Seven of the best day trips from Melbourne

Vineyards in Yarra Valley

Tianna Nadalin

Posted January 13, 2021

Planning a short break? Hit the road and escape to one of these must-see destinations, all within an easy day’s drive from the city.

From secluded high-tea hideaways and heritage train rides to hinterland hikes and reliving Victoria’s goldrush glory days, there is no shortage of epic adventures, culinary quests and wild rides beckoning within a few hours’ drive of Melbourne. So pack the car, pump up the tyres and get ready for fun-filled day trips to some of Victoria’s bucket-list destinations. And if you’re an RACV member, you can take advantage of special offers and discounts at a wide range of local attractions when you book through RACV Attractions and Ticketing.

Autumn trees with orange leaves

Yarra Valley

The Dandenongs

Head for the hills this summer and spend a day in the stunning Dandenong Ranges. The lush rainforest, less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne, is the perfect place to relax, unwind and get back to nature. With more than 200 walks and trails, there are hikes aplenty if you want to explore by foot or, if you prefer the scenic route, hop aboard the historic Puffing Billy steam train as it glides its way through glistening gullies and towering mountain ash forests.

For something a little more indulgent, drop into the Olinda Tea House for an Asian-influenced high tea in a fairytale setting. With ceiling-to-floor windows and 360-degree rainforest views, this charming architectural gem is as close to treehouse chic as it gets.

Yarra Valley

There’s nothing like spending a day in wine country to help replenish the soul. And where better to get your fill of gourmet goodies and gastronomic pleasures than Victoria’s oldest wine region. Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley offers a world of sensory indulgence, with award-winning cellar doors, world-class distilleries, hatted restaurants and incredible encounters.

Love wine? Sip your way through some of the state’s best with a Yarra Valley wine and segway tour of the gorgeous Balgownie Estate. Zoom your way around the manicured grounds, taking in the rolling hills and specatular views of the valley and beyond, while learning about wine and the winemaking process. After the tour, refresh and reset with lunch and a glass of wine at Balgownie's award-winning restaurant.

See the Yarra Valley from the sky with a thrilling Tiger Moth flight, or get up close and personal with some of your favourite furry friends, including koalas, kangaroos, echidnas and, if you’re lucky, even a platypus, at Healesville Sanctuary.

Plus, check out the Yarra Valley's best boutique wineries. Or, if vino isn’t your thing, here are eight things to do in the Yarra Valley other than drink wine.

The Grampians

Tick off a bucket-list Victorian adventure with a day trip to the Grampians National Park. Part of the Gariwerd Aboriginal cultural landscape, this ruggedly handsome hinterland is a haven for weekenders and serious escape artists alike, offering everything from incredible hikes and majestic mountain panoramas to epicurean banquets, wildlife encounters and the largest number of significant and ancient Indigenous rock-art paintings and shelters in southern Australia. Take a hike or scenic drive to the photogenic MacKenzie Falls, Halls Gap, Boroka Lookout and the Grand Canyon and keep your camera handy because this Grampians highlights reel is one picture-perfect location after the other. And don’t forget a visit to Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre to help you get the most out of your visit to this stunning and culturally important corner of the state. You might even find time for a round of minigolf at Grampians Adventure Golf.

For those who want to stay longer, RACV members receive 10 per cent off at BIG4 NRMA Halls Gap Holiday Park in the Grampians when booking over the phone.

Person at a Grampians lookout


Great Ocean Road

When it comes to world-class day-trip destinations, Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is often top of the list. As well as being a culinary cornucopia, this famously craggy coastline boasts a bounty of brilliant activities to tick off the local tourism bucket list. Strap yourself in for a high-flying scenic adventure through the lush Otway rainforest on an Otway Fly Zipline Tour. You’ll literally see the forest from the trees as you swing your way through the towering canopy 30 metres above ground level. Or, if you prefer to see the sights with your feet planted firmly on the ground, simplify your sightseeing with a guided Great Ocean Road day tour from Melbourne. You won’t miss any of the drama, with the tour taking in all of the must-see wonders of the Twelve Apostles National Park, including the Apostles themselves, as well as Loch Ard Gorge, Port Campbell and the Otway ranges.

With so much to see, why not make it a short break? RACV Members save 25 per cent off standard room only and bed and breakfast accommodation rates when booking direct at RACV Torquay Resort.

The Goldfields

Load the little tackers into the car for an action-packed out-of-towner in Victoria’s Goldfields region. From family-friendly bike rides to art trails, foodie feasts, ten-pin bowling and jousting battles, Victoria’s mid-west is a veritable adventure playground for families, friends and foodies alike. Take a step back in time at Ballarat’s celebrated Sovereign Hill, where panning for gold and gorging on raspberry drops are a rite of passage for Victorian children. If you haven’t visited for a while, the new Aura show (which replaced Blood on the Southern Cross) is a thrilling multi-sensory experience that brings the Eureka Rebellion to life using cutting-edge 3D projections.

Why not make it a weekender? RACV Members save 25 per cent off standard room only and bed and breakfast accommodation rates when booking direct at RACV Goldfields Resort. Plus, chef Donato Pentassuglia shares his insider guide to the best local places to eat and drink.

Horse and cart in Ballarat

Sovreign Hill in Ballarat

Mornington Peninsula

If you’re in need of a little R and R, a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula is just what the doctor prescribed. For the ultimate in relaxation, head to the Peninsula Hot Springs and bathe your way to the top, soaking up the spectacular panoramic views of the peninsula from the Spa Dreaming Centre. Then bliss out in the Moroccan Hammam or get your zen on in the infrared sauna. For a more whimsical adventure, lose yourself among 10 acres of gorgeous gardens, including a year-round lavender labyrinth and Australia’s oldest hedge maze at Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens. The home-made lavender ice-cream is a must-try.

For those who want to stay longer, RACV Members save 25 per cent off standard room only and bed and breakfast accommodation rates when booking directly at RACV Cape Schanck Resort. And don’t forget to check out RACV Cape Schanck’s guide to the peninsula's best wine and cheese pairings, plus chef Josh Pelham's guide to the best places to eat and drink.

Phillip Island

Get ready for adventure with a day trip to Phillip Island. Enjoy an action-packed day of discovery taking in the historic grounds of Churchill Island, spotting furry koalas at the Koala Conservation Reserve and going on a virtual Antarctic expedition at the Nobbies Centre. Then, settle in for an unforgettable sunset at the iconic Phillip Island Penguin Parade as you witness the incredible ritual that is the Little Penguins waddling their way across the sand from the sea to their burrows. Phillip Island is home to one of the world’s largest colonies of little penguins, and the recently redeveloped Visitor Centre allows wide-eyed onlookers to observe these fascinating flightless birds from an intimate vantage point.

Want to extend your short break? RACV Members can stay longer for less with 10 per cent off at NRMA Phillip Island Beachfront Holiday Park when booking over the phone.

Plan ahead

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some bookings are restricted or temporarily suspended. Before heading off on your next Victorian adventure, phone ahead to check local alerts, opening times and ticketing availability.