Bounded by water on three sides, The Entrance, certainly lives up to its name as the main marine mouth connecting Tuggerah Lake to beautiful beaches and the ocean. This award-winning Wotif Top 10 Aussie Town is also home to the Central Coast’s key Visitor Information Centre, with friendly staff on hand to help plan your local experience.
The Entrance Snapshot
Get to know The Entrance
Since 1889 the area has been growing in popularity. With the railway line from Sydney to Newcastle completed, the gates opened up to tourists venturing outside the city for a seaside spot to recoup, revive and relax during summer. Today, The Entrance is a buzzing aquatic playground, with seaside resorts, beach houses and guest accommodation popping up at every opportunity.
Some consider The Entrance to be all pelicans, pubs and paddleboats, but with more than a century of practice entertaining locals and visitors alike, this is a town with an underbelly that knows how to show you a good time. Whether that good time is had by a lake, a bridge, beach or baths, park, parade or nostalgic ice cream parlour, this is one seaside village ready to entertain every summer.
The Entrance Bucket List
What to do in The Entrance
1. Pelican pod watch
If you’ve never seen the local pelican pods at The Entrance, have you even been to the Coast? A rite of passage for every tourist and animal loving child, this wildlife community is special as they've been thriving in the area for over 20 years - the pelican colony turn up to impress tourists daily. One of the best spots to pelican watch is from Memorial Park, when the tide is low enough a sandy island forms in the channel where they all hang out.
2. Start the day with a local café
Kick start with caffeine or brekky from a café along The Entrance high street, such as all day breakfast at The Coast Café, humble meals, locally sourced sourdough and seaside art at Usui Café and Gallery. Tucked away from the main waterside attractions of this town is Albie's Coffee Bar at Picnic Point, a local spot for brekky toasties and quality coffee with a smile.
3. Ride the 19th Century Carousel
The Entrance Historic Carousel has proudly sat on the water’s edge of The Entrance since the 1930s. Originating from Germany in the 1800s, the carousel is now recognised by the National Trust as one of the oldest carousels in Australia. Operated and carefully maintained by Hanna Haas, who continues an amazing tradition with her family continually involved in some form of carnival or circus activity for the last 400 years. Located near Memorial Park, the carousel is still flourishing on the foreshore as a proper piece of childhood nostalgia. And yes, you can totally have a go on it.
4. Casual lunch vibes
Have lunch at the oldest building in the town, The Lake House, which is a hive of activity and lakeside function space. Tuck into a famous takeaway on the grass of Memorial Park, Jimbo’s Fish and Chippie is a mainstay in the area. Try Tango Restaurant for Italian pizza and Spanish tapas relished on the lake edge, or head to Mi Cantina for tapas overlooking the channel in style.
5. Indulge at dinner
And indulgent dinner awaits at the Ocean Restaurant in nearby Blue Bay, with incredible views of the coastline as you choose from their premium wine list. Or try the lively Arabian Lounge for traditional Middle Eastern cuisine coupled with exotic Mediterranean cocktails or Lebanese coffee. For live entertainment and drinks with mates, drop by either The Entrance Hotel with its popular lakeview beer garden and headline events, or The Lakes Hotel, which is centrally located and newly renovated with a range of bars, family friendly dining space and beer garden. Diggers @ The Entrance is also an award-winning venue perched on the hill before you head into the town centre, featuring a hotel, gym, café, live music and VROOM virtual reality experience.
6. Venture to The Entrance North
There is another side to this town – cross the bridge to discover The Entrance North. Start with breakfast by the beach at local hidden secret, Cue and Crew, who will also satisfy early evening cravings with their American BBQ style smoked meat menu. Take a long, secluded walk along The Entrance North Beach, a golden sand spit you can easily see poking out when standing at Memorial Park across the channel.
7. Outdoor sport at Picnic Point Reserve
Right at the tip of The Entrance sits a lovely green space known as Picnic Point Reserve, featuring a Skate Park, boat ramp, fishing spot and playground, linked by a shared pathway along the foreshore. This is also where The Entrance Park Run 5km weekly event normally kicks off. The skate park is not only used by skateboarders but also by BMX riders, scooter riders and rollerbladers. Hanging out here means you can enjoy the great outdoors while only being a few minutes from places to eat and drink in the town’s main drag.
