The perfect weekend chez Spring comes down to a pretty simple formula. There should be sunshine, somewhere to explore, the chance to learn something new, plenty of wide open space, lovely ambience, and delicious snacks. Delicious snacks served with tea in bone china and a free Herald crossword if I'm going to be picky.

Vaucluse House ticks all the boxes; after our visit this Saturday it's officially become my favourite Sydney historic home. The grounds are expansive enough to feel like a proper escape from the bustle of the inner suburbs, although Vaucluse is only a short bus trip from city. The rambling Gothic house has been done up beautifully and the informal guided tours are great value at $8. On top of all that charming historic goodness, the tea rooms are pretty as a picture postcard and serve up a lovely salad/mountain of scones, jam, and cream.

If you're going to be in Sydney on the weekend of Nov 2-4 and feel drawn to historic buildings, gardens, tea rooms, etc... check out Open Sydney 2012 to find out which of the city's 'off-limits' architectural icons you might like to poke your nose around for free!

Catherine Roberts