The best things to do in Melbourne with kids

Panoramic view of Federation Square, the Yarra River and Southbank by Peter Dunphy, Tourism Victoria
Panoramic view of Federation Square, the Yarra River and Southbank by Peter Dunphy, Tourism Victoria

Visiting Melbourne with kids? Pack your most stylish duds, preferably in black and explore the fashion, sports and cultural capital of Australia.

Remember to have with you at all times an umbrella, a cardi, and sunnies in the very likely event that the weather turns.

Here are the best things to do in Melbourne with kids:

Main Menu

Expand menu below

Sip a babycino in Melbourne with kids

Voted as having the best coffee in the world, Melbournians take their coffee drinking seriously. With such an accolade comes high standards and there are plenty of family friendly cafes for your daily cup.

Pay top dollar for a premium barista brewed latte, finished off with milk foam art almost too good to drink. Kids are not forgotten with crayons, gourmet macarons and their very own babycino.

Baba Budan Cafe, Little Bourke Street, image Mark Chew, Tourism Victoria
Baba Budan Cafe, Little Bourke Street, image Mark Chew, Tourism Victoria

Top coffee shops in Melbourne

Where to find the best coffee in Melbourne becomes a contentious issue, every local is a coffee connoisseur and have their favourite haunts. Some of the indisputable coffee royalties in Melbourne include:




Top coffee shops in Melbourne with kids

Though most coffee shops welcome little ones, there are times when sipping coffee rather than sculling is preferred. That’s where family friendly cafes with the all important play area comes in handy.

Here are the top kid friendly cafes which are located in the inner suburbs of Melbourne:

Melbourne kids - babycino time
Melbourne kids – babycino time

Explore Melbourne’s laneways with kids

Not long ago, outside of business hours, Melbourne CBD was a sad looking city and dead during the weekends, then tower upon tower of apartments sprung up and cashed up young professionals started living in the city, rather than just commuting to it.

With rent on the main city grid high, shop owners took to the city lanes and Melbourne’s laneway culture was born. Now it’s the very heart and soul of Melbourne.

Hosier Lane - Melbourne image Mark Chew, Tourism Victoria
Hosier Lane – Melbourne image Mark Chew, Tourism Victoria

Discover wonderful street-art, parlors dedicated to male grooming, boutique shops, nouveau cafes, hole in the wall eateries and mini galleries in Melbourne’s laneways.

Whilst hipster types mostly benefit, kids aren’t turned away. Though the laneways are narrow, they accommodate a stroller.

It’s best for families to visit on a weekday just after the coffee rush and before lunch. Weekends and evenings are also busy. Being pedestrian access only there’s no added stress of cars.

Exterior of MoVida Next Door, Hosier Lane. Image by Mark Chew, Tourism Victoria
Exterior of MoVida Next Door, Hosier Lane. Image by Mark Chew, Tourism Victoria

Although some of the popular laneways like Centre Place have become a tourist hot spot, you can still discover that perfect hidden laneway oasis. Have faith and wander through the maze of narrow alleys and an authentic, understated little laneway shop will magically appear.

When it comes to laneways, Melbournians are spoilt for choice, with a wide variety of places to choose from of very high standard.

Exterior of the Majorca Building in Centre Place, image Robyn Lea, Tourism Victoria
Exterior of the Majorca Building in Centre Place, image Robyn Lea, Tourism Victoria
Hosier Lane in Melbourne with kids

Famed for its street art, Hosier Lane has it in droves. Visitors come to photograph some of the best in the world. Be sure to continue down Rutledge Lane which loops back to Hosier Lane, where there are even more walls of ever evolving art, you might even catch an artist in action.w

Masterchef’s Frank Camorra’s tapas bar, MoVida calls this laneway home. The more family friendly or relaxed version is Movida Next Door located on 164 Flinders Street.

espa parked outside MoVida Next Door in Hosier Lane, image Mark Chew, Tourism Victoria
espa parked outside MoVida Next Door in Hosier Lane, image Mark Chew, Tourism Victoria

Other places to see street art include:

Cocker Alley where the world renowned artist Banksy has made his mark, apparently it’s a parachuting rat, however it may have been painted over. Caledonian Lane and Union Lane also feature beautiful works of art, with some commissioned by the City of Melbourne.

Street Art in Union Lane. Image: Ware Planning PTY Ltd, Tourism Victoria
Street Art in Union Lane. Image: Ware Planning PTY Ltd, Tourism Victoria
Hardware Lane in Melbourne with kids

One of the very first laneways to be revitalised by the city, Hardware lane is most popular for Mediterranean style dining, though there are other cuisines. Small tables and shade umbrellas spill out onto the brick paved laneway. Right at the end of the lane is Hardware Societe a very popular place for brunch.

In the evenings, a live band plays easy listening music and tables are lit by candlelight. For families, it best to go during the day just before the lunch session.

Harward Lane, Melbourne
Harward Lane, Melbourne

Be prepared for waiters eagerly touting their menu, they are harmless and kids will most likely get a free dessert out of it. The rooftop bar at Campari House is a nice little oasis, it opens at noon and kids can order pizza, chips or a cold drink from the menu. It’s at it’s best at twilight on a hot Melbourne summer’s night.

ACDC Lane in Melbourne with kids

Formerly known as Corporation Lane which was not very rock and roll, it was renamed ACDC Lane in tribute to legendary band AC/DC. Whilst Angus Young did not play in the laneway’s iconic music venue Cherry Bar, it has hosted many rock and roll bands and laneway festivals.

ACDC Lane, Image by Nick carson at en.wikipedia
ACDC Lane, Image by Nick carson at en.wikipedia

More street art can found along the walls of this laneway, some immortalising the band. There are also several restaurants further along the lane including a Peruvian grill house called Pastuso. Duckboard place doglegs off ACDC Lane, were you can take in more street art.

Centre Place and Degraves Street in Melbourne with kids

Centre Place and Degraves Street epitomises Melbourne laneway culture, an explosion of cafes, bars, restaurants, quirky shops, vintage stores and book nooks adorned with changing street art. Stroll along the blue cobblestone streets and grab that picture perfect snap alongside the many visitors doing the same thing.

Harward Lane, Melbourne
Harward Lane, Melbourne

There are several institutions at Centre Place including Jungle Juice, The Soup Place and AIX Crepere. They all serve a good coffee also.

The blue cobblestone street of Centre Place continues onto Degraves Street, grab a highly sought out seat outside at one of the many popular places to eat such as Il Tempo or Adiamo. Admire the impressive street art when dining alfresco on little side tables, kids can be kept happy with a sweet treat from Little Cupcake. It’s busiest at lunch and dinner time, try to get there before lunch and after the morning coffee rush.

Degraves Street, Melbourne
Degraves Street, Melbourne
Melbourne's Chinatown with kids

There are parts of Chinatown that scream tourist trap, no real Asian eats here (they have long moved out of the CBD and reside in Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs). In amongst the Chinese for Gwai-Lo places are some excellent restaurants with real authentic Chinese flavours, most can be found in the laneways.

China Town at night, photo Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria
China Town at night, photo Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria

Chinatown is super relaxed, the food is quick and kids are part of the furniture. Check out Shanghai Dumpling House on Tattersalls lane.

Market Lane features award winning Flower Drum and delicious Hutong Dumping Bar.  Then there is always Supper Inn, standing strong as a popular place for all who crave cantonese at 2am in the morning on Celestial Lane.

Other Chinatown icons include Shandong MaMa in the MidCity Arcade and Yum Cha favourites Shark Fin House (the original not the Inn) and Westlake on Little Bourke St.

Back to top

Visit the penguins at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

King Street & Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000. Open 9:30am – 6:00pm daily, last entry 5pm.

Melbourne Aquarium, photo Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria
Melbourne Aquarium, photo Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria

The stars of the show and one that will steal the kids hearts are the resident penguins found in the Penguin Playground of SEA LIFE Aquarium Melbourne.

Admire the speedy and adorable Gentoo Penguins darting past underwater and the King Penguin’s waddling along on the ice, some even cradling fluffy chicks on their feet.

Interactive aquariums - baby Nemo's overhead
Interactive aquariums – baby Nemo’s overhead

Seal Life Melbourne Aquarium highlights with kids

Crustaceans - Claws exhibit

Luckily the penguin exhibit is the last stop before exiting, there are plenty more underwater creatures to see at this well organised aquarium.

Visitors seamlessly move through different themed zones of the aquarium each with beautiful educational exhibits.

