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The Best Summer Day Trips from Melbourne

Secluded beaches, rolling vineyards and air-conditioned art galleries are all just a road trip away from Melbourne.
By Concrete Playground
February 12, 2024
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By Concrete Playground
February 12, 2024
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Melbourne city slickers, rejoice — summer is here. It's time to put your laptop away (momentarily, at least) and bid farewell to your couch because the season of summer day trips from Melbourne is upon us.

From gin tastings to dips in the ocean and from leisurely hikes to adventures by bike, there's loads of good stuff awaiting you beyond the city limits — and we've put together a list of ten top-notch day trip destinations to put you in the heart of the action. And, of course, it wouldn't be an Aussie adventure without stumbling upon some interesting wildlife along the way, so gear up to gawk at koalas, dolphins, seals and parades of penguins.

Get ready to jump in the car — these are the best day trips out of Melbourne to get out of the grid while the rain's away and the sun's out to play.

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Recommended reads:
The Best Swimming Holes in and Around Melbourne
The Best Coastal Walks Near Melbourne
The Best Glamping Sites Near Melbourne
The Best Day Trips from Melbourne to Take in Winter

Best day trips from Melbourne - MORNINGTON PENINSULA

Portsea Hotel by Samantha Schultz

FOR BEACHES, BRUNCH AND BOOZE: MORNINGTON PENINSULA

Beginning just an hour out of the city, the Mornington Peninsula is a favourite day trip destination from Melbourne for many. And with countless brunch venues, breweries, wineries and swimming spots to be found here, it's not hard to see why.

Start with a coffee and some chilli scrambled eggs at Merchant & Maker (or one of the region's other stellar cafes) before heading for a swim in the rockpools at Bushrangers Bay. Then, take your pick of drinking spots for the afternoon — perhaps at Montalto's sprawling restaurant and winery, the Portsea Hotel with its sweeping bay views or Dromana's entirely gluten-free brewery Two Bays.

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The Yarra Valley - one of the best day trips from Melbourne.

Hubert Estate

FOR WINE AND WATERFALLS: THE YARRA VALLEY

A hop, skip and a jump from the bustling city, the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges feature farmlands, vineyards, art and culinary delights that'll make you feel like you're a world away from the grid.

Get into the heart of the region by walking upstream along the Keppel Falls Walk, which envelops you in nature and lands you at a stunning waterfall. You can follow this with a trip through the renowned TarraWarra Museum of Art. Then, end the day with some gourmet local eats — perhaps chic picnic platters and chardonnay at TarraWarra Estate, handmade pasta and heavenly views courtesy of Hubert Estate, or pinot grigio and pizza at Rochford Wines.

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Healesville - one of the best day trips from Melbourne.

Four Pillars

FOR GIN AND CUTE ANIMALS: HEALESVILLE

Although it can be easily bundled into a broader Yarra Valley day trip, Healesville has plenty of charms worth carving out a whole day for. For animal lovers, Healesville Sanctuary should top the list, as the bushland haven lets you get up close and personal with native wildlife like dingos, kangaroos and koalas.

A very close second is Four Pillars' gin distillery, where you can indulge in a guided gin tasting or leisurely sip your way through a G&T paddle. Then, line your stomach with some grazing boards and wood-fired pizza at Innocent Bystander, perhaps matched with a glass of its famed moscato, before heading back to the big smoke.

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Great Ocean Road - one of the best day trips from Melbourne.

Mark Watson via Visit Victoria

FOR ICE CREAM AND INSTAGRAM OPPS: GREAT OCEAN ROAD

Between the limitless beaches, nature walks and infinite Instagram opportunities, the Great Ocean Road offers a whole lot to discover as you travel along its picturesque strip.

It's never too early to fuel up with breakfast and sweet treats from the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, before a drive down to the iconic 12 Apostles. Beyond that sits the stunning Loch Ard Gorge — while it's too rough for swimming, you can dip your feet in its crystal clear waters and marvel at its sharp golden cliffs.

On your way home, stop for an Italian feast at the Lorne outpost of Merivale favourite Totti's, a pub feed and brews with a view at the Wye Beach Hotel, or craft pints and pizza courtesy of Blackman's Brewery in Torquay. Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for koalas in the trees lining the roads along the way. And if you want to stay a little longer, check out our guide to the best accommodations scattered along the Great Ocean Road.

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Lakes Entrance - one of the best day trips from Melbourne.

Visit Victoria

FOR SECLUDED BEACHES AND SEAFOOD FEASTS: LAKES ENTRANCE

Okay, so this day trip from Melbourne might require an overnight stay, but we thought it was still worth a spot on this list. With sand dunes on one side and crashing waves on the other, Lakes Entrance will instantly have you feeling like you're a long, long way away from Melbourne.

