The ultimate guide to Melbourne with kids: 100 amazing ideas
Planning a trip to Melbourne with the whole family? Maybe the kids are not so excited about the prospect of a family city trip? Well, maybe you can then explain to them that Melbourne was close to being called Batmania – true story! John Batman was a colonist farmer from Tasmania who landed in Port Phillip Bay in May 1835 but sadly this name never took.
But still, Melbourne is an exciting place to be! I have spent a couple of hours putting together family-friendly ideas for you so that you can plan the perfect family getaway to Melbourne.
Even when you already live in Melbourne I am sure you will find a couple of ideas that might be new to you. Yes, I have been that thorough! What to do in Melbourne with kids? Here’s what we have found!
The following 100 ideas
- look into the typical things you can do in Melbourne as a tourist but with a family-friendly spin,
- take a closer look at Melbourne’s Museums and how they can be more palatable for children,
- name the best family-friendly beaches in the area (yes, they do exist in Melbourne!),
- recommend cafés that are particularly great for families because Melburnians love their coffee,
- give some cool shopping tips for families with teenagers,
- explore some of the more quirky ideas that you can do with kids of all ages,
- have some amazing day-trip destinations to offer,
- offer ideas for action and adventure for older kids,
- sum up the best places for animal encounters,
- look at the best parks, gardens and playgrounds,
- and lastly we also provide some family-friendly accommodation recommendations that you really should check out.
…to get around Melbourne’s CBD for free, you can use the free tram zone. No need to touch on and off with a myki card (that’s the electronic ticket used on Melbourne’s public transport). The principal boundaries of the Free Tram Zone are Spring Street, Flinders Street and La Trobe Street. Additionally, the tram routes along Victoria Street, William Street and Elizabeth Street that surround Victoria Market are also included as well as the Docklands area.
If your journey begins or ends outside of the zone (let’s say you want to travel to St Kilda) you must touch on with a valid myki when boarding the tram. Myki cards are available at newsagents, 7-Elevens and lots of other stores where you can charge it with money for your upcoming journeys.
13 things to do in Melbourne that work really well for the whole family
Let’s start with things that you can do in Melbourne. These are interesting not just for the little ones but also for the grown-ups. I am a strong believer in chasing experiences that will suit both, not just the kids. How much fun is it to spend hours on end on a playground when what you really want to do is some sightseeing? Why did you come to Melbourne in the first place? Here are some things you can try that should combine the practical with the fun parts of visiting a new city:
Federation Square is of course the beating heart and soul of Melbourne. You will find here a range of family-friendly business and activities such as ACMI, Popstic Ice Cream and Sorbet and the Riverland Bar and Cafe. A visit to Fed Square is a must when you are in Melbourne! It pays to check if there are any festival or multicultural programs scheduled for when you are visiting. Did you know that on the rooftop there is a honey production centre which can produce a staggering 350 kilograms of honey per year? http://fedsquare.com/
Bike rides: For an Australian city, Melbourne is a relatively bike friendly place. There are a number of routes your could try with your kids without necessarily having to fear for their lives. Besides, Melbourne is relatively flat, which makes it very easy for all fitness levels and rather inexperienced riders. For example, ride along the Yarra River, from St Kilda to Half Moon Beach, and the famous Capital City Trail in the CBD.
Eureka Skydeck: Yes, it is a bit touristy, but why not enjoy Melbourne from a very different perspective? The Skydeck on top of the Eureka Tower in Melbourne’s Docklands is the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere. Spectacular views are guaranteed! Teenagers in tow? Treat them to The Edge. A glass cube that is hovering 300 metres above sea level, a thrilling experience and great for taking some amazing family photos. For even better photos, try Vertigo. This is a green screen installation that lets you capture the moment when you are holding on for dear life 285 metres above the ground. https://www.eurekaskydeck.com.au
Street Art: Melbourne is one of the leading cities worldwide when it comes to seeing street art. In particular when you are travelling with teenagers. Street art should be on your radar as they will love the colourful murals and naughty references to contemporary life in Australia. A great place to begin is Hosier Lane in the CBD. Murals, graffitis and installations will change constantly, Here is a post that I wrote about this fantastic free public art place earlier: http://www.happinessandthings.com/2015/06/15/urban-art-in-hosier-lane-melbourne/
Queen Victoria Markets: Markets are great when you are travelling with kids, in particular if they offer a mix of fresh produce farmers’ market and cheap everyday things market. Queen Victoria Markets come with tons of history and pretty market stalls in art deco style. There are also halls stuffed with cheap stuff like t-shirts, toys and homewares that you might want to check out. For a treat, visit the famous American Doughnut Van in the parking lot – the kids will love it!
