Whether you’re competing for the coveted green and gold jersey, or in town to cheer from the sidelines, Ballarat provides the perfect backdrop for an indulgent weekend of exploration and fun this summer.
Take your pick of seasonal menus, unwinding with a cold local beer at the city’s newest brewpub, 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.
Start your day off right with a good solid breaky at one of the city’s local hotspots – Fika, Higher Society, Johnny Alloo, Webster’s Market & Café or Drive.
Or grab a coffee and toastie to go at new hangout – Hūsker Dū.
Brought your bike? Great thinking! 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.
You’ll find plenty of places to stop for a picnic, so why not grab a basket and fill it with local goodies for the ride – 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 and delicatessen delights from Campanas. Or, wander one of the region’s many farmer’s markets before your ride 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 pink lemonade crinkle cookies, to brownie slabs and grazing boards, it’s just what you need this summer.
For those who love to explore on their bike, why not check out our Cycling Itinerary.
If you’re in town for the RoadNats, but you’d much prefer cheer from the sidelines, then we’ve got a few local secrets to share with you to help pass the time between events.
If you’re in Buninyong then you can’t leave without first checking out the views from the top of the town’s famous extinct volcano – Mount Buninyong.
One of our favourite places to visit in Buninyong is Saltbush Kitchen. Open on weekends, you’ll find it hard to leave without trying one (or all) of their house-made Australian chocolates. Inspired by the land, you can expect flavours such as strawberry and pepperberry, wattleseed and orange cream, roasted macadamia nut and hibiscus salt and peppermint gum chocolate ganache.
By night, you can’t go past The Shared Table. The team only cook what they need and reduce their footprint by minimising waste through minimal choices, so you can enjoy a delicious meal without the guilt.
Head into town and you’ll discover a smorgasbord of internationally-inspired restaurants and cafes (who needs to travel overseas when you take your tastebuds on a global food discovery in Ballarat).
Grab a Korean-style burrito from Black Vault or classic South American street eats at Pancho, sit down for Spanish tapas at Meigas or Vietnamese at Saigon Allee, or for something a little more modern, you’re spoilt for choice with Italian fine dining at Ragazzone, European-inspired dining at Lola or modern Asian at Moon and Mountain.
New to town is Korean bar and restaurant Roy Hammond, American-style burger joint Burger Road and Neapolitan-inspired Soldiers Woodfired Pizzeria.
With the mercury rising outside, there’s no better place to be than inside with a good cold beverage.
If you’ve got wine on your mind then your first stop should be 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 summer menu and watch traffic pass by from their Doveton Street warehouse.
Where better to get on the beers than new Ballarat brewpub Aunty Jacks, which you’ll find at 315-317 Mair Street.
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.
Then mosey on down Hop Lane to popular laneway hangout Hop Temple (Rear of 24-28 Armstrong Street South, Ballarat) and try one of more than 250 craft beers on the menu.
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.
Who could pass up an afternoon coffee, better yet who could pass up afternoon coffee and cannoli. You’ll find Mr Darby in Eureka Street. Named after the owner’s dachshund, you’ll find delicious Greek food and desserts to grab on-the-go.
Outdoor dining has become the cool new thing in Ballarat, so why not pull up a seat outdoors at the Hydrant Food Hall, The Forge or The North Star. Or check out the cellar doors at Michael Unwin Wines and Eastern Peakewineries.
If you’re someone who enjoys getting their hands dirty then why not sign up for a local makers and creators workshop.
If shopping is more your thing then we’ve got your back. The Outpost has upped Ballarat’s menswear game with its hip line-up of vintage clothing.
Some of our other favourite shopping experiences include checking out the locally-made candles at The Essential Candle Co, colourful hand-painted planter pots at Ivy & Coco and locally-made vegan skin care products from When Polly Met Murphy.
When the sunsets in Ballarat, it becomes all about finding the right place to eat and wind down for the evening with the perfect drop among good company.
Sit down for 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.
While the night is still young, why not explore the dark side of Ballarat during a ghost tour.
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.
Quest Ballarat Station has just opened the doors to its 77-room hotel and is only a stone’s throw from the CBD.
History meets modern luxury at Ballarat’s newest stay, Lyon House. Take a dip in the indoor pool or find your place in the library nook with a good book in-hand and local vino.
Featured on Bike Exchange as a cycle-friendly accommodation provider, Sovereign Park Motor Inn offers a bicycle concierge service, secure storage plus two maintenance and bike wash areas.