Daylesford is a wonderful place to visit if you feel like a quiet country drive out of the city, and into spa and mineral springs country. The landscapes look deserving of impressionist paintings, the restaurants serve up local culinary delights, the markets will have you finding beautiful handmade wares and preserves for miles around, the op shops are bar-none, and the relaxation factor is at an absolute maximum. If you’re looking for things to do here, we have just the collection of ideas for you.
Daylesford Hot Springs
Daylesford’s natural hot springs are a main attraction of the area, and several spas and retreats have been set up to make the very best of them. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones.
The Mineral Spa
Located at 124 Main Road in town, The Mineral Spa is a day retreat that is specially designed for those 16 and over. If you’re coming down over the weekend, have a go of their night bathing on Friday and Saturday nights. They also offer couples treatments, if you’d like to share in the experience.
Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve
If you’re looking for an affordable and inclusive option to visit in a natural setting, you can’t go past Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve. Managed by Parks Victoria, this area is also pet friendly, with dogs allowed to come along on leash for the adventure. The reserve is full of lovely walking tracks, and you can even sample the natural spring water. Don’t forget to check out the 19th century bath house while you’re there, and perhaps even pack a picnic, as there are plenty of places to set one up on-site. If you do forget, there’s a cafe open most days here too.
Peppermint Springs Retreat and Day Spa
If you’re looking for a quiet stay for a few days just slightly out of town, definitely take a look at Peppermint Springs Retreat and Day Spa. You’re going to feel at home in the country right away, with the peaceful cottage vibes of the accommodation here. There is also a day spa on site that offers massage, beauty, skincare and makeup options, along with an included pool in your stay. It’s the perfect place to get away and have some quiet time, away from the chaos of the city.
Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa
Founded all the way back in 1895, the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa is the region’s only historic bathhouse, and represents the ultimate in decadence and luxury. There are three main options at this mini-resort: mineral bathing, luxe accommodation, and spa packages.The mineral bathing is the main attraction here – a unique way to enjoy the local hot springs, with a variety of options to choose from. At the bathhouse, you can access the large public mineral bath for up to 90 minutes at a time, with prices starting at $58 for adults and $32 for children (kids under 2 enter for free). This is a really inclusive space for all ages, they even do family packages.
For a more intimate option, choose from the sanctuary mineral bathing suite for ages 16 and over, or go for the full indulgence of a single bathing package. The sanctuary includes an aroma-filled steam room, bathing couches, and magnesium soaks, plus much more, including the creekside pool (above), all heated to between 36-40 degrees celsius. Very fancy indeed.
Daylesford has always been high on the list for food enthusiasts looking to venture further out from Melbourne. As you’ve already seen by descriptions of The Lakehouse, the sleepy town is a haven of chefs, looking to enjoy the quieter pace of country living full-time. With this comes some really great restaurants. Here are a few of our favourites.
Lake House Daylesford
Led by chef and acclaimed culinary writer Alla Wolf-Tasker, the Lake House is an absolute culinary delight of a place, with views to match. The menu is seasonal, and focuses on the best produce of the local area, there’s always something new to try here, and the ingredients are the freshest around. This restaurant also has a strong focus on sustainable practice, which adds to the wow factor.
Boathouse Restaurant Daylesford
Over at Leggatt Street in town, you’ll come across the Boathouse Restaurant. A must for lovers of fine food and unique cocktails, this restaurant is open for lunch and dinners, with bookings essential. Choose from an option of two or three course packages while you enjoy the views over the scenic lake outside. This place is well known for its sumptuous barramundi, duck, and pork belly options.
If you love a dark industrial vibe that also leaves room for intimacy, take your loved one along for a meal at Bistro Terroir. Open from noon most days, this place serves brooding style along with delicious meals. The French cuisine is top-notch and decadent, with menu items such as crepes, cheese boards, pastries, and even escargot for the brave. We’ve heard great things about their terrine too, served alongside French champagne, of course.
Kadota makes for a really unique dinner experience while you’re spending time in Daylesford. Their menu is classic Japanese, with wonderful cocktails available too. This is a light and relaxing slightly modern place, located on the iconic Camp Street in Daylesford – a very well known LGBT friendly area that the town is well-known for. If you’re after bright, happy inclusive vibes, this is one to check out.
Over on Raglan Street you will find Beppe – a wonderful Italian Restaurant, run by a family with Italian migrant roots. This place does a bellissimo dinner, with takeaway options also available. They have their very own wood fire too, meaning that the pizzas and garlic bread definitely have that certain extra special something. Check out the risotto too – we love the saffron and prawn combination they’ve gone for.
The Wonderful Local Markets
The local markets in Daylesford attract crowds from far and wide, each of them having their own unique theme, handmade wares, and even some hard-to-find-antiques. Whether you’re a farming hobbyist, a foodie who wants to try cooking some of their own fresh meals, or an avid collector of vintage items, you’re going to love what the markets here have to offer.
