10 Best Dog-Friendly Weekend Getaways from Melbourne

Looking for a great dog-friendly getaway from Melbourne? There’s plenty of options available nearby in Victoria, whether you want a coastal escape, to visit cellar doors, explore an historic town or enjoy the great outdoors.

All of these destinations are under a 3 hour drive from the centre of Melbourne, with many of them even closer. For each destination, I share with you the best dog-friendly sightseeing ideas, plus off-leash dog beaches and parks, where to dine and a range of dog-friendly accommodation.

Now it’s just time to choose where to head first…

Only have time for a day trip? Check out my ideas for dog-friendly day trips around Melbourne

1. Visit the Macedon Ranges

Dog-Friendly Macedon Ranges
Go hiking in Macedon Regional Park with your dog

Location: Macedon is under an hours drive northwest of Melbourne
Highlights: Hiking and Autumn colour

The Macedon Ranges lie just outside of Melbourne, but are perfect for when you want to leave the city away for the weekend. One of the highlights is the Macedon Regional Park, with a range of dog-friendly walks ranging from short stroll to all-day hikes.

This region is particularly popular during the Autumn months, when it’s one of the best spots around Melbourne to view colourful leaf displays. Perhaps also visit a dog-friendly garden, taste some local wine or picnic at Hanging Rock.

Find out more about a dog-friendly getaway to the Macedon Ranges

2. Visit Geelong

Dog-Friendly Geelong
Enjoy a dog-friendly weekend in seaside Geelong

Location: Geelong is an hours drive west of Melbourne
Highlights: Beaches, hiking and more

Geelong is often overlooked for its more famous neighbour, the Great Ocean Road. But there’s plenty to do around Geelong to enjoy a fun weekend away with your pup.

Enjoy a stroll along the waterfront or through the delightful botanic gardens, or taste the beer at Little Creatures. It’s a short drive to the You Yangs with plenty of dog-friendly hiking, or to a dog-friendly beach at Torquay.

Find out more about a dog-friendly getaway to Geelong

3. Visit the Mornington Peninsula

Dog-Friendly Mornington Peninsula
Alternate between cellar doors and the seaside on the Mornington Peninsula

Location: Mornington is an hours drive southeast of Melbourne
Highlights: Wineries, beaches and some surprises

The Mornington Peninsula is a deservedly popular destination close to Melbourne, thanks to its combination of beaches (both on the calm waters of Port Phillip Bay and the rougher ocean swells), and its many cellar doors. But if visiting with your dog, there’s also some hidden delights to explore.

Stop off on the way at the dog-friendly McClelland Sculpture Park near Frankston, or enjoy an off-leash walk in the extensive Briars Community Forest. Don’t also miss the delightful Miss Drew’s Bakery and Dog Cafe at Tyabb, only open on the weekends.

Find out more about a dog-friendly getaway to the Mornington Peninsula

4. Visit the Yarra Valley

Dog-Friendly Yarra Valley
Go wine tasting with your pup by your side in the Yarra Valley

Location: Healesville is just over an hours drive northeast of Melbourne
Highlights: Wineries and countryside

The Yarra Valley is one of the most renown wine regions in Victoria. While it’s close enough to Melbourne for a day trip, it’s better appreciated if you stay overnight, or even better enjoy a whole weekend in the region.

Many wineries in the valley are dog-friendly, even permitting dogs to join you inside for a tasting – a relief when the weather outside takes a turn. If you don’t want to organise your own cellar visits, there are multiple companies that can organise a guided tour for you and your pup. Don’t also overlook the great distilleries and breweries in the region, too.

Find out more about a dog-friendly getaway to the Yarra Valley

5. Visit Daylesford

Dog-Friendly Daylesford
Stroll around Lakes Daylesford on a weekend away

Location: Daylesford is a 1.5 hour drive northwest of Melbourne
Highlights: Mineral springs, walks and the finer things

Daylesford is a popular destination for weekends away close to Melbourne, but you may not have realised it can also be dog-friendly. While luxuriating in a spa is out of the question, there’s still plenty of fun dog-friendly things to do in Daylesford.

