NSW's Central Coast has long been known as Sydney's more sedate, less cool cousin, only worth visiting during the summer holidays. But with the area witnessing a recent culinary explosion, we think it's well worth visiting any time of year.
Abundant in natural beauty and sparse in traffic jams, it's worth considering the Central Coast for your next weekend away. Less than 90-minutes from both Sydney and Newcastle, if you're yet to experience the charm of the coastal region, you're missing out.
You could easily while away a week or two on the Central Coast - from Patonga in the south to Wyee in the north - but if you've only got a weekend, here's how we suggest you pass the time.
9:00 AM: Breakfast at The Glass Onion Society, Long Jetty
Start your weekend away with a healthy breakfast or hangover cure: Both are on the menu at this buzzing café just a few minutes' drive from the popular tourist resort of The Entrance. With inventive options like lemon kale mushrooms, orange blossom pancakes and chai masala porridge, Glass Onion is the perfect spot to refuel.
10:30 AM: Shopping in Long Jetty
Got an eye for an antique? Long Jetty has plenty to offer, and at much cheaper prices than you'll find in Sydney. Try House of Stuff for a fabulous piece of mid-century furniture, Dapper Darlings Vintage for a fun pair of retro shades, Websters Vintage for a selection of bric-a-brac or The Sound Exchange for an eclectic range of vinyl records.
If you prefer your clothes shiny and new, Plain Janes has got you covered, stocking well-known brands and young, up-and-coming designers.
1:30 PM: Lunch at Fishermen's Wharf, Woy Woy
Shopping is hungry work and by now you've earned some lunch. The guys at Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf have been serving some of the freshest seafood for over 40 years and their recently renovated restaurant on the Brisbane Water is a great spot to try some fantastic produce.
If you'd prefer something more casual, grab some takeaway fish and chips from their market shop to enjoy on a bench by the water - just mind the pelicans!
Image credit: Nikki To / Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf
3:30 PM: Check in at The Copacabana Beach House
The secluded Copacabana Beach House is the hottest spot west of Havana and has enough room to comfortably sleep eight. The uniquely Australian architect-designed house is surrounded by ocean views and has all the worldly comforts you might need, including an outdoor fire pit to stay snug in the winter months.
Image credit: Airbnb / The Copacabana Beach House
5:30 PM: Sundowners at The Box on the Water, Ettalong
With panoramic views across Broken Bay, Box Head and Sydney's northern beaches, The Box at Ettalong is a tranquil locale for a sunset sip. Choose from their carefully-selected range of boutique wines, craft beers and signature cocktails and relax in the refined contemporary space while drinking in the views.
7:00 PM: Dinner at Bombini, Avoca
Set on two acres of leafy land near Avoca Beach, Bombini serves modern Italian cuisine using fresh fruit and vegetables from their own garden, along with high-quality Australian and Italian produce.
Diners can choose from the restaurant's a la carte menu or order pizza and cocktails in the bar for a more informal affair: You can't go wrong either way.
9:30 PM: Drinks at Pocket Bar, Terrigal
Admittedly, the Central Coast isn't known for its thriving nightlife and things do tend to quieten down after dinner. But if you're keen to kick on, Terrigal is your best bet. Pocket Bar is our favourite watering-hole, on account of its delicious cocktails, friendly bar staff and lively atmosphere.
8:30 AM: Coffee at Like Minds, Avoca
You're hopefully rising with a clear head after a solid eight hours of sleep in your dreamy coastal hideaway. If not, fear not! Like Minds in Avoca serves up the best coffee on the Coast. Get your coffee takeaway and wander along the golden sands of Avoca Beach, or stay a little while and order something from their breakfast menu.
10:00 AM: Cooking class at fish dining, Point Frederick
If you love food and cooking, the masterclasses at Central Coast Cooking School will definitely hit the spot. Spending four hours under the guidance of award-winning chef Cameron Cansdell, you'll be given a run-through of the ingredients, then learn to cook the dishes yourselves. When you're done, enjoy the fruits of your labour with a glass of wine in the beautiful fish dining restaurant, overlooking the Brisbane Water.
Upcoming events include their pork masterclass (July 29), beef masterclass (August 26) and seafood masterclass (October 28).
2:30 PM: Bouddi coastal walk
You'd be remiss to visit the Central Coast and not spend anytime next to its clear, blue waters. The Bouddi coastal walk provides the perfect vantage point to whale watch, bird watch or take in the magical views of the tessalating rocks, across the ocean.
We recommend starting your walk at Putty Beach and making your way for three kilometres to the secluded Maitland Bay - only accessible on foot - to swim or lay out a picnic blanket and enjoy a biscuit and thermos of tea. From here, either make your way back to Putty Beach car park or - if you've got more time - continue north for another five kilometres to the beautiful MacMasters Beach.