If you’re under the impression that the Hunter Valley is all about booze, think again. There’s a whole range of non-alcoholic, indulgent experiences just waiting to be explored.
Just a breezy two-hour drive away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney, the Hunter Valley offers an ideal weekend getaway for wine enthusiasts. Nestled amid serene rolling hills and vast vineyards, the region beckons you to unwind and rejuvenate even before you’ve sipped your first glass.
But what if you’re not quite in the mood for wine? No worries! This bountiful corner of the world delivers a wealth of choices for everyone, whether you’re a foodie, a wellness enthusiast, or simply seeking some R&R.
Here are our favourite things to do in the Hunter Valley for non-drinkers.
1. Take a chocolate tour of the Hunter Valley
Indulge in a chocolate exploration around the region, where you’ll soon see that this area holds almost as many sweet delights as it does fine wines.
Sample an array of chocolates during the interactive Chocoholic Tour.
For those with a seriously sweet tooth, jump aboard the guided Chocoholic Tour, which whisks you away to the most decadent boutique shops in style, all aboard a luxurious Mercedes. If you’re more of a self-guided tourist, check out our must-do on the chocolate and cheese trail.
Try these handcrafted chocolates at Cocoa Nib. (Image: Destination NSW)
2. Smell the cheeses at the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop
If cheese is your passion, you can’t go past the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop, a quirky store brimming with the region’s most extensive cheese selection. Here, you can stock up and adorn your platter with an array of the finest blues, cheddar, and hard and soft varieties offering rich, buttery indulgence.
Take your pick from the extensive range on offer at the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop. (Image: Destination NSW)
Complement your cheeses with exquisite, cured meats, olives, pates, and delectable sweets. Such is the shop’s popularity that they even opened a second location just down the road.
Indulge in a cheese platter at the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop. (Image: Destination NSW)
Address: The original Smelly Deli is at Shop 3, Pokolbin Village, 2188 Broke Road, Pokolbin. The second outlet is within Roche Estate Complex, 2144 Broke Road, Pokolbin.
3. Indulge in a Hunter Valley spa session
While you’ll find many sensational spas in the region, few can match the sheer, simple luxury of Elysia Retreat, Australia’s largest retreat centre offering an array of wellness treatments to tickle your fancy.
Elysia Retreat lies in a scenic parcel of land in the Hunter Valley.
Picture an à la carte menu of massages, rejuvenating facials, and transformative treatments like the Crystal Chakra Balance and Hawaiian Tranquillity Ritual.
Select from a range of treatments on offer.
Their signature treatment, Watsu, is a unique, water-based body session in a secluded heated pool – inviting participants to deeply relax the spine in ways not possible on land. Whether you drop in for a single treatment or decide to stay the weekend, one thing’s for sure – you won’t want to leave.
Join a wellness session at Elysia Retreat.
Address: 165 Thompson Road, Pokolbin
4. Revel in a romantic meal with verdant views at Bistro Molines
Though there’s certainly a plethora of fine food establishments in the area, ask the Hunter Valley’s own, and they’ll swiftly recommend Bistro Molines as the region’s ultimate romantic dining spot.
Be at one with nature when you dine at Bistro Molines. (Image: Destination NSW)
Perched upon a hillside adorned with rose-covered vines, this charming restaurant is masterfully overseen by Robert Molines, a beloved French expat who has called the region home since 1973.
With a string of accolades and awards, Bistro Molines seamlessly melds exquisite cuisine with a quaint cottage setting, set against the most lush and scenic backdrop – an idyllic choice for an intimate lunch or dinner.
Address: 749 Mount View Road, Mount View
5. Explore the great outdoors, Hunter Valley style
Hunter Valley Gardens is a natural wonderland, featuring meandering pathways spanning eight kilometres that guide you through 14 hectares of meticulously designed, thematic gardens, waterfalls, a serene lake, vibrant murals, and more – offering an ideal setting for serene contemplation and relaxation.
Take a peaceful stroll through the manicured Hunter Valley Gardens. (Image: Destination NSW)
If you find yourself in the region during the festive season, don’t miss the Christmas Lights Spectacular, a fun, family-friendly annual event.