New to the aquarium is the Claws exhibit which feature six creative tanks of crustaceans including a giant lobster and Japanese Spider crab that would make seafood lovers mouths water, this exhibit closes in April 2016.

Melbourne Aquarium Claws exhibit
Melbourne Aquarium Claws exhibit
Touch tank
A touch tank allows kids to search for shark eggs and sea stars in the Mangroves and Rockpools zone. In the Coral Coast section, kids can crawl through tunnels to peer into tanks filled with tiny Nemo’s (clownfish) or gaze hypnotically at moon jelly fish illuminated under changing coloured lights.

An informative talk at the touch tank. Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium
An informative talk at the touch tank
Aquarium
The Mermaid Garden zone is home to the 2.2 million litre ocean tank. The glass tunnel provides kids a full underwater immersive experience where great big nurse sharks and smooth sting rays glide overhead.

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, image Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria
Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, image Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria
Wonderful interactive art aquarium
It’s not just beautiful tanks of exotic fish that impresses. The interactive Art Aquarium is truly wonderful, where kids pick a sea creature to personalise. They scan in their sea art and watch it swim to life along the walls of the 9 meter virtual aquarium. Tip, the fish creatures are to scale so if you want to make yourself noticed, choose the shark.

Sea Life Melbourne, Interactive Aquarium
Sea Life Melbourne, Interactive Aquarium
Rainforest Adventure Zone and Pinjarra the croc

In the Rainforest Adventure zone the green tree frogs, Blue Tongue Lizards and Hermit Crabs were getting just as much attention as their underwater counterparts. A family favourite was Crocodiles Lair, home of 5 meter, 50 year old Pinjarra.  Catch him at feeding time where he submerges himself into the water, whilst chicken is tossed from the balcony above.

Pinjarra the crocodile at Sea Life Melbourne
Pinjarra the crocodile at Sea Life Melbourne

Other add on experiences include Fish Feeding, Penguin Passport meeting the penguins on the ice and new to the June 2015 school holidays, a Glass Bottom Boat tour where groups can glide over the ocean tank to view the marine life below or go behind the scenes in the Stingray Encounter.

Allow a minimum of 2-3 hours to experience SEA LIFE Mealbourne Aquarium. A highly recommended attraction for kids due to its excellent exhibits and convenient location in the heart of Melbourne CBD. Review to come shortly.

Other add on experiences include Fish Feeding, Penguin Passport meeting the penguins on the ice and new to the June 2015 school holidays, a Glass Bottom Boat tour where groups can glide over the ocean tank to view the marine life below or go behind the scenes in the Stingray Encounter.

Allow a minimum of 2-3 hours to experience SEA LIFE Mealbourne Aquarium. A highly recommended attraction for kids due to its excellent exhibits and convenient location in the heart of Melbourne CBD.

Back to top

Ticket prices


Based on the online price:  Kids aged 0-3 years are free. Kids aged 4 -15 years are $17.6. Adults are $30.40.  A family of four is $79. Save 10% by pre-purchasing tickets online.

Go on Safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo

K Rd, Werribee South, VIC, 3030 Open 9:00am – 5:00pm daily, last entry 3:30pm. 

Giraffes at Werribee Open Plain Zoom, photo: Zoos Victoria/me
Giraffes at Werribee Open Plain Zoom, photo: Zoos Victoria/me

Go on safari with the kids

Kids can go on safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo, hop on a 40 minute 4WD bus journey through the African grasslands. Zebra, rhino and giraffe can be seen up close as the friendly driver provides an interesting educational commentary.

Safari with the kids at Werribee Open Range Zoo
Safari with the kids at Werribee Open Range Zoo

The most interesting animals to encounter during the safari are the endangered species, rare to find in the wild and a treat to see at Werribee Open Range Zoo. These include Przewalski’s Horse, once found roaming Western Mongolia, now only 50 remain in the wild.

Only 50 Przewalski's Horse's roam the wild.
Only 50 Przewalski’s Horse’s roam the wild.

The Addax also on the endangered list are large white antelope with only 300 remaining in the wild. The rarest of them all is the Scmitar-horned Oryx, now “extinct in the wild” and can only be seen in captivity. Werribbe Zoo is part of an international breeding program to help save this species from extinction.

Other Werribee Open Range Zoo highlights with kids:

Lions Edge, Werribee Open Plain Zoo
Magnificent Lion waits for lunch at Werribee Open Range Zoo
Lions Edge Enclosure
Catch feeding time at the Lions on the Edge enclosure.

Kids can sit in a jeep whilst watching lions feed on the bonnet that juts out into the lions enclosure. Watch them tear open some chicken with only a piece of glass dividing the ravenous lions. If this is too close for comfort there is plenty of seating in the tiered arena surrounding the jeep.

The kids were way more interested in the jeep than the Lions.
The kids were way more interested in the jeep than the Lions.
Impressive natural gorilla exhibit
Check out the three male gorillas and their impressive 6,000 square natural exhibit filled with obstacles, hammocks, hanging toys, shelters and a wading pool.

There are several viewing areas to see these magnificent great apes. Catch the gorillas during feeding time, when they are most active and staff provide an educational talk.

If young kids do not have the attention span a rope play area in front of the enclosure is very popular for your little gorillas.

Impressive Gorilla enclosure at Werribee Open Range Zoo
Impressive Gorilla enclosure at Werribee Open Range Zoo
Hippo beach for a splash
Bring the bathers and have a splash at Hippo Beach and admire the hippos in the water at the hippo enclosure.

There is also a sandy, sheltered playground and a cafe for light snacks and refreshments.

Weribee Park Open Range Zoo's Hippo Beach
Weribee Park Open Range Zoo’s Hippo Beach
Meerkat Bistro
Pop into the Meerkat Bistro where you can grab a bite to eat whilst watching Meerkats scamper around behind the glass.

Meerkat Cafe at Werribee Open Range Zoo
Meerkat Bistro at Werribee Open Range Zoo

The safari experience and open enclosures are worth the 30 minute drive from Melbourne CBD. However, if distance is an issue, Melbourne Zoo with an impressive species list is located within minutes from the CBD.

Back to top

Ticket prices

Kids are free to enter during weekends, Victorian public holidays and Victorian government school holidays.

Kids aged 0-3 years are free every day.

Adult tickets cost $30.80 with family passes available.

Click here for Werribee Open Range Zoo open hours and ticket prices.

Check out Melbourne Zoo, the oldest zoo in Australia

Elliot Avenue, Parkville. Open daily 9:00am – 5:00pm.

Seals at Melbourne Zoo, photo: Paul Philipson, Zoos Victoria
Seals at Melbourne Zoo, photo: Paul Philipson, Zoos Victoria

Melbourne Zoo, located in the leafy inner suburb of Parkville is 4km’s from the CBD and easily accessible with it’s very own train station, as well as by bus and tram.

It’s home to 320 animal species and is one of the oldest zoo’s in Australia, opening it’s doors in 1862.

With world class enclosures, immersive exhibits focused on conservation and kid friendly activities and events, it’s a zoo worth visiting.

If you come from a city with a great zoo such as Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, it maybe a less attractive option, though still worth a visit.  A more unique experience can be found at it’s sister zoo Werribee Open Plain Zoo, which offers a safari experience.

Back to top

Melbourne Zoo highlights with kids:

As well as all the animal enclosures to view including Lions, a butterfly house and a elevated tree top Orangutan sanctuary. Here are things not to miss with kids:

Koala's at Melbourne Zoo, photo: Paul Philipson, Zoos Victoria
Koala’s at Melbourne Zoo, photo: Paul Philipson, Zoos Victoria
Growing Wild interactive area designed for young kids

Growing Wild interactive area designed for young kids

Melbourne Zoo’s Growing Wild is an exciting interactive area designed especially for children aged 3 to 8 years.

There are Meerkat tunnels to explore, Giant Tortoise shells to crawl into and spaces to play and learn.The newly opened and extremely impressive Wild Sea exhibit, show cases seals, penguins and a variety of marine life including; Port Jackson sharks, fiddler rays, seahorse and all kinds of fish.

Keeper Kids indoor interactive play area
Keeper Kids is an indoor interactive play area. Kids can pretend to be a zoo researcher, veterinarian or horticulturist, dress up as a zookeeper, pot up plants or learn what it’s like to solve day to day challenges that comes with working at a zoo.
Trail of Elephants

Visitors can join a free guided tours of the Trail of Elephants, operated by volunteers. Or walk the lush green, natural habitat home to an adorable family of Asian elephants.

An award winning enclosure where kids can learnn about the survival of the endangered elephant.

