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What to eat, drink and do whilst exploring the glorious villages of the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast - McLaren Vale & Onkaparinga Blog

McLaren Vale & Onkaparinga Blog

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What to eat, drink and do whilst exploring the glorious villages of the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast

Words by Glam Adelaide

As you make your way through McLaren Vale and the Fleurieu Coast, you’ll come acrosstheir gorgeous villages, each filled with charm, character, and impressivedining

Whether you’re driving along the glorious coastline, making your way through the hills, or venturing into vineyards, the villages have a whole lot to offer, sowe thought we’d point out some of our favourite spots to check out:

Aldinga

Aldinga is simultaneously quaint and coastaa vibrant and eclectic village and home to one of the few beaches in Australia where cars can drive on the sand. Renowned for its safe swimming and epic surf, the visitors flock in the summertime. Retail therapy is also a mustat fashion house icon Miss Gladys on Seaas well as an eclectic collection of shops along Old Coach Road.

Eat & Drink: Enjoy excellent seaside dining at Breeze Caféand SOURC’D Wine & Coffee Bar is also a fabulous spot with a gorgeous viewand we can’t forgetthe iconic Star of Greece restaurant (along the Esplanade and overlooking Port Willunga)

Star of Greece

DoAldinga is famed for its spectacular sites to scuba dive and snorkel, with a unique aquatic reserve put in place to protect the rare reef, being one of South Australia’s most popular spots. Keen divers will also find a pretty incredible underwater cliff (or drop off) to explore

Clarendon 

Perhaps most famous for itsbakery, this village boasts preserved 1800s stone architecture and is surrounded by picturesque hills. Clarendon is picture perfect and a great hidden gem. It is also one of the best scenic routes you can take to explore the McLaren Vale Wine Region

Eat & DrinkThis one goes to Clarendon Bakery (of course) or the Royal Oak Hotel if you’re after a pub vibe.

Do: Have a picnic at The Riverbend Reserve, an ideal spot for families and solo travellers alike. Sit by the Onkaparinga River and enjoy the many surrounding gum trees. For the shopping inclined, a visit to EmpradesVintage + Design will be fruitful.

Clarendon 

Christies Beach

This popular summer destination combines beachside shopping with a postcard-like coastand offers a range of quirky cafes.

Eat & Drink: The Ripple and Swirl Café on the Esplanade – think authentic, beach shack café at its best. Flava Food & Coffee is also beachfront location to enjoy great food and wine. Christies (as the locals call it) also has a couple of the best bakeries in region – The Espy and CJ’s Bakery.

Do: Spend some time shopping the quirky seaside stripwhere you can search for gems uniqueto this beautiful beach spot.

McLaren Vale

Ah McLaren Vale, the internationally renowned gateway to one of the country’s most acclaimed wine regions. Whilst those who’ve visited McLaren Vale may have their tried and tested spots, we’d suggest getting out of your comfort zone and explore a little more as this village has a few hidden delights. 

Eat & Drink: Whilst in town there are great casual spots to enjoy like Mullygrub Café, Oscars Restaurant, Tin Shed Café and Bracegirdlesfor everything chocolate (and food and wine too). When venturing into the wine region there are great ‘feed me’ or ‘chef selection’ options to be enjoyed across a range of restaurants with vineyard views.

McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast Visitor Centre

Home to one of the regions wine icons – Hardy's Tintarawith its manicured lawn and a great deck out the back to enjoy a glass or two (the Fleurieu Art House is also here too). There’s also Shingleback Wines, Five Geese Wines and Australian Boutique Premium Wines to start your wine adventure. The McLaren Vale Wine Region is home to over 80 cellar doors, so you are certainly spoilt for choice.

Do: Make a stop at the  McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast Visitor Centre. Whether you’re a frequent visitor or a first timer, the staff will point you in the right direction for whatever you feel like doing that day. There’s also an on-site café (supported by their kitchen garden), gallery and Vale Cru Wie Experience in the cellar door - a collective of small batch wine producers.

Old Noarlunga 

A more peaceful stop as far as the villages go, Old Noarlunga is a place for history and tranquillity. Nestled on the banks of the Onkaparinga River, much of Old Noarlunga is untouched terrain

Eat & Drink: The Old Noarlunga Hotel has recently undergone a revamp, but remains a classic, Aussie country pub. The Coffee at Long Shot & Co. is well worth trying too just across from the Market Square! A hidden gem accessible from Victor Harbor Road is Victors Place, offering a winery (award winning Varney Wines), brewery and restaurant, it is fast becoming a visitor hotspot!

Do: Head to Perry’s Bend and go kayaking or canoeing as you soak up this unique township. If land is more your thing, head to the Onkaparinga River National Park for a hike. 

Port Noarlunga 

A splendid seaside village, Port Noarlunga is an ideal Summer destination for swimming, relaxing, fishing, eating, exploring, and much more. 

Eat & Drink: Agatha’s CaféThe Flour Store, Port Burger, and The Fleurieu Pantry – we could go on … For the best beach views, it has to be Hortas Restaurant, overlooking the Port Noarlunga Jetty with great food and wine on offer – ask about their specialty dish.

Do: Port Noarlunga will appeal to the art-lovers as well as the beach-lovers. The village plays host to a number of impressive and quirky galleries, including Sauerbier House (an innovative art space), The Port Noarlunga Arts Centre, as well as a number of street murals and public art pieces. ‘The Goggles’ sculpture lit at night is amazing.

Hortas Restaurant

Old Reynella

Old Reynella celebrates its pioneering and winemaking heritage, with its name a homage to the three generations of Reynell family winemakers that called the village home. Check out the village’s delightful main street which isfilled with health and wellness shops, cafés, and restaurants. 

Eat & DrinkEsculent and Mr Indiaare great choicesClose by are Horndale Distillery for the fortified-lovers, and Geoff Merrill Wines for those keen on an excellent drop.

Do: For those inclined to walking, head along the Panalatinga Creek and join the much-loved Coast to Vines Rail Trail. 

Willunga

Home to South Australia’s very first (and some would say best) farmers’ market. This gorgeous village is one of the oldest towns in the region and has much to offer from chocolate shops to breweries, to historical sites. 

Eat & Drink: Sweet-tooths, head to Four Winds Chocolate (Saturday mornings only) or Tealicious Cakes, think pink Parisian heavenbut if you are more savoury-focussed, check out the iconic Russells Pizza (Friday, Saturday only and Thursdays in December/Januaryor The Redwood Oven.There are also great cafes including vegan and organic options. For the beer lovers, Shifty Lizard Brewery and South Coast Brewing are the go, with Hither and Yonand Aphellion Wines are both excellent choices for wine.

Tealiscious Cakes

Do: We can’t go past the Willunga Farmers’ Market. It’s busyvibrantand filled with more fresh produce and tasty treats than you can imagine

For more on all of the above, click here.

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