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Melbourne is our hometown and it’s a playground for kids of all ages. Our city is the place to go for sports and outdoor activities, culture, fun and food.
Whether you’re visiting from abroad or interstate or simply want to explore more of your home town, there are plenty of things to do in Melbourne with kids. In this article we’re focused mainly on Melbourne’s city center and some day trips out of town. Otherwise a whole book would be necessary!
Here are some of our favorite activities for kids in Melbourne, starting off with the free stuff – because everyone wants some of that!
What's in this article
- Top 10 free things to do in Melbourne with kids
- Sightseeing in Melbourne
- Fun family friendly things to do in Melbourne
- Wildlife activities for kids in Melbourne
- Activities for Sports mad kids
- Cultural activities for kids in Melbourne
- Family friendly events in Melbourne
- Top 10 Family friendly food options in Melbourne
- Family friendly day trips from Melbourne
- Where to stay
- Getting Around Melbourne with kids
- Enjoy your family fun in Melbourne
Top 10 free things to do in Melbourne with kids
Ride the free tourist tram
Get your bearings and take a ride on the free City Circle tourist tram that does a loop of the city. The trip takes you past all the city’s major landmarks including the State Parliament, Docklands, the Melbourne Aquarium and Flinders Street station. The best way to use the tram is like the hop on hop off tourist buses in other cities.
You can’t miss the older style W class tram decorated in maroon and gold. There are departures every 12 minutes during the day and the journey takes around 45 minutes. Make sure to grab your free city map onboard.
More info – Public Transport Victoria
Visit the Queen Victoria Market
Melbourne’s central market is a fun place to visit year round to browse the variety and produce stalls. The vendors like to call out their specials to attract customers. It’s a fun and vibrant way to spend an hour or two. Our favorite section is the deli hall where you can sample cheeses and baked goods before making your purchase.
The market is a great place to grab some lunch or supplies for your day and there are always street performers entertaining the shoppers. If you’re looking for souvenirs, this is the place to grab your clip on koalas and sheepskin lined boots.
The market is open from 06:00am to early afternoon everyday except Monday and Wednesday. On Sundays the traders open stalls at 09:00am
More info – Queen Victoria Market website
Check out our famous laneways and street art
Melbourne’s laneways adorned with street art and murals are one of the city’s most recognisable features. Exploring these ever changing urban galleries are a fun way to spend a few hours in between ducking into shops and cafes. Teenagers will love posting their pics to Instagram and the lanes make the perfect colorful backdrop for family selfies.
The most famous laneways for street art are Hosier Lane between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane and Manchester Lane. Also try Union and Rutledge lanes and Duckboard Place but really you just need to keep your eyes open.
Discover Koorie culture at Federation Square
Learn about Melbourne’s Indigenous cultural heritage at the Koorie Heritage Trust – an Aboriginal arts organization that aims to ensure that Aboriginal culture and history are a fundamental part of our city’s life.
Visit the center to view their permanent collection of artworks, photographs and artefacts as well as their program of temporary exhibitions showcasing the work of contemporary Indigenous artists.
Indigenous art is also on display on Level 3 at the nearby the Ian Potter Center (entry is also free).
Koorie Heritage Trust also runs paid guided tours of Birrarung Wilam (River Camp) Walk – an important gathering site of the local Kilin people.
• Levels 1 & 3, The Yarra Building, Federation Square, Corner Swanston & Flinders Streets, Melbourne
Stroll along St Kilda foreshore and pier
Take the tram to the beachside suburb of St Kilda on a sunny day and enjoy a walk along the pier and foreshore or even go for a swim. St Kilda beach is popular with locals and visitors who like the calm waters of Port Phillip bay and outdoor pursuits. It’s a fun place to stroll and watch the skateboarders and kite surfers do tricks. You can even have a go if you like.
From the pier there’s a beautiful view of the city and if you are in the area at sunset you might even spot the colony of 1,400 tiny fairy penguins who live near the pier’s breakwater.