Every now and then the zoo operates experiences with the elephants such as assisting with painting and opportunities to go behind the scenes with the keepers.

Back to top

Ticket prices

Kids are free to enter during weekends, Victorian public holidays and Victorian government school holidays.

Kids aged 0-3 years are free every day.

Child 4–15 years (Monday to Friday, outside holidays) cost $13.60.

Adult tickets cost $30.80.

Click here for Melbourne Zoo open hours and ticket prices.

Wander the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne with kids

Corner of Victoria St and Elizabeth St, Melbourne.

Queen Victoria Market photo by Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria
Queen Victoria Market photo by Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria
Affectionately dubbed the Vic Market, this historic market established in 1878 spills over two blocks.
Conveniently located from the Melbourne CBD it’s easy for visitors to wander through. If you have the option, go during the weekday as weekend get busy. If weekends are the only days available. Get there early.
visionsofvictoria1413471-304
Fresh fruit and vegies – Queen Victoria Market. Photo: Roberto Seba
On any given day you will find tourists and locals vying for fresh fruit, veggies, meat and seafood. There’s also a smaller area dedicated to organic produce.
Seafood at Queen Victoria Market, photo: Roberto Seba
Seafood at Queen Victoria Market, photo: Roberto Seba

It doesn’t stop at food, there is a huge selection of arts and crafts, jewelry, home wares, souvenirs, clothing, designer handbag knockoffs and speciality products such as lambskin, Ugg  boots and leather goods.

Kids don’t miss out with stalls of toys to delight from beautiful hand crafted wooden creations to the made in china cheap and nasties. This part of the market caters for the tourists and visitors, so if you are tight for time, you can skip this section.

The iconic American Donuts truck at QVM. Image: Love Chan, Flickr CC
The iconic American Donuts truck at QVM. Image: Love Chan, Flickr CC

 

Market days:  Tuesday, Thursday to Sunday from 6am for fresh produce. Closed Monday, Wednesday and public holidays. Click her for open hours.

Back to top

Other highlights of Queen Vic Market in Melbourne with kids

Deli Hall

The Deli Hall is something to behold, where early immigrants from Italy and Greece have made their mark on Melbourne creating a labyrinth of Mediterranean flavours. Located in the historic art deco building, each stall retains original marble benches and gilded window panes.

Queen Victoria Market photo by Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria
Queen Victoria Market photo by Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria

 

There is a huge variety of deliciousness for sale, from cured meats, imported and local artisan cheeses, fresh roasted nuts, hand made pastas, jars of pickles, relishes and sauces, dips, terrines and pate’s.

Kids will be drawn to tasty and decadent treats, ice cream, giant pretzels, pizzas, pastas, chips, hot jam donuts, churros and dutch pancakes abound at the Vic Market.


QVM Night Market

Occasionally, the Vic Markets hold twilight and night markets with hawker style food stalls and pop up restaurants. There is live music and entertainment and someone selling neon lights or glow sticks for the kiddies is never far away. Check out Queen Victoria Market website for more details.

Queen Victoria Night Market by Katrina Alana, Flickr CC
Queen Victoria Night Market by Katrina Alana, Flickr CC

It’s free to visit the Vic Market, for cars a fee is charged to park during market days. Click here for parking costs and getting to QVM here.

Get arty at the NGV in Melbourne with kids

NGV International address: 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, 3000. Open 10am to 5pm. General Entry is Free. Closed Tuesdays exc public holidays.

Fountains on the way to the NGV
Fountains on the way to the NGV

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) offers wonderful interactive art programs for kids. Located on the leafy boulevard of St Kilda Road opposite the picturesque Victoria Gardens and a short stroll from the CBD. The NGV welcomes kids to play, create and learn.

Tree lined boulevard and Victoria Gardens welcomes kids for a play
Tree lined boulevard and Victoria Gardens welcomes kids for a play

NGV Programs for kids these June 2016 School Holidays

Wonderful programs run for kids by the NGV these June 2016 school holidays include:

Martí Guixé’s Fake Food Park opens at NGV

The latest exhibition just for NGV Kids is the Martí Guixé’s Fake Food Park. 

Developed in collaboration with Catalan designer Martí Guixé, Fake Food Park asks visitors to rethink their relationship to food and cook up new food ideas by playing in a replica kitchen space and using fun interactive multimedia displays.

Installation view of Fake Food Park: Martí Guixé for Kidsat NGV International, 11 June–11 September2016.Photo: Wayne Taylor
Installation view of Fake Food Park: Martí Guixé for Kidsat NGV International, 11 June–11 September2016.Photo: Wayne Taylor

At the centre of the exhibition is a kitchen space where younger visitors can construct a ‘meal’ using a collection of blocks, fabric and other materials, which is then photographed and magically transformed into a composite image of real food items. The exhibition space also features Guixé’s drawings, illustrations and fruit-and-vegetable wallpaper.

Guixé, regarded as a pioneer in the field of food design, is renowned for his innovative ideas around food and eating. Some of his most notable concepts include Pharma-Food, which allows people to breathe in molecules of vaporised food and The Candy Restaurant in Tokyo, which turned the act of eating candy into a fine dining experience.

Installation view of Fake Food Park: Martí Guixé for Kidsat NGV International, 11 June–11 September2016.Photo: Wayne Taylor
Installation view of Fake Food Park: Martí Guixé for Kidsat NGV International, 11 June–11 September2016.Photo: Wayne Taylor

 

When: Fake Food Park: Martí Guixé for Kids is on display from Saturday 11 June 2016 – 11 September 2016 at NGV International.

Cost: Free

Under 4’s

Discover the gallery through looking and making activities developed for young children and their parents or carers. These classes fill up quickly. See NGV Kids and Families activities here.

Saturday Art Workshops

for kids aged 6-10 and 11-15

Check out the programs and events at NGV for kids.

Wonderful kid friendly programs at the NGV - this was Express Yourself Romance was born for kids.
Decorating a rainbow beard, a wonderful previous exhibit for kids.

Relax at Federation Square in Melbourne with kids

Corner Swanston St & Flinders St, Melbourne.

At the very heart of Melbourne is the city’s modern day Piazza, Federation Square. Grab a free deck chair and soak in the city vibes, admire St Paul’s Cathedral and the famous clocks of Flinders Street Station, framed beautifully by Fed Square’s geometric metal and sandstone buildings.

Free deck chairs and cushions to lounge at Federation Square
Free deck chairs and cushions to lounge at Federation Square

The ochre tiled square is a perfect place for kids to have run and for parents to relax in an otherwise busy CBD. When kids have had their play, the square gently slopes towards the Yarra River, inviting visitors for a stroll along the rivers edge.

Federation Square connects the city with the rivers edge
Federation Square connects the city with the rivers edge

The square is home to a number of cultural facilities including: the Visitor Centre, National Gallery of Victoria’s – Australia collection, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), The Arts Centre with The Edge theatre.

For the uninitiated, Fed Square square may seem underwhelming. The design is subjective, some say it’s an eye-sore whilst others admire it’s deconstructive style. What can’t be denied is the sense of place the square generates.

Crowds of people in Federation Square at night, Photo: David Hannah, Tourism Victoria
Crowds of people in Federation Square at night, Photo: David Hannah, Tourism Victoria

During major events, like the Commonwealth Games, Soccer World Cup Finals or the Grand Final of the most loved sport in Melbourne – AFL, the Melbourne community congregates here in front of the Big Screen.

Melbournians have serious dedication to such events, even when broadcasted during unacceptable hours of the morning, they show up in large numbers to collective watch and celebrate.

150627_Federation_Skating_Jpegs-71
There’s always something at Federation Square – River Rink at Federation Square until 17th July 2016

Apart from big public events, there’s always something happening at Melbourne’s cultural forecourt and they are mostly free, everything from: morning Tai-Chi classes, markets held in the undercover Atrium, knitting workshops, fitness programs, cultural exhibitions, live entertainment and guided tours.

Activities and events for kids at Fed Square

Back to top

River Rink iceskating in Fed Square

The River Rink is back and kids can have a skate in the middle of the city. Just for kids there are little penguins and seals, 70cm high, perfect for little ones to lean onto whilst learning to skate. These cost $10 extra but worth every penny for first time skaters. Skating aids are limited, best to go early or pre-book.

Open daily and late into the night, each session is 45 minutes in duration and run on the hour. At night River Rink in Fed Square transforms into a fairyland of light and colour.

On Wednesday evenings the rink will come to life with Christmas themes and music and if you’re looking to recharge your energy levels there’ll be a great selection of food and beverages on offer throughout the season.