Along Ninety Mile Beach, the fourth longest beach in the world, you can go for a swim (stick to the safer patrolled areas) or explore the many charming coastal towns nearby. There's also picturesque spots for kayaking and paddle-boarding, national parks brimming with great hikes and plenty of top-notch fishing.

When you're done, refuel with a seafood feast at renowned overwater eatery Sodafish — or head for tacos, burgers and crafty drops at Lakes' first brewery Red Bluff Brewers.

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Dayelsford - one of the best day trips from Melbourne.

Visit Victoria

FOR RELAXING IN NATURE: DAYLESFORD AND THE MACEDON RANGES

When it's hot, sometimes you just want to stay inside. But rather than ensconcing yourself in your house in front of the air-con, why not make your way to the lush, bathhouse-filled region of Daylesford?

First, a climb up Mount Macedon to Camels Hump offers a good excuse to reward yourself with a post-hike brunch and coffee at Mr Macedon. Then, venture on over for a soak in the famed mineral baths of Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa — they are set at varying temperatures so you can warm up and cool off as you need, and there's a bumper menu of other spa experiences also on offer.

Of course, no trip back home is complete without a stop off at Holgate Brewery in Woodend for a cold pint and classic pub feed.

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Phillip Island - one of the best day trips from Melbourne.

FOR WILDLIFE AND COASTLINE: PHILLIP ISLAND

A couple hours southeast of Melbourne, Phillip Island is the ideal spot to surround yourself with nature and wildlife for the day. Start with some furry fun at the Koala Conservation Reserve and clear out any remanding hay fever amongst the eucalyptus woodlands. Then, you absolutely need to pay a sunset visit to the refurbished Penguin Parade to catch the island's resident little penguins returning to their terrestrial homes, having spent the day out and about fishing.

Beyond wildlife watching, you can settle in to sample some local booze — the Phillip Island Winery is a popular choice — then bliss out with a massage or spa treatment, or conquer a hiking trail like the Cape Woolamai Walk, which traverses dramatic clifftops along Phillip's southernmost point.

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Bendigo - one of the best day trips from Melbourne.

Bendigo Art Gallery

FOR HERITAGE AND ART: BENDIGO

The old mining town of Bendigo offers buckets of history and heritage, while also boasting extensive contemporary art and pub lunches galore.

Go underground (it's cooler) and walk in the footsteps of prior gold miners at Central Deborah Gold Mine or, if you prefer to stay above ground, take a wander through the impressive Bendigo Art Gallery to eyeball its extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and photography.

Then, top off your summer day trip with bocadillos (Spanish sandwiches), tostadas and other tapas at buzzing laneway bar El Gordo, or stop by Masons of Bendigo for a feast starring plenty of top Central Victorian produce.

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Geelong - one of the best day trips from Melbourne.

Igni

FOR DOLPHINS AND CULINARY DELIGHTS: GEELONG

Geelong is fast becoming the base of choice for young professionals who've decided to swap city life for a more affordable low-key option. It offers native wildlife, relaxing ocean views and more local producers than you could possibly sink your teeth into. And it's way less busy than St Kilda.

Head just off the coast of nearby Queenscliff and dive straight into the ocean to swim with dolphins and seals. Then, regain your strength by eating and drinking your way along the Bellarine Taste Trail. Slurp down organic mussels at Little Mussel Cafe, relax into the pastel-hued interior of Frankie or book in for a fine-dining affair at the much-lauded Igni. If you don't have a car, you can easily travel from Docklands to Geelong via ferry.

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Mount Buller - one of the best day trips from Melbourne.

Ain Raadik for Visit Victoria

FOR MOUNTAINS, HIKES AND BIKES: MOUNT BULLER

Although Mount Buller traditionally conjures images of never-ending snowballs and big puffer jackets, there are also lots of reasons to make the trip up during summer.

Stretch those legs after the three-hour drive and get them ready for your choice of mountain biking, hiking, trail running and horse riding. Your peepers are in for a workout, too, as you soak up the majestic vistas and explore the Gnome Roam, searching for a glimpse of the mountain's resident gnomes. After all the sunshine and activity, refuel your batteries with a spot of tasty pub fare from the Kooroora Hotel, or kick back with a session on the sprawling deck at Spurs Smokehouse.

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Top image: Airey's Inlet on the Great Ocean Road by Cameron Murray for Visit Victoria.

Published on February 12, 2024 by Concrete Playground
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