Although there’s so much to see and do in Melbourne already, this action-packed city also happens to be the gateway to even more adventure.

With your car hire secured from the team at East Coast Car Rentals, discover five incredible destinations to visit just out of Melbourne city.

1. Get a taste of the Yarra Valley

You’ll be delighted to learn that a one-hour drive from Melbourne’s bustling CBD can lead you to such a breathtaking natural wonderland like the Yarra Valley. This Victoria region is recognised worldwide for its incredible wine, stunning national parks and delightful villages.

With more than 80 cellar doors available to visit, it’s hard not to resist the allure of world-class wines. Be sure to stop by Moët & Chandon’s Australian winery, Domaine Chandon and sample a glass of expertly crafted sparkling wine, before hopping around the region’s other estates.

As always, choose a designated driver when drinking!

Make the scenic 10-minute drive over to the small town of Healesville – home of the Healesville Sanctuary. Spend an afternoon getting up close and personal to some of Australia’s cutest native animals such as kangaroos, wombats, koalas and platypus, before heading back to Melbourne.

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2. Experience the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s must-do road trip routes, and while many visitors choose to explore the coastline over a few days, it’s still possible to enjoy even if you’re strapped for time. With your hire car packed to the rafters with swimming gear, snacks and good vibes, start your journey at Torquay. This beach-bum town is home to world-famous surf brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver and is therefore unsurprisingly known for its incredible surfing.

Hit the waves and make a splash in the sea before drying off and hitting the road to Lorne, just 45-minutes away. Here you can stroll around the shops, enjoy Lorne’s lively art scene and grab a bite to eat. If you’ve got enough time, drive over to the world-famous 12 Apostles!

3. Go green at the Dandenong Ranges

A day in the Dandenong Ranges will soon have you feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. This lush, natural paradise is just an hour’s drive from the centre of Melbourne and is the perfect retreat away from city life. Spend your time exploring Dandenong National Park’s various hiking trails, while keeping an eye out for secret waterfalls and picnic spots along the way.

Afterwards, take a more casual stroll through the area’s beautiful Botanic Gardens (formerly known as the National Rhododendron Garden). This 42-hectare space plays host to more than 15,000 brilliantly coloured rhododendrons, 250,000 daffodils, 12,000 azaleas and 3,000 camellias. No matter which time of year you visit, there’s always a kaleidoscope of colour on display.

Before heading back to Melbourne, be sure to hop onboard the 100-year old Puffing Billy steam train. View the fern gullies and lush pastures of the Dandenong Ranges from your open-sided carriage and if you dare, hang your legs over the side!

4. Breathe in the ocean breeze at the Mornington Peninsula

If you’ve organised car hire from our Melbourne Airport branch, make your first road trip one to remember by heading to the Mornington Peninsula – about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. This coastal destination is as diverse as it is beautiful.

If it’s a foodie adventure you’re after, Mornington Peninsula is the place for you. The area is famed for its boutique wineries, cliff-top restaurants and innovative, local cuisine. Be sure to stop by the rural community town of Red Hill and drop into Johnny Ripe. This established eatery is famous for all things pastry and baked-good related, especially their gooey apple pies.

With a belly full, drive over to McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery. Set in 16 acres of bush, visitors can spend the afternoon meandering through this expansive park, marvelling at more than 100 sensational sculptures designed by an array of Australian artists. There are also three indoor galleries featuring even more jaw-dropping paintings, sculptures and photographs.

Spend the rest of your time in the Mornington Peninsula relaxing on the area’s beautiful beaches. From the safe and sandy beaches of Mount Martha to the popular surfing beaches of Port Sea and Point Leo, there’s a piece of paradise for everyone to enjoy!

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There’s never a dull moment to be had in Melbourne. Discover a world of endless fun from the comfort of your East Coast Car Rental hire car today!