Where: River Terrace, Federation Square

When: Daily, 10am – 10pm daily

Price: Although ticket prices are cheaper to pre-book tickets rather than purchasing at the counter on the day, consider the Ticketmaster fee of $4.95 per transaction and a credit card surcharge of 1.95%.  

  • VIP Package Pre-sale: $70.00
  • Adult Pre-sale: $22.00
  • Concession Pre-sale: $19.50
  • Child (6 – 14 years) Pre-sale: $16.00
  • Junior (3 – 5 years) Pre-sale: $12.50
  • Family (2 adults + 2 kids) Pre-sale: $67.00
  • VIP Package Event Day: $77.50
  • Adult Event Day: $24.50
  • Concession Event Day: $22.00
  • Child (6 – 14 years) Event Day: $18.50
  • Junior (3 – 5 years) Event Day: $15.00
  • Family (2 adults + 2 kids) Event Day: $71.00
  • Penguin/Seal skating aid Event Day: $10.00

Read more here.

Campfire Program: Leempeeyt Weeyn’

Burning continuously from 2 June to 17 July 2016, The Light in Winter’s Indigenous Campfire extends a welcome from the traditional owners of this land and will be the centre of storytelling, learning and sharing over the winter season.

Leempeeyt Weeyn’, meaning campfire in the Gunditjmara language group of Western Victoria, was created by artist Vicki Couzens

Where: River Terrace, Fed Square

When: 2 June – 17 July 2016. Twenty four hours a day.

riPrice: Free

Back to top

ArtPlay at Birrarung Marr, Melbourne with kids

Birarrung Marr, Melbourne.

Right next to Federation Square and along the Northern banks of the Yarra River lies Melbourne’s city park. Spanning 20 acres and divided into three distinct terraces of grass and sand, it play hosts to major festivals and events such as Moomba and Circus Oz.

Birrarung Marr features sculpture and public art inluding the Federation bells and Angel, Melbourne’s iconic two-headed sculpture by Deborah Halpern. There is an array of walking and bike trails with the William Barak pedestrian bridge leading directly football Mecca, the MCG.

ArtPlay Melbourne with kids

The main reason to visit Birrarung Marr is for the the state government funded Children’s art centre and gallery, ArtPlay. Providing workshops, events and performances to encourage children’s creativity from as early as infants through to 12 years of age.

Playground at Birrarung Marr
Red brick building of ArtPlay and playground at Birrarung Marr

Surrounding Art Play’s redbrick warehouse is an excellent inclusive playground. It offers plenty of shade cover for little ones and features a network of decking for kids to run around as well as ropes, slides, obstacles and a decent size sandpit.

Argus puppet show - previous performance at ArtPlay
Argus puppet show – previous performance at ArtPlay

Artplay has a number of programs to inspire the creativity in kids. Find out What’s On at ArtPlay here.

Back to top

Check out Southbank, Melbourne with kids

Southbank, Victoria

In the early 90’s Melbourne’s urban renewal project, transformed the industrial area 1km south of Melbourne into an inner city entertainment precinct.

A stroller friendly flat promenade runs along the Yarra River alongside boutique shops, the restaurant precinct of Southgate, Pollywodsie, the Arts Centre, the Exhibition Centre and the glitzy Crown Casino complex.

Beautiful Southbank along the Yarra.
Beautiful Southbank along the Yarra.

Melbourne’s Crown Casino with kids!?

Crown Entertainment Complex at night. Photo: Tourism Victoria
Crown Entertainment Complex at night. Photo: Tourism Victoria

The gaming floor of Crown Casino is strictly off limits for kids, reserved for fools, 18+ departing quickly with their money.  However, there are still plenty of sensory pleasures for the kids. Mogul James Packer does not do things in halves and Melbourne’s Crown Casino is the best in Australia and the entertainment complex is worth a brief visit.

Families are welcomed through shiny glass doors to the grand casino entrance, otherwise known as the Atrium. Take in a free half hourly show of illuminated lights and dancing water fountains choreographed to music.

Crown Entertainment Complex at night. Photo: Jeff Busby
Crown Entertainment Complex at night. Photo: Jeff Busby

Kids can have a little run on the large open foyer, climb the grand staircase where Aussie celebrities are presented during the logies and admire the shimmering crystal chandeliers overhead. At night, the iconic water towers along the riverside explode in a fireball brigade every hour after dark.

Crown offers a nice little reprieve from the temperamental weather that Melbourne is so famous for. Linger awhile around the sheltered, artificially lit complex with designer retailers and Chef Hatted restaurants such as Heston’s Fat Duck, Nobu and Rockpool.

More family friendly options include a buffet and casual dining options. There is also a food court serving quick meals, as well as McDonalds, Subway and KFC.

Especially for the kids is Galactic Circus, it boasts the largest indoor interactive theme park, jammed full of the latest flashing and whirling games, a laser skirmish, ride simulators and a bowling alley. A quieter alternative is the nearby cinemas.

Back to top

Eureka SkyDeck 88 in Melbourne with kids

7 Riverside Quay, Southbank. Open daily 10am – 10pm with last entry 9.30pm. 

Take the family up 88 Floors of the Eurkea Towers and enjoy 360 degree views of Melbourne.

Eureka Deck, cityscape at dusk. Photo: Hai Linh Truong. Flickr CC
Eureka Deck, cityscape at dusk. Photo: Hai Linh Truong. Flickr CC

For the braver kids, there’s the Skydeck Edge Experience. Step onto a glass cube (glass floors, ceiling and walls) which mechanically pushes 3 meters out of the side of the building, where it suspends 300 meters above the ground.

Arts Centre Melbourne with kids

100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne. Open daily 9:00am – 8:30pm.

Located at the eastern end of Southbank and easily recognisable by it’s iconic spire, is the Art Centre Melbourne, home of the performing arts.

Arts Centre spire, Peter Dunphy, Tourism Victoria
Arts Centre spire, Peter Dunphy, Tourism Victoria

There’s more to see than beautiful ballerinas on pointe, the Melbourne Arts Centre proudly supports the arts community and hosts a variety of local and international festivals, performances and events.

The Arts Centre also offers a program tailored for kids. See all Arts Centre family programs here.

Sunday Markets

If you find yourself in Melbourne on a Sunday, take a short stroll over the bridge to the lawns out the front of the Arts Centre. From 10am – 4pm, local artisans showcase their unique, handmade goods ranging from arts and crafts to freshly made delicacies.

Back to top

Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne with kids

Linlithgow Avenue, Melbourne 3004

The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is located in the gardens of the King’s Domain and a much loved outdoor performance venue. A large lawn area gently slopes down towards the sheltered stage, providing great views to the many major free performances held throughout the year, including: Summadayze dance festival and various performing artists including Kanye West.

It’s most popular events include Carols by Candlelight during Christmas and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s free summertime concerts. See all events at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.


Ride Puffing Billy near Melbourne with kids

1 Old Monbulk Rd, Belgrave VIC 3160

Puffing Billy, photo: Puffing Billy, Tourism Victoria
Puffing Billy over the iconic trestle bridge. Photo: Puffing Billy, Tourism Victoria

Dangle your legs over the open-sided carriages of Melbourne’s much loved steam train, Puffing Billy. Chugging over the famous Monbulk creek trestle bridge, through the tranquil Dandenong Ranges of Mountain Ash trees and lush green fern gullies. All within an hours drive (40 km’s) from Melbournes CBD. View Puffing Billy Timetable.

If the open carriages do not titlate, there are fully enclosed first class dining carriages that offer a “Steam and Cuisine” luncheon. There are other enclosed carriages with window awnings for inclement weather.

Puffing Billy winding through the Dandenong Ranges. Photo: Puffing Billy
Puffing Billy winding through the Dandenong Ranges. Photo: Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy’s not for profit operation is owed to a group of 900 dedicated volunteers.

There’s a nod to a bygone era of train travel, station masters are dressed in three piece suit and hat are seen ringing the bell and waving the flag, conductors collect ticket punches in the carriage and train drivers in their coal stained overalls give a nod of their cap.

Back to top

For families, the most popular route is from Belgrave to Lakeside, a 1 hour one-way trip, allowing and hour to explore charming Lakeside before the return journey.

Located in Emerald Lake Park, kids can check out the model railway, feed ducks, play at the playground or hire a paddleboat. It’s best to pack your own picnic or BBQ supplies as there are BBQ facilities and picnic tables and the cafe does not garner good reviews. In the summer, bring the swimmers for a splash in the wading pool.