Daylesford Sunday Market
I can remember coming to this iconic market with my aunties way back in the mid 90’s, and it’s just as awesome now as it was then. The Sunday Market is open Sundays from 8am, and has a wide variety of stalls with almost everything you could imagine being sold. Check out the homemade jams, preserves, beauty products and clothes, or browse a few stalls for some vintage clothes and toys. There are usually fresh flowers and food carts abound too. Bring a friend and see what you can find!
Mill Market Daylesford
The Amazing Mill Market is an eclectic chain of vintage indoor markets that run in outskirt cities across Victoria. Just like its Geelong counterpart, Mill Market Daylesford is the place to go for vintage clothes, homewares, and electronics. There’s usually a wealth of old school computer games and consoles at these places, along with funky clothes and the odd unique piece of furniture. If you’re after something to help you stand out from the crowd or experience the warm and fuzzies from childhood nostalgia, Mill Markets are the way.
Daylesford Farmers Market
Beware, if your mate is the type to venture out to a local Sunday market just to “see what’s around” and then come back with a live chicken, the Farmers Market in Daylesford is probably going to enable them a little. I know, I’m one of those types. Located at 102 Vincent Street, this place has definite trash and treasure vibes, but the local produce you’ll find here is going to rock your socks. Well worth having a poke around, especially if you get there just after breakfast with the intention of bringing home some wicked fresh ingredients for lunch. It’s a great way to meet with the local farmers too.
The Antique Market runs at 105 Central Springs Road, just around the corner from the Mill Market. Have a potter around and see what’s on offer. This one can be hit and miss, but when you do find something, it’ll be an absolute gem of a thing.
There really is so much to do in Daylesford – you could spend a few weeks here and have something new to see every single day. We’ve added a few of the really noteworthy places below for you. Check out the local lavender farm, and don’t forget the breweries and op shops!
Daylesford Lavender Farm
I’m betting you’ve never been to a lavender farm before, and here’s your chance. Reopening in September 2023, Lavandula Swiss Italian lavender farm will have you at new levels of relaxation and awe. The gate fee is only $5 for adults and $1 for kids, so you won’t be breaking the bank either. Check out their impressive and fragrant fields, stop in at their onsite eatery and bar, and bring home something special for a loved one at their gift shop – the lavender scents of the soaps and beauty products can’t be beaten.
Daylesford Cider Company
If you’re after a bit of a boozy weekend, start your journey at the Daylesford Cider Company. Last year their cider took out “best traditional cider in show” at the national Australian Cider Awards – no small feat! They’ve also won the Regional Development Victoria’s “Regional Business Award” recently, so you know the place is going to be well put together. Starting out in 2003, owners Clare and Mackie (along with their dog Tarker) got their orchards well established with strong dwarf root stock supporting a variety of craft cider apple trees. These days, business is booming and they’re well known for their drinks nation-wide. There’s a two hour sitting time to try out their wares, with group booking of 8 or more also available. We liked their Watermelon Fizz Cider the best – it was something completely different to what we were used to!
Daylesford Brewing Co.
Right in the heart of town in Vincent Street, Daylesford Brewing Co puts, as they say it, “the ale back into Daylesford”. If you’re staying locally, this place should only be a short walk away, which is good news if you want to try out everything this brewery has to offer! Be sure to make a reservation via the website for a taste test. There is also a shop and restaurant onsite, so you can really make a day of it.
Op Shops in Daylesford
When it comes to pastimes of the town locals, op shopping is a fan favourite. Daylesford is a small town, but it’s home to 4 op shops, some of which are independent. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Daylesford Community Op Shop
This op shop is the original and arguably the best of the bunch. An independent non-chain store, the Daylesford Community Op Shop is located at 6 Mink Street in town and will be sure to delight with its affordable treasures. It’s open Fridays, Saturdays and Wednesdays and has a bit of everything.
Junk Style is over at 67 Vincent Street and is open every day but Sunday. It’s another great independently owned store, again with a mix of everything plus a few gift shop style items. This one comes highly rated.
Salvos and Vinnies
Daylesford also has the typical chain store op shops, which can occasionally have something really nice, but have come under fire in recent times due to controversial policies and price hikes. Sure, have a poke around in there, but definitely hit up the independent ones first!
There really are so many things to see and do around Daylesford, you could spend quite a bit of time here and never get bored. Bring the kids to tour the lavender farm, go to a dark and romantic dinner with a partner over at Bistro Terroir, check out the spas and natural springs, or hit up the heap of local markets. Whatever your fancy, it’s a sure-fire hit for a country adventure.
Escape to Daylesford: Relax in natural hot springs, enjoy local cuisine, explore vibrant markets, and visit the charming op shops.