Shrine of Remembrance: A free experience and in walking distance to Flinders Street Station, the Shrine of Remembrance is a stunning visual and educational experience. A be great place if you want to show older kids the Australian heritage. There are many areas to explore. Here you can introduce your children to the history of the ANZACs and the sacrifice that these men and women did during the wars and in peacekeeping operations. This website is a great starting point: http://www.shrine.org.au/Whats-On/Families
St Pauls Cathedral: If you compare it to Europe, Australia does not have many big churches that are worthwhile exploring. Having said that, St Paul’s in Melbourne does deserve a second look. First of all, it is a pretty old church at just 125 years old but most importantly it is the seat of the Anglican Primate of Australia. If you want to take photos for personal use you will need to purchase a $5 permit at the entrance. Here is a useful map to all the treasures inside the church: https://cathedral.org.au/cathedral/explore/
Block Arcade: Australia’s iconic shopping precinct is a feast for the eyes but of course this might not necessarily thrill your children. Older kids might want to have a closer look at The Art of Dr Seuss, Dafel Dolls and Bears and the cool collection at Mr Wares while you can marvel at the stunning architecture of the arcade. Finish off with cake and coffees in the Victorian splendour at the wonderful Hopetoun Tearooms.
Parliament House: You may not want to attend a sitting but there are also tours that you can book when Parliament is not sitting. This way you can get access to some extra information on the building and the things that happen behind the scenes. The express tours take only 20 minutes, perfect if you have children that have the attention span of a goldfish. You can combine this with some indulgence and book yourself a table for High Tea at the Parliament House. Perfect in particular for rainy days. http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/visit/public-tours
Rippon Lea Estate: Rippon Lea, cared for by the National Trust, is a beautiful historic mansion with gardens that are just wonderful to explore. The mansion was built in 1868 by a businessman who made his fortune selling soft-goods on the goldfields. Take a guided tour of the house, enjoy the lovely garden and finish up with tea and cake at the Gatehouse cafe. http://www.ripponleaestate.com.au/
Luna Park can of course be found in St Kilda. The 100 year old fun fair with the iconic clown’s mouth entrance offers a range of 18 attractions and rides and is free to enter. You only need to buy a ticket if you want to go on the rides. There are also always a number of events scheduled, in particular during the school holidays. https://lunapark.com.au
If your family loves sports then the Melbourne Cricket Ground needs to be on your itinerary! If there are no matches on you can still visit. Just book the tour and also make sure you visit the National Sports Museum. Did you know that the MCG is the birthplace of test cricket? A new experience that is currently in the works is the Roof Experience where you will be able to see the skyline of Melbourne from the stadium roof, definitely one of the most exciting new experiences to come. http://www.mcg.org.au
9 of Melbourne’s fantastic museums
Melbourne Museum: This is of course a good way to start. Melbourne Museum is perfect if you want to show the kids the many different aspects of life in Victoria: from tall trees to old dinosaur bones, to Aboriginal artefacts to Melbourne’s most favourite racehorse Phar Lap. If you are visiting with a toddler, the Children’s Gallery will be perfect for you (opens 4 Dec 2016), a hands-on exploration facility for the under-5’s for an immersive educational experience. https://museumvictoria.com.au/melbournemuseum
Australian Centre for the Moving Image: Did you know that the first full-length narrative feature film was shot in Australia? The Story of the Kelly Gang was made in 1906 – reason enough for Melbourne to host a remarkable museum for movie lovers. Most Melburnians will call it ACMI, so let’s go with this name from now on. ACMI is centrally located at Federation Square and is perfect not just for movie buffs but also technology fans. ACMI tells the story of the moving image. You can access the Australian Mediatheque or attend any of the changing exhibitions and screenings, many of them kid-friendly. Entry is generally free except for screenings and special exhibitions. Well worth a look! https://www.acmi.net.au
Old Melbourne Gaol: Speaking of Ned Kelly – Australia’s most famous bad guy did find his untimely end in Melbourne, at the Old Melbourne Gaol. Naturally, a great part of the exhibition is dedicated to telling the story of this famous criminal. Plus, there are many more stories to explore here, many of them tragic and sad. Older kids will probably find a short stay in the tiny cells quite impressive, and its a great conversation starter to talk about the early days of Australia. You can combine the experience with a visit to the Old Magistrate’s Court and the City Watch House. Or book yourself in with one of the thrilling night tours where you can follow around a hangman (not for kids under 12 years).