Belgrave to Emerald return family tickets cost $104, children under 4 years on lap are free. Prices valid to 24th June 2016. See the latest Puffing Billy fares.

A Day out with Thomas and Diesel

The most popular event on the Puffing Billy calendar is A Day Out with Thomas and Diesel. Kids can board a real life Thomas the Tank train for a short 20 minute drive departing from Emerald, during selected dates in Spring and Autumn.

A host of activities are planned at Emerald Station including a Thomas and The Fat Controller pantomime, face painting, jumping castle, Thomas art, petting zoo, a Thomas movie show and a ride on Green Bulgy Bus.

Advanced bookings essential for this popular event and tickets go on sale 1 July 2015 at 12 noon.

Back to top

Stroll through Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens with kids

Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens is a popular choice for weddings with glimpses of the city over sweeping lawns, lush green gardens and lovely lakes.

Enjoying Melbourne's gardens
Enjoying Melbourne’s gardens

Founded in 1846 and spread across 89 acres, the Botanic Gardens has over 51,000 plant varieties, one of which includes an unusually large Corpse Flower, which emits a smell of decaying meat. The very rare sight and smell is fleeting, only 80 have bloomed in 30 years.

By Melbcity (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Corpse Flower By Melbcity [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Royal Botanic Gardens kid friendly walkways and trails

There are plenty of stroller friendly walkways for kids to enjoy including The Tan track, a 3.8km track around King’s Domain and the Botanic Gardens, very popular with Melbourne’s jogging enthusiasts during dawn and dusk.

There are also beautiful paved walkways through gardens with it’s own distinct personalities. View Royal Botanic Gardens Map here. 

Telaxing in Royal Botanic Gardens. Photo: Greg Elms
Relaxing in Royal Botanic Gardens. Photo: Greg Elms

Running along a small stream is the recently rejuvenated Fern Gully, a great little walk with kids through winding paths and lush tree ferns.

Back to top

Ian Potter Children’s Garden

Especially for kids is the Ian Potter Children’s Garden, specifically designed for kids using natural landscapes to encourage learning and imaginative play.

There is a Water Spray for summer, a Bamboo Forest a Tea tree tunnel, The Rill a gentle waterway that runs through the garden and a Kitchen Garden where kids get to learn where their food comes from and gets hands on in activities such as planting, mulching and composting.

The Children’s Garden is closed for maintenance from the 13th of July to 6th September. Otherwise open 10am – sunset Wednesday to Sundays and public holidays and every day during the Victorian School holidays.

Don’t miss Ornamental Lake

The largest of the lakes and waterways in the Royal Botanic Garden, kids can look for the eels in the lake or check out the birdlife including ducks and swans.

fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au [GFDL 1.2] via Wikimedia Commons
fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au [GFDL 1.2] via Wikimedia Commons

Taking a punt on the lake

A different perspective of seeing the gardens is by taking a punt on the lake. The same operators that started the punt tours in Christchurch have taken the novelty to Melbourne’s Botanical Garden. Smartly dressed punters in hat and vest, provide 30 minute guided boat tours in an elegant wooden punt.

Families are welcome, kids under 5 years are free and family tickets consisting of 2 adults and 3 kids cost 2 $65. Kids under 14 require a life vest.

Read more details at Punt Tours.

Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne. Photo: Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria
Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne. Photo: Roberto Seba, Tourism Victoria

Back to top

See St Kilda, Melbourne with kids

Pier Rd, St Kilda

Walk along St Kilda Pier in Melbourne with kids

Enjoy views of Port Phillip Bay and the Melbourne city skyline on a walk along old St Kilda Pier, with charm overload as old lamp posts line the wide jetty.

St Kilda Pier looking back towards the beach
St Kilda Pier looking back towards the beach

Fishing enthusiasts can be found trying their luck along the pier, kids can peak into their buckets for a live fish or watch as a fish is reeled in. As a reward for a walk well done, kids can sample a icy treat at the kiosk the end of the pier. Originally built in 1853,  the quaint wooden building now home to Little Blue St Kilda Pier, was fully restored in 2006, after burning down in an arson attack.

St Kilda Pier Pavilion offers sweet treats
St Kilda Pier Pavilion offers sweet treats

St Kilda Pier is a perfect spot for sun set, with the sun going down on the water behind the pier.

Perfect sunset spot, St Kilda Pier and Pavilion. Image: City of Port Phillip
Perfect sunset spot, St Kilda Pier and Pavilion. Image: City of Port Phillip

Other St Kilda with kids highlights

St.Kilda - Le Bon Cake Shop. Photo: Roberto Seba
St.Kilda – Le Bon Cake Shop. Photo: Roberto Seba
St Kilda Penguins in Melbourne with kids

A resident colony of penguins call the end of the St Kilda pier their home. At dusk hoards of visitors gather on the rocky surf break to greet the returning penguins. Unlike their popular cousins in Phillip Island penguins, it’s free to view these penguins year round.

As it’s a free to the public event, the penguins are only protected by a handful of volunteers during peak times. Exercise discipline and allow these wild creatures to rest after a busy day hunting at sea. When visiting the St Kilda penguins, refrain from intrusive flash photography, bright lights (red light is best) and sticking selfie sticks into their nest, a recent problem the 1000 strong colony is facing.

Take a ride at Melboune's Luna Park with kids

Fun rides abound at Luna Park Melbourne. Take the kids on a ride on the = Scenic Railway Roller Coaster, it rickets, dips and soars goes around the perimeter of the park offering thrilling views over Port Phillip Bay.

Rides are restricted by height, however even the youngest ones can take a ride on the carousel, Red Baron ride and Sky Ride the classic ferris wheel.

It’s a small theme park, free to enter and worth taking a few rides on a day out around St Kilda.

When: Luna Park is open weekends, Victorian school holidays and every public holiday except Christmas Day. It is closed during week days of the school term.

Cost: A family pass ticket of 2 adults and 2 children is $139.95 with unlimited rides for a day. Kids 3 years and under are free. Tickets are discounted if you purchase Luna Park Melbourne tickets online.

Go for a swim St Kilda, Melbourne with kids

10/18 Jacka Blvd, St Kilda

Though winter proves too cold for a splash at St Kilda, you will still find people flying kites and walking along the wide stretch of beach. During the summer months, Melbournians descend upon St Kilda beach for some serious sun worshipping and fish n chips. The best part of Melbourne summers are the long sunny days which extend to a longer twilight. It’s still light enough in the early evening for a dip in the sea or a play by the foreshore.

Another spot for a splash is at historical St Kilda Baths, originally built so men and women can bathe separately in enclosed sea baths and was very fashionable in the 18th and 19th century. It is now a health and recreation centre with day spa, restaurants, multi-level carpark and a 25 meter sea water pool.

Adults are $13 and kids age 3-12 years is $6 entry, prices as of June 2016. Click here for open hours and cost of entry.

Kid friendly St Kilda eats

For food, cakes and sweets or coffee, head to nearby Acland and Fitzroy Streets, with a variety of casual dining options to choose from.

Cheap, cheerful and consistently tasty places to try include: Woodfrog Bakery for delicious pastries and meat pie, Dr Jekyll for breakfast and Mr Wolf for exceptional pizzas.

Be alert but not alarmed in St Kilda, Melbourne with kids

St Kilda is a good place to people watch with an eclectic mix of bohemians, musicians, hippies and more recently the trendy hipsters moving into the gentrified area.

Though on the whole, St Kilda is quite safe, especially during the day and around popular areas such as Luna Park and St Kilda Pier. There are still sketchy parts of St Kilda. It’s long been home to Melbourne’s red light district and half way houses for sufferers of chronic drug addicts. It’s a matter of knowing your surroundings and hiding valuables from sight. Although families are safely tucked away under covers at night, if in St Kilda after dark, be alert but not alarmed.

Back to top

Watch a game of AFL at Melbourne Cricket Ground with the kids (Winter)

The sport Melbournians obsess over is Australian Rules Football (AFL). To experience Melbourne at it’s most passionate, check out a game of AFL at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) with the kids. The home of Aussie Rules seats 100,000 strong and reaches capacity during footy finals.

AFL Grand Final at the MCG, photo: AFL Media
AFL Grand Final at the MCG, photo: AFL Media

If you aren’t lucky to have a MCG member as a friend, the general admission seating is just as good when taking young kids to the G.

The key for footy with young kids is to pack lots of snacks and entertainment and introduce the game gradually. Ease a child into the footy by quarters, extending it to half a game and so on until the kids get use to the lengthy 2 hour matches.

