They say it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey. And that’s certainly true when it comes to discovering the most scenic drives on McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Coast. This stunning region boasts some of South Australia’s most beautiful routes, winding their way past lush vineyards, rolling hills and along the spectacular coastline. And with impressive vistas around every bend, plus loads to explore, you’ll certainly be spoilt for choice. So grab your keys, jump in the car and get ready to explore some of McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Coast’s most gorgeous scenery!
Route 31 Coastal Drive
If you love a good beach, you can’t go past Route 31 Coastal Drive. The ultimate seaside circuit, taking in 31km of the magnificent mid-coast, it’s oh-so-easy to meander your way from the clifftops of O’Sullivan Beach, past the sparkling waters of South Port and down to the soft sands of Sellicks Beach, making a few village stops along the way. Grab a coffee and a croissant in Christies Beach, and enjoy the fresh sea breeze or as you wander along the jetty at Port Noarlunga, ice-cream in hand.
Cross the boardwalk for a body surf at South Port beach – where the Onkaparinga River meets the sea – then dry off and grab some lunch at either Duke’s Café or Deep Blue Café in Moana. If you’ve packed a picnic, Maslin Beach offers breath-taking clifftop views across its turquoise waters, and if it’s a larger dose of vitamin D you’re after, the southern end is home to Australia’s first unclad beach. At low-tide times, you can catch a glimpse of the famous Star of Greece shipwreck just off Port Willunga’s shores or explore the old fishermen’s caves in the cliffs as you stroll along the sand with some fresh fish & chips from the popular Star of Greece restaurant’s kiosk.
Aldinga is next along the route, where you’ll find a veritable array of boutique shopping, bakeries and breweries, alongside fabulous cafés, restaurants and coffee shops. Plus, if you’ve got a little time to spare, you can drive the car right onto the beach for another quick dip, or spend some time exploring the Aldinga Conservation Park that’s home to a diverse range of rare flora and fauna. And if you keep going? You’ll find yourself marvelling at the sweeping cliffs at Sellicks Beach, finishing your drive off with a BBQ on the beach, or a well-earned meal at the award-winning Victory Hotel, perched high above the region, that takes in sweeping views of the entire region.
A Main Street Connection – McLaren Vale to Willunga
This short but sweet 7kms between McLaren Vale and Willunga certainly reflects the very best of McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Coast. From Main Road to High Street, the easy, straight drive is flanked by lush vineyards and takes you past local icons such as:
The Salopian Inn – where you can stop for a gourmet lunch and a cheeky gin.
Leconfield & Richard Hamilton Wines – with one of the best regional platters going around, taste your way through their seriously delicious wines (and grab a few to take home!)
Dawn Patrol Coffee – Think you’ve already found your favourite coffee? One taste of these delightful barista-made brews, and you might just reconsider. You can even grab a sweet treat to go!
Vigna Bottin Wines – A slice of Italy in McLaren Vale, if you like your wines a little different, make a stop at this cellar door.
Jungle in Willunga – let the kids roam through the exotic canopies of this magical garden – spotting a gentle giraffe or cheeky elephant along the way – as you weave your way through.
The Willunga Farmer’s Market – if you’re heading through on a Saturday morning, it would be remiss to not stop at this famous market and savour some mouth-watering local produce.
The historic Alma Hotel – built in 1856 and still pouring cold beers 160 years later, stop in for some pub-grub or a quick drink on your day out.
Take the scenic route – Clarendon to McLaren Vale
Affectionately dubbed ‘the back way from town’ by locals, the ambling 20km route between Clarendon and the McLaren Vale township has to be one of the most beautiful drives to take if you’re planning a visit to McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Coast. Winding its way through the hills along Kangarilla and Bakers Gully Roads, around Blewitt Springs, past the Onkaparinga River National Park and the unique, contoured vineyards surrounding Chapel Hill winery, the scenery along this stretch has to be some of the best anywhere. And there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic, enjoy a nature hike, grab some magnificent photos or stop in for a quick wine tasting and bite to eat along the way.
If you love food, wine AND superb scenery, you’re in for a treat with the Epicurean Way. And with its diverse melting pot of food, wine and culture, it’s no wonder this decadent self-drive journey begins in McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Coast. With a starting point in Willunga, this mega-223km route passes through the historic township, traversing through the main street of McLaren Vale, before heading north to Meadows through the hills. Not just a pretty face, as you amble around beautiful wine country in your car, stop and savour the culinary delights that lie along this charming route, including Willunga’s famous Farmer’s Market, Hither & Yon, Wirra Wirra Vineyards, Red Poles Café & Restaurant, Chalk Hill Collective and d’Arenberg. Just make sure to pack an esky, your camera and a big appetite!
Whether you’re a driving enthusiast, day-tripper or simply looking for some scenery that will take your breath away, McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Coast is the perfect destination. So pack the car and hit the road to enjoy an unforgettable adventure, all from the comfort of your car!