If you get hungry there are lots of restaurants and cafes to choose from. We like Republica for breakfast (on weekends only) or classic fish and chips from Paperfish near the St Kilda Life Saving club.
On Sundays there is a fun arts and crafts market along St Kilda Esplanade.
Trams to St Kilda from the city – No. 16 tram from Swanston Street – number 16 tram, from Bourke Street – number 96 tram, from Collins Street – number 12 tram. All take around half an hour.
Admire the State Library of Victoria
The interior of the State Library of Victoria is one of the most beautiful spaces in Melbourne and it’s free to visit. Most people come to see the stunning domed La Trobe Reading room but you can also visit the galleries to view a collection of modern and contemporary art. There are also several free permanent and temporary exhibitions hosted by the library where you can learn about the history of Victoria and bookmaking.
Join a free tour of the library to discover more about its history. General tours depart daily at 10:45 from outside Readings Bookshop in the Russell Street Welcome Zone. There are also special interest tours like a history of the famous bushranger Ned Kelly worth investigating.
The library is open from 10:00am daily with some closures on public holidays. Check their website for more info and to book a tour.
• 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Wander the Southbank and check out the street performances
Melbourne’s Southbank is home to many arts and cultural venues but you can also enjoy free art installations and performances if you walk from Princes Bridge (opposite Flinders Street station) to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Center. This is a favorite spot for local buskers to gather a crowd.
In the evenings you can wait for the bursts of flames or fireballs known as Gas Brigades to light up the night sky outside Crown Casino. The light show starts at 20:00 on weekends and 21:00 on weekdays (depending on weather and fire restrictions).
Play or stroll through Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens
We are proud of our green spaces in Melbourne and the jewel in the crown are the Royal Botanic Gardens. Once a swamp land, this lush green space just moments from the city center was established in 1846 and is now home to over 50,000 plants across 36 hectares (89 acres) of parkland.
The best activity for kids at the Botanic Gardens is the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden. Here you can explore, play and get your hands dirty in this garden designed especially with children in mind. On warm days water fountains are turned on for lots of splashing and fun.
The gardens are open from 07:30am to sunset daily. The Children’s garden is open 10.00 am to sunset Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays and 10:00 am to sunset seven days a week during Victorian State School holidays. You can easily walk there from the city or catch a tram down St Kilda Road.
Explore the Fitzroy Gardens, fairy tree and mock Tudor village
Elegant Fitzroy Gardens are a lovely place for a picnic and leisurely stroll. Along the way you’ll past fountains, ponds and ancient fig trees with branches drooping to the ground.
Little kids especially will love looking at the engraved fairy tree and miniature Tudor village. If you’re interested in history you might like to step inside Captain Cook’s cottage, transported brick by brick from the explorer’s home town in Yorkshire, England.
The Fitzroy Gardens are behind Treasury Gardens, and a short walk from Parliament House and Parliament station.
Let off steam at Carlton Gardens playground
The best playground close to Melbourne’s city center is in Carlton Gardens behind the Melbourne Museum. There are actually two playgrounds catering for different age groups in the middle of an open green space.
The playground for older kids has slides, climbing frames and tunnels to explore. While the little kids areas has swings and smaller slides and a mini zipline.
You can grab snacks and coffee from the museum cafe close by.
To get there, walk through Carlton Gardens, past the beautiful Exhibition Building and Melbourne Museum.
Explore the Docklands
One of Melbourne’s newest districts, the Docklands is a fun place to visit for a stroll along the waterfront and to check out the modern architecture. Race through futuristic Webb Bridge and look for unusual sculptures before heading to Central Pier to look for jellyfish swimming in the waters below.
There are several good parks in the area too. Our favorite is Ron Barassi Snr Park with it’s two loopy slides. You can get to Docklands on the free City Circle tram.