Immigration Museum: An autistic-friendly museum, the Immigration Museum aims at telling the stories of people that have come to Australia one way or the other. Explore with them what it means to leave your home country, look at the different cultures that now call Australia home and follow lots of personal stories. Best of all, kids enter free.
A visit to the Koorie Heritage Trust Cultural Centre is perfect to introduce the little ones to the Aboriginal culture and heritage or South Eastern Australia. Located right next to Federation Square it is easy to access and offers a range of ever changing child-friendly activities such as crafts, educational walks and exhibitions. http://koorieheritagetrust.com.au
The State Library is known for its fantastic exhibitions. At the time of writing for example there is an enchanting free exhibition about children’s books illustrations. Of course, there is also the typical program of storytelling, bounce and rhyme etc for younger kids that you can make use of. It is always worthwhile to check out the website for the latest program. https://www.slv.vic.gov.au
Scienceworks is an amazing children-friendly museum that will encourage your child to question and explore the world around them through interactive displays and fun activities. There is also a planetarium and a lightening room which you need to check out! https://museumvictoria.com.au/scienceworks/
A museum ship is a perfect hands-on experience that will delight kids of all ages. In Melbourne, have a look at the Polly Woodside which can be found at 21 South Wharf Promenade. The ship is 130 years old and has circumnavigated the world 17 times! Kids will love the Pirate Day! https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/polly-woodside/
IMAX is not just about 3D feature films and movie blockbusters. You can also find some exciting and educative documentaries in the schedule, carefully hand-picked in collaboration with the Melbourne Museum. https://www.imaxmelbourne.com.au
The 7 best beaches for families in Melbourne
It is a general misconception that only Sydney has to offer great beaches. Granted, temperatures might not be as pleasant as further up north in Australia. But name me one child that will forgo a sandy beach and tricky waves just because the water is a degree colder than in other places. If you want to play it safe, buy one of these little wetsuits that are specifically designed for kids. This will keep them warm when playing in the shallows for a long time.
Our suggestions start closest to the Melbourne CBD and follow Port Phillip Bay in a eastbound direction all the way to the tip of the Morningon Peninsula.
Port Melbourne Beach: Thanks to its close proximity to the city centre of Melbourne, Port Phillip Beach is the easiest to access for short-term visitors and families that don’t have their own transport while in Melbourne. It is actually hard to believe that a beach as pretty as this would be so close to a major city. Port Melbourne beach offers the full package of sand dunes, historic buildings such as the Princess Pier, restored workers’ cottages and the beachside rotunda. Add to that all the action of a busy port, and excellent waterfront dining. To get there, take tram Number 109 (to Port Melbourne) from Collins Street (20 minutes).
St Kilda Beach: Melbourne’s most famous beach is perfect for a quick afternoon trip to the beach, and you can conveniently combine it with a visit to Luna Park (for the kids) or a dine and wine along Carlisle Street. In fact, St Kilda in itself has a lot to offer that will put it in one of the top positions for families visiting Melbourne. The Botanical Gardens, Catani Gardens, the historic Palais Theatre and the Esplanade Markets on Sundays are perfect to keep the whole family entertained. To get there, take tram number 96 (to St Kilda beach) from Southern Cross Station or Bourke Street (20 minutes).
Elwood Beach: A little bit further south, Elwood Beach comes with plenty of parking and is less crowded than its famous neighbour St Kilda. Elwood has a great beachside vibe with quaint little shops and cute cafes. The promenade is great for prams and scooters. Melburnians usually prefer this beach over St Kilda, and sunsets can be pretty spectacular here too.
