From a taste of the arts and legendary fresh produce markets to amazing outdoor adventures and wildlife parks, Melbourne is truly a wonderland for kids. Moreover, just over an hour’s drive from the city center, you can escape to serene havens overlooking renowned surf beaches, crisp mountain air, gourmet culinary belts and quaint historic country towns.
Public transport in Melbourne is pretty accessible. A great network of trams, trains and buses take you all over the city, and most are stroller-friendly. There is the Free Melbourne City Circle Tram, which takes you to many attractions and places of interest including the Melbourne Aquarium, Etihad Stadium and Federation Square. You can also get a map of the city and involve your kids in planning the route and mode of transportation to take to all the attractions.
The famous Melbourne landmark, Flinders Street Station is also worth seeing (join a tour or check out one of the exhibitions in Campbell Arcade), even if you don't need to get a train.
Child-friendly accommodation in Melbourne is aplenty.
1. The most popular choice for those who wish to be at the heart of the business district is The Langham. As part of the world-class Langham hotel chain, this hotel is as luxurious as all its counterparts. Situated on the Southbank of the Yarra River in Melbourne's business district, The Langham is in the middle of all the action - with the National Gallery of Victoria, parklands, Aquarium, Eureka Tower, and countless dining options at your doorstep. The Apartment comes with 2 King-sized beds and a fully equipped kitchen, perfect for a family of four.
2. To soak in the artsy atmosphere of Melbourne, a stay in The Cullen, one of three in the Art Series Hotels, in the trendy suburb of Prahran would be ideal. This boutique hotel features kitchenettes, designer furnishings and signature Art Series amenities. The Deluxe Studio Suite Twin boasts an open living area with deluxe furnishing and kitchenette, which makes it feel like an apartment. Each room is equipped with lollipops and art canvases with paint for young guests. What a treat!
3. Sprinkled across Melbourne are the Quest Serviced Apartments, which should definitely be a consideration for families with kids. Their expansive two-bedroom suite is airy and equipped with a kitchen, spacious living room, laundry facilities, and a separate dining area. This is clearly a perfect home away from home. For more information on apartments, check out Melbourne Shortstay Apartments webpage.
Melbourne is world-renowned as a foodie haven, but dining with kids is always tricky. It's just as well that the city has plenty of kid-friendly options.
1. Right smack in the middle of a sprawling park complete with two adventure playgrounds in Armadale lies Cubbyhouse Canteen. Sumptuous breakfast and lunch served seven days a week, and early children's dinners on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, what more could we ask for? As an added bonus, all staff have experience working with children and strive to provide a supportive and fun environment for you and your little ones.
2. It has been said that if you have never been to Brunetti, you have never fully experienced Melbourne. An authentic Roman Pasticceria right in the heart of Carlton, Melbourne's Italian precinct, Brunetti has the most tantalising selection of pastries, Italian savories, gelati, coffee and more. You can request coloring sheets and pencils to keep the kids entertained while you sit back and watch the world go by.
3. If pizza is one of your kid’s favs, then Ladro Junior is THE place to go. This no-frills pizza place is known for its crispy thin crust pizzas and fresh wholesome ingredients. The kids’ menu doubles as an activities worksheet to keep them entertained.
4. If you're looking for a good spot for coffee or afternoon tea, Cowderoy's Dairy is an old-school style milk bar, complete with retro fittings and delicious home-made foods. Located 10 minutes walk from St Kilda beach, the nondescript brick building backs onto Jacoby Reserve playground, so you can take that babycino to go and head outside to play.
5. A little further out of town, Leroy's Cafe serves up seasonal, local produce from 7am-4pm. As well as a dedicated kids' menu, which features healthy and gluten-free options, there's an outdoor courtyard with toys, play equipment and a giant chalkboard to keep the kids entertained while you dine. To get there via the scenic route you can take a ferry along the Yarra River from the city to Williamstown, then Newport is a short train ride away.
The options for play are endless in Melbourne, but there are several places that are a distinct ‘must’ when you are there.
1. The National Gallery of Victoria is the oldest art museum in Australia. Be sure to enquire about activity books, workshops and child-specific labels on artwork at the information counter at the gallery entrance. Audio-visual guides are also available for kids.
