Gateway to the Great Ocean Road or a short ferry hop to the Mornington Peninsula, the city of Geelong is just over an hour's drive from Melbourne. From daytrips to weekend wanders, Geelong's revamped waterfront is a must-see attraction, as well as galleries, bars and restaurants aplenty to while away a lazy day.
Here are our top 10 picks for things to do and, as you're here, the surrounding surf beaches, coastal towns and cool-climate wineries of the Bellarine Peninsula are also within easy reach.
1. Explore the waterfront
Waterfront Art Trail, Geelong, Victoria
Take in the beauty of Corio Bay and Geelong's foreshore from Cunningham Pier.
Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the bay with a splash of art on the Waterfront Art Trail. Discover the history of the region with giant sculptures, decorative pavers and cargo boxes loaded with historical artefacts. Along the way, stop for a selfie with one of more than 100 bollards scattered between Rippleside and Limeburners Point on the Bollard Trail.
Rest your feet and ride in a chariot or on horseback on the magnificent hand-carved wooden carousel on the pier. The Carousel also has a replica of the 1898 Gavioli Band organ in the pavilion and offers unparalleled views of the bay.
2. Unleash your sense of adventure
Super charge your getaway at Adventure Park Geelong. Make a splash on giant waterslides, ride the Crazy Coaster and navigate the Gold Rush Rapids by raft. The fun-filled oasis has something for all ages, with spray cannons and splash zones for little ones and daring slides you can tackle headfirst for brave adventurers.
3. Get artsy
Boom Gallery, Geelong, Victoria
Once an industrial port, Geelong has quickly become a vibrant hub for creativity and design. Immerse yourself in the cultural fibre of Geelong at Boom Gallery, where original contemporary art and design pieces from local and international talent line the walls.
Delve into the world of contemporary Australian art and a collection of paintings and decorative forms from 18th to 21st-century European greats at Geelong Gallery, or catch a show at Geelong Arts Centre, where theatre, music and performance reign supreme.
4. Shop 'til you drop
Get your dose of retail therapy in one of Geelong's eclectic shopping strips. Visit Geelong Vintage Market to browse more than 60 unique stalls of collectable and vintage items, or pop into The Reimaginarium for a collection of reclaimed goods. Head to The Mill Markets on the Bellarine Highway for quirky homewares and colourful gifts from Jade and May. While you're there, browse stalls of fine china, antiques and vinyl records.
Hit the greens at Curlewis Golf Club where you can tackle a challenging 72 holes. Just want a quick putt? The Range @ Curlewis has a state-of-the-art 18-bay driving range and two-tier mini golf course that's sure to impress.
6. It's bev-o'clock
Little Creatures Brewery, Geelong, Victoria
Born out of a love for great beer shared among mates, Little Creatures has travelled the Nullarbor to set up a home away from home in Geelong – and aren't we luckier for it? Taste your way through their family of beers, including the original pale ale. Continue your exploration of Geelong brews at Blackman's Brewery, where 16 taps pour beer straight from the shiny tanks they’re crafted in.
For a different style of palate pleaser, Provenance Wine will take you on a journey from vineyard to glass with drops crafted from seven vineyards across the state.
7.On cloud nine
Witness the majesty of Geelong from a hot air balloon. Enjoy views of Port Phillip Bay, the Barrabool Hills and Geelong's CBD as you float through the sky. Wake and watch the sunrise in aerial paradise and toast the experience of a lifetime with a glass of bubbles at the end of your flight. A number of operators offer balloon experiences in the region, including Geelong Ballooning and Liberty Balloon Flights.
8. Champion Indigenous culture
Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Geelong, Victoria
Learn about the region’s Wathaurong people with a visit to Narana Aboriginal and Cultural Centre. Gain an insight into Indigenous history along the Bellarine on a tour of the building and grounds, taste traditional bush tucker, and try your hand at throwing a boomerang.
9. Garden state of mind
Frolic amongst flowers at Geelong Botanic Gardens, or stroll through English-inspired cottage gardens on a visit to The Heights House and Garden. Put your walking shoes on and explore the Kevin Hoffman Walk in Lara, or take in the cascading water of Buckley Falls in Highton.
10. Eat your way around the Bellarine
Felix Restaurant, Geelong, Victoria
Make dinner an experience in itself at some of Geelong's quirkiest restaurants. Pull up a seat at Splatters Cheese Bar where you can indulge on cheese, charcuterie, olives and a cheeky cocktail, all served on Australia’s first ever cheese train.
Venture beneath the iconic smokestack at Federal Mills and dine amidst an eclectic atmosphere at 1915, where head chef, Andy Symeonakis, serves top-notch Australian fare with Mediterranean-inspired, seasonal flavours. Swing by Wah Wah Gee and journey through a selection of Asian-inspired sharing dishes, or indulge on French cuisine at Felix Restaurant.