Brighton Beach: Popular not just with families, Brighton Beach has a firm place in many traveller’s itinerary thanks to the colourful historic bathing boxes that date back all the way to 1862. Perfect for a photo session with the little ones for some memorable holiday snaps! To get there, take the tram to Sandringham and exit at Brighton Beach Station which is right next to the beach. Departs Flinders Street Station every 15 minutes.
Half Moon Beach: A little bit further south, Half Moon Beach is less accessible by public transport and parking fees can be shocking. Nevertheless, Half Moon Beach is a very attractive location and the trip down Beach Road on a hot summer’s day might be worth your while. Here you can see Australian’s nature at its best. Stunning rock formations that look amazing in the setting sun, little fishes in the shallows, and even a shipwreck that you can swim out to if you dare (the HMAS Cerberus). Red Bluff nearby used to be an important source of ochre pigment for the local indigenous tribes. Perfect for families as it is warm and sheltered. The cliffs invite to some pleasant walks in nature.
Frankston Beach: Popular Frankston Beach comes with all the trimmings: you can have a beachside BBQ with the family in the nearby reserve, go for a swim, jump off the pier, treat the kids to some ice-cream at Sonia’s, or munch on fish and chips! A walk up Olivers Hill is a must for fantastic views of the bay and the city. The boardwalk is brand-new and allows for a pleasant stroll, and the kids will love the playground.
Sorrento Back Beach: Yes, Sorrento Back Beach is not in Melbourne’s immediate vicinity but the spectacular beauty of this place makes the trip very worthwhile.
Kids will love the rock pools that will form at low tide, and there are many trails that invite you to explore the stunning rock formations. If one of you likes to surf, this is the beach where you should give it a go.
The 7 best kid-friendly cafes in Melbourne
Bluetrain: A pizza, pasta and hotdog centred kids menu, milkshakes, spiders and sundaes – which kid wouldn’t be happy with a selection like this? This people’s cafe is popular with young and old, probably also because it serves what they lovingly call dude food. Southgate Complex, Upper Level, Southbank. http://www.bluetrain.com.au
Happy River Cafè: Located at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, this café offers lots of outdoor space, books, toys and fun play things galore. Comes with amazing city views and a café cat. 45 Mooreland Street, Footscray. http://footscrayarts.com/tenants/happy-river-cafe/
Brighton Schoolhouse Café: This is a schoolhouse that kids would love to visit! Is it the playground outside or the kid-friendly corner with chalkboard which makes it so popular with families? Either way, the menu is dominated by superfoods and a great selection of breakfast dishes. Worth checking out! 15 St Andrews Street, Brighton. https://brightonschoolhousecafe.com
Cubbyhouse Canteen: They call themselves an ultra family friendly-children’s café. They are located right next to a park with not just one but two adventure playgrounds, so great to combine some outdoor fun with a healthy and tasty snack or early dinner. 43A Union Street, Armadale. https://www.facebook.com/cubbyhousecanteen/
Little Village Playcafé: This amazing kid-friendly café has a wonderful indoor playing area fashioned after an old English village, complete with grocery store, hospital and cake shop. Very often they also run tailored activities such as story time and craft activities, so it’s a good idea to check their timetable before you visit. Definitely a great place where you can enjoy a cup of tea in peace while your toddler can have lots of fun. 33 The Mall, Croydon South. http://www.thelittlevillageplaycafe.com
Farm Café: This café is right next to the Collingwood Children’s Farm, so perfect if you want to combine these two. The menus for both adult and children look delicious – kids should try the grilled banana with pecan bread and butter. What they can do really go is kids parties – the catering options are just fantastic! Every second Saturday of the month there will also be a farmers market. 18 Heliers Street, Abbotsford. http://www.farmcafe.com.au
Birdie Num Nums: Melbourne’s No 1 kid café with a big courtyard with sandpit, free wifi and good kids menu (avo and vegemite soldier anyone?). 745 Nicholson Street, Carlton. http://birdienumnums.net
11 cool shopping destinations for teenagers and kids
Melbourne’s artistic heart beats in Fitzroy, so if you daughter (or son for that matter) is interested in craft and beautiful design take them to the Rose Street Artists Market which happens every Saturday and Sunday in Fitzroy. http://www.rosestmarket.com.au
Sweet tooth? Browse Acland Street in St Kilda for cakes, ice-cream, frozen yoghurt and chocolate treats. http://www.aclandstreetvillage.com.au/cakes-sweets/business-directory
Chapel Street is perfect if you like to have a mix of shopping, fish and chips and history. Most boutiques can be found between Toorak and Commercial Roads, and Jam Factory is a huge shopping complex. Also check out nearby Grenville Street for stylish shops and colourful fashion.
