Melbourne, Australia, has been on my travel radar for quite some time now.
Close friends of ours lived there for over a year and their stories and cameras are full of beautiful nature, delicious looking lattes and stunning urban landscapes. Their enthusiastic voices are echoed by many others so, when I came across the opportunity of having an article about Melbourne on the blog, I didn’t have to think twice.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Melissa, author of Thrifty Family Travels blog, Aussie mama and expert traveller. Here are her top tips on the best things to do in Melbourne with kids.
Top things to do in Melbourne with children
When many people visit Australia, one of the first cities that are on the top of their lists is Melbourne – and for good reason: Melbourne is an ultra-cool Australian city. Hey, I am Australian (from Queensland though) and even I love visiting Melbourne!
Melbourne is a great city to explore with kids. There is heaps to do (including free activities) and it is super easy to get around as it has a fantastic public transport system.
In my post about Melbourne I list 30 awesome things to do with kids, but in this post I am going to share with you my favourite areas in Melbourne to explore as well as the best free things to do in Melbourne with kids.
Have fun in Docklands
Located just 2KM from the centre of the Melbourne CBD and a short tram ride is the inner city suburb of Docklands.
Docklands is a fantastic entertainment precinct with loads of activities for the kids as well as heaps of shops and places to eat.
First thing I recommend you do is take the 30-minute ride on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. This will give you fantastic 360-degree views across the Melbourne CBD and via commentary give you a great introduction to the city.
You could then easily spend the rest of the day here entertaining the kids. There is something here for kids of all ages. For the tiny tots there is Wonderland Junior which is a fun fair with rides for the younger children like a carousel, tea cups and dodgems.
Bigger kids may enjoy ice skating at O’Brien’s Arena, the arcade style games at Tunza Fun or the Grand Prix simulators at Simulator World. For the entire the family there is the interactive 3d art at ArtVo and Glow Golf.
Free Activities in Melbourne
If spending a stack of money on activities isn’t your thing, then you are in luck as Melbourne is full of great free activities.
One of my favourite free activities is just riding the free Melbourne CBD trams. The trams are completely free within the CBD and a great way to get around the city to see the sites. If you jump on board the Tourist Tram you will also receive commentary about the various sites around town.
Next up go exploring Melbourne’s hidden lane ways. Just turn off any super busy street in Melbourne and you will find a maze of little lane ways full of funky cafes, boutiques, buskers and my favourite: fantastic art work. We just love finding these art works, its like finding hidden treasure. Some of the best art work can be found in the AC/DC Lane, Duckboard Place and Presgrave Place.
Make sure you end your lane way exploring with a cup of Melbourne’s favourite coffee and yummy sweets for the kids.
Around lunchtime I recommend you head to Federation Square. This is Melbourne most popular meeting point. Most days you will find some sort of free entertainment. Last time we were there they had a games day with various tables set up where you could play a board game, play with giant size connect 4 games or compete on stage in the Just Dance video game.
Federation Square is also home to the Australian Centre for Moving Images (ACMI). This is a great free exhibition with heaps of interactive displays for the kids. ACMI showcases Australia’s film, TV, video games, digital culture and art. You will love being able to show your kids what TVs and video games looked like back when you were young!
When we where last there, there was even a Wallace and Gromit exhibition – although this wasn’t free.
No trip to Melbourne is complete without at least a day trip to St Kilda – but spend a few days here if you can. St Kilda is a lovely seaside town just outside of the Melbourne CBD and is an ideal base for families.
St Kilda is probably most famous for being home to the iconic gigantic laughing face which is Luna Park (see photos above!). Luna Park has been in operation for over 100 years and has 18 different rides suitable for kids of all ages.
While you are in St Kilda, make sure you go to Acland Street which is famous for delicious cakes and pastries. There are also some great boutique stores here as well.
There are some great little playgrounds along St Kilda Beach and of course if it is warm enough you can take the kids swimming.
At night, just after sunset, make your way down the end of the iconic St Kila Pier to watch the St Kilda penguins return home after a big day of feeding in the ocean. There are rangers on hand to protect these little guys and answer any of your questions.
In my opinion, every family that comes to Melbourne must spend a few days at Phillip Island. Phillip Island is just a fantastic spot for families, particularly families that love wildlife.
Phillip Island is around a 2-hour drive from the Melbourne CBD and is most famous for its penguins. Unlike St Kilda, Phillip Island has a dedicated centre where you can go and learn about the penguins as well as take a seat in a specially designed amphitheatre where you have a perfect view of watching the penguins waddle up the beach to return home to their burrows.
There are also specially built board walks along the beach and the penguin burrows, so guests can safely walk alongside the penguins as they return to their homes. Your kids will just love being this close to penguins. And seriously who doesn’t think penguins aren’t the cutest little creatures? I could watch them for hours.
Other fantastic wildlife encounters you can have on Phillip Island include seeing the Koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre, visiting a real-life farm and participate in various farming activities at Churchill Island Heritage Farm, see the seals from the Nobbies Centre, and watch the pelicans come in for lunch at San Remos.
Other activities which don’t involve animals include, learning about Antarctica at the Antarctic Journey, seeing the various illusions at A’Maze’N Things, mini golf, the Sky Rail and visiting the delicious chocolate factory. In the warmer months there are also plenty of gorgeous beaches to explore. Click here for more information about things to do on Phillip Island with the kids.
About the author: Melissa is the creator and writer for Thrifty Family Travels, which details her family’s travels both locally and across the globe. Together they travel the world, experience new cultures, indulge in local delicacies, and explore every corner of our beautiful earth. Thrifty Family Travels hope to inspire other families to travel and to show them all the fantastic places the world has to explore.
I hope you enjoyed this article about the best things to do in Melbourne with kids! if heading to Australia, don’t forget to also check out our other guest post of the Australia series about visiting Canberra with family. Are you going to Australia soon?