Sightseeing in Melbourne
Fly up to the 88th floor of Melbourne’s tallest building – the Eureka Tower – for 360 degree views of Melbourne. The Eureka Skydeck offers unparalleled views of the city skyline and surrounding countryside from 300 meters above the ground.
If you’re brave you can experience The Edge, an enclosed glass platform that extends out over the city below. Eureka Skydeck is open from 10:00am to 22:00pm daily. There are special deals if you want to see both the day and night views – more info and tickets
• Riverside Quay, Southbank
Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is a fairly recent addition to the city skyline. It looks quite spectacular lit up at night. The wheel is the place to go for 360 degree views of the city from fully enclosed glass cabins. It takes 30 minutes to rotate so you can soak up the views. You’ll find it in the Docklands area of the city and while the views back towards the skyscrapers are great, the immediate area to the north and west isn’t the most exciting. You can prebook tickets here
• 101 Waterfront Way, Docklands
If I was to choose one “views experience” in Melbourne I would go for the Eureka Skydeck – better views and the adrenaline inducing platform
Yarra boat cruise
The Yarra River flows through the center of Melbourne and while it is not especially pretty – quite muddy to look at in fact! – the surrounding banks and buildings are interesting.
Take a 2 hour boat cruise both up and down the river and listen to stories about Melbourne’s history and the landmarks around you. The boat takes you down past the sporting precinct including the Tennis Center, Olympic Park and Herring Island as well as Docklands and the West Gate Bridge.
The cruises depart from Southbank Promenade 3 times a day – click here for ticket information
Fun family friendly things to do in Melbourne
Beachside St Kilda has its very own amusement park complete with rollercoasters, a carousel and of course a ghost train. Luna Park has been a Melbourne icon for over 100 years and its Scenic Railway rollercoaster is the oldest, continually operating roller coaster in the world! There are 20 rides and attractions to enjoy as well as the usual fairground treats.
Luna Park is open on weekends, Victorian school holidays and every public holiday except Christmas Day. It’s a good idea to pre-purchase your ride tickets as you’ll skip the ticket line at the entrance. There’s a small $5 charge if you don’t plan to go on any rides – more ticket info. Get there by catching the 16 or 96 tram from outside Flinders Street station.
• 18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda
Rent bikes and go for a leisurely ride along the Yarra River. The Yarra trail runs x kilometres along the river. You can hire bikes for kids of all ages as well as bike seats or buggies. When the weather is fine this is a fun activity that can take you a little way out of the city to enjoy our urban bush landscapes. Make a stop at Collingwood Children’s farm for a delicious lunch and to visit the working farm.
There are a couple of vendors at Federation Square near the river bank. They also offer tours if you would like a guided experience. You’ll need a helmet for all riders – this is the law in Victoria.
Does your family like taking photos and selfies? Then visit ArtVo – an interactive series of galleries dedicated to huge colourful murals and trick art. Wander through various themed gallery zones like the Jungle Safari and Aquatic Adventure where you are encouraged to touch the artwork and take photos. So much fun!
ArtVo is currently closed for renovations (reopening in November 2019) but it is usually open 7 days a week from 10:00am to 17:00pm (last admittance). Tickets cost $28 for adults and $18 for children aged 5 – 15. Kids aged 4 and under go for free. It’s worth buying a family ticket as deep discounts apply – more info
You can get there on the City Circle tram or take Tram 70 (via Flinders Street) or Tram 86 (Via Bourke Street) to the The District tram stop. ArtVo is within the free tram zone.
• 26 Star Crescent, Level 1, District Docklands
A little way out of the city but worth mentioning because it is fantastic, Scienceworks is an interactive museum dedicated to all things science. In the popular Sportsworks Gallery you can race against Olympic athletes and learn all about the science behind moving your body. While in the Planetarium you can watch huge projections of the night sky and presentations about our universe. Outside there is a huge playground and space for picnics.
