Make the most of a day out (or stay for the weekend) in Ballarat
There’s nothing like waking up on a Saturday morning with a hankering to get away for the day (or even the whole weekend).
Just a stone’s throw away from most Victorian cities, Ballarat makes the perfect destination for those last-minute planners.
Travellers can take their pick of seasonal menus and local craft beer, unwinding at a day spa and wandering our boutique shops, or sampling award-winning wine and local produce alongside the signature Ballarat experiences that have long made the region a favourite destination for those seeking an enriching escape.
So whether you’re visiting friends or family, or simply looking for an excuse to escape the house for a few days, Ballarat provides the perfect backdrop for an indulgent weekend of exploration and relaxation.
And let’s face it, we all deserve some time away with those we love (or just ourselves).
Explore with a friend
Relax and unwind at Ballarat Sanctuary Day Spa – winner of Australia’s Best Luxury Day Spa at the 2019 World Luxury Spa Awards. Leave life stresses at the door and allow the attentive team of skilled therapists to take you on a decadent journey to promote well-being, vitality and radiance from within.
If you’re looking for your next Insta-worthy brunch, then look no further than Higher Society. From
their white chocolate and raspberry chia to the vegetarian black bean chilli and seasonal greens, you’re sure to find something to tempt your taste buds.
Or maybe it’s a picnic in the park you had in mind? That’s a great idea and we’ve got plenty of secrets to help you pull together the perfect picnic basket.
You’re going to want to start at 1816 Bakehouse for freshly baked bread and croissants (but don’t be surprised if you also walk out with delicious macaroons or donuts).
Just up the road you’ll be able to pick up some Ballaarat Wild Bush Honey and local wine from Campanas. We highly recommend Eastern Peake, made locally by award-winning winemaker Owen Latta. You’ll might also like to try Owen’s own Latta Vino label. Or, wander one of the region's many farmer's markets and fill your basket with locally-made goodies.
You can’t forget the sweets, so, you’re going to want to check out what’s behind Ballarat’s most iconic coloured door – Vegas and Rose.
From their ever-popular ice cream cookie sandwiches and pink lemonade crinkle cookies, to brownie slabs and grazing boards, it's just what you need this spring.
If you’re an afternoon coffee person, you might be glad to hear Webster’s Market and Café uses Fitzroy-based Industry Beans (which was actually started by to Ballarat locals). You’ll also be able to pick up your grocery essentials from their in-store market while you wait.
But if you’ve got wine on your mind then your next stop is Mitchell Harris.
Winemaker John Harris works with growers in Pyrenees, Macedon, Ballarat and Henty to craft wines that reflect the cool-climate characters of the nearby regions.
Sit down to their new spring menu and watch traffic pass by from their Doveton Street warehouse.
If you prefer to wander a while in search of something to take home, then you can't go past Sweet Fern Fragrance Boutique. This niche perfumery is the only of its kind in regional Australia. The perfumery houses a large collection of the finest perfumes in the world with significant historical backgrounds.
Some of our other favourite shopping experiences include checking out the locally-made vegan skin care and indoor plant range at When Polly Met Murphy, tasting Australian bush chocolate at Saltbush Kitchen, and indulge in some retail therapy at Pieces of Joy, The Foundry, Three Times Blest, Little Square Garage, Teddy and Fletch, Such n Such and Wen and Ware.
Another new indoor plant haven, Green Loft, has since opened in Quarry Lane, tucked away behind The Cheesecake Shop in Sturt Street.
And just this month, local creative and owner of Ivy & Coco Bridget Veld opened her first bricks and mortar store in the Bridge Mall. After finding success online, she now sells homewares and her store also features a ‘pick your own’ flower bar.
The Essential Candle Co was another business which made the shift from online to CBD outlet in October, setting up shop at 610 Sturt Street.
The heavenly-scented store sells hand-poured pure soy wax candles and melts plus bath and body products, with plans to host candle-making workshops in the future.
After a day or relaxation and shopping, why not let the team at Ragazzone sort the rest of your night out for you. Relax with a cocktail or two and enjoy the chef’s selection (you won’t be disappointed!).
This is one of the hottest new restaurants in town, so make sure to reserve your seat.
Make it a date
Enjoy a good sleep in? No stress. Take your time and sit down to the all-day breakfast menu at one of the city’s most popular cafes, Johnny Alloo.
Bring your bike and explore the city on two wheels. Start in the city centre, then head north and enjoy the scenery through the Creswick State Forest during the one-hour coffee ride. Or simply discover Ballarat at your own pace.