2. A visit to all three zoos is essential when you are in Melbourne. The Weribee Open Range Zoo allows you and your kids to experience an African adventure. Here, you can arrange for an off-road safari for an intimate encounter with the magnificent African wildlife as you travel across the Zoo’s open plains. Your kids can also take a journey through the African savannah in the Zoo’s indoor play space. Can’t get enough of the wildlife? Embark on a Slumber Safari, an overnight experience at the Zoo! The safari camp offers a unique accommodation with a fully hosted experience, which includes amazing close-up animal encounters, an extravagant dinner and awesome night-time activities. These include a night walk, toasting marshmallows around the evening campfire and a delectable supper of scones, jam and cream. Within minutes of the city center is Melbourne Zoo, where you can encounter over 300 different species from around the world. Be sure to check out the Growing Wild exhibit which caters for kids aged 3 to 8 years. Kids can burrow through tunnels and even climb inside Giant Tortoise shells. At the Keeper Kids playspace, your kids can have a first-hand experience of what it is like to work at the zoo! To finish off your zoo experience, be sure to visit Healesville Sanctuary, where little ones can explore a bushland haven for Australian wildlife. Sanctuary highlights include the Spirits of the Sky daily show, which features Australia’s majestic birds of prey and exquisite parrots. There is also a new Kids’ Nature Play space that provides an enriching and interactive space that's both fun and educational.
3. The Pauline Gandal Children's Gallery at the Melbourne Museum is a wondrous place for kids from little bubs to 5 year olds. Kiddos can excavate fossils in a dino dig, become botanists in the discovery garden and transform into disco dancing animals! The exhibition is a mix of hands-on exploration and discovery, open-ended play-based learning as well as unique immersive environments. Mums and dads can also relax and enjoy a cuppa nearby as you watch your kids get creative and go wild in their discoveries!
4. Rounding off your trip to Melbourne, you have to visit at least one of its markets, be it an organic farm fresh produce market or delightful children's market selling handmade and pre-loved products. Markets pop up here, there and everywhere in the city or suburbs so be sure to do your research prior to visiting any of them.
What's travel without hitting the shops for some retail therapy for both you and the kids? The beauty of Melbourne is that you can buy just about anything - from designer fashion to locally made goodies. Every suburb has it's own little 'high street' and you'll find some very special treats if you take the time to venture into any of the local villages. You'll find local boutiques on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, high-street Aussie brands on Chapel Street, South Yarra, Bridge Road in Richmond is the place to go for outlets, vinatage stores line Sydney Road, Brunswick, and in the heart of the city Swanston and Collins Streets are the spots to go to for the major luxury labels and more. Again, take the time to wander down lanes and side-streets - you never know what you might find! If malls are more your thing, or you're pressed for time, here is a list of the must-visit shopping malls in town. Visiting the direct factory outlets is key in getting the best deals!
DFO Essendon https://www.dfo.com.au/essendon/
Harbour Town http://www.harbourtownmelbourne.com.au/
Spencer Outlet Centre http://spenceroutletcentre.com.au/
DFO South Wharf https://www.dfo.com.au/south-wharf/
Emporium Melbourne https://www.emporiummelbourne.com.au/
Pacific Weribee https://pacificwerribee.com.au/
Whether you have a lot of time or only a little, make a plan!
Lego Educational Centre (Docklands) www.melbourneplaygrounds.com.au/melbourneplaygrounds-info.php?id=20779
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium www.melbourneaquarium.com.au
Queen Victoria Market www.qvm.com.au
Collingwood Children’s Farm www.farm.org.au
Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden www.rbg.vic.gov.au/visit-melbourne/attractions/children-garden
Lake Mountain Alpine Resort http://lakemountainresort.com.au
A Maze ‘N Things, Phillip Island www.amazenthings.com.au
Phillip Island Nature Parks www.penguins.org.au
Torquay, Great Ocean Road www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/torquay
Warrnambool, Great Ocean Road http://visitwarrnambool.com.au
Twelve Apostles Marine National Park http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/twelve-apostles-marine-national-park
Lego Discovery Centre https://melbourne.legolanddiscoverycentre.com.au/
Puffing Billy Railway http://puffingbilly.com.au/en/
Naturipe Fruit Picking https://www.naturipe.com.au/
Gold Leaf Restaurant http://www.goldleafrestaurant.com/melb/main/
Dong Ba 133 Hopkins Street, Footscray VIC 3011, Australia, +61 3 9689 0608
Old Kingdom Chinese Restaurant, 197 Smith Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia, +61 3 9417 2438
Dandenong Ranges National Park https://www.dandenongrangespoint.com.au › Attractions › Activities
Royal Botanic Gardens https://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/
Luna Park https://lunapark.com.au/
18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
Melbourne Star https://www.melbournestar.com/en/
101 Waterfront Way, Docklands, VIC 3008, Australia