The museum is open daily from 10:00am to 16:30pm except Good Friday and Christmas Day. To get there take a Werribee Line train 7 stops to Spotswood. The train takes about 30 minutes and it’s a 10 minute walk from there. Children can visit Scienceworks for free and an adult ticket costs $15. Extra charges apply for the Planetarium – more info
• 2 Booker Street, Spotswood
Wildlife activities for kids in Melbourne
Zoos are popular with families all over the world and Melbourne’s Zoological Gardens are particularly well maintained with a strong focus on conservation. You’ll also find playgrounds and many facilities both indoors and outdoors to make a family visit a happy one. Make sure to find out the time of the keepers’ talks – they are generally very interesting and entertaining.
The park is arranged into different areas so you can pick and choose the animals your family prefers. Our favorite zones at the Melbourne Zoo are the lemurs and gorillas in the Gorilla Rainforest, the Trail of the Elephants, Butterfly House and the super cute meerkats.
If you want to see Australian animals there is a special zone just for our native fauna where you can get super close to koalas, kangaroos and wallabies.
The zoo is a quick train ride on the Upfield line from Flinders Street or any of the city loop stations – you need the Royal Park stop. Or you can catch the number 58 tram from William Street in the city. Ticket prices for adults are $38. On the weekend kids aged 4 – 15 get free admission or it is $19 on weekdays. There is no charge for children aged 3 and under. You can buy your tickets online here for fast track entry – a good idea on weekends and during school holidays.
• Elliott Ave, Parkville
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
Do your kids love sea creatures? The SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is a fun place to visit to explore the under water world. The aquarium has the world’s only display of elephant sharks, a fascinating sting ray display and some fun interactive exhibits. Don’t miss the Penguin Parade, held at 13:30 every day or the chance to make eye contact with Pinjarra, one of Australia’s largest saltwater crocodiles.
If you’re looking for activities to excite your teenagers the aquarium offers a shark diving experience for those aged 14 and over or the smaller members of your family will love the behind the scenes boat tour.
The aquarium is on King Street in the heart of the city and one of the best indoor activities for kids in Melbourne. Opening hours are from 10:00am – 17.30pm on 09:30am – 18:00pm on weekdays and Weekends, School Holidays and Public HolidaysTickets cost from $42 for adults (16+) and $28 for children aged 3-16. You can make savings of up to 20% by booking in advance here
• King Street, Melbourne
Activities for Sports mad kids
Melbourne is a sporting city and you don’t have to go far to find something to entertain your sports loving family. Throughout the year the city hosts several major international sporting events including the Australian Tennis Open and Australian Grand Prix as well as cricket, Australian Rules football and many other events.
If you’re in town when these events are on make sure to book tickets well in advance so you can experience the fun. Otherwise, you can still visit and tour the major venues for an insight into our sports loving culture. You can walk to the MCG from the city or catch the number 70 tram from Flinders Street.
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Known simply as “The G” to us locals, the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) is the 10th largest stadium in the world and can hold over 100,000 spectators. The MCG was built in 1853 and has been an iconic landmark ever since, even hosting the 1956 Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies.
These days it is used mainly for Aussie rules (AFL) football in winter and cricket in summer. Throughout the year you can visit the stadium and the National Sports Museum (note – the museum is temporarily closed until February 2020, you can still visit the MCG).
For a unique behind the scenes look at one of the world’s iconic sporting venues you can join a tour hosted by a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC). During the 75 minute tour you are taken to the players changing rooms, the MCC Long Room, and even onto the edge of the arena – book your tour here
Aussie Rules football
Aussie Rules football is a unique, physically demanding and fast paced sport. It’s a bit like rugby but the players usually don’t stop running for the full 100 minutes of play. It’s a fun and interactive game to watch and join in the crowd cheering on their favorite team (go Hawks!).
The AFL season runs from March until the end of September. Generally you can find tickets to weekend matches at the MCG however they are harder to come by on ANZAC Day (25th April) when a special memorial game is played and during the finals series in September. You can check out the fixture and buy tickets here.
