Looking for a short holiday near Melbourne that won’t bash the budget? Quentin Long takes a stroll through the bargain highlights of Mornington Peninsula, finding affordable options for couples and families.

I chose Mornington Peninsula because the region has a lot going on for kids. Other alternatives are Daylesford, Yarra Valley and the Great Ocean Road.

Flying over Sorrento in the Mornington peninsula

To do

Family

It’s all ‘aMAZEing’ with a couple of different mazes. And all the activities I mention below have cafes to feed the kids. Enchanted Adventure Garden is a lot more than just a maze, with an indoor maze, “tree surfing”, tube slides and outdoor mazes. ($29 for adults, $19 for kids with special accommodation packages). Ashcombe Maze is less flashy offering fewer activities but cute nonetheless with a lavender farm and the twee café. $18 for adults $10 for kids or $52 family pass. And then there is Boneo Maze with cool oversized games for kids as well as mini golf and, of course, a maze.

Guided tour of the Cape Schank Lighthouse, $44 for a family.

Lighthouse at Cape Schanck perched overlooking Bass Strait

Pick strawberries at the Sunnyridge Strawberry Farm.

Couples

Follow the wine and food trails, there are several, and have a fab day out tasting, eating and imbibing.

Vines of wine grapes under netting towards end of season

Try out the Peninsula’s spa baths

the Mornington Peninsula hot springs

the Mornington Peninsula hot springs

Plus there are loads of great romantic restaurants – last time I checked, there were five restaurants with a hat. Recommendations: Stillwater and La Pétanque (French cuisine, 1208 Mornington Flinders Rd); the Port Phillip Estate Dining Room (modern Australian, 263 Red Hill Rd); Ten Minutes By Tractor

Stay

Families

Kanasta Caravan Park, $320 for the weekend, or The Cape Schanck Lighthouse

Inside the glamping caravan at Kanasta Caravan Park

Couples

Lindenderry offers a hugely romantic package: the spa and bubbles package. Luxury hotel room, Moet & Chandon on ice when you arrive plus entry to the springs. Can blow all the budget at once at $394 for a Friday night, but mid week is a little cheaper, $374. Or Best Western has an upmarket brand, Best Western Plus, and the Brooklands at Mornington is one of the best, a hugely cheap and decent place for couples to stay.

MORE

Australian Traveller’s guide to Mornington Peninsula