8. Swim in Heritage Listed ocean baths
Stop to take a dip in the historic Grant McBride Ocean Baths. Located right by the Heritage listed Surf Life Saving Club at The Entrance, experience swimming in fresh ocean water pools, some child-friendly and shallow and some with lap sections, or visit the small Robert’s Beach located nearby at Ocean Parade.
9. Seaside fish & chips, pies or pork rolls
If you’ve been adventuring on the water all morning, refuel with one of the local staples for lunch. Order a gourmet pie from Coastie classic Ken’s Humble Pie Shop. For authentic Banh Mi Asian-style BBQ pork rolls, Chi Cong Bakery is the real deal.
10. Fishing in the aqua blue channel
Organise a fishing licence online and hire a rod and motor boat from The Entrance Boat Shed. Try your hand at fishing under The Entrance Bridge or over the edge of the small bridge at Terilbah Reserve. If it’s prawning season, grab your waders, esky and torch and try your hand a catching some fresh Tuggerah Lakes prawns in the channel at night, and be sure to check the best technique and spots with the locals.
11. Daily scoop at the local parlour
Many Coasties likely have childhood memories of visiting The Entrance and enjoyed a few scoops from the Great Australian Icecreamery. Its unpretentious vibes lend a nice sense of nostalgia, with that same cartoon koala greeting customers for decades. Proper gelato fans can venture to Ciao Bella Gelato on Coral Street.
12. Take the Coast to Lake Walk
The best way to explore the area on foot is this signposted scenic trail from lakeside Long Jetty to seaside Toowoon Bay. The Coast to Lake Walk is an easy, self-guided route connecting you to local attractions, landmarks, and public amenities around The Entrance and Long Jetty peninsula, covering 7.6 kilometres. Not much of a walker? Explore the shared Tuggerah Lakes Cycleway on two wheels with Boomerang Bike Hire located at The Entrance Visitor Information Centre and near the famous Pelican Feed boardwalk.
13. Marvel at hundreds of retro cars
Chromefest is an annual event on the Coast; a tribute to classic American autos, hot rods, rock n' roll and rockabilly. As you can imagine, it attracts quite the quirky crowd, bringing colour, music and hundreds of show cars to The Entrance alongside dancing, workshops and market stalls. A highlight is the Miss ChromeFest Pinup Competition, which invites women to get creative with their costumes and rockabilly personalities. If you know the difference between a Chevrolet and Old Man Moose, this festival is right up your alley!
14. Explore lakeside parks and playgrounds
Vera’s Water Garden is adjacent to the historic carousel in Memorial Park, and is a colourful play space for children during the warmer months. With free wifi in the outdoor area for parents, you can let the kids paddle, play and spray while you either admire the coastline beyond, or look up a perfect spot to grab the family some lunch. If you fancy a walk across the channel and over the bridge to Terilbah Reserve, stroll through the Sensory Gardens, designed with native flora to be an all-inclusive experience of the sights, sounds and scents of nature beside the lake.
Just around the corner from The Entrance
Head north across the channel bridge from the town centre to enter Magenta, which is home to the five-star Pullman Magenta Shores Resort, serving high tea, spa sessions, scenic dining and golf by the sea.
Drive south of The Entrance and you will enter the township of Long Jetty, centred around a colourful stretch of shopfronts lining The Entrance Road like a showreel of unique art, design, fashion and antiques curated by local makers, creators and collectors. A shared lakeside pathway also links to here from Picnic Point to Long Jetty foreshore, making it ideal for morning runs or cycle rides followed by a caffeine hit at one of its popular street corner cafés.
Plan a beach day at nearby Pelican Beach in Wyrrabalong National Park, or as the locals call it – 'Pelos'. Featuring a stunning stretch of sand and a lookout platform with panoramic views towards The Entrance, Pelos is a top spot for whale watching during migration season or pretending you're in a secluded paradise in the heat of summer.
A little taste of The Entrance...