Travelling anti-clockwise around the bay from Melbourne, it's worth getting off the freeway and stopping at the outer south-western suburb of Werribee. In fact, you could spend a whole day here, visiting a host of attractions including the Werribee Park Mansion for a glimpse into the life that some wealthy early settlers in Victoria experienced, Werribee Open Range Zoo, the Victorian State Rose Garden and Wyndham Cultural Centre.
Around the bay drive
Spend a summer weekend touring around Port Phillip in Victoria for a guaranteed feast for the senses, covering Melbourne's bayside suburbs, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine Peninsula and Geelong.
Most begin this circular journey in the capital city of Melbourne. You can then travel down one side of Port Phillip, cross the entrance to the bay on a vehicular ferry, and return to Melbourne along the other side of the bay.
75 kilometres south-west of Melbourne is the gorgeous outpost of Geelong. It's a city that is well-known for its fantastic seafood fare, and you can gorge yourself on local food and wine in any number of the renowned restaurants lining the waterfront of Geelong. Go shopping at the city's large commercial centre or enclosed shopping centres, explore the beautiful parkland along the Barwon River, or discover some of the Geelong's major tourist attractions including the National Wool Museum, the Old Geelong Gaol and the Ford Discovery Centre.
At Point Lonsdale, which overlooks the entrance to the bay, is a gorgeous white lighthouse that has been used in countless Australian television shows and movies.
Visit the shopping precinct along historic Hesse Street with its interesting buildings including the Vue Grand Hotel. Discover the rich history of the town in the huge military fortress that has guarded the entrance to Port Phillip since the 1800s. Or simply explore the attractive foreshore parks and beaches which surround the town.
Aside from asserting itself from the premiere Australian location in which to buy fresh mussels, Queenscliff is the departure point for an on-the-water ride on any number of local ferries. You can choose to take a passenger trip, or if you're heading to the Mornington Peninsula, bring your car along on the vehicular ferry.
After boarding the ferry at Queenscliff, you head across the bay to the Mornington Peninsula where you disembark at Sorrento. A seaside village known worldwide for its picturesque scenery, Sorrento is an ideal spot to eat, sleep and stay for a while.
After exploring Sorrento, you will stumble upon Portsea a short distance away to the west - a location known as a "rich and famous" destination in the holiday season. Portsea is the gateway to the Point Nepean National Park where you can discover the ruins of military fortifications and enjoy unspoilt coastal scenery.
Drive east along the coastal route of Point Nepean Road and you will arrive at the popular holiday town of Rye. Noted for its safe swimming beaches, extensive foreshore and nearby championship golf courses, Rye has it all.
Drive the scenic road up to the highest point on the Mornington Peninsula at Arthurs Seat. As well as unsurpassed views of the bay and peninsula, there are gardens and even a maze to get lost in.
Further north along the coast is Mornington - perched above beaches which surround the outcrop of Schnapper Point. Visit the many shops which line both sides of Main Street, take a walk along one of the many scenic coastal pathways, or enjoy a swim in a sheltered bay at Mothers Beach and Scout Beach.
A short distance further north is the bustling city of Frankston - the largest centre on the Mornington Peninsula. There's shops galore, the huge Bayside Shopping Centre, and plenty of hotels and places to eat. Head down to the Frankston Waterfront where the region's main visitor information centre is located. Enjoy a stroll on the pier or make the most of the golden sands which line the coast. Frankston is also well known for its parks, art and culture.
Further along the coast is Mordialloc, located at the mouth of the Mordialloc Creek which is lined with boats. Take a walk on the pier, enjoy the attractive foreshore park or relax on the beach. A good selection of shops and eateries can be found one block back from the beach along the Nepean Highway which is lined with palm trees.
From Mordialloc, continue the bayside drive experience by turning down Beach Road which closely follows the coast all the way to Melbourne.
Brighton is one of Melbourne's most affluent beachside suburbs, famous for its bathing boxes which line the Dendy Street Beach. There's a coastal arts trail featuring tributes to notable Australian artists, sandy beaches, a marina and the historic Middle Brighton Baths. Back from the beach, Brighton is blessed with historic mansions, attractive gardens and a multitude of shopping and eating precincts including trendy Church Street.
Conclude the bay drive at St Kilda - Melbourne's most famous beachside suburb, just a few kilometres south of the CBD. St Kilda is well noted for its food, with restaurants lining Fitzroy Street and cafes and cake shops in Acland Street. Attractive gardens line the coast, and a visit to St Kilda isn't complete without a stroll along its famous pier where an iconic kiosk can be found at its endpoint.