Bernard’s Magic Shop can be found in Victoria Street, West Melbourne. http://www.bernards.com.au
Bourke Street Mall is where you will find all the usual high street fashion stores such as David Jones and Myer and lots more.
Nicholas Building is not just a shopping destination for people who are interested in jewellery and art, it is also an interesting historic building with a Chicago-style front and lots of Greek revival palazzo style elements. Close to Federation Square in Swanston Street.
Wunderkammer in Lonsdale Street is like a cabinet of curiosities, a perfect destination if you are after unusual and rare gifts and souvenirs. http://wunderkammer.com.au
Does chocoholism run in your family? Then have a look at the Ministry of Chocolate in trendy Malvern for a multi sensory experience. https://www.ministryofchocolate.com.au
Everybody knows that teddy bears can be friends for life. Let your child pick a new one at the Teddy Bear Shop in 385 Bourke Street where you will find a huge choice of options. http://theteddybearshopmelbourne.com
Funky Mexican themed things like colourful skulls, handwoven baskets and Fridas can be found at Amor y Locura in 4 Rickard Street, Brunswick East. http://www.amorylocura.com
For vintage clothing from the 40’s through to the 80’s, try Retrostar in 37 Swanston St. http://www.retrostar.com.au
14 quirky things to do in Melbourne with kids
ArtPlay at Federation Square is where children up to 12 years play, create and learn. It pays to check out the website before you travel to Melbourne as there are fantastic workshop year round as well as dozens of exciting performances specially for kids. Many of the activities are free or cost a nominal fee, and sometimes you don’t even need to book and you can just walk in. Check here the official website for more info: http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/arts-and-culture/artplay/Pages/ArtPlay.aspx
Escape Hunt: If you have never heard of escape room activities before: you are locked up with a group of friends in a room and need to find and solve a number of clues in order to escape in time. It’s a bit like reading a mystery novel but you being the protagonist! Escape experiences are perfect for families as families usually come with a range of skills. The little ones are perfect for finding hidden clues in the props and the furniture. Older kids and the adults can work out the secrets and challenges. A great bonding experience. http://melbourne.escapehunt.com
Glow Golf: Mini golf is always a winner with families, mainly because even the little ones get a chance at winning. If you are looking for a golf experience with a twist try Glow Golf at Docklands. The 18 holes depict famous Australian icons. 10 of those will glow in the dark. Make sure you wear flouro colours or white for maximum impact! For an extra weird experience check out the macabre Coffin Ride that you can book here too. http://www.glowgolf.com.au
Flight Experience: Do you children dream of becoming pilots? Maybe they would like to test their skills in a flight simulator to see what it feels like to be the pilot of a Boing 737. A trained pilot will help them along the way and there is a range of educational activities for a comprehensive experience. Perfect for kids parties. https://melbourne.flightexperience.com.au/buy-flights/#toggle-id-4
Montsalvat: Artist community and wedding venue Montsalvat makes for a great off-the-beaten track family experience. A little bit outside of the CBD in Eltham is Montsalvat, a 80 year old artist commune. With its romantic setting it offers the right creative environment for its resident artists. Visit to take a stroll on the grounds (don’t take your pram though!) and check out the quirky and fantastical medieval-inspired buildings. Explore contemporary art in the galleries inside. Then finish with afternoon tea at the restaurant which also has a kids menu. http://www.montsalvat.com.au
The LEGO Education Centre in Docklands is targeted primarily towards teaching staff to get LEGO products into classrooms. Still, there is also the opportunity to visit with your kids during school holidays or to book a room for a children’s birthday party. You will need to book your session, more info on the website. https://education.lego.com/en-au?noredir=true
Wonderland under the Melbourne Star in Docklands is right under the Observation Wheel and offers carnivale rides, games and a sweet treats shop. Open only on weekends, public holidays and during the school holidays. https://www.wonderlandspiegeltent.com.au/wonderland_under_the_melbourne_star/
That VR Joint is Melbourne’s first virtual reality arcade. Kids will love the possibilities: they can fly a plane, kill some zombies or orbit the Earth. 30 minutes cost $35 but I believe this is an unforgettable experience that they will really enjoy. http://www.thatvrjoint.com
Melburnians love their railways. Try Altona Miniature Railway, Bulla Hill Miniature Railway or Campbelltown Miniature Railway.