Kids under 5 are free with an Adult ticket. All kids are free on Sunday Fundays and select matches welcomes a kick-to-kick on the grounds after the game.

Cost: General Admission tickets (adults $25, concession $17, kids $5 – excluding transaction fee). Click here for AFL tickets.

See world class tennis at the Australian Open (Summer / February)

Melbournians love sport and when the footy isn’t on, there’s still have the cricket and in February the Australian Open,.

The Aus Open offers a Kids Day specifically for children with free live entertainment, a family exhibition match with tennis stars playing and chances to meet their favourite player.

Australian Open Tennis with Melbourne skyline, Photo: Emily Fitzgerald, Tourism Victoria
Australian Open Tennis with Melbourne skyline, Photo: Emily Fitzgerald, Tourism Victoria

On any given day during the two week tournament kids can have their face painted, play junior tennis with the Hot Shots program, experience interactive activities such as testing your speed against a tennis legend, enjoy giveaways or watch Sponge Bob and friends making an appearance.

With the sun beaming down, blue skies and good vibes, this is Melbourne at its finest. If you’re lucky enough to be in Melbourne in February, be sure to take the family to watch some world class tennis during the two week tournament.

Young kids may not sit still in the show courts to warrant the cost of a ticket, with a day pass, there are great matches played out on the forecourts or pull up a picnic rug on the lawn and watch the live match unfold on the big screen.

Back to top

Go on a tram ride in Melbourne with kids

Uniquely Melbourne are the tram cars that run across the city, criss crossing the CBD grid and extending out to the inner suburbs. They rattle and ding and and a great travel experience for the kids. Be sure to pick a old school tram car for a more authentic feel. As trams are a means of commuter transport, travel outside of peak times for a better experience.

The City Circle tram has always been free and a great way to travel the city, running clockwise or counter clockwise around the CBD. It passes Melbourne landmarks including Federation Square, City Museum, Parliament House, State Library, Etihad Stadium, Docklands and Melbourne Aquarium.  See City Circle tram route here.

City Circle Tram outside Flinders Street Station, Photo: Mark Chew, Tourism Victoria
City Circle Tram outside Flinders Street Station, Photo: Mark Chew, Tourism Victoria

Myki Card for visiting families

Quite a recent addition to tram travel is the Myki card, similar to the Hong Kong’s Octopus card or London’s Oyster Card. It’s a smart card that grants access across all of Melbourne’s public transport.

Myki has been plauged with issues of overcharging, faulty machines and confusion of when to touch on and off. Add to to the commuter frustration is the heavy $6 outlay for a Myki card and the inability to pay a fare onboard a tram, ironically you can pay an on the spot cash fine to a ticket inspector.

Tram on Spring Street. Photo: Gavin Hansford
Tram on Spring Street. Photo: Gavin Hansford

Fortunately for visitors taking rides in the CBD, it’s free to travel anywhere in the Free Tram Zone without a Myki card. Or with a Myki card without touching on and off.

Anywhere outside of the Free Tram Zone requires visitors to purchase and top up a Myki card before boarding a tram. Always touch on and off, except travelling within the Free Tram Zone and avoid fines by having enough balance.

More about Myki here.

Back to top

Milk a cow at Collingwood Children’s Farm

St Heliers Street, Abbotsford

So concerned that city kids have little opportunity to experience farm life emerged Collingwood Children’s Farm.

A community owned not for profit working farm, provides opportunities for urban kids roll up their sleeves and learn the importances of agriculture with an emphasis on sustainable living.

Cow at the Collingwood Children's Farm, on Farmers' Market day. Photo: Mark Lawrance, Flickr CC
Cow at the Collingwood Children’s Farm, on Farmers’ Market day. Photo: Mark Lawrance, Flickr CC

Right next to the grand and historic Abbotsford Covenant and sitting pretty along the Yarra River, the farm is a picture perfect rural landscape with seven hectares of paddocks, gardens and orchards, all within 5km’s from Melbourne CBD.

Kids can milk a cow at twice daily cow milking sessions held at 10am and 4pm. Kids can also bottle feed young lambs when in season, pet farm animals, collect eggs from the chickens or visit the sheep and goats in the paddocks.

On Family days (usually outside of school holidays and Term 3) there are daily pony and tractor rides as well as animal petting. Check out Collingwood Children’s Farm Event Calendar here for more details.

Milking a goat, Collingwood Children's Farm. Photo: Alpha. Flickr CC
Milking a goat, Collingwood Children’s Farm. Photo: Alpha. Flickr CC

Back to top

Collingwood Farm ticket prices

Open daily from 9.15am to 4.45pm, kids can get up close to real farm animals for a small entry fee of $5 per child, $9 per adult or $18 for families. These proceeds go directly back to operating the farm. For the latest prices click here.

Other highlights with kids

Chicken, ducks, Geese - Collingwood Children's Farm. Photo: Alpha, Flickr CC
Chicken, ducks, Geese – Collingwood Children’s Farm. Photo: Alpha, Flickr CC
Farmers Market
Every second Saturday of the month, from 8am- 1pm the award winning Farmers Market is held on the grounds where Victorian Farmers and artisans of fine produce sell everything from organic fruit and vegetables, handmade cheeses, chutneys and sauces, cakes and breads, free range meat and eggs.

The Farm Cafe

A rustic and understated, The Farm Cafe welcomes kids in a relaxed setting serving up coffee, tea and simple, delicious meals. Kids can have a run around the grounds whilst the kids enjoy a meal.

There are two sections for dining, one alfresco area located within the famr and the main sheltered area outside of the farm, which does not require the entry fee.

The cafe is open daily from 9am – 4pm (an hour earlier at 8am on Market days).

Back to top

Check out a Museum in Melbourne with kids

We love a good museum and Melbourne offers some cultural gems which are mostly free for kids.

Scienceworks and Melbourne Planetarium, Melbourne with kids

2 Booker St Spotswood, VictoriaOpen daily 10:00 am – 4:30 pm

A big hit with the kids is Scienceworks, race alongside Cathy Freeman or explore the science of living in a city, there are plenty of interactive exhibits for the kids. There is also the planetarium and rotating programs filled with fun interactive learning.

What’s on at Scienceworks

Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family

A fun and interactive exhibition for families which features dinosaur skeletons and fossils, alongside interactive multimedia exhibits which bring the dinosaurs to life.

Scienceworks_Tyrannosaurs
Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family at Science works. Photo: Mark Gambino

Family Science Nights

Open now until Wednesday 23rd of September.

The Family Science Nights will give families the opportunity to meet a team of palaeontologists and discover some of the amazing fossils and prehistoric specimens in the museum’s collection. Children will also be encouraged to dress up as they favourite dinosaurs and will be able to take part in craft activities and see the exhibition after dark.

Biggest Playgroup Record attempt at Scienceworks – August 3rd 2015

On Monday 3rd of August from 10am – 3pm. The Scienceworks will be attempting to hold Australia’s Biggest Playgroup Record. Kids are invited to dress up as a dinosaur and play, with arts and craft activities, sing and dance. Great for kids 6 years and under.

Check out all Scienceworks activities here.

Back to top

Melbourne Museum with kids

11 Nicholson Street, MelbourneOpen daily 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Turning stuffy museums on it’s head, the Melbourne Museum is housed in a light, bright modern space.

Wonderful interactive exhibits at Museum Victoria. Photographer: Dianna Snape
Wonderful interactive exhibits at Museum Victoria. Photo: Dianna Snape for Museum Victoria

 

One of the permanent museum fixtures is the Children’s Gallery with live and replica animals, interactive learning opportunities with an emphasis on fun. Other family friendly exhibits found at the museum include: dinosaur fossils, bugs and animal displays and a beautiful Indigenous Cultures exhibit.

Visit Phar Lap at Melbourne Musem. Photo: Museum Victoria / Photographer: James Geer
Visit Phar Lap at Melbourne Musem. Photo: James Greer for Museum Victoria

 Pay a visit to legendary Phar Lap

It’s worth the visit to Melbourne Museum alone to see Australia’s legendary racing horse, Phar Lap. He now rests at the Melbourne Museum, though his big heart that captured the nation can be found in Canberra.

Back to top

Hit Brighton Beach, Melbourne with kids

Beach Road, Brighton

Bathing Boxes at Brighton Beach, Melbourne
Bathing Boxes at Brighton Beach, Melbourne by Jonathan Lim Flickr CC

Melbourne beaches really can’t compare to the great state of Queensland, but they do have decent ones with a historic charm. Beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to cooling off after a hot blistering Melbourner summers day. Temperatures can reach 40C+ degrees and the heat is suffocatingly dry.

