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The Best Things to do in McLaren Vale for a Weekend Escape

There’s much more to this picturesque region than vineyards, but it’s a good place to start as you make your way through the best things to do in McLaren Vale.


The beauty of South Australia is that you can drive for an hour and be in a different world. East you have the Adelaide Hills, North you have Barossa Valley, West you have some of the best beaches around, and South you have the one and only McLaren Vale.

A wine and food lover's paradise, it's famed for its countless cellar doors, award winning Shiraz and countless distilleries, breweries and restaurants, as well as the endless pristine landscapes. There’s so much to fill your trip up with that you’ll likely just have to go and visit again!

This is your sign to take a long weekend or a mid-week trip down south and fill it with some of the best things to do in McLaren Vale.

d’Arenberg Cube

See Some Art

Expand your cultural horizons with the extensive art offerings on display in McLaren Vale. Begin your trip at the renowned d’Arenberg Cube, home to a surrealist exhibition featuring 25 authentic Salvador Dali bronze sculptures and graphic artworks.

Continue your day of art in McLaren Vale at the Red Poles Art Gallery for a striking showcase of Indigenous and local South Australian artists, with works created in a variety of mediums. There’s art workshops available for adults and children, so keep an eye out for the latest class to get involved with, and flex your creative side.

Alternatively, pull up a seat in the beautiful on-site restaurant, and enjoy a local-produce driven menu that's as pretty as the paintings held within the gallery.


Dine on Award-Winning Food

Everyone knows that McLaren Vale is a top destination for wine, but did you know that they also have some of the finest food in South Australia? There’s everything from lovingly crafted pub meals, cellar door dishes and fine dining cuisine - and we recommend savouring every last morsel. One of the most highly regarded restaurants to experience in McLaren Vale has to be Star of Greece on the stunning cliffs of Port Willunga. A table on the balcony a must on sunny days, so don't leave things to chance - book well in advance!

Another Port Willunga favourite is the sleek natural wine-bar and restaurant, Muni, that's changing up the McLaren Vale dining scene. Bridging influences from across Asia, Muni uses local and seasonal produce to create elegant snacks that perfectly pair with your glass of wine. 

For an eclectic regional dining experience, head to Salopian Inn who will serve you up an edible story, crafted from scratch.

Woodstock Wine & Wildlife Sanctuary. Image credit: Visit SA

See Some Wildlife Among The Vines

Get the best of both worlds at Woodstock Wine on your visit to McLaren Vale with the Woodstock Wildlife Sanctuary, which boasts approximately three hectares of natural scrub carefully conserved into a home for Australian native animals.

After some quality time spent in the Woodstock Wine tasting room, head out to meet some rescued Western Grey Kangaroos and a friendly emu called Maverick, who will also be very keen to be fed during one of the special feeding sessions. You may also be lucky enough to spot some of the visiting koalas and wallabies roaming around the vines, as you wander admiringly around the unique land of the estate.

215 Douglas Gully Road, McLaren Flat

Adelaide Biplanes

See Things From A Different View

Now this is a solid bucket list item. Go back in time with Adelaide Biplanes’ flying experiences, taking off from Aldinga Airfield and fly south along the Fleurieu Peninsula, where you’ll head out across the eastern coast of Kangaroo Island and over The Deep Creek Conservation Park, up over the hills that surround the McLaren Vale wine region and back into Aldinga Airfield near Sellicks Beach. A once in a lifetime experience and one of the best things to do in McLaren Vale; it certainly passes with flying colours in our book!

Aldinga Airfield, 174 Colville Road, Aldinga

Willunga Farmers Market

Visit One of the Oldest Farmer's Markets in the State

McLaren Vale has become synonymous with fresh fruits and vegetables, gourmet delicacies, and unique handmade crafts. With a variety of farmer's markets, artisan markets, and country craft markets, there's a hive of community activity in the region year-round.

The Willunga Farmers Market, the first of its kind in South Australia, stands out as one of the best. Awarded Most Outstanding Farmers Market at the Delicious Produce Awards in 2019 and 2021, this market truly exemplifies the region’s rich offerings.

Held every Saturday on the spacious grounds of the Willunga High School, the market features more than 60 stalls selling fresh primary produce from regional farms and Fleurieu Peninsula products.

Shoppers can meet the growers, taste the region, and enjoy a diverse variety of fresh and seasonal produce. It’s a must-visit spot for anyone exploring the best of McLaren Vale.