Book yourself in for a Historic Lantern tours of Royal Park at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. They are the right mix between spookiness and history lesson. The tours feature ghosts, graves and many good stories. https://www.thermh.org.au/events/lantern-tours
Hire a rowboat, kayak or canoe for some relaxing moments on the Yarra River at Studley Park Boathouse. A family of four pays only $30 for 30 minutes on the river, weather permitting. http://www.studleyparkboathouse.com.au/
13 day-trip ideas for the whole family
Sovereign Hill: When I visited this family attraction last year I was amazed at the sheer size of this venture. Sovereign Hill is an open-air museum about the time of the mad gold rush. The site consists not just of a gold mine replica but two. Plus, there is a little village complete with main street, shops, workers’ cottages, a villa precinct, Chinatown, and a whole industrial complex. Volunteers reenact the time perfectly. They also work in the workshops and show how things were made in the olden days. A wonderful , educational experience for the whole family. Sovereign Hill is about 2hrs west of Melbourne in the historic town of Ballarat. Read more about it here: Australia’s Gold Digging Past at Sovereign Hill
Puffing Billy Railway: About one hour east of Melbourne, this scenic rail journey in a historic steam engine train is a fun activity for young and old and a true Melbourne classic. Fantastic views, historic station buildings, Emerald Lake Park, and historic townships along the way make this a well rounded day out. Pack a picnic and hire a paddle boat on Emerald Lake or combine your day trip to Puffing Billy Railway with one of the other Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges activities. http://puffingbilly.com.au/en/
Peninsula Hot Springs: Fancy a spa experience with the kids? You can do that at the Peninsula Hot Springs on the Mornington Peninsula! Before 10am you can take your children to the Bathing Gully and Hilltop pools. Beware that after 10am they need to be 16 years and older. However, the family bathing area in Bathing House is accessible all day for families with children and there are many different areas to explore. Rain or shine, this is a wonderful relaxing experience that treat both you and the kids. http://www.peninsulahotsprings.com
Enchanted Adventure Garden: A perfect destination on a sunny day when all you want is getting active outside. Hedge mazes and tube slides, obstacle courses, sculptures and a canopy walk are all included in the general admission. For extra thrill try tree surfing (kids must be taller than 135cm). On the Morning Peninsula, less than one hour from Melbourne. http://www.enchantedmaze.com.au
Fairy Park: Located in Werribee just 1 hour out of Melbourne, Fairy Park will be a particularly exciting destination for younger kids. The three areas cover the Fairytale Land, Camelot Playground and the Elephant Rock Picnic Grounds, and there is so much to explore you can easily spend the whole day here. http://www.fairypark.com/
Head to Phillip Island for the day to see the famous fairy penguins on their daily migration ashore. You will need to buy tickets for the experience, and there are several options available. While you are there you might as well combine it with another experience such as seeing koalas in the wild or heading out to historic Churchill Island. https://www.penguins.org.au
Visit Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula and visit the historic lighthouse. http://www.visitmelbourne.com/regions/Mornington-Peninsula/Things-to-do/Nature-and-wildlife/National-parks-and-reserves/Cape-Schanck-Lighthouse-Reserve.aspx
Book a seal colony watching cruise with Wildlife Coast Cruises or try whale watching. http://www.wildlifecoastcruises.com.au/cruises/seal-watching/
A Maze’n Things on Phillip Island is a fun land which consists of Puzzle Island (indoor area), Magic Manor (a theatre for magic shows), mini golf, a sky trail and surprise-surprise! a huge 3D maze. http://www.amazenthings.com.au
A maze can also be found in Boneo on the Mornington Peninsula, with the added bonus of a lovely wetlands walk, giant games and a mini golf course. http://www.boneomazeandminigolf.com.au
Opening 3 December, Arthurs Seat Eagle in the Mornington Peninsula is a brand-new way to fly above the state forest in a state-of-the-art gondola. https://aseagle.com.au
For a relaxing day out in a lavender garden, head to Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens on the Mornington Peninsula. Little kids will also love the great gnome hunt! http://ashcombemaze.com.au/
11 destinations for action and adventure for older kids
Shark Dive xtreme: Dive with sharks at Sea Life Melbourne. Kids need to be 15 and over, no scuba diving experience required. https://www.melbourneaquarium.com.au/experiences/shark-dive-xtreme/
Enchanted Adventure Garden: Tree Surfing and Zip Lining is a great idea for daredevils. At Enchanted Adventure Garden there are many different challenging experiences for kids and teenagers that you should have a closer look at. Kids needs to be taller than 135cm. http://www.enchantedmaze.com.au/experiences/tree-surfing-grand/
Playtime Crown: Recently reopened, Playtime Crown is the best arcade centre in the city. Over 150 arcade games beg to be explored and tested by the children. On top of that there is also laser tag for extra family fun. More info is soon available on the website of Crown Casino: https://www.playtime.com.au/venues/vic/playtime-crown
Motionator: Racing without the danger – at Motionator the kids can experience the thrilling speed of F1 and V8 cars in a simulated environment. http://www.simulatorworld.com.au/home
Do your kids have too much energy? Send them to Bounce Inc and let them hop to their hearts’ delights in a trampoline arena. Several locations around Victoria. https://bounceinc.com.au/#/
WaterMarc in Greensborough has two rad big water slides and plenty of kid-friendly activities from toddler to school age. Plus, there is also a childcare centre in the mornings from Monday to Friday if you want to spend some time relaxing in the warm water without the children. http://www.watermarcbanyule.com.au
Surfing, bodyboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding and skateboarding – combine all the skills you need to master this and you end up with the FlowRider. There is only one in Victoria, and you will find this challenging installation at the Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre. https://www.melbournesportshub.com.au/msac/flowrider-water-ride/
Into BMX, scooters or skateboarding? Check out the amazing Rampfest Indoor Skatepark Park, a 1000sqm of plywood heaven where you can also hire equipment. http://rampfest.com.au
The National Institute of Circus Arts is a proper circus school – yes, these things do exist! While the adults can learn here how became trained acrobats, kids can take part in short courses and activities that focus on coordination, strength and flexibility. http://www.nica.com.au/short-courses.php
For ice-skating, head to the Olympic Ice Skating Centre on the weekend when the stadium is open for public sessions. http://www.icerink.com.au/
Fun Fields in a waterpark and theme park in Whitlesea, 40kms north of Melbourne’s CBD. http://www.funfields.com.au/
6 amazing animal and wildlife experiences in and around Melbourne
Sea Life Melbourne: This is of course a crowd-pleaser. In our opinion the best place to show the kids an amazing underwater world. The latest addition is the Ice Age: No Time For Nuts 4-D experience. This is already included in the admission fee. Of course there are also the classical experiences such as the croc lair, the Bay of rays and the coral caves.