As soon as the football season finishes the cricket season starts. You can settle in for a 5 day test match or watch a one day international or T20 match between Australia and touring teams. In 2019/20 the Aussies will play New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and South Africa. View upcoming matches and buy your tickets here.
Rod Laver Arena – the National Tennis Centre
Each January the first tennis grand slam event of the year is held at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. The Australian Open is fantastic event to attend if you love sport and tennis and there’s always a real buzz around the city at that time.
If you’re visiting before or after the event you can still have a sneak peek behind the scenes at the stadium as tours of the complex run daily from 1st April. During your 75 minute tour you will walk through the player tunnels, visit the dressing rooms and even walk out on Show Court 3 as you hear all the stories of one of the world’s greatest tennis tournaments.
Tours run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11:30am, 13:00pm and 14:30pm (except public holidays). The cost of $30 for adults and $16 for children aged 3-12. Family discounts also apply – click for more info. You can walk to the tennis centre from the city or catch the number
• Olympic Boulevard, Melbourne
MSAC – Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre
If you want to go for a swim or splash in a pool, head to the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC) just a short tram ride from the city. This huge complex hosts international competitions but it also has facilities for recreational use. Most popular are the wave pool and water slide but you can do laps if you really want to. MSAC is open daily from early to late but check their website for specific section open times – the waterslide opens late on weekdays as an example
• 30 Aughtie Drive, Albert Park
Cultural activities for kids in Melbourne
Museum of Victoria and IMAX cinema
Our museum is one of the best indoor activities for kids in Melbourne with attractions to suit all age groups. The main exhibits include dinosaur fossils and bones, fascinating insect displays and rooms dedicated to Victoria’s marine life. We like the Dynamic Earth section where you can watch a 3D movie that shows how magma flows in underground tunnels or spews out of volcanoes.
Under 5s will love the Children’s Gallery where they can explore indoor and outdoor zones designed to spark their curiosity and creativity. Kids can climb, jump or dance and even listen to special Dreamtime stories.
The museum is open from 10:00am to every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday. Children under 16 enter for free and the cost for adults is $15 with extra charges for IMAX cinema and special exhibitions – more info
• 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
Art museums can be stuffy but not this one! The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International) is a great place to visit with kids. The permanent exhibitions are free and there is always a special activity just for kids on the ground floor. Usually the kids exhibit relates to the latest touring exhibition and is very hands on and interactive.
Little kids will like putting their hands onto the fountain window at the gallery foyer and there is a sculpture garden out the back where you can play hide and seek. The gallery is open 10:00am–17:00pm daily. There is a charge for temporary exhibits and they are generally very popular so it is best to book in advance – tickets here
You can easily reach the gallery on foot from Flinders Street station and Southbank
• 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
The culture and experience of people from all over the world who have made Melbourne their home is celebrated at the Immigration Museum. Here you can visit the permanent exhibitions dedicated to the journeys and lifestyles brought to Australia by migrants as well as interesting temporary exhibitions.. Don’t miss the serene Tribute Garden art installation displays the names of some of the 9 million people who ventured across the seas to make Australia their home.
The museum is open from 09:00am to 17:00pm daily except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Kids under 18 enter for free. Adults – $18
• 400 Flinders Street, Melbourne
ACMI stands for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. It’s a museum dedicated to film, TV, videogames, digital culture and art. So of course it is very popular with kids. The exhibits are very hands on and interactive. You can even recreate the “bullet time” effect from The Matrix.
Unfortunately the museum is closed for refurbishment currently. It is due to reopen in May 2020 so if you’re visiting after this time definitely add it to your list of family friendly things to do in Melbourne. We’ll keep this page updated as more information becomes available.
• Federation Square, Flinders Street, Melbourne
Old Melbourne Gaol
A symbol of law and order from city’s early days, the Old Melbourne Gaol is now a museum documenting the life of prisoners and wardens. Some of Australia’s most hardened criminals of the 19th and 20th centuries were housed in the prison before facing execution. Most famously, the bushranger Ned Kelly was hanged for murder at the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1880.