Beach choices include: St Kilda, Elwood, Williamstown and Altona beach. However, the best beach in Melbourne has to be Brighton beach for the colourful view of private bathing boxes that line the shore.

Go shopping in Melbourne with (or without kids)

Shopping! Melbourne’s favourite pastime with plenty of hot spots for retail therapy. Whilst it’s not an activity that goes hand in hand with kids, the shopping is so good, it’s worth a try.

Bridge Road, Richmond. Photo: Mark Chew
Bridge Road, Richmond. Photo: Mark Chew

Shopping in Melbourne with kids

Here are the most kid friendly places to go shopping, where there’s something for kids to enjoy:

Chadstone Shopping Centre

Chadstone at 1341 Dandenong Road, Chadstone. Open Mon – Wed 9:00am – 5:30pm. Thurs & Fri 9:00am – 9:00pm. Sat 9:00am – 6:00pm. Sun 10:00am -6:00pm. 

Located in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, 19.2 km’s from the CBD is Chadstone Shopping Centre. It’s the most family friendly without having to compromise on variety.

The biggest shopping centre in Australia offering over 500 stores of retail indulgence including a high end luxury section with iconic brands such as LV, Tiffany & Co, Chanel and more. Kid’s fashion labels include Armani Junior, Country Road, GAP and Seed.

It has great family friendly casual dining options and often run school holiday activities for kids. There’s also a super family friendly kids cafe complete with play area at Cheeky Chinos.

Other shopping centres scattered across the sprawling suburbs of Melbourne include: Westfield Doncaster, Westfield Southland, Westfield Knox and Westfield Northland.

Melbourne CBD

The shopping metropolis of Melbournes CBD is home to major retails spaces including; the glitzy new Emporium, Myer Centre, David Jones, GPO and Melbourne Central.

The new Emporium incorporates luxury labels such as Chanel, Kate Spade, Brooks Brothers and Uniglo. It’s chocked full of designer labels, independent retailers, large flaship stores and luxury boutiques. When it all gets a bit much, the food court has a vast array of family friendly dining options as well as a Tea Salon for a spot of high tea with the kiddies.

The wonderful thing about the new Emporium is the purpose built undercover bridges and walkways connecting the other major retail spaces, kids can stay indoors from Bourke Street Mall all the way to La Trobe Street.

One of the retail spaces Emporium connects to is the revamped Myer Centre, famous for it’s iconic Christmas Windows in December. David Jones is also well connected and home to the historic and delicious Food Hall perfect for a quick bite with the kids.

Another undercover area connected with Emporium is the former Melbournes General Post Office turned fashion hub. The iconic building of GPO home to Melbourne’s flagship H&M store and eateries adjoining Postal Lane including Mama’s Boui and Ca De Vin.

People may remember it as the purpose built mega Japanese department store Daimaru. Melbourne Central in another retail space that’s connected undercover. It offers over 300 retailers and kids can take advantage of kid friendly entertainment and retailers: Pancake Parlour, Hoyts Cinemas and Strike Bowling.

If it all gets too hard there are plenty of cafes, gelateria’s and restaurants to rest weary legs and rejuvenate.

DFO South Wharf

Similar to Harbour Town in the Docklands, DFO South Wharf located right next to the Hilton Hotel and Convention Centre, is a bargain lovers dream. Hundreds of retailers clearing out their previous season overstock.

Kid specific retailers include Country Road, Seed, Cotton On Kids and Pumpkin Patch. A food court with a variety of dining options from sushi, dumplings to pizza is available as well as the all important cafe, in-between bargain hunting.

Check out the DFO Map here for a list of all the retailers.


Other bargain hunting areas

Whilst it is convenient to have bargains all under one roof such as DFO, there are other factory outlet shopping precincts in Melbourne to entice. These are the old school shopping strips that run along a busy main road and may not be all that appealing with kids. However, if you’re up for the challenge there is: Sydney Road in Brunswick, High Street in Northcote, Bridge Road in Richmond and Chapel Street in Prahran.

Back to top

Eat your way around Melbourne with kids

Melbourne’s glorious food is heavily influenced by the city’s diverse multicultural population. Melbourne has exploded with a variety of cafes and restaurants, the highest per capita in the world, tantalising patrons with their unique and delicious flavours.

Just like their coffee, Melbournians take pride in what they eat, there is a strong culture of good food. Although great food can be found in Melbourne’s CBD, some of the best of the best are located in the suburbs.

The best family friendly dining:

Lygon Street Carlton. Photo: Emily Fitzgerald
Lygon Street Carlton. Photo: Emily Fitzgerald
Chinese

With Flower Drum’s crispy Peking Duck and the celebrated Yum Cha franchise Din Tai Fung, calling Emporium it’s home, it’s very likely a visitor can be quite content eating in the city. However, it’s worth a small commute to the Eastern suburbs to eat like a local.

The migrant Chinese population has long moved out of Chinatown for the leafy suburbs in the Eastern suburbs. Casual family friendly restaurants line the streets of Whitehorse Road and Station Street. There are also some gems found in the Box Hill Central shopping complex.

Glen Waverley also has great Malaysian, Japanese and Korean cuisine, restaurants can be found along Kingsway, Springvale Road and Coleman Place.

Doncaster East’s, Tai Pan is an exceptional place for Yum Cha.

Vietnamese

For an exceptional bowl of steamy Pho, head to Victoria Street in Richmond. Our favourite is Pho Hung Vuong 2, it’s been around for decades and consistently delicious. Right next door is great Huong Huong Bake Shop, serving excellent Bahn Mi.

Proper Bahn Mi, Richmond
Proper Bahn Mi, Richmond

From 1972-1982 Vietnamese refugees settled in Footscray and became the predominate community, establishing shops, restaurants and many are stall holders at the Footscray Markets.

Good Pho can be found in and around Hopkins Street with Hung Vuong Saigon topping many best of list.

Both Vietnamese hubs are safe however mind your personal space, keep valuables hidden and avoid dimly lit areas at night.

African

Footscray has always attracted the new immigrant, the inner western suburb of Footscray is a stones throw from Melbourne CBD. It’s ideal location has seen shops and restaurants come and go as new migrants move in. It was first flushed with Mediteranean immigrants in the 1940’s, remnants of the Greek and Italian community can still be seen including the Italian-Greek furniture king Franco Cozzo’s furniture store still taking pride of place in Footscray.

The latest “new-Australian’s” to call Footscray home is the African community. With shops and restaurants popping up including African Taste, Ras Dashen and Adis Adeba. Try exploring Nicholson Street and French Street.

Italian

A proud Italian Australian community can be found in Lygon Street, Carlton the Little Italy of Melbourne. In October, the annual Lygon Street Fest celebrates it’s Italian heritage.

Italians were the first to immigrate to Australia following the abolition of the White Australia Policy. As one of the earliest Post-War immigrants to Melbourne, Australian’s of Italian origins have now permeated into Melbourne society.  Nowadays, authentic Italian can be found all over Melbourne.

Though some say it is a tourist trap, look beyond the checkered table cloths and waiters offering free dessert and you will find little gems like: Brunetti for an expresso and cake, D.O.C Delicatessen for fine cured meats and a gelato at Casa Del Gelato.

Some noteworthy Italian restaurants around Melbourne include: Ciccolina in St Kilda, Thirty Eight Chairs in South Yarra, Mister Bianco in Kew and Rita’s Cafeteria in Abbortsford

Greek

47% of Greeks in Australia reside in Melbourne, making it the largest Greek-speaking population outside of Europe.

The Greek community made their mark in around Lonsdale, Swanston and Russell Streets forming the Greek Precinct. Home to restaurants, cafes and shops. Every year in March, the Fesitval of the Antipodes celebrates it’s Greek heritage.

Like the Italian and Chinese communities, the Greeks have also assimilated into Melbournes culture and have spread out over Melbourne. However, great places to eat in Melbournes Greek Precinct include: Gazi Restaurant on Exhibition Street, International Cakes for a milkshake and sweets, The Press Club on Flinders Street and Stalactites Restaurant.

Further afield is Jimmy Grants in Fitzroy (and Melbourne CBD) for the best tasting kebabs, there’s also Hellenic Republic in Brunswick and Kyma Restaurant in Fitzroy.


Jewish

Throughout Australia’s history, Jews have contributed to the development of Melbourne with notable contributions by Sir Isaacs Isaacs the first Australian Born Governor General and Sir John Monash leader of the WWI Australian Army. The population soared after World War II, where Australia opened it’s gates for victims of Nazism.