Werribee Open Range Zoo: Go on an African adventure with the kids and take them on a safari tour they will never forget. Gorillas, giraffes, zebras, lions, and hippos are all part of the animal family. But you must’ miss the kangaroos either! The 200 hectare zoo caters really well for children with the indoor play space area and toddler activities on weekdays. The zoo is around 30 minutes from the CBD by car en route to the Great Ocean Road. http://www.zoo.org.au/werribee
To introduce your city kids to real farm animals takes them to the Children’s Farm in Collingwood. Cow milking, guinea pig cuddles and pony rides are just some of the activities you can enjoy here with your kids. Open daily and just 4km from the CBD. http://www.farm.org.au
Moonlit Sanctuary: The 25 acres park is perfect if you want to see Australian native animals by day or by night. The night tours in particular where you can see possums, wombats and many other nocturnal animals are pretty special. Just make sure you pre-book. Hotel transfers can be arranged. http://www.moonlitsanctuary.com.au
Visit Healesville Sanctuary and explore a bushland haven for Australian wildlife. Animals you can spot here include dingos, echidnas, owls, skinks, koalas, platypuses, kangaroos and lots more. A speciality are the Wild Encounters where you get up close with the animals. It’s about one hour east of Melbourne CBD by car. http://www.zoo.org.au/healesville
Ace Hi is a horse ranch and a western themed adventure park set on 200 acres in Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula. If you want to you can combine this visit with a trip to the historic lighthouse which is nearby. Trail riding starts at $60 per person. https://www.ace-hi.com.au
Fun and games: the 5 best playgrounds in Melbourne
St Kilda Adventure Playground is right by the beach and offers trampolines, a big aeroplane, a flying fox, a pirate ship and lots more.
Apparently, Caulfield Park has the biggest slide in the world. https://www.timeout.com/melbourne/things-to-do/caulfield-park
Hays Paddock is a wonderful all-abilities playground. https://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/our-city/parks-gardens/popular-parks
The Children’s Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens is a must-do destination for families with children of all ages – in particular if they like to get wet and dirty! https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/visit-melbourne/attractions/children-garden
4 perfect parks and gardens in Melbourne
Fitzroy Gardens: Right in the centre of the city, Fitzroy Gardens is perfect for a leisurely family stroll. Tell the kids that they can visit the Fairy Tree and I am sure they will not mind the miles. Not far from there, they can then explore the mini Tudor Village which is simply adorable. For adults, check out the pretty Sinclair’s Cottage and the Cooks’ Cottage which is the original cottage of Captain Cook’s parents which was brought here all the way from England. http://www.fitzroygardens.com
Royal Botanic Gardens: The Botanic Gardens are simply stunning and a joy to explore. Kids will love the Ornamental Lake where you can take them on a punt cruise around the bays and islands. Highlights include the stunning Guilfoyle’s Volcano and the Tropical Glasshouse. However, what kids will dig most will be the Ian Potter Foundation’s Children’s Garden. The water features in particular are great in summer, and we love that is also accessible for kids in wheelchairs. Entry is free!
Carlton Gardens: If you are planning a visit to the Melbourne Museum which is located in the historic Royal Exhibition Building then you can’t walk past the wonderful Carlton Gardens. These gardens are world heritage listed and are well worth a visit in any season. Make sure you check out the ornamental lakes and the fountains (kids love water in action). Then make a beeline for the amazing children’s playground.
Birrarung Marr Park with its weird sculptures is perfect for children that love to escape to fantastical places. The installation celebrates the diversity of Victoria’s indigenous culture by interpreting stories through public artworks. A winding pathway acknowledges the significance of the eel as a traditional food source. A semicircle of metal shields represents each of the five groups of the Kulin Nation. Located on the Yarra River in walking distance to Federation Square.
3 Hotels in Melbourne that are popular with families
Docklands Prestige Apartments Melbourne: Located in the most trendsetting part of Docklands with outstanding views of Port Phillip Bay & Melbourne skyline. Fully furnished apartments with up to 3 bedrooms with tons of room to move and you can see the Friday nights fireworks from your balcony. Book here!
Quest Southbank: Close to the Arts Precinct, Southgate and the Melbourne Convention Centre, the Quest Southbank comes with 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments that are all appointed with kitchen and laundry facilities. Partly with amazing views of the city, the bay and King’s Domain Gardens. Clean, comfortable and good value for money. Book here!
Quest St Kilda Bayside: Check out this aparthotel if you want to combine your city break with a beach holiday. The Quest St Kilda Bayside is quiet but central, around 30 minutes by public transport to Melbourne CBD. Accommodation options range from studios to two bedroom apartments. Book here!
Disclaimer: Please note that the three links above are affiliate links which will lead you to the booking page of Booking.com. If you book your hotel stay in Melbourne using one of these links you will send a small commission my way. This will be much appreciated as it will help support the blog. I have personally used Booking.com before and have had good experiences with them. They are the leader in online accommodation booking services and know their stuff. Thank you.