The region is bursting with activities to keep little and big kids alike amused for hours. It’s like one giant treasure hunt.
Gone are the days of needing a babysitter when experiencing a wine region. McLaren Vale’s beautiful hills, valleys and beaches abound with family fun. The region is home to children friendly cellar doors and beautiful, natural outdoor spaces for kids to run, explore and inspire their imagination.
“One of the most beautiful things about the region is its accessibility to diverse, natural places,” says Jason Tyndall from Nature Play SA. “There are boardwalks, wetlands, estuaries, national parks and of course the beautiful coastline with rockpools, caves and jetties for kids and families to enjoy and explore.”
He says a trip with the family is all about making the most of the abundant natural offerings. “Whether it’s exploring a national park or going down to the beach and finding unique shells and natural treasures, kids and families can spend hours discovering the region’s coastline. There are so many opportunities for families to engage, learn and connect.”
There’s also a collection of playgrounds which incorporate nature play, including Aldinga wetlands/scrub, McLaren Flat and the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Visitor Information Centre. Plus, there’s also an abundance of family-friendly wineries and restaurants to visit.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few suggestions to get the whole family involved.
9am – The Willunga Farmers Market is an excellent way to start your weekend. Market trails for kids occur during Easter, long weekends and local festivals, with colouring-in sheets and pencils always available. In the meantime, parents can have a morning coffee.
11am – After the market, it might be time for the little ones to run and explore. Close by is Maxwell Wines estate maze. Occupy the kids while you to take a break and enjoy a wine tasting or two.
1pm – Feeling peckish? The McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Visitor Information Centre cafe is a great spot. The gorgeous grassy grounds and expansive deck together with the playground make it the ultimate lunch stop.
3pm – Time for an afternoon delight. Local bakeries and cafes sell all sorts of treats the little (and big) kids will love. Home Grain Bakery (Aldinga and Mclaren Flat) sell gingerbread men and doughnuts, as does The Cottage Bakery in McLaren Vale. Tealicious Cakes in Willunga is a hit with the little ones too, with colourful cupcakes.
5pm – Dinner time provides a range of choices, from quality dining to a casual affair, with a number of restaurants and eateries offering kids menus. From the mini Victory burger at the Victory Hotel, to spaghetti bolognese and pizza at Willunga’s Old Bush Inn.
9am – Holidays and weekends away are in need of a good breakfast or brunch out. Breeze in Aldinga is a good place to start, with pancakes and beautiful views of the sea. Plus, when the kids get itchy feet, you can head straight to the beach for a stroll and a play in the sand.
11am – While you’re at the beach, discover some of Aldinga’s rockpools. If you’re further north, Port Noarlunga’s reef is great to explore at low tide. Find starfish, periwinkles, crabs and all sorts of fascinating sea life. Top tip – check the tides before you head out.
12.30pm – With all that sea air, it’s time to feed the hungry crew lunch. Head to The Kitchen Door at Penny’s Hill in McLaren Vale for a beautiful dining experience offering a kids menu or half size portions of main meals on the menu. To keep it simple, enjoy the fresh produce driven menu of The Farm Willunga, with toasties or a wrap for the kids. Alternatively, pop into one of the great bakeries in the region. For those that need to expend more energy, Gemtree Wines platter and playground is a great option.
3pm – Venture past The Menz FruChocs Shop in the main street of McLaren Vale for some sweet after-lunch treats. Try the little aprichoc delights which are an SA icon and utterly addictive. With sweet treats in hand, enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon of wine tasting at Beach Road Wines, where the kids can run all that sugar off in the beautiful grounds and you can sip a couple of glasses in picturesque surrounds. If you happened to miss lunch altogether, order one of the incredible wood oven pizzas, made in-house and perfect for all hunger sizes.
- Beach Road Wines, McLaren Vale
- Home Grain Bakery, Aldinga and Mclaren Flat
- S.C. Pannell, McLaren Vale
- The Cottage Bakery, McLaren Vale
- The Farm, Willunga
- The Kitchen Door at Penny’s Hill, McLaren Vale
- The Old Bush Inn, Willunga
- The Star of Greece, Port Willunga
- The Victory Hotel, Sellicks Beach
- The Coterie at Woodstock Wines, McLaren Flat
- Oscars, McLaren Vale
- Mick O’Shea’s, Hackham
There are a number of cellar doors across the region who love keeping the kids happy. Here’s a mini hit-list the kids will love.
- Doc Adams Wines – huge lawn areas for ball games and build your own lunch platter.
- Fox Creek Wines – children’s treasure hunt.
- Gemtree Wines – playground and alpacas Gus and Caruso, a kids pack can be purchased for a small fee.
- Lazy Ballerina Winery & Cellar Door – nature play area and toy corner.
- Maxwell Wines – giant maze.
- Oxenberry Farm (and wines) – great gelati and located on the Shiraz Trail ideal for walking and cycling.
- Waywood Wines – giant Jenga, connect four and chess.
- Willunga Creek Wines – 9 hole mini golf (small fee which goes to charity).
- Woodstock Wines – wildlife sanctuary with feeding time 11.30am daily.
Don’t forget to ask the cellar door staff too, as they are also great sources of family-friendly recommendations.
- Frank Hilton Reserve, Maslin Beach
- Gemtree Wines, McLaren Vale
- Jubilee Park Adventure Playground, Port Noarlunga
- Market Square Reserve, Old Noarlunga
- McLaren Flat (next-door to the bakery)
- McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Visitor Information Centre, McLaren Vale
- Rotary Park, Christies Beach
- Thalassa Park (including the storybook walk), Aberfoyle Park
- Woodstock Wines, McLaren Vale
Wetlands, creeks, beaches, scrubland and a collection of other kid-friendly nature play areas are easily accessible. Visit the Sustainable Onkaparinga page at onkaparingacity.com to download an interactive map for all nature play locations, and print your little ones a map of their own to follow, with 60 activities throughout the region to tick off.