You can visit the gaol, city watch house and magistrate’s court and see artifacts from the gaol’s past. There are activities for kids and you can dress up in costumes and spend some time in a cell. At night time the museum runs ghost tours. They are a little bit gruesome so this experience is recommended for teenagers 16 and over.
The Old Melbourne Gaol is open from 09.30am to 17:00pm everyday except Christmas Day and Good Friday. Tickets are $28 for adults and $15 for kids aged 5-15. If you have 2 or more children you can buy a family tickets that offers decent discounts. Check the website for details of their spooky night time activities.
• 377 Russell Street, Melbourne – 2 minutes’ walk from Melbourne Central Station
Catch a show at one of Melbourne’s historic theatres
Many stage shows make their Australian debut in Melbourne, attracted by its thriving arts scene. There is always something happening that is suitable for kids.
The most popular shows for kids at the moment are Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical. Tickets sell out very quickly but you might find some good deals if you approach the theatres directly.
Family friendly events in Melbourne
Throughout the year Melbourne hosts hundreds of festivals and events suitable for families with children of all ages. Apart from the major sporting events you can also experience food festivals, art and film events and cultural festivals celebrating communities that made Melbourne their home. Some favorites:
- White Night – mid winter illuminations throughout the city (August)
- Night Noodle Market – street food on the banks of the Yarra at Birrarung Marr (November)
- Queen Vic night markets – various events throughout the year
- Australian Open tennis live site – if you don’t have match tickets you can pull up a deck chair in Fed Square and watch the games live (January)
The best thing to do is keep an eye on Visit Melbourne’s Events page for upcoming activities.
Top 10 Family friendly food options in Melbourne
Many people come to Melbourne just to eat so luckily the youngest members of your family are well catered for too. You can find almost any cuisine you can think of in Melbourne – from sushi to pizza and more. Here are some fun places to take your kids to eat in the city center.
Brunetti has been a Melbourne institution for over 60 years and it’s a huge crowd pleaser. This Italian cafe has delicious pizza, pasta, salads, and of course coffee, cake and gelato. You can stop by from breakfast through to late at night for meals and snacks. The space on Flinders Lane is huge and can accommodate large groups easily. Remember to order at the bar.
• 250 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Who doesn’t love dumplings? Hutong is Melbourne’s favorite dumpling restaurant and it’s the place to go for a fast feed that won’t break the bank. You can also order classic Chinese dishes like fried rice if for some strange reason your kids arent dumpling eaters
• 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne
Lord of the Fries
If your little ones are getting hangry, stop at Lord of the Fries for freshly made french fries with a variety of toppings. This stop is also great for vegans as they offer vegetarian burgers and veg sausage hotdogs.
• Various locations throughout the city
Seek out this tiny shop for scoops of the freshest and tastiest gelato this side of Rome. The fruit flavors at Pidapipo change seasonally but kids will love the nutella swirl that’s always on the menu.
• 8 Degraves Street, Melbourne
Sakura Kaiten Sushi (sushi train)
Our kids love a sushi train and Sakura Kaiten sushi is one of the best in Melbourne. Choose from the dishes cruising past on the train or order specific items from the iPad menu. It’s a very small restaurant so go there for an early lunch or dinner before the office crowds arrive.
• 61 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
In a prime position overlooking Federation Square, Chocolate Buddha is a casual Japanese eatery that does a great job catering for kids. The children’s menu features ramen, edamame and nori rolls. There’s even a bento box option if your gang is super hungry.
• Federation Square, Cnr Swanston & Flinders Streets, Melbourne
An American style diner with burgers, fried chicken and ice cream sundaes, Trunk Diner is a great place to refuel in a pretty garden setting. You can also opt for healthier soups and salads. Trunk is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
• 275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Emporium food court
If your crew can’t agree on what to eat then head straight for the food court at Emporium where the choices are vast and excellent quality. Some of Melbourne’s favorite restaurants have set up shop here and you’ll find everything from sushi to tacos and salad.
