Explore My City Guest Blogger: Dawn Nicholson from 5 Lost Together
We have taken the Globetrotters back to our “home” in Melbourne a few time’s now, but after being overseas for well over a decade, I must admit I am pretty clueless what’s on offer to do with the kids. Dawn to the rescue! A Canadian expat, she has been calling Melbourne home for a number of years and has seen and done far more during her short time then I did during a large portion of my adult life.
Here with the low-down on the must-see highlights of Melbourne and best activities for kids, take it away, Dawn!
Melbourne, Australia doesn’t always get as much attention as its famous sister Sydney, but many argue that it is the more interesting city. Melbourne is a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city known for its hip culture and often touted as the “most livable city” in the world.
It is easy to see why with its European-style parks and laneways, trams that transport you anywhere within the city and delicious coffee and cafés on every street corner. Every weekend we discover new and fun things to do in Melbourne with kids and we want to share with you some of our favourites.
Unique Melbourne things to do – Trams, Laneways, Sports and Cafes
These are the things Melbourne is best known for and need to be included on any visit to the city.
Trams – My kids love any type of unique transportation and Melbourne’s trams are a fun and entertaining way to get around the city. Trams are free in the central business district, so you just hop on and ride. The Circle Tram is a heritage tram that does a loop of the CBD with commentary explaining the city’s sights and history. Hop on and off and get a good introduction to the city this way. See all the free things you can do in Melbourne via Tram.
Laneways – Melbourne’s hipster laneways are a favourite of both residents and visitors. Kids will love checking out the ever-changing street art and dining in a laneway café. You can get a laneway walking tour from the Visitors Centre across from Flinders Station. If you only see two, check out Hosier Lane for street art and Degraves Lane for dining.
Sports – Melbourne is mad about their sports and if you visit during the Australian Rules Football (AFL) season, be sure to check out a game at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). If you come in January during the Australian Open, buy an inexpensive grounds pass. There are lots of fun activities set up for the kids and you might get to see an A-list tennis star.
Cafes – Mom and Dad will want to sample Melbourne’s amazing coffee and breakfasts (make sure you have an “Avo on Toast”). The kids shouldn’t feel left out though. All cafes serve cute babycinos with a marshmallow for kids. Melbourne also has some of the best freak shakes in the world that will awe any child with the amount of candy, desserts and chocolate that are loaded up on a shake. The best place for freak shakes in the city is Three One 2 One in Richmond. Make sure you find a park afterwards for the kids to run off their sugar high.
Related Reading: Great day trips and weekenders from Melbourne
St Kilda Attractions for Kids
St Kilda is Melbourne’s happening beach and nightlife district, but there is so much here to entertain kids too.
- Luna Park – Melbourne’s vintage beachside theme park is definitely worth a stop. You can wander around the rides for free and if you only ride one ride, make it the Scenic Railway, where an operator on the coaster controls the speed.
- See the Fairy Penguins – You can travel out to Phillip Island to see the penguins coming ashore at night on a tour, or for free you can watch them nightly at the St Kilda Pier. Arrive 30 minutes before sunset and hang out at the end of the pier with the other nature lovers to see some of these cute little penguins.
- St Kilda Adventure Playground – This amazing pirate-themed playground is open after school and on weekends. The kids will love the flying fox, great trampolines, pirate ship, tunnels and giant castle.
Got a week to spend in Melbourne? Check out this 7-day itinerary by a local
Melbourne Main Attractions with Kids
Melbourne has so many amazing attractions that will excite the kids. Here are some of our favourites that all the family will love – as well as some places you can slow down the pace and take a break.
1. The Melbourne Zoo This heritage Zoo has over 250 species to keep parents and kids entertained. We love the chimpanzee exhibit where kids learn about habitat loss from palm oil plantations, the tunnels where kids can pretend they are meerkats and the carousel and playground in the centre.
Insider Tip: Plan your Zoo visit for the weekend and school holidays when kids are FREE.
2. The Melbourne Museum There is a fantastic Children’s Gallery for kids under 5 years that your kids won’t want to leave. Another favourite area is the Dinosaur Walk.
Kids are also free here on weekends and school holidays.
3. Royal Botanical Gardens – There is lots of room for kids to run around and burn off some steam in these expansive gardens. The Ian Potter Children’s Gardens are a great place for younger kids with a bamboo forest to explore, water features to splash around in and a kitchen garden to visit.
4. Queen Victoria Market – This beautiful market is always a fun place to visit. Kids will love the jam filled donuts and other delicious treats. The market is closed Mondays and Wednesdays. When the Wednesday street food night markets are on, you can sample foods from all over the world.
5. Art Play and Birrarung Park – Right behind Federation Square along the Yarra River is Birrarung Park, which was an important meeting ground of the Wurundjeri people. There is a great playground here for kids to explore. Art Play is right beside and is a place for kids to explore their artistic side with scheduled programming.
6. Children’s Hospital Playground – Sometimes kids will get tired of visiting attractions and being tourists and need a good play. This playground officially called the Royal Park Playground is a great thing to do with kids in Melbourne and has won many awards for its unique design. My older kids (7 & 9-year-olds) love the challenging high ropes area, while younger kids will enjoy the sand and water play area.
7. Melbourne Star Observation Wheel – For 360-degree views over the City take a ride on the Melbourne Star, a giant Ferris wheel. With audio commentary, you will learn about Melbourne’s major landmarks and sites. Located in the Docklands, take a free tram there.
8. Collingwood Children’s Farm – This inner city farm allows kids to get up close and personal with chickens, cows and pigs. Plan your visit to coincide with the Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers’ Market (fourth Saturday of the month).
9. The Beaches – From St Kilda and Brighton close to the city all the way around the Mornington Peninsular, this is how Melbournians keep cool on hot summer days.
I hope this has given you some great tips for exploring Melbourne with kids. If you are looking for even more ideas, check out my 35 Things to do with Kids in Melbourne post.
About the Blogger
Dawn Nicholson loves travelling and blogging about her adventures travelling and living overseas with her three kids at www.5losttogether.com. She has visited over 50 countries and believes strongly in travelling now with kids by whatever and any means possible – backpacking, sailing or living as expats overseas.
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