Melbourne is Australia’s second-largest city, and is undoubtedly a cultural hot spot. Rich in food, coffee, art, and culture, this city offers a tremendous array of family-friendly activities. Here are 8 of my favorite things to do in Melbourne with kids.
1. Delight in an elegant afternoon tea at The Langham
Melbourne’s luxury hotel The Langham, positioned beside the Yarra River along Southbank Promenade, serves bespoke high teas in the Aria Lounge and Melba Restaurant. The afternoon ritual of devouring pretty cakes and ribbon sandwiches washed down with a spot of Earl Grey tea is no longer reserved for the grown-ups. During school holidays, the restaurant hosts children-themed high teas for the family to enjoy together. Each school holiday season introduces a new indulgent subject. Think Disney Frozen with snowflake cookies, blue ice jelly and fun marshmallow snowmen. Or Mr. Men high teas with tiffin treats of Mr. Messy fairy floss cupcakes, Mr. Daydream cloud-shaped cookies, and Little Miss Dotty fairy-bread.
2. Take a tour of Melbourne’s vibrant street art
Street art in Melbourne goes way beyond graffiti. Victoria’s capital city is world-renowned for its display of street art found scattered throughout the city in approved public locations. Join a street art walking tour and immerse your family into the world of spray painting, stencil art, and paste-ups. Be taken beyond the famed Hosier Lane, and learn what it takes to become a leading street artist in Melbourne. With Melbourne Street Tours, you will journey through hidden laneways and arcades to discover some of the more social and political aspects of street art, and end at the famous Blender Studios, where you will get an exclusive VIP tour of both the studios and the gallery.
3. Enjoy breakfast with the koalas and kangaroos at Melbourne Zoo
The Melbourne Zoo is a beautiful, serene location just 2 miles north of the city center. You will find over 320 animal species, both native and exotic. For a special start to your animal adventure, Melbourne Zoo offers Australian Wildlife Breakfasts for groups of up to 20 people. Participants enjoy their first meal of the day with some very special guests: Australia’s iconic koalas. The exclusive experience will involve a koala presentation and photo opportunities, a kangaroo meet-and-greet, plus private morning access to Melbourne Zoo before it opens to the public.
4. Amaze at the art and architecture of the National Gallery of Victoria
Get your art fix at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, otherwise known as the NGV. The beautiful art museum is Australia’s oldest, largest, and most visited. When you take your children to visit the NGV, they will undoubtedly make a beeline for the Waterwall at the entrance to the gallery, just to run their fingers through it. You’ll do the same; it’s iconic. NGV’s Grand Hall is another wondrous element to the building. The magnificent stained-glass ceiling is the world’s largest, projecting beautiful light down on the large space below. Position yourself on one of the cushions in the hall, and look up in wonder. Once you’re done with the inside, step outside and let the children enjoy lounging around on big Flouro cushions in the Mist Garden, and explore the outside art sculptures. Oh, and there’s a great gift shop, too!
5. Indulge in the finest chocolate Melbourne has to offer
Strolling Melbourne’s iconic laneways is undoubtedly a must for anyone staying in the city center. That said, when you join an organized walking tour, you see the city through a local’s eyes. One of the best ways to explore the city’s bustling alleys and arcades is to join an indulgent tour on foot with Chocoholic Tours. You and your family will get to taste the finest Fair Trade chocolate and macarons of the city.
6. Get up close and personal with wild animals at Healesville Sanctuary
Melbourne Zoo’s sister zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, is a journey out of the city, but worth a trip for some rather special encounters with native Australian wildlife. Positioned at the beginning of the Yarra Valley’s wine growing region, Healesville Sanctuary is a 70-acre bushland park with a history of breeding programs for native wildlife. Get behind-the-scenes of this specialist zoo by booking in one of the exclusive “wild encounters.” One such adventure of a lifetime allows you to step into the shallow waters of the elusive platypus and tickle its belly. This world-first experience allows you to be one of the few to get up close and personal with one of Australia’s strangest but most delightful wild animals. Although this particular adventure is for children 12 years plus, younger children can participate in a Magic Moment, and enjoy a special 10 minute close encounter with their favorite Australian animal.
7. Explore the best of film, TV, and gaming at the ACMI
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is Melbourne’s museum for all things screen-related. The state-of-the-art building, positioned in the city’s iconic Federation Square, celebrates screen and digital culture from past to present. You children will enjoy Screen Worlds, a gallery space dedicated to the history of film, TV and gaming. Expect to while away an hour or two here, making the most of the interactive exhibits. There are a number of big-name exhibitions which pass through the ACMI, and cinemas showing art house movies, lesser-known animated films, and kids flicks. The ACMI hosts the occasional film festival, too.
8. Learn about our planet’s extraordinary natural history at Melbourne Museum
Carlton Gardens houses Melbourne Museum, an interesting urban building designed by Denton Corker Marshall Architects. Over three floors, you will find seven main galleries, a children’s gallery, and a temporary exhibits hall. The Dinosaur Walk is one of the museum’s permanent exhibits and is always a hit with the kids. Bugs Alive, which explores the world of insects and arachnids, is also popular. Kids love Wild, home to over 600 taxidermied species of birdlife, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians from around the world. Melbourne Museum also explores life in Victoria, from the First Peoples to the city’s icons of past and present. If that isn’t enough to entertain the family, the Melbourne Museum features a special interactive gallery just for children. Once you are done with the Museum (which, incidentally, could take all day), pop next door to IMAX Melbourne; home to the second-largest screen in the world. Watch one of the latest movie blockbusters in 3D glory, or enjoy one of the many educational documentaries currently showing, on the massive 100-foot-wide screen.
There you have it – 8 fun things to do in Melbourne with kids
With so many amazing things to do in Melbourne with kids, it is impossible not to find a family-friendly activity to keep you busy. Even after you’ve shopped up a storm in one of the city’s best department stores, enjoyed feasting in some of the finest restaurants in town, and explored the many beautiful parks and gardens, there’s still plenty to do to instill lifelong family memories.
About Erica Louise
Erica Louise hails from the United Kingdom and migrated to Australia in 2005. Erica worked in the international travel industry for many years, recruiting volunteers to work in remote communities around the world in the name of community development and wildlife conservation research. When Erica is not writing and creating for her ethical fashion blog Recycled Fashion, she writes, edits and runs the social media pages for KidTown Melbourne and Melbourne Mums Group, as well as the Melbourne column for Weekend Notes. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Click here to read Erica's articles
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