How To Spend A Romantic Weekend In McLaren Vale

This past weekend the husband and I were lucky enough to attend the wedding of two of our closest friends in McLaren Vale. For the uninitiated, McLaren Vale is an absolutely gorgeous wine region a short drive south of Adelaide. So, I’m completely biased after a loved-up weekend with my one-and-only, and weddings (especially ones of very special people) make me all misty-eyed, so this will be a rave. But I’ll also go light on the wedding details, because it’s not my wedding to splash all over the internet.

McLaren Vale is a spot I head to fairly frequently. It’s an excellent place to take out-of-towners, and since it’s such an easy drive from the city it’s a wonderful spot to enjoy all the excellent food and wine my state has to offer. It’s popular for weddings, getaways, reunions and milestone birthdays, so I make my recommendations having spent a lot of time here. A weekend in McLaren Vale is a perfect getaway.

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through and make a booking I’ll earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Even so, I’ll only recommend places I truly love.

Where to stay in McLaren Vale

This weekend we hired a villa with a few friends. And it was A-MA-ZING. Husband, four of our best mates, plenty of beer and wine (and gin) in this gorgeous, kind of euro-vibe villa with all the bells and whistles. We stayed in the Shiraz villa, which had three bedrooms and two bathrooms (one in the Master bedroom). Cable TV, iPhone docking station, barbeque in the outdoor entertaining area, and hotel toiletries were all highlights. You can book direct or through booking.com. If Casa Vino is fully booked, another fave of mine is the McLaren Vale Apartments. They’re not quite as luxurious as Casa Vino, but they’re spacious, comfortable and clean. Perfect! For something extra cosy, the area is rife with cute little B&Bs too.

About to enter our fancy villa

Here’s a quickie tour with my super shitty YouTube skills (I promise I’ve learned something about YouTube videos for the future):

Where to eat in McLaren Vale

Last weekend was Easter, and the wedding was on the Saturday – we were well fed during the festivities! So, not too much was open on Good Friday. The Tin Shed Cafe was though, and they were friendly and welcoming and handled the large numbers well. The food wasn’t fancy by any means, but it was done well and the place is perfectly situated on the main strip (appropriately named Main Road).

Other favourites of mine in the area on non-Public Holidays are Au Pear (try their handmade gnocchi!), The Barn, and the Salopian Inn. We popped down to Willunga (the next town South) for a coffee and cake on the Sunday morning at The 1839, which was a sweet, quaint little place.

For some really nice options, check out my guide on the best places to eat in Mclaren Vale.

…and the wine, of course. And these days, craft beer too!

Obviously, McLaren Vale is a big wine region and – call me biased – there are way too many brilliant wineries to list here. So I’ll give a few honourable mentions. Firstly to Leconfield, but I have no choice here; it’s where we attended the wedding reception, and it’s the groom’s family winery. So, you know, an automatic tick there! But another favourite of mine is Beach Road, because the view is stunning and you can sit for hours eating, trying different wines and overlooking the vineyards. Alpha Box and Dice is a great option for your inner hipster, too – and sometimes they hold tastings for people and puppers! The dogs don’t drink the wines though, they just socialise.

The Big Deal at the moment is D’Arenberg’s Cube – a giant cube on a hill full of eclectic artwork. Whether you go for the wine or not, the building is a destination in itself. Its $10 entry, which includes a tour of the museum.

The Husband love love loves his craft beer and I think he wishes he could have his own brewery. But for now, he’ll have to settle for the brews of Vale Brewing and (my personal best) Swell.

Wine not your thing? Or beer? Or weddings? (cynic)

Have no fear, weirdo! You could go for a joyride in a biplane (yup!) or head to the beaches nearby for a surf lesson or even scuba diving. There are also some gorgeous little galleries and museums to explore too (have a look here).

A weekend in McLaren Vale will almost always include wine, and hopefully a good beer or two as well. But if you’re abstaining right now or it’s just not your thing, you can definitely get a gorgeous place to stay and find your own fun.

Need another Australian weekender idea? How about Melbourne?

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27 Comments

  • Erin - Unbound Roots
    Posted April 7, 2018

    McLaren Vale sounds amazing. Being an animal-lover, I love that the one winery includes pups. ❤️ Did you see dogs while you were there? Great post, Amelia!

