The Swan Valley is about 30 minutes from the Perth CBD. But, while it's traditionally known as a wine and food region, there's also heaps to keep the kids occupied.
Here are some ideas on how to spend a weekend in the Swan Valley with kids.
Mini golf at The Vines
Only opened in late 2017, the mini golf course at the Vines Resort and Country Club is one of the newest attractions in the Swan Valley. The 18 hole course provides lots of opportunities to test your golfing skills (which in my case are not very good). Thankfully, they provide scoops for retrieving your ball if it ends up in the drink (well used by our party).
It's fun for all ages - we played with 3 adults, 5 teenagers and one 6 month old strapped into the baby carrier (which my partner was wearing, and still ended up winning!!).
Cuddly Animal Farm - who doesn't love petting a piglet or having their toes nibbled on by a baby goat? Apart from many patting opportunities, kids can also feed some cute and cuddly animals at set times each day.
There's also heaps of other things to do at the Animal Farm, including a bouncy castle, playground and picnic area.
Reptile Park - If you'd like to have a snake draped around yours (or your kids) neck - this is the place to go. As well as many different types of snakes, the park also features other animals including lizards, a crocodile, turtles and frogs. As well as seeing and touching the animals, the park also has a strong focus on education, so the kids can learn about Australian wildlife, including what to do if they encounter a snake in the wild.
Maalinup Aboriginal Art gallery - one of WA’s only Aboriginal owned and run art galleries. As well as a large showroom of beautiful and colourful art, if you're there at the right time, you and the kids can taste a range of ‘bush tucker’, including sandalwood nuts and bush tomatoes.
Tastebud speed grazing tour
If you're looking for an activity that might keep a couple of teenagers entertained while you get to sample a wine or two at the same time, then consider going on a speed grazing tour. The concept of speed grazing is brilliant: you get driven around the Swan Valley at a pretty cracking pace, eating and drinking as much as you can, while learning about the produce and getting a bit of a history lesson at the same time. It’s the brainchild of Loris Harding, who’s been a tourism operator for more than 17 years and seems to know pretty much everything that happens in the Valley.
EATING AND DRINKING:
Probably the biggest drawcard of the Swan Valley is its produce. From fruit to chocolate and plenty of cheese in between, there's heaps of places to stop off for a tasting. Here are just some of the options:
Windarra honey shop - stop and have a chat with the owners about the importance of bees to the world’s ecology, as well as an explanation of how they harvest honey. The kids can also taste several different types of honey, which all have very unique flavours. The showroom also has a hive with glass on both sides so the kids can watch the bees at work.
Oggie’s ice cream - no visit anywhere with kids is complete without ice cream! This place has some amazing flavours, including mascarpone and wild fig, snickernut and whiskey cream. Note: the serving sizes here are huge!
Mondo nougat - the kids can watch the nougat makers at work in the factory before getting to taste some of the fruits of their labour.
Then head next door to Morish Nuts where you can sample several varieties of nuts, including candied cashews, and if you want a laugh at the kids' expense - wasabi macadamias!
Whistlers chocolates - these guys are third generation chocolatiers and it shows in their delicious products. The kids can also check out the dragon made entirely of chocolate!
The Margaret River chocolate company - just like its sister property in Margaret River, this place is a chocolate lovers' paradise. The kids can join the queue for free chocolate buttons in milk, white and dark chocolate, and choose from hundreds of products to take home. Just a warning: this place is mayhem on the weekends!
The Novotel Vines Resort
The Vines is an icon of the Swan Valley, featuring 103 rooms and suites and a collection of two and three bedroom apartments, all built around a stunning golf course. Despite the fact it’s only about 35 minutes from Perth, you feel like you’re miles away from it all, you can watch the kangaroos bound around the grounds (and somehow dodge all the golf balls).
The Vines has everything you’d expect from a resort – an outdoor swimming pool and heated spa, tennis courts, indoor squash courts, gym (none of which I tried since I chose to sit on the balcony and drink wine instead, but it was reassuring to know they were there). It also has two 18 hole championship golf courses and, as I mentioned earlier, the mini golf course. There’s also a bar, restaurant and café on site.
For families, the apartments are a great choice, and while they're not overly modern, they're super comfortable. Ours had a full kitchen, loungeroom and dining room upstairs, and two bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs. There were also balconies both up and down stairs looking out over a pretty lake.