The 53km Ballarat – Skipton Rail Trail is another popular track for recreational cyclists. It’s an easy track that follows the line of the former Ballarat to Skipton railway line, which operated between 1883 and 1985. Watch out for sights and structures from Victoria's gold mining and rail histories, along with breathtaking farmlands and bushlands.
For those who love to explore on their bike, why not check out our Cycling Itinerary.
If a slower pace is more to your liking, then why not climb Mount Buninyong. This extinct volcano is a popular destination for those searching for the perfect view of the region.
Open daily for trout fishing, why not catch your own lunch or experience the licensed restaurant at Tuki Trout Farm. Tuki Retreat’s stone cottages also offer couples a romantic getaway.
If beers and burgers are more your thing, then get ready to be spoilt for choice.
Venture down a hidden laneway off Armstrong Street and you’ll discover Hop Temple and its 200+ craft beers. Sit down in the outdoor beer garden, or opt for a seat inside for a pot and pint-sized eat.
The Kilderkin Distillery cellar door is open every weekend for drinks and tastings. Not only do you have access to their full gin range, but you've also got exclusive access to their full range of beers from the Red Duck Brewery. It's always a popular spot, so phone ahead to book your spot.
You’ll also find 10 taps of independent craft beer waiting for you at Cubby Haus Brewing.
Where better to get on the beers than new Ballarat brewpub Aunty Jacks, which opened at 315-317 Mair Street in late October.
Aunty Jacks combines quality craft beer and food with hands-on experiences and events. Around 100,000 litres of beer – including lager, pale ale, stout and seasonal specials – will be produced on site each year.
And, just up the road, The Highlander – a new pub with a focus on in-house butchery and local produce – will open in October. They've taken on the original name of this 150-year-old building, and you can expect to see plenty of wine, beer and cocktails on the menu. We also hear there will be live music coming soon.
Just down the road at 1 Doveton Street North, The Outpost has upped Ballarat's menswear game with its hip line-up of "quality goods and genuine wear", plus vintage clothing from the likes of Levi.
Owner Patrick Ibrahim has also collaborated with renowned Ballarat designer Travis Price to release a line of retro-inspired tees.
When you’re ready for dinner, that hardest decision you’ll need to make is what cuisine you’re craving. Delight in the flavours of South America at Pancho or pick up a traditional Italian pizza loaded with local produce from The Forge. You’ll also find Moon and Mountain serving up some of the city’s best cocktails as you delight in their modern Asian banquet.
Or, cozy up by the fire in the new courtyard at Lola while you indulge some European inspired dining.
The night is still young, so why stop here. From the first weekend in October you can explore the dark side of Ballarat during a ghost tour.
Then end the evening with a theatrical cocktail at 18th Amendment Bar. Named after the Prohibition which made it illegal to sell or consume alcohol in America between 1920 and 1933, the hip venue takes patrons back in time to Chicago's speakeasy bars.
With the family
Sit down for rainbow pancakes at the Hydrant Food Hall (and maybe lemon meringue waffles and coffee for the parents) before heading off on your next adventure in Ballarat
Get your isolation respite fix at the Ballarat Wildlife Park. Snap a selfie with the free-roaming kangaroos, marvel at the cheeky meerkats and chat with the keepers about the park’s most popular residents – the Sumatran tigers. Or, pre-purchase a ticket to Sovereign Hill and pan for gold in the diggings.
If you love lollies as much as we do then you can’t go past Mair Street’s newest lolly shop – Lilly’s Ballarat. The good news is they also serve coffee, so while the kids are wandering inside you can sit down for a quick coffee and cake.
Why not stay for the weekend
You’ll find all the ingredients for an indulgent and relaxing weekend away right here in Ballarat, so why not extend your trip and stay a night or two.
Built in 1909, the iconic The Provincial Hotel sits pretty on Ballarat’s historic Lydiard Street. It’s also home to Lola, where you’ll find stylish, European inspired dining.
Located opposite award-winning tourist attraction Sovereign Hill, and with access to all-day dining at Azzuri, gallery space and Ballarat Sanctuary Day Spa located on-site, staying at Mercure Ballarat has plenty of perks.
Take a step back in time and stay in a fully-restored 19th century terrace, Earle Ballarat. This self-contained boutique accommodation is perfect for those looking for a peaceful time away with all of the luxuries (and where your fur friends are always welcome).
The team behind this popular stay have been working on a second venture in Ballarat, Lyon House.
As the government's COVID-19 restrictions continue to change, we encourage you to be kind, stay safe, maintain social distancing and use common sense. And if you're unwell, please stay home.
Please contact businesses directly for opening hours, social distancing measures and booking details.