• 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
American Doughnut Kitchen (Queen Vic Market)
Kids from Melbourne will tell you that you can’t go to the market without grabbing a few of these sugar coated jam doughnuts to munch. The American Doughnut Kitchen make their doughnuts fresh.You can’t miss their retro silver van outside the fruit and vegetable section. You get 5 doughnuts for $6.50. Expect a line but it does move quickly.
• Queen Victoria Market
The latest craze of franken-desserts is realised at Milkcow. This Korean chain specializes in soft serve ice cream with any and every topping you can imagine – gold leaf, fairy floss, and caramel popcorn to name a few. There’s even a unicorn burrito made with rainbow ice cream, fairy floss and oreo cookies.
• 287 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Family friendly day trips from Melbourne
If you’re visiting Melbourne for a few days and want to explore outside the city, you’re in luck. There are wonderful day trip options for the whole family to enjoy within an hour or two of city. These are our favorites:
Yarra Valley and Healesville sanctuary
Rent a car for the day and head to the Yarra Valley. This region is just a one hour drive out of the city and has fun activities to fill the whole day. Visit the wonderful Healesville Sanctuary wildlife park first.
Here you can get up close with native Australian animals – koalas, kangaroos, wombats and more. Make sure to time your visit to include watching the birds of prey show 12.00pm and 14:30pm. Kids love watching the birds swoop overhead and catch treats in their claws.
You can take a picnic to the sanctuary but a great place to eat close by is the Innocent Bystander winery’s urban cellar door where the woodfired pizzas are tasty and kids are welcome (bookings recommended).
If you want to visit a winery for lunch there are several that cater for families. Try Helen’s Hill Estate where you’ll find treasure maps and coloring books. At Oakridge there are giant games of jenga and chess to keep the kids amused while you sample the local wine – for more family friendly wineries in the Yarra Valley click here
In the afternoon take a walk through a rainforest before stopping off at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery for sweet treats.
For something different, that does not involve driving, this tour takes you to Puffing Billy – a steam train that winds its way through the rainforest – and includes stops for morning tea and a roast lunch. It’s then on to some wineries and the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie for dessert – there’s something for the whole family – more details
Just an hour south east of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula has rolling green hills and vineyards and is one of our favorite escapes, perfect for a day trip from Melbourne.
The safe bayside beaches at Rye and Blairgowrie are popular year round places to play and swim in the summer months. You can also visit the Peninsula Hot Springs all year round to soak and relax in the warm thermal waters. The Bath House is family friendly and a place to enjoy the natural environment, several pools at different temperatures and stunning views of the countryside.
If you’re looking for guaranteed then make a stop at The Enchanted Adventure Garden. This outdoor fun park has zip lines, hedge mazes and giant tube slides as well as a sculpture garden. You could easily spend the whole day there alone.
When it is time to eat there are no shortage of options thanks to family friendly wineries with kid approved menus and open outdoor spaces to play. We like Green Olive Farm where the kids can bounce on an Olympic sized trampoline and visit the duckpond.
Looking for a day tour of the Mornington Peninsula? You can visit the hot springs, enjoy a delicious cellar door lunch and visit a winery or go strawberry picking on this popular tour. With just a small group it’s easy to relax and enjoy the coastal countryside – more info
Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is an area of stunning natural beauty that is reasonably close to Melbourne. Known for its rock formations, coastal landscapes and lush green rainforest, the 250 kilometer road passes through and beside koala colonies, pretty hamlets and rugged beaches favored by surfers. Top sights to see along the way are the Twelve Apostles rock formations, Loch Ard gorge and Otways National Park.
Many people visit the Great Ocean Road on a long day trip or tour from Melbourne. If you’re looking for a well regarded tour, this tour by GoWest on GetYourGuide is well regarded and you also have the option to take a 15 minute helicopter ride along the spectacular coastline – more info and prices
But, we think that to do this beautiful region justice you need a minimum of 2-3 days. Rent a car and book a hotel or AirBnB and explore this area slowly. You won’t regret it.
