1. For a short drive from the city to nature: Blue Mountains
Just an hour and a half drive from the city, the Blue Mountains make a gorgeous road trip to a place full of natural beauty.
The top spots to check out include the beautiful Wentworth Falls; incredible stacked sandstone rock formations called the Three Sisters; Scenic World with an elevated walkway and one of the world's steepest railways; and the Grand Canyon Walk. Also worth visiting are the Jenolan Caves - the world's oldest known open cave system.
Between 30 September and 7 October, be sure to check out the Leura Gardens Festival for a gorgeous Springtime experience.
Take a stroll through the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens, which specialise in the conservation of cool climate plants, and is home to 21,000 plants consisting of 900 species.
After all that exploring, be sure to stop by The Potager Cafe for scrumptious food and a gorgeous view. They serve a tasting board that's perfect to be shared with friends, or you can indulge in luscious apple pie made with local Bilpin apples.
2. For an epic scenic route: Grand Pacific Drive - the Southern Highlands
If you're looking for an enjoyable road trip experience, travel from the Royal National Park to the Southern Highlands for breath-taking coastal views on what is known as the Classic Grand Pacific Drive.
There are loads of amazing stops you can make along the way. The Royal National Park itself is huge. This 15,000 hectare park includes over 100km of walking tracks, cycling trails, spectacular beaches, coastal scenery, and many picnic and barbecue areas. It's also the perfect location for whale watching!
Head south to Kiama, which means 'the place where the sea makes a noise.' This picturesque town is home to the Kiama Blowhole, which is the largest in the world. Want more? Extend your drive further to Jervis Bay, best known for its Marine Park with approximately 100 resident dolphins, whale watching cruises, and famous white sand beaches!
And finally, drive all the way to the Southern Highlands, famed for its boutiques, gourmet restaurants, galleries, and Tulip Time Festival. Tulip Time is one of Australia's oldest floral festivals and the region's largest event, which takes place from 18 September to 1 October 2018. Corbett Gardens is absolutely stunning with over 75,000 tulips,15,000 annuals, and an additional 40,000 tulips planted across the Shire.
3. For a trip to see the Dolphin Capital of Australia: Port Stephens
Want a dose of nature and adventure? Take a road trip to Port Stephens! The gorgeous 2.5-hour drive from Sydney will bring you to the Stockton Sand Dunes, the largest coastal sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere.
Before you reach the dunes, make a stop at the Central Coast. Highlights of the area include horse riding at Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures, as well as the world's longest rollercoaster zipline at the TreeTop Crazy Rider.
From there, continue north to Port Stephens. There are loads of exciting activities to try at the Stockton Sand Dunes, such as quad biking, sand boarding, 4-wheel drive tours, and even camel riding. Then go dolphin and whale watching on a special cruise. There are approximately 150 bottlenose dolphins that reside in the waters all year round. Meanwhile, there are high chances of whale sightings in the area as the majestic animals migrate from May to November. If you're lucky, you may get to witness humpback whales breaching out of the water!
If you're looking for a more laid-back experience, head over to the Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters - a unique interactive aquarium. The dry experience includes a guided tour where you're allowed to touch the rays and sharks. If you want more, get in the water and try out the Shark Encounter experience. Meet the babies in the Aqua Nursery and cuddle Raspy, a 325kg stingray!
Finish off the day at Holberts Oysters Supplies for freshly shucked oysters and other local seafood. Yum!
4. For a relaxing coastal drive: the Legendary Pacific Coast
To extend your Sydney - Central Coast - Port Stephens road trip, continue north along the famous Legendary Pacific Coast for stunning views, breath-taking national parks, and amazing surf beaches.
Make a stop at Grafton to enjoy the epic Grafton Jacaranda Festival from 27 October to 4 November 2018. Held every Spring, this is the first of Australia's folk festivals and celebrates the beautiful blossoming of the purple Jacaranda trees. Highlights of the fest include the Riverlight Festival, River Feast, Art Exhibitions, Dragon Boat Racing, Live Music, Float Parade, and firework display!
If you're feeling extra adventurous, make the trip all the way to Byron Bay - a coastal town on the far-north coast of NSW. Home to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse at the most easterly point of mainland Australia, you could be one of the first in Australia to catch the brilliant sunrise. Take in spectacular beaches, one-of-a-kind shopping and dining experiences, and world-class festivals.
5. For a magical trip north: the Waterfall Way drive
The key attraction of this road trip are the numerous waterfalls along the drive between Coffs Harbour and Armidale. You also get to pass through the New England and Dorrigo national parks, which have beautiful walking tracks through untouched nature.
Make your first stop at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre to experience the Skywalk Lookout - an amazing 70m boardwalk that's built 20m above the actual rainforest! Then head over to Crystal Shower Falls by completing a 6km rainforest trail. Prepare to get wet as you cross the suspension bridge close to the top of the waterfall ;)
Other waterfalls on the way include Dangar Falls (which has a huge lagoon that is perfect for swimming), Ebor Falls (from the viewing platform you can see the impressive 100m drop), Wollombi Falls (once considered the highest waterfall in Australia), and Chandler Falls.
And that's just for starters! Sydney and New South Wales are simply bursting with natural beauty.
Here's a quick look at some of the hotspots in Sydney you have to visit:
The world's largest free to the public sculpture exhibition at the iconic Bondi Beach - Sculpture by the Sea.
Open from 18 October to 4 November, you'll also be able to check out the 2km long sculpture park from Bondi to Tamarama Beach. With over 100 sculptures by both Australian and international artists, this exhibition is certain to leave a lasting memory.
Fruit picking along Bells Line of Road (the perfect stop along your road trip to the Blue Mountains!)
There's nothing quite like picking super fresh fruits and devouring them! There are a number of orchards along Bells Line of Road, including Bilpin Springs Orchard and Pine Crest Orchard, to check out. Choose from a variety of cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, strawberries, and more! If you're on the Grand Pacific Drive, make a pitstop at Appleshack at Glenbernie Orchard for apple, peach, and nectarine picking!
Fruit picking season starts in November, but be sure to check out opening dates and times before visiting.
Feasting at the Grounds of Alexandria.
Once a pie factory, the Grounds of Alexandria has since transformed into a Sydney foodie icon. With homemade soda, berries and doughnuts, breakfast burgers, and more, you'll be spoiled for choice! If you're looking for indulgence, check out the red velvet shakes and buttermilk pancakes with roasted peaches as The Cafe.
Pose among the Jacaranda trees in bloom around Sydney.
Besides road-tripping up north to the Grafton Jacaranda Festival, you can also take insta-worthy pics with the beautiful purple blooms from Jacaranda trees around Sydney. Find them at Circular Quay against a backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, stroll through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, or head to McDougall Street in Kirribilli for an iconic snap beneath the Jacaranda canopy that is popular among both tourists and locals!