Sit in quiet contemplation at the Oriental Garden by the lake. (Image: Destination NSW)
Throughout the year, you’ll discover a plethora of joy-filled activities on offer that have nothing to do with wine, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
There are plenty of fun activities to enjoy at Hunter Valley Gardens. (Image: Destination NSW)
6. Shop and sip at Worn Out Wares
Worn Out Wares, a vibrant cafe/store, fuses worlds of blooms, coffee, delectable fare, and an artfully selected array of gifts and goodies catering to all. Whether you’re a flower aficionado, coffee lover, or home styling enthusiast, this is your go-to destination to marvel and delight.
Find artisan items at Worn Out Wares. (Image: Nikki To)
While this family-run establishment has remained a steadfast presence in Singleton for nearly two decades, it has gracefully adapted to the times, now offering turmeric lattes and vegan bowls alongside bacon and egg rolls and house scones smothered in cream and strawberry jam. One of the must-try cafes in the Hunter Valley.
Sit down for coffee at the cafe. (Image: Nikki To)
Address: 41-43 George St, Singleton
7. Enjoy a classic pub meal at The Valley Brewhouse
Just because you’re not drinking, doesn’t mean you can’t savour some delicious pub grub. At The Valley Brewhouse, you can relish classic pub meals, live music and more in a traditional Aussie pub atmosphere – complete with a quintessential beer garden.
Dine al fresco at The Valley Brewhouse.
Nestled within the historic brick beehive kilns of the former Potters Hotel at the gateway of the Hunter, The Valley Brewhouse emerges as a hub for craft brewers and distillers, and, with something for everyone, is perfect for a relaxed group catch-up.
Order a tasting paddle at the Valley Brewhouse.
Address: Wine Country Drive, Nulkaba
8. Explore a world of experiences at Hope Estate
Hope Estate offers an abundance of options to delight in. From its functions restaurant and inviting cellar door to the cute and charming Wombat Cottage for those who prefer to stay put, there’s something for everyone. The estate boasts Australia’s largest purpose-built outdoor amphitheatre, gracing its stage with renowned talents during concert season, and it keeps the excitement alive year-round with a variety of events, including the much-loved annual gin and jazz festival.
Time your visit with a concert at Hope Estate. (Image: Destination NSW)
Address: 2213 Broke Road, Pokolbin
9. Discover the pleasure of non-alcoholic wine
Keen to savour the essence of the Hunter Valley’s grapes without the hangover? Many wineries now extend their offerings to include non-alcoholic selections.
Tempus Wines is one of a handful of cellar doors offering non-alcoholic wine tastings. (Image: Chris Elfes)
Tamburlaine Organic Wines presents a top-tier assortment of alcohol-free whites and reds, McGuigan Wines boasts an array of full-flavoured options (including a lovely bubbly), Tempus Wines entices with a simple selection of alcohol-free whites, and Wine House Hunter Valley offers delightful, refined (and relatively healthy) sparkling teas. You can explore all these cellar doors in Pokolbin.
Order a glass of alcohol-free bubbly instead of wine at Lisa McGuigan Wines. (Image: Destination NSW)
10. Pamper with a ‘Picnic in the sky’
Embark on a secluded adventure with your special someone and Hunter Valley Helicopters, soaring high above the breathtaking views.
Take your Hunter Valley experience to new heights. (Image: Destination NSW)
You’ll be whisked away to a unique spot accessible only by helicopter (and professional rock climbers) to relish a gourmet picnic for two in an exclusive location amidst the mountains.
Appreciate the Hunter Valley from above. (Image: Destination NSW)
Your journey continues with a private tour of the Kawal Rock Distillery, a stopover that will appeal to gin enthusiasts and non-drinkers alike. While this experience technically features a bottle of wine, simply request a non-alcoholic alternative when making your booking.
Pay a visit to Kawal Rock Distillery.
If you’re in the mood for a different (or more budget-friendly) high-flying adventure, you’ll discover myriad options with Hunter Valley Helicopters and Aero Logistics Helicopters.
Create memorable moments on a breathtaking helicopter flight around the Hunter Valley. (Image: Destination NSW)