    • Amelia
      Posted April 7, 2018

      We took Leroy (our Australian Shepherd) once. It was great! It’s a specific event though; they’d probably pull their hair out if we rocked up with all the pups every time!

  • Shailaja
    Posted April 7, 2018

    Sounds like a dream getaway and your attention to detail is commendable! Love the pictures you’ve shared as well. Ah, I need a vacation and how lovely it would be to get whisked away to some kind of a villa set amidst a winery.

    I am so glad you had such fun!

    • Amelia
      Posted April 7, 2018

      Thanks so much Shailaja! This was actually our first child-free getaway since having our second little one, so it was desperately needed. I got to spend 48 hours with my husband and my best mates, having uninterrupted grown-up conversations! And there really couldn’t have been a better setting.

  • Debbie
    Posted April 7, 2018

    I enjoyed this Amelia and it sounds like you had a great time away! I haven’t been to that area yet but it’s on our list. We went to the Clare Valley last year for the first time and loved it. I love the sound of the cube on a hill full of eclectic artworks! Visiting from BUYB today 🙂

    • Amelia
      Posted April 7, 2018

      Thanks Deb! Clare is gorgeous too. The wine varietals are quite different and McLaren Vale is more coastal but similar in the friendly vibe. Clare has some cool bike tours to do as well which is awesome!

  • Rachael Stray
    Posted April 7, 2018

    It sounds like a fabulous place to visit with good food and wine! What more could you want?!

    • Amelia
      Posted April 7, 2018

      Right?! The perfect weekender.

  • Judy
    Posted April 7, 2018

    It sounds like a lovely place with plenty to see and do. I thought the villa looked gorgeous, very spacious and has everything you need. 🙂

    • Amelia
      Posted April 7, 2018

      Thanks Judy! Yes, it’s so nice to have everything you need on a holiday. Hotel rooms are fun but sometimes it’s nice to have the creature comforts of home while still feeling like you’re on holiday ?

  • CARMEN
    Posted April 7, 2018

    Sounds like you had a blast! Enjoyed reading your experience. I don’t drink but I am definitely up for a joyride in a biplane and visit cube and museum!!!

    • Amelia
      Posted April 7, 2018

      Thanks Carmen! Yep we like our wine in these parts but there’s a lot of fresh produce to go with it and a few local places are starting to make non-alcoholic ciders too which is really cool. Perfect for after your joyride ?

  • arv
    Posted April 7, 2018

    Looks like fun, Amelia! All vacay and time-off are!! You are looking great in that picture!

    • Amelia
      Posted April 8, 2018

      Aww thanks Arv, you are too sweet!

  • Brenda
    Posted April 7, 2018

    looks like a lovely weekend. Have to say Australia wines are my go to. Canadian here.

    • Amelia
      Posted April 8, 2018

      That makes me super-super proud to hear!

  • Fancy
    Posted April 7, 2018

    This looks glorious. I love when a wedding takes in other things like site seeing etc. I have actuslly never been to a winery. This must change xx

    • Amelia
      Posted April 8, 2018

      Fancy! You must! Get yourself a ticket down here right now! Many wineries around here are even better in winter… nothing like sipping reds by the fire

  • Claire
    Posted April 7, 2018

    So you had me with wine…and Australian is my fav! Def going to look up these vineyards to see if they export to UK….and then we will raise a glass with our pups too. x

    • Amelia
      Posted April 8, 2018

      I reckon I’ve seen some South Australian whites in the off-licence before, not sure about the reds because I wasn’t a red-drinking sophisticate the last time I was in the UK! ?

  • Theresa Bailey
    Posted April 8, 2018

    This looks amazing! I would love to spend some time in Vale. It all sounds so relaxing to me. I love the wine names for the rooms.

    • Amelia
      Posted April 8, 2018

      They’re great aren’t they?

  • Josy A
    Posted April 8, 2018

    I LOVE a good wine tour! This all sounds lovely! I hope you ended up with a huge amount of wine to keep you going for the rest of the year! 😉

    • Amelia
      Posted April 8, 2018

      Haha! We have a bit ? but quite honestly after breastfeeding two kids I don’t hold my wine like I used to. By the Sunday I was hoping I never saw another glass again!

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