High School, Main Road, Willunga

Down The Rabbit Hole Wines

Sip Your Way Around A Few Cellar Doors and Vineyards

Because you can’t go to McLaren Vale without visiting a cellar door…or six. With each one offering something unique, the swilling and sipping your way around the region is the gift that keeps giving. Perhaps start at Alpha Box and Dice with their alphabet range of wines, then move onto the picturesque Chapel Hill Wines for wine as fantastic as their architecture.

Pop past Down The Rabbit Hole for the ultimate Instagrammable wine experience, then experience both the charm and Italian red varietals coming out of Coriole Vineyards, or the new-age and organic-focused drops from rising star Gemtree Wines.

Finish with a guided cellar tour and tasting at historic Wirra Wirra Vineyards, then pop into Mitolo for some Italian-driven snacks and tipples at Frankie Italo Dining & Disco Lounge. It's easy to see why hopping between the vineyards and cellar doors is one of the best things to do in McLaren Vale. 

Never Never Distilling Co.

Discover Something Other Than Wine

Not everyone is into wine. Or perhaps you’ve already hit up your fair share of cellar doors and are looking to sip on something different. Nothing hits quite like a craft beer in one of the lush, green suntrap's that only McLaren Vale can offer, like Vale Brewing with its sweeping views across the area, or the new microbrewery and taproom Penny Red Beer Co. A visit to the award-winning Never Never Distilling Co is also an essential thing to do in McLaren Vale; go for a gin and tonic tasting flight, and stay for the vibes and views atop Chalk Hill. Settle in with a gorgeously crafted gin cocktail to enjoy one of the most scenic sunsets in the Vale. 

d’Arenberg Cube

Blend Your Own Wine

Naturally, the d’Arenberg Cube was going to make an appearance (or two) within this list – a famous sight within McLaren Vale. With plenty to do here that would fill an entire day up, it could be difficult to choose what to do first – we would highly recommend stepping up to their blending bench and trying your hand at playing winemaker for the day. One experience on offer includes an eight course food and wine degustation, and of course – you get to take a bottle of your very own blend home with you. 

58 Osborn Road, McLaren Vale

Port Willunga Beach. Image credit: @_s_h_b_photography

Get Off The Roads And Into The Water

One of the best ways to see this area is via the water, kayaking no less. Get that little bit closer to nature with a day trip at Easy Kayaks and paddle away the stress of your everyday life. If you’re lucky enough, you may even spot some sea life as you cruise down the sparkling waters, with designated areas to stop off and have a BBQ and sink into the surrounding nature, and tours of the Port Noarlunga Reef in glass-bottom kayaks.

Beach wise, you're spoilt for choice in McLaren Vale, with the Fleurieu Peninsula right at your fingertips. Sellicks Beach, Port Willunga Beach and Port Noarlunga are all on our hitlist, so pack a picnic and spend the day amidst the sun, sand and surf of one of South Australia's most beautiful coastlines. The dramatic clifftop scenes also ensure that the area is a must-do, no matter the season. 

Sleep In A Luxury Pod

We all need some luxury in our lives every now and then. You can get this and then some at The Vineyard boutique accommodation in McLaren Vale. There are six elegantly appointed self-contained pods available to book, that have been designed to ensure an effortless and immersive stay in the village of McLaren Flat. You have your own private deck attached, with luxury amenities including kitchens, wood burning fireplaces and ensuites. This has to be one of the finest accommodation options to kick back in after a long, hard day touring the fine wineries just down the road. 

Mclaren Vale via Serio

Walk The Shiraz Trail

Take a walk on the wild side with the Shiraz Trail, starting from McLaren Vale (Almond Train) and going right down to Willunga through a steady 7.4km (one-way) track. You’ll pass vineyards, some of the older architecture of the area, grazing sheep, ocean views and plenty of lush greenery, including towering eucalyptus trees. Surely at the end of this trek you deserve a glass of something chilled. 

Choose a section of the trail to meander down, or take on the full 38km Coast to Vines Trail route on bike. As essential a thing to do in McLaren Vale as it gets! 

Once you've sipped, swam and churned your way through the best things to do in Mclaren Vale, visit some more of Adelaide's beautiful wine regions. Take a tour through the whimsical Adelaide Hills, or perhaps venture a little further to the Barossa Valley.

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