We’re not short of memories when it comes to visiting Yarra Valley and the stunning areas that surround it. What we were lacking was a guide to the Yarra Ranges for families with young children. Traveling with a toddler can be an exhausting experiment, so we were looking for an itinerary that would capture exactly what we love about Yarra Valley, but we’re they child-friendly? We were going to find out!
Yarra Ranges accommodation for families
In a past pre-kid life, we have been lucky to stay at some fantastic Yarra Valley accommodations like Meletos. With a little one on board and a pretty ambitious itinerary, we needed to stay central and we needed to know that our 2-year-old would sleep and be entertained during those downtimes. As BIG4 members and fans, we found the BIG4 Park Lane Yarra Valley, perfectly positioned in Healesville. If you are familiar with BIG4 then you know it has playgrounds, games rooms and pools, but this BIG4 was grander than we had experienced to date.
We booked the two-bedroom cabin, which had an ensuite in each room. The kitchenette was modern and functional, and the living area was what we’d expect to see at an upscale hotel with the artificial fireplace and big couch, the perfect setting to collapse at the end of a long day. The exterior and interior of the cabins were wood, black and concrete which was very stylish.
We also liked that the outdoor dining set had an unobstructed view of the vast bush, reservoir and mountains in the distance. The outdoor area also had a BBQ station. Check out the BIG4 Park Lane Yarry Valley photos we took, which was a lot more modern and stylish than I was expecting from BIG4. Here are some BIG4 Park Lane Yarra Valley photos.
Oasis Berry Farms
As lovely as the BIG4 Park Lane Yarra Valley was, we knew our little one would need a full day of activities to stay entertained. We also knew he would want to be outside for the day, with the space to move and different attractions within one place. Oasis Berry Farms was high on our list as it hit all our needs and we wanted to have a behind-the-scenes look at where our favourite fruits come from, and the teams that work on the farm. Another reason we wanted to visit Oasis Berry Farms is because they had announced the opening of a dinosaur park, with large dinosaurs hidden within a bamboo garden, ready to be discovered by brave children and adults.
If you are a fan of Jurassic Park then you will enjoy identifying all the dinosaurs and the scenes in which they graced our screens. There are also dinosaur sound effects scattered throughout the garden to make it all the more lifelike. Even the entry gate looks just like those iconic doors at the entrance of Jurassic Park, and the dense bamboo makes a visit to the dinosaur park a fun option in rain or shine.
When we could finally drag our little one away from the dinosaur park, we got to explore the rest of Oasis Berry Farm. we were lucky enough to have the owner and farmer at Oasis Berry Farm there to tell us all about how blueberries grow and how the way they are picked can determine how juicy they are and just how many berries the bushes produce. We were also treated to some mandarines and lemons that were absolutely exploding off the trees. If you wish to visit Oasis Berry Farms, there are loads to do at every time of the year, but we would recommend between December and March as that is when the blueberries are in season and you can make your way around the farm with a bucket of blueberries or enjoying some blueberries bakes goods. be sure to visit in Blueberry season!
Lunch at Micawber Tavern
If, like us, you love the warm, inviting aesthetic of a traditional English pub, then you will love Micawber Tavern. It’s located right on the edge of Sherbrooke Forest, and has all the trimmings of an English establishment – think wooden interior, low ceilings, and English beer paraphernalia. Found in Belgrave within the Yarra Ranges, the Micawber Tavern is an impressive century-old.
Depending on where you want to sit and who you are dining with, there are many areas. We were lucky enough to get the bench seat and table by a window, which the manager told us was once called the ‘couples corner’. Now it’s reserved for families who want to have a big table and chair… and it’s easy to wedge them in! You can take a look at our review here!
Bam Bam Italian
We are so jealous of the locals in the Dandenong Ranges who get to call this Italian restaurant their local. We had been recommended this spot a couple of times, but it far exceeded our expectations from start to finish. Firstly, there are separate seating areas to accommodate big and small groups, and we were seated in an area with many other families which suited us perfectly. The seating area in the rear of the restaurant has a floor-to-ceiling glass wall so that parents can watch their kids as they play in the covered playground. That’s right, there is a private playground area connected to the restaurant, with equipment to suit toddlers through to older children.
Bam Bam Italian already had us converted on the modern Italian decor and fun playground space, but the food really made us raving fans. We shared a mushroom gnocchi and a margarita pizza, with some roast potatoes for good measure. There was a great selection of kids-style food on the kids menu, and when we looked around the room you could see whole families tucking in.
Boat O’Craigo has to be one of the most fabulous venues we have had the pleasure of visiting, and we can say that Sunday is a perfect day to settle in for the afternoon. The team working at Boat O’Craigo is passionate about what they do and has extensive knowledge of not only their own range but the typical flavour profiles of most wines and why Boat O’Craigo offers something unique. We ordered a cheese plate and a bottle of Pinot Noir… but that didn’t stop the team from popping over to our table and letting us sample their delicious collection of reds.
Our table at Boat O’Craigo was towards the back in a position where we could see and enjoy the live music but also had access to the vineyards on which the winery sat. There were small children enjoying the vast green space, while their parents looked on and could supervise while enjoying their own adult company and rich wine offerings. This is a great place to spend a Sunday, regardless of whether you have children or not.
A trip to Yarra Valley is not complete without visiting Innocent Bystander. Every time we attend we see a different menu, and there is always so much to love. The only rival to the food is, of course, the Innocent Bystander wine. Expect to experience a little decision paralysis when you go, as there are so many wine variants to choose from – many of which are on tap. We have never seen this before and were a little cautious, as surely the wine is fresher from a new bottle, right? We were wrong. You can check out our full review of Innocent Bystander to learn just how flexible they were in catering to our son’s allergies (of which there are a few!).
Next time we visit we will absolutely try the desserts which are artfully presented, and so was the meter-long charcuterie board which had such unique items that went beyond cheese and cured meats. Dining with kids is always… challenging but when we were surrounded by the soft lighting, wine barrel decor and sleek bar and kitchen area – we could pretend that it was date night. Take a look at the menu!
Any family trip, weekend away or holiday wouldn’t be the same without visiting or seeing the local wildlife. Healesville Sanctuary is an incredible family-friendly destination that has enough entertainment for an entire day out. Located within minutes of the main town of Healesville, the Healesville Sanctuary is home to some of Australia’s most beautiful and rare creatures. We visited the sanctuary as the gates opened, in desperate need of a coffee and they didn’t let us down, with multiple cafes throughout the sanctuary that stock plenty of tasty food as well.
The Healesville Sanctuary is perfect for kids of any age, and we aren’t ashamed to admit even we loved marvelling at some of the wildlife in the park. The kids can feast their eyes on kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, snakes, dingoes and so many more of Australia’s native wildlife. Even if you have visited plenty of zoos before or seen some of these animals in the wild, there is something special about watching the kids lay eyes on these animals up close and personal.
The weather was a little patchy when we visited the Healesville Sanctuary but thankfully it didn’t dampen the mood at all, rest assured the sanctuary is a great spot to visit no matter the day outside. Check out the map before you go so you can make great use of your time.
The Yarra Ranges and Yarra Valley are some of Victoria’s best destinations for a night, weekend or long holiday away. With so many regions to visit, sights to see and food and drink to experience, the Yarra Ranges is the perfect place to get away. Whether you’re travelling with your immediate family, or planning a larger extended family holiday, look no further than the Yarra Ranges for all your family-friendly holiday memories.
Are you thinking about heading to the Yarra Ranges with your family? We hope this guide helps you in choosing your itinerary and making fun, lasting family memories.