Stroll around Lake Daylesford or Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve and sample the spring water, enjoy a picnic on Wombat Hill, or visit the Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm. Alternatively, visit the local farmer markets, before enjoy a leisurely lunch in a local pub, cafe or at Daylesford Cider.

Find out more about a dog-friendly getaway to Daylesford

6. Visit Phillip Island

Dog-Friendly Phillip Island
A windswept day on Phillip Island

Location: Phillip Island is 2 hours drive southwest of Melbourne
Highlights: Beaches and walks

Phillip Island may be best known for its nightly Penguin Parades and its racing circuit, neither of which are dog-friendly. But there’s still plenty to do with a dog at Phillip Island, including a great off-leash dog beach and the nearby George Bass Coastal Walk.

Don’t also miss out on sampling the cheeses at Bassine Specialty Cheeses on the way, enjoying fish’n’chips at the waterfront or visiting the breweries on the island. Or just spend some time chilling out and escaping from it all…

Find out more about a dog-friendly getaway to Phillip Island

7. Drive Along the Great Ocean Road

Dog-Friendly Great Ocean Road
The archway at the start of the Great Ocean Road

Location: Lorne is 2 hours drive southwest of Melbourne
Highlights: Spectacular scenery, beaches and waterfalls

There’s plenty of things to do with your dog along the Great Ocean Road, despite some of its main attractions being off limits to pets in national parks. Unless you’re camping, it’s best to book a cottage for the weekend and make it your base, such as around Lorne or Apollo Bay.

There’s some beautiful dog-friendly beaches along the Great Ocean Road, especially if you visit outside the peak summer season. Visit local waterfalls, walk along the Bay of Martyrs walkway, sample the local beers and ice-cream, or tuck into take-away fish’n’chips. And make sure you leave plenty of time for driving, thanks to the beautiful views and lookouts along the way!

Find out more about a dog-friendly getaway along the Great Ocean Road and visiting Lorne with a dog

8. Visit Bendigo

Dog-Friendly Bendigo
Checking out the Central Deborah Gold Mine in Bendigo

Location: Bendigo is 2 hours drive north of Melbourne
Highlights: Gold mining history

Bendigo is best known for its rich gold mining history and if visiting with your dog there’s no need to miss out. Dogs are welcome aboard the Vintage Talking Tram that tours around town, above ground at the Central Deborah Gold Mine, and at the Victoria Hill Diggings, a popular dog-walking spot.

Don’t also miss just strolling around the city centre and Rosalind Park, admiring the grand buildings. A stroll around Lake Weeroona or through the Botanic Gardens is fabulous with your pup at your side. Pups are even welcome to visit the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion with you, being constructed just outside of Bendigo.

Find out more about a dog-friendly getaway to Bendigo

9. Visit Walhalla

Dog-Friendly Walhalla
Exploring the village of Walhalla

Location: Walhalla is 2.5 hours drive east of Melbourne
Highlights: Gold mining history and historic trains

There’s no shortage of places in Victoria that were founded thanks to gold mines. But while Bendigo is a large city, Walhalla is a small village, almost a ghost town, hidden away in rugged terrain.

A highlight of a visit to Walhalla is a ride on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway, with well-behaved dogs welcome. Also enjoy a guided tour through the Long Mine and a self-guided tour through the historic streets of the once booming town.

Find out more about a dog-friendly getaway to Walhalla

10. Visit Echuca

Dog-Friendly Echuca
Enjoy a paddlesteamer ride in Echuca

Location: Echuca is a 2.75 hour drive north of Melbourne
Highlights: Paddlesteamers and history

The historic port of Echuca is a fabulous spot to step back in history. Stroll through the historic port precinct, visit the Discovery Centre and take a paddlesteamer cruise – all of which permit dogs to join you.

There’s also more historic attractions around Echuca that are dog-friendly, including the Holden Motor Museum and the Great Aussie Beer Shed. Don’t also miss detouring via some of the impressive silo art in the surrounding countryside on the drive to or from Echuca.

Find out more about a dog-friendly getaway to Echuca

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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