Phillip Island and the Fairy Penguins
Visiting Phillip Island’s population of cute fairy penguins is one of the most popular activities from Melbourne. Just 90 minutes from Melbourne the island has many other family attractions making it a worthy day trip destination.
At Phillip Island’s Moonlit Sanctuary’ Wildlife Conservation Park you can get close to kangaroos, koalas and wallabies. There are actually over 60 Australian wildlife species to discover here so it’s well worth visiting for a couple of hours. Or if you prefer, take an eco cruise out to Cowes to visit see the colony of thousands of Australian fur seals in their natural habitat – more info.
If you’d simply like to enjoy the beach, head to Cape Woolamai and watch the surfers.
Lastly, the main event – the Penguin Parade – begins at dusk when the little birds return home after a long day out at sea. Hundreds of penguins waddle up the beach and snuggle into their burrows to the delight of their awaiting audience.
You can easily do this trip on your own or relax and join a tour where all the logistics are taken care of. We like this tour that includes your transport, a visit to the wildlife park and historic Churchill Island as well as the penguins of course! It departs at 10:45am daily so there’s even time for a sleep in – more information
Where to stay
Fortunately there are a plenty of family friendly places to stay in Melbourne. From hotels, apartments and AirBnBs there are options to suit all budgets.
If you’re visiting Melbourne for the first time, we suggest staying in the city center or Southbank. You can make the most of all Melbourne’s family friendly attractions from these locations.
Midrange – Crown Metropol
Generous room and bed sizes, stylish modern decor and very reasonable rates makes the Crown Metropol our top place to stay in Melbourne for families. The hotel has a fantastic location on Southbank and boasts facilities including an onsite restaurant and infinity pool with views of the city – click here for rates and availability
Budget – Victoria Hotel
The Victoria Hotel offers loads of value right in the heart of the city on Little Collins Street. Family rooms are huge with one queen and two single beds. The hotel has classic furnishings and boasts an indoor pool. If you want to stay near the cafes, restaurants, theatres and shops in Melbourne on a budget, the Victoria Hotel is a great choice – click for rates and availability
Luxury – Quay West Suites
Quay West Suites offer luxury accommodation perfect for families on Melbourne’s Southbank. With space to spread out and incredible views across the Yarra River of the city skyline, each suite is a haven of calm after a long day of sightseeing and activities.
All suites have a kitchenette but if you don’t feel like cooking you can take advantage of the 24/7 room service. Guests can also enjoy the indoor pool and wellness center – click for rates and availability
Getting Around Melbourne with kids
If you’re staying in the city center, getting around couldn’t be easier. Melbourne is fairly small and walkable and while there are some hills you can take advantage of the free tram zone when your legs are getting tired.
Melbourne’s free tram zone covers all trams within the boundaries of Flinders Street, Spring Street, and La Trobe Street. It also includes the tram routes along Victoria Street, William Street and Elizabeth Street and the Docklands area. There is no need to buy a ticket if you are staying within this zone.
Should you want to venture further afield or use the train system you will need to buy a myki transport card. You can buy these at train stations, 7-Eleven stores and ticket machines. If you have an Android phone you can use the myki mobile app. Plan to budget around $10 per day for adults for a full day ticket and $7.50 for children. Note – Children aged 4 and under travel free and don’t need a myki – more info
Attractions outside the free tram zone include – the MCG, Rod Laver Arena, St Kilda, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Zoo.
Uber is very popular in Melbourne and there are also taxi ranks throughout the city.
Enjoy your family fun in Melbourne
We hope you found lots of ideas for fun things to do in Melbourne as a family. Our city is known for being one of the most liveable cities in the world, but we like to think that visitors will remember Melbourne as a great place to visit too.
Have a great stay in our city if you’re visiting and we hope to see you back here very soon.
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