Last updated 22 May 2019
Hello! This Blue Mountains Guide has been a lifetime in the making… developed over hundreds of trips from Sydney out west and back again.
As Sydney-based kids we’d do this trip most weekends en route to our place near Mudgee or to visit our grandparents who lived in Leura. In my twenties, I’d drive over them to visit my parents, then at Rydal (just on the other side of the divide), and for the past 13 years living in Orange, have been going backwards and forwards to Sydney regularly. Until we stopped doing them, most weekends for farmers markets, but now for work and to visit family and friends.
So yep, it’s a road I know pretty well – and it’s a part of the world I really really love.
Of course, if you stop at every cafe I recommend, you may find yourself drinking six or seven more coffees than normal so maybe throw in a decaf or herbal tea somewhere along the line.
And please note – this is not an exhaustive list, it’s just a collection of my favourite places. I’m sure I’ve missed some great spots, not on purpose, just because I don’t know about them (I’m a creature of habit, so seem to stop at my favourites every trip!)) so if you have any suggestions please do leave them in a comment below. Thanks!
Ok….so lets go…I’ve written this as if you are heading up from Sydney in the morning and have most of the day to explore as you make your way to Blackheath where you could stay the night before coming to one of my workshops!
If you fancy a coffee as soon as you hit the Mountains, turn left, off the highway at Glenbrook for a coffee/breakfast/snack chez Kickaboom (pictured below). I really like their coffee and the whole menu is creative, delicious and thoughtful.
Continuing along, next stop is Lyttleton Stores at Lawson – this beautiful and creative cooperative sells local produce, crafts, preserves and gives away good feels for free. Stop in here for fresh fruit, juices, teas and baked goods and browse the store’s Atelier studio for locally made ceramics, jewellery, prints and other works.
Before leaving Lawson, absolutely drop in to Black Cockatoo Bakery to pick up one of baker Alex Rivière famous sourdough baguettes, croissants, loaves. They’ve also just started serving filter coffees with their pastries. Have a read of this great write up in Broadsheet for more incentives to visit this place. Black Cockatoo have also just opened up an outlet in Katoomba (on the Main Street) if that’s easier for you.
Ok, time to hit the highway again, drive on about 20 minutes until you hit Leura, and here turn off towards Everglades Gardens. This art deco National Trust property is absolutely worth a visit, with gardens designed by Paul Sorenson and views a plenty. Maybe find a pretty spot to sit and enjoy one of your Black Cockatoo Bakery treats. Next, drive about five minutes towards Sublime Point for the best view of the Mountains (in my very humble opinion). This look out is where I always take visitors, there’s never anyone else there and it really is sublime.
Also in Leura, a new-to-me favourite is Sorenson’s Glasshouse and Garden, gorgeous cafe and nursery in Paul Sorenson’s iconic glasshouse serving coffee, cakes and good things, or you could buy a picnic from the cafe (they’ll lend you a rug) and find a spot in the heritage gardens to graze and laze the afternoon away.
And before you head off, do stop in (if you can find a park!) at Megalong Books on Leura’s Main Street, one of the sweetest and best stocked bookshops going.
If you haven’t yet had lunch, put Solitary Kiosk in your GPS and make your way to one of the most beautiful spots on the Mountains. The restaurant here is fancy (fairly spenny) but totally gorgeous and wonderful for a special treat. But if you are just after scones, jam and cream, toastie, soup, or something light, try their Kiosk. You still get to enjoy the spectacular views, just not the full menu.
Ok, so now I think we should just push on to Blackheath. But if you are keen for another coffee, or piece of cake or something, maybe stop in at Cafe Synonymous or the Hydro Majestic at Meadow Bath. The former is probably the place I stop most often along the Mountains, gorgeous space, great coffee and lunches.
Anonymous Cafe – sister to Synonymous Cafe, they do excellent coffee and breakfasts.
Station Street Store – I adore this boutique full of locally made homewares. Come here for gifts with soul and character that you won’t find anywhere else.
Gleebooks Blackheath – The kids and I mark the beginning of every school holiday trip to Sydney with a stop off here and we all get a new book to read for the holidays. This is such a gorgeous book shop, their cookbook section is excellent and the whole vibe perfect for a good hour of browsing with coffee in hand. The kids book section is pretty rad too.
Fumo – Oh my gosh go; for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the food is incredible.
Piedmont Italian restaurant – very simple Italian trattoria style food, lovely people, great for a relaxed meal.
Blackheath Memorial Park – definitely head here for a little morning stroll, and if it’s warm enough, a dip in the pool (the heritage listed art deco change rooms are just gorgeous). This park, with it’s sweeping lawns, gorgeous established evergreen trees and winding pathways is one of my favourite spots on the mountains.
Logan Brae Orchard – This working orchard and apple shop is one of the Mountains’ true gems, set on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Shipley Plateau, during apple season you can spend a heavenly hour or so here stocking up on apples in the shop housed in Logan Brae’s old packing shed, also grab a warm apple pie and/or hot spiced apple juice and park yourself on the lawn by the orchard with that view spread out before you.
Mountains Made – if you’d like to connect with some clever creatives on the Mountain, this hub will help you out
The Blue Mountains also hosts some really fabulous farmers markets, for dates, check out the Visit NSW page for details.