip that’s only a short drive from Sydney’s CBD? Here are 10 family adventures you can do by car.

Living in Sydney gives you endless opportunities for adventurous day trips and fun overnight stays for you and your family that are only a couple of hours’ drive away.

Here are Drive’s 10 favourite places to visit near Sydney by car, with a little something for all ages to enjoy!

1. Southern Highlands

The Southern Highlands are beautiful to visit any time of the year, but if you plan your trip accordingly, you can enjoy some truly lovely and traditional Highlands festivities.

Head down in April for Brigadoon, a Scottish festival with traditional music, dancing and games, plus stalls to buy treats and souvenirs.

If you like the cold, head down in July for Winterfest to enjoy live music, food and drink stalls, all run by local businesses and designed to bring light and life to the dark of winter.

One of the most popular and beautiful events in the Highlands is the Tulip Festival, which is held every September. It’s a sight not to be missed.

A 90-minute drive from Sydney’s CBD via Remembrance Drive makes it perfect for a day trip.

2. Port Stephens

Port Stephens is a two-and-a-half-hour drive up the M1 and the longer drive makes it perfect as an overnight destination.

It offers great beaches, lots of cafes and restaurants, and you can jump on several dolphin and whale-watching tours

If you have kids who love planes, then head to Fighter World for a historic look at the original RAAF Williamtown base museum. You’ll get to see parts of aircraft, air force uniforms and learn all about the RAAF base’s history.

There are also plenty of walking trails, like the Tomaree Head Summit Walk or the new 27km Tomaree Coastal Walk that retraces ancient routes used by the Worimi people. 

3. Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains has so much to do and see. The drive will take around 90 minutes from central Sydney via the M4 and Great Western Highway.

While most people would have heard of the Three Sisters lookout and the Zig Zag railway (which you should definitely check out), some may not know that the Blue Mountains is home to one of the most outstanding cave systems in the world, Jenolan Caves. They are Australia’s most famous caves, and their spectacular underground system is an experience not to be missed. 

Continue along the Great Western Highway for 20 minutes to Blackheath to experience the Glow Worm Tunnel walking track. The historic mining train tunnel is now home to thousands of glow worms and the pinpricks of blue light are a stunning sight.

4. Hunter Valley

If you want to enjoy a wine tasting with your kids in tow, several of the wineries in the Hunter Valley now offer family tastings. Tulloch Wines is one to offer a kids’ flight of either soft drinks or kombucha. You can book a few different tastings that come with some yummy snack options as well.

The Hunter Valley Gardens are fun for young and old. There are always new and different attractions on the grounds throughout the year and it’s pram and wheelchair friendly. With food options, a mini shopping village and places to stay, you could spend your entire weekend in the Gardens. 

Why not take a hot air balloon ride, followed by a scrumptious champagne breakfast, to see the Hunter Valley from a different perspective? Beyond Ballooning has several different packages to choose from, all of which will get you up at the crack of dawn to witness the sunrise as you float through the morning air.

The two-hour drive up the M1 from Sydney’s CBD is short enough for a day trip, but you’ll fit plenty in with an overnight stay.

5. Central Coast

The Central Coast is far enough out of Sydney that you feel like you’re nowhere near ‘the big smoke’, but it’s only about an hour’s drive up the M1, making for a perfect day trip.

Besides a dip in the ocean, you can take a ride on the mini steam train at the Steam Model Co-Op and take a look around at the fascinating miniature trains and railways on display. It’ll be a big hit for any Thomas the Tank Engine enthusiast! 

Another great spot is the Australian Reptile Park, Australia’s original hands-on zoo. If you’re not into reptiles, don’t worry, it’s home to over 2000 animals, including koalas, kangaroos and wombats.

6. Kangaroo Valley

Kangaroo Valley is one of Australia’s most beautiful valleys. The drive from Sydney’s CBD is roughly two hours via the Hume Highway, but only about 40 minutes from the Southern Highlands. Make the most out of both places across two days and stay in either spot overnight.

Kangaroo Valley is a great place for an outdoorsy family. The Fitzroy Falls West Rim Walk will take you through the lush rainforest and give you spectacular views of the dramatic gorges and waterfalls in the Morton National Park. The walking might be a bit much for really little legs, but if you have bigger kids, the views are worth it. 

The Pioneer Village Museum is an enjoyable location to have a picnic, go on a bushwalk and wander through the museum to learn what life was like during the pioneer settlement times.

7. Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay, a true beach lover’s destination, is roughly a three-hour drive out of central Sydney via the M1 and Hume Highway. 

A must-visit spot is Hyams Beach as it holds the Guinness World Record for the beach with the whitest sand in the world. With stunning crystal clear, turquoise waters, it’s fringed by the national park making it such an idyllic spot to spend the day relaxing with your family. 

To get a full sense of how beautiful Jervis Bay is, experience the Jervis Bay Marina Park by water on the Jervis Bay Passenger Cruise. You’ll get to see all of the stunning beaches, and have a chance to see its beautiful local wildlife. 

8. Kiama

Kiama, a beautiful south coastal town, is most famous for its Kiama Blowhole and Little Blowhole.

After the two-hour drive from central Sydney via the M1 and Princes Highway, get out and stretch your legs along the Kiama Coast Walk trail that links the blowholes to Cathedral Rock. 

Kiama is only a 20-minute drive from Berry, which is a beautiful country town that is home to the famous Berry Donut Van, as well as many fantastic cafes and historical buildings.

If you head 25 minutes inland, you can hit up Jamberoo Action Park for a fun and adventurous day on the bobsled, water rides, kids splash zone and mini golf.

9. Newcastle

The harbour city of Newcastle has plenty of beaches that are linked by the Bathers Way coastal walk, which stretches between Nobbys Beach and Merewether Beach. The Bathers Way coastal walk is also connected to the ANZAC Memorial walk, which was built in 2015.

There is so much rich history in Newcastle, which makes the Newcastle Museum a great place to visit.

Your drive to Newcastle is about two hours via the M1, although on the weekends it could take up to three hours. So plan ahead and pack snacks and car games for the road.

10. Lake Macquarie

Head up north via the Pacific Highway and M1 for about an hour-and-a-half to reach beautiful Lake Macquarie. 

Caves Beach at low tide is an explorer’s dream with its network of sea caves. Make a day of it by setting up at Hams Beach (just 300 metres north of Caves Beach) and enjoy the BBQ and picnic facilities. There is also Caves Beach walk that takes two hours – a great activity while you’re waiting for low tide to explore the sea caves. 

If you’ve got little ones, head to Grannies Pool to enjoy calmer waters for less experienced swimmers or sand-castle-building toddlers. It’s also right next to Blacksmiths Breakwall, which offers spectacular views of the entrance to the lake.

To ensure your car trip is a success, make sure to check out Drive’s must-have car accessories for a road trip. 

The post The 10 best places to visit near Sydney by car appeared first on Drive.

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