MELBOURNE: LIVING IT....LOVING IT.
You don't need a car to get about in the city. Here are some great outings in Melbourne that should entertain the whole gang, that you can do, without a car! No need to battle the traffic getting back into town when you can kick back and take a seat on public transport. It makes getting there part of the adventure and the kids will love it.
If you are traveling to the City of Melbourne for any length of time, whether it be a week or a day, you need to find some fun, child-friendly activities to keep your little people happy so we've created this handy guide to set you on your merry way. It would also be helpful to know that many places in Melbourne that are open to the general public now have child-changing facilities so there won't be any unexpected problems!
The first thing you should do is to take your kids on the different modes of public transport available in Melbourne. There is the Free Melbourne City Circle Tram, which can be exciting if it is any child's first time. The City Circle tram takes visitors to many attractions and places of interest including the Melbourne Aquarium, Old Melbourne Gaol, Parliament House, the Immigration Museum, Etihad Stadium and Federation Square. Here's the Timetable. You could also consider taking them by train. Get a map of the city and get your children to try and make a route that you can travel along. This way it means that your kids can get involved in the planning also and it will seem less boring for them.
Melbourne is brimming with kid-friendly attractions and things to do, see, visit, eat, play, create and explore.
If you have kids that are slighter older, why not consider taking them to the gruesome Old Melbourne Gaol or Polly Woodside. Note: Possible scare-factor for little ones....high, but older kids, especially boys, seem to love it!
The Melbourne Museum and Immigration Museum are free for kids, so if your kids have a short attention span, as most kids do, then you can make short and more frequent trips to them. There is always plenty to do as well, so you won't find yourself traipsing around and in and out of museums all day. Or get your game on at the National Sports Museum. Game On is perfect for kids to let off steam, it's an interactive gallery that allows you to test your goal kicking, running, and coordination skills.
For animal adventures head to the Melbourne Zoo (a short tram ride no. 55 from William St in the City and it stops directly outside the Melbourne Zoo) or the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium. We don't know of a kid who hasn't had a hoot of a time at either. Then there's the Collingwood Children's Farm in Collingwood. Who would have thought - a little slice of country life right in the heart of Melbourne and only 4 kilometres from the CBD.
For culture vultures, immerse them at the National Gallery of Victoria International. NGV Kids Space at NGV International is the second dedicated gallery designed for children and their families. Featuring works from NGV collections and exhibitions, children and families can have fun together as they discover art, explore multimedia and hands-on activities while sharing new ideas. Or book a performance at the Arts Centre Melbourne. Eureka Skydeck is another activity to take in and get a birds eye view over Melbourne. If you're seeking an indoor spot out of the heat or rain, the State Library of Victoria has a dedicated children's area. 'Play Pod' is an area where children can play, create and read and seek comfort. It's free and open daily 10am-4pm. The Arts Centre Melbourne nearly always offer a beautiful family-friendly show to take in with your minis, especially in the school holidays and out the front is a cafe for a little snack pre-show. Away from the City but easily accessible by car is the HEIDE Museum. A favourite Sunday outing for us! A run around the sculpture park, take away coffee and treats from Cafe Vue followed by a picnic lunch box that you can pre-order from the cafe.
It may come as one huge surprise but if the playground is calling, the City of Melbourne has a few of those too! Birrarung Marr and Playground is free and situated on the north bank of the Yarra River next to Federation Square. It's packed with tube slides, rock and rope climbing, a deck, sandpit, picnic tables and has adequate shade. It's also right next to ArtPlay. They hold classes from artistic, interactive and creative projects for kids and families. For some wide open space and to stretch those legs head to Fitzroy Gardens where you'll discover a tudor village, a dragon inspired little playground and two cafes. For the older kids 13 - 20 years, Signal is Melbourne's 1st Art Studio. A place for making, showing, inspiring and developing our city’s new creative talents – in every medium and right in the heart of the city: behind Flinders Street Station on Northbank, in the Les Erdi Plaza, at the northern end of Sandridge Bridge, and at the top of Banana Alley. Federation Square is one vast area where you'll always find something (usually free) to do and get lost in. Then there's the Australian Centre for the Moving Image or more commonly known as ACMI. Here you can watch Kids Flicks for just $6.00 or $5.00 for Members and they offer exhibitions, talks and creative workshops. There's also Screen Worlds at ACMI - a warm and free indoors spot to bunker down or somewhere cool in Summer, then Screen Worlds will intrigue the youngest of players.
If it's thrills and squeals of delight you're after catch the 96 Tram to St. Kilda and head straight to Luna Park for a journey of fun. Luna Park has been the giant, smiling face of fun on the St Kilda foreshore for 100 years. Follow it up with Fish and Chips on the beach and that's one day down! If you need to wind down the following day then the Ian Potter Children's Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne might be that welcome retreat. It's a place where children can dig, build, imagine, create, hide...so come and explore! There's a cafe within reach or settle for a picnic in the wide open grounds.
For iconic Melbourne you can't beat a laneway tour (you can do your own or organise a tour) taking in the famous Hosier Lane, AC/DC Lane, Tattersalls Lane and Hardware Lane mixed with a hole-in-the-wall cafe pit stop and some arcade shopping that go hand in hand.
Don't dismiss the Docklands! It's a mecca of family-fun. Take a ride on the Melbourne Star, try your hand at ice-skating at the O'Brien Group Arena, play mini golf under UV lighting, build and create at the LEGO Education Centre, shop at Harbour Town and go for an epic slide at the Ron Barassi Snr Park.
If indoor play is on your mind or it's bucketing down in true Melbourne form, the closest play centre to the City is PlanetKids on Southbank.
And lastly, you'll need a spot of breakfast, brunch, lunch, babycinos and treats or dinner! So we bring you our family's foodie experiences of eating out in Melbourne. Let the fun begin......
Whatever you decide to do with your little explorers in Melbourne, there are plenty of things to keep them occupied and very few of them are expensive. The only problem you may face, is keeping up with them!
If you're a visitor to Melbourne we hope you enjoy your stay and can't wait to see you again!
What are you waiting for? Melbourne's calling....