In Melbourne, the Jewish community congregates around Caulfield and St Kida, where there are kosher restaurants, delis, cafes and grocery stores.

For some great kosher eats check out: Lennys Deli in Caulfield North, Aviv’s Cakes and Bagels in Elsternwick, Milk N Honey Caulfield and Daneli’s Deli in Balaclava.

Back to top

Play at Melbourne’s best playground

Flemington Road, Melbourne

The hill at Melbourne's Royal Park
The hill at Melbourne’s Royal Park

At a cost of $5.5 million, Royal Park is Melbourne’s largest park and playground with over 170 hectares of open space.

Located next to the Royal Children’s Hospital on Flemington Road, Royal Park caters for all ages. It features ropes courses, bridges and tunnels, a splash park and sandy beach, swing and giant slides.

Webs to climb at Melbourne Royal Park
Webs to climb at Melbourne Royal Park

There are a few issues with Royal Park, granted it’s Melbourne and the sun may not shine as bright, however there is no shade coverage. For $5.5 million they could also invest in a toilet block. The nearest one is a single cubicle by the hospital.

Fun slides at Royal Park
Fun slides at Royal Park

Other excellent Melbourne playgrounds

Other excellent playgrounds close to Melbourne CBD include, St Kilda Adventure Playground, equipment has been repurposed from reclaimed materials including an airplane cockpit, pirate ship, flying fox, trampoline and twisty slides.

In South Melbourne there is Skinners Adventure Playground which is also made out of reclaimed materials. With a giant cubby house, see-saw, climbing net, trampoline and curvy slide.

Back to top

Ride a miniature train in Melbourne with kids

For little train enthusiasts, go for a spin on a miniature railway. There is a vast network of hobby railways scattered in and around Melbourne. Run by volunteers, most train rides are open on Sundays. It’s a cheap, cheerful morning out, doing what local families do.

The train called Pauline, Diamond Valley Miniature Train. Photo: Nathan, Flickr CC
The train called Pauline, Diamond Valley Miniature Train. Photo: Nathan, Flickr CC

The most popular miniature railways are:

Box Hill Miniature Steam Railway

One of the most picturesque and popular miniature train rides can be found at Box Hill Miniature Steam Railway, 18 Km’s east of the CBD. Rides start from the replica Box Hill train station and weaves it’s way around the trees and lake of Elgar Park, home of the the Box Hill North Supers Football Club.

G520 at the Box Hill Miniature Railway
G520 at the Box Hill Miniature Railway. Photo: Adrian Tritschler, Flickr CC

The railway runs every 3rd Sunday of each month. Each ride costs $3, kids under 1 years are free. Train rides open from 11am – 4:00pm. Check out the events calendar for specific running days.

Diamond Valley Railway

Every Sunday and on most public holidays from 1pm-4pm, Diamond Valley Railway, run by volunteers provide miniature train rides for little train enthusiasts. Each ride cost $3 and kids aged 2 and under ride free. Diamond Valley Railway is 23km’s from Melbourne CBD. Click here for map.

After a ride or two, there are picnic grounds, sausage sizzle jointly run by DVR and Rotary and opposite the railway is Eltham Lower Park Accessible Play Space a park and playground for kids to have a run.

Back to top

Other Miniature Railways around Melbourne

Eltham Miniature Train Railyway
A mini Amtrak at Diamond Valley Miniature Train Railyway, Eltham

Other lesser known miniature railways around Melbourne include:


Explore the Docklands (or maybe not)

101 Waterfront Way, Docklands.

Relatively new to the Melbourne landscape is the Docklands. A large scale urban renewal project which began in the early 90’s, aimed at extending Melbourne towards Victoria Harbour connecting the historic CBD with a modern ‘new’ commercial and residential hub.

Webb Bridge at Docklands. Photo: Peter Dunphy
Webb Bridge at Docklands. Photo: Peter Dunphy

Boring Docklands?

What the Docklands lack is a bit of charm and character. It’s divided into various precincts which were built by different property developers resulting in a disjointed feel.

The general consensus is that it’s a bit boring and Melbournians have kept away, evident with more tourists strolling along the promenade than locals.

Back to top

Docklands has family friendly merits and makes the cut

Whilst it’s new and shiny, it’s also a little stark and underwhelming. The lack of natural green space doesn’t help the matter. With it’s flaws, it still makes the cut due to all the family friendly attractions on offer. If staying the Docklands, it’s best to make it a base and venture outside, there is more to Melbourne worth exploring.

Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. Photo: Melbourne Star
Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. Photo: Melbourne Star

Docklands is within easy walk or a short tram ride to the CBD, connecting the shiny new Docklands to the chic Paris end of Collins Street on one seamless tram ride.

Home to Etihad Stadium, the revamped Southern Cross Station and the factory outlet shopping hub Harbour Town. There are also numerous restaurants, bars, cafes, and entertainment precincts. For visitors it’s a good place to stay, with  more affordable and new style of apartment and hotel options.

Family friendly Melbourne Docklands with kids:

A ballerina looks out to Wonderland on the Melbourne Star
A ballerina looks out to Wonderland on the Melbourne Star
  • Open play areas with modern sculptures.
  • Medibank Icehouse – kids can learn to skate with sessions specific for beginner kids. There is a separate rink for beginners, free beginner lessons, family fun days and sessions targeted at under 8’s. Skate aids that kids can lean on and others where parents can push kids around on the ice are nice touches.
  • Lego Education Centre – offers hands on workshops for kids aged 4yrs +, instructed by Lego professionals.
  • Wonderland Fun Park – kids don’t see it as a relatively small and mediocre amusement park. On the plus, it’s extremely toddler friendly with rides suitable for very little ones.
  • Melbourne Star Observation wheel – offers a 30 minute ride around the Melbourne Wheel. There are lackluster views over the Docklands’s industrial rooftops, shipping containers and the city in the distance.  There are mixed reviews whether the price is worth the ride.
  • All the modern conveniences needed for a family stay such as Safeway and Costco.

Back to top

Up until very recently, my heart still called Melbourne “home” having spent my formidable years there. However, Brisbane is best! Look out for another epic Brissy list shortly.

What are you recommendations for the best things to do in Melbourne with kids? Have you been to these places listed? Got any hot tips or thoughts? Please leave a reply below:

8 Comments

  • Wow fabulously in depth guide to Melbourne – I haven’t done all that myself! Just wanted to add that ACMI deserves a bigger shout out – their exhibits are soooo much fun. One of my kids favourite things to do (and mine!). Also with younger kids its worth making sure that you hit the Open Range Zoo at the right time to do the kids tour they have once a day on school days. It’s so great! Lots of songs to keep the kids entertained. My kids haven’t been in years now (oops) but we used to go all the time and they still remember the songs even though they remember nothing else from that time.

  • I’m a born and bred Melburnian, and needed ideas for my 3yr old son, and this was a super find! Thank you for your tips and comments – I had no idea half these things existed. I can’t wait to spend the coming months doing all sorts of fun family things! Thank you

    • Hi Leonie, thank you, I love your comment and the thought that this post has helped in a little way for more adventures in Melbs together with your child means the world. Thank you. xo

  • My husband and I spent a few days in Melbourne with our 3 daughters (aged 8,6,4 at the time). They loved exploring the laneways and the Melbourne Museum and enjoyed many a babycino at some cool cafes. Another highlight that didn’t get a mention in your article is Melbourne’s fantastic selection of chocolate shops. As a treat we tried Ganache Chocolates on Collins St and the girls loved their Kids Plates which included a little chocolate mouse, a decadent hot chocolate and a solid chocolate spoon to stir it with. I have to say the adults certainly enjoyed our tasting plate too!

    I also just wanted to say how much I’m enjoying your blog, which I have only recently discovered. We enjoy taking our children (now 3 girls + 1 boy) travelling in Australia. I was particularly interested in your Kangaroo Island article as we are heading to South Australia (including KI), later this year.

    • Hi Lucy, Thank you kindly for reading and replying. When I push publish, I am never quite sure if it’s OK, your comments are very welcomed and really makes it worthwhile.

      Oh yes! Chocolate, how could I leave that out!? I’ll be sure to add it. The kids chocolate menu sounds like an absolute must. What a great suggestion. If you have any photos I can post, I will be happy to incorporate it. I hear there are chocolate tours around the lanes and arcades, not sure how kid friendly they are, shall look into it. Thank you again.

      I am most impressed with people travelling with more kids than I, you are amazing. Have fun at KI, it’s such a beautiful place and later in the year is a lovely time to go. xoxo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *