Best things to do with kids in Melbourne
Melbourne is often hyped as one of the best family holiday destinations in the world, and there are plenty of reasons why, especially because there is such a wide variety of things to do in Melbourne for kids and adults of all ages. Wondering what the family attractions in Melbourne are that make it so unique?
- Melbourne is a cultural hotspot – galleries, museums, and exhibitions abound.
- Melbourne’s a foodie’s heaven. From Lygon Street’s Italian to the Bohemian fare at Brunswick Street, and everything in between, you won’t go hungry.
- Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia. Being a Queenslander I would love to say this isn’t the case but they are sports mad in Melbourne! AFL is big business in Melbourne, as is the Australian Tennis Open, Grand Prix and anything at the MCG. You can get in on the action by heading to an event or even going on a Melbourne Sports tour.
There are so many things to do with kids in Melbourne, it’s hard to know where to start. Whether you’re looking to meet the tigers at the zoo, test your goal kicking skills against AFL greats, milk a cow, or ride a bike along the Yarra River, we’ve uncovered all of the fun Melbourne activities for kids and parents.
Free things to do in Melbourne with kids
One of the greatest free things to do in Melbourne with is to wander. Filled with interesting alleyways, eye-popping street art, and the best food experience in Australia, Melbourne is a city like no other. Take some time to discover the wonders of Chinatown,
If you’re interested in going on the free Melbourne walking tour, take a look at what Wandermust Family learned on their tour.
Best Street Art in Melbourne CBD
You don’t have to travel too far to discover some of Melbourne’s famous street art. It’s just about everywhere. In the Melbourne CBD some of the best street art to explore with the kids is in Hosier Lane, Caledonian Lane, Union Lane, Ac/DC Lane, Duckboard Place and Rutledge Lane.
Keep an eye out for English-based graffiti artist Banksy’s work, and ensure you mosey down Hosier Lane for some edgier graffiti. Makes for pretty great photos. Take a look at a map of the best spots to explore on Walking Maps.
Once you have tired of wandering, then it’s on to explore all the other amazing places to visit in Melbourne for kids.
Flinders Street Station | Must see Melbourne
Wondering what the iconic yellow building is that you see in all the tourist photos? Take a few minutes to check out the historic Flinders Street railway station with the kids in Melbourne CBD, built in 1854. With its distinctive mustard yellow paint and clocks under the main dome showing departure times of the next trains, it is a true icon of Melbourne.
Best playgrounds in Melbourne
No matter where you go in the world, a great playground can make all the difference between getting to see all of the amazing sights, or having to go home early because the kids have had enough.
Let them blow of some steam, have some kid fun and burn off any excess energy if that’s possible, at one of these Melbourne playgrounds.
- ArtPlay Playground – behind Federation Square
- Royal Park Nature Playground – near Melbourne Zoo and Royal Children’s Hospital
- Ron Barrasi Snr Park – Docklands
- St Kilda Adventure Playground – St Kilda (hidden away off Neptune Street)
- Fitzroy Adventure Playground (otherwsie known as Cubbies) – Rowy Street, Fitzroy
Outdoor activities for kids in Melbourne
Bike ride along the Yarra | Family fun Melbourne
If the weather is great, take a ride along the Yarra River. Well-maintained bike paths run from the CBD, with some paths following the river while others meander through eucalypt forests. The RACV operates a bike share scheme in the CBD, however, you need to be 15 years and older to ride and you can only hire two bikes at a time.
A better option for most families will be to hire your bikes from Rentabike at Federation Square. They offer family rates, plus have tandem bikes, tagalongs, and buggies for non-riders. Clean helmets are supplied as part of your rental and must be worn while riding.
While you’re in Federation Square, pop into the Melbourne Visitor Centre for a free city map, brochures of attractions, public transport information, and guides to events taking place around the city.
Melbourne Children’s Garden
Let the kids get their hands dirty and get back to nature with a visit to the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens. This interactive and educational garden teaches kids about conservation and the environment and is a fun thing to do in Melbourne with kids of all ages and abilities.
The Melbourne Children’s Garden is open 10am to sunset Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays; 10am to sunset seven days a week during Victorian State School holidays.
Melbourne family attractions for sports lovers
Melbourne Cricket Ground and National Sports Museum
Sports-mad kids can go behind-the-scenes of Australia’s most iconic sporting grounds, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Take a tour of the MCG, which lets you explore the player’s dressing rooms, media room, the Long room and so much more. Stick around and visit the National Sports Museum which includes the Australian Olympic Museum, the Sports Hall of Fame, and the Australian Cricket and Football Halls of Fame. Allow extra time here on the school holidays for the fun and interactive “Game-on!” program.
Tours depart regularly between 10.00am and 3.00pm daily and run for 75 minutes. Open daily 10:00-5:00pm. Tour and museum hours are modified when events are on at the grounds.
Educational activities for kids in Melbourne
Interaxcity Children’s Museum
A seriously cool newcomer to the Melbourne kids attraction scene is Interaxcity Children’s Museum. Kids imaginations can run wild here with the ultimate learn through play experience. Kids choose to take on any role in this 200 square metre indoor mini-city from being a chef, a pilot, a builder or a doctor.
Admission is $18 per child one year and over for a 90 minute session. Free for accompanying adults. Located at 1a Cawkwell Street, Malvern, Melbourne.
Melbourne Museum for kids
Next for the family is the newly opened Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery (for kids aged 0-5) at the Melbourne Museum. Get set for some serious exploration, hands-on discovery, and play-based learning, using unique objects from the museum collection. While bubs are having fun, the big kids can be inside exploring the skeletons of prehistoric animals: ten dinosaurs, three pterosaurs, and one mammal-like reptile. Animated reconstructions show how these animals lived, fought, and died millions of years ago. They can even touch dinosaur teeth!
Located at 11 Nicholson St. Carlton (tram ride from CBD on City Circle and other routes). Open daily 10:00am-5:00pm.
ScienceWorks and SportsWorks
For kids over five years old, you can’t beat a visit to ScienceWorks. Push it, pull it, spin it, bang it – a hands-on fun and interactive adventure. While you’re there, stop in at Sportsworks (included in your Scienceworks ticket) to discover the science behind moving your body. You can race against an Olympic runner, try out as a soccer goalkeeper, or zoom down the slopes in a snowboarding simulator. Located at 2 Booker St, Spotswood. Open daily 10:00-4:30 pm. Free entry for kids under 16.
Fun things to do in Melbourne for kids
Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
Head over to Docklands and get on the only giant observation wheel in the Southern hemisphere, the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. From 120 metres above the ground, you’ll enjoy 30 minutes of 360-degree views over Melbourne’s CBD, and out over Port Phillip Bay. Open daily 11:00am-7:00pm (May to August) and 11:00am-10:00pm (September to April).
Luna Park, St Kilda
Next stop is for thrill-seeking kids. Luna Park is home to the oldest, continually operating wooden roller coaster in the world. Entry to the park is free, individual ride tickets or unlimited day passes are available. Opens 11:00am-6:00 pm weekends and public holidays, and local school holidays. Located at Lower Esplanade, St Kilda.
Melbourne Family Attractions with Animals
Melbourne Zoo | Wildlife Melbourne
No kid small or tall would want to miss a trip to the Melbourne Zoo. Come and see elephants, gorillas, lions, and tigers, and discover the exciting new interactive exhibits for kids. You’ll get a chance to meet Australia’s unique native animals like the koala, platypus, wombat, and Tasmanian devil. Don’t miss the Meet the Keepers sessions to learn about the animals from the people who know them best and have a “Close-up Encounter” with the meerkats, seals, giraffes or lemurs.
We’ve rated Melbourne Zoo one of the best zoos in Australia and we think you will too.
Open daily 9:00am-5:00pm. Located at Elliott Avenue, Parkville, inside Royal Park. Entry is free for kids three and under. Tram no.58 ‘West Coburg to Toorak’ and the ‘Upfield’ train line both run from the CBD, taking about 20 minutes and stop right outside the Zoo.
Collingwood Children’s Farm
A firm favourite of locals is Collingwood Children’s Farm where you can help milk cows and cuddle guinea pigs, plus get up close with donkeys, pigs, goats, and sheep. If you’re lucky enough to visit on the second or fourth Sunday of the month, you can visit the apiary and watch the beekeepers collect honey from the beehives, all from a protected viewing caravan. The farm also hosts a farmer’s market on the second Saturday of every month, from 8:00 am-1:00 pm.
Located at 18 St Heliers St, Abbotsford. Open 9:15 am to 4.45pm every day of the year. You can reach the farm by public transport or by bike following the Capital City trail from Federation Square. The trail passes right by the farm.
Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium
For young kids, there’s the SEA LIFE Aquarium, featuring 12 themed zones with 10,000 sea creatures, including penguins, seahorses, sharks, turtles, stingrays, and many other different kinds of fish.
Open daily 9:30am-6:00pm. Located in the CBD on the corner of Flinders and King Streets.
Best places to eat in Melbourne with kids
Melbourne is one of the great foodie cities in the world. At every turn there’s a café, a restaurant, an espresso bar, pub, or bistro. There is no end to the range and diversity of culinary possibilities.
Wind your way through inner city Melbourne’s famed narrow, cobble-stoned laneways and discover quaint cafes and hipster coffee houses. Treat yourself to some of the best coffee Australia has to offer. A good place to start is Flinders Street Station, stroll down Degraves Street, through to Collins Street and finish off at the Block Arcade.
Highlights for family-friendly dining in Melbourne include modern cuisine at Southbank, Queen Victoria Markets fresh produce, Lonsdale Street’s Greek precinct, Vietnamese on Victoria Street and Chinese in, well, China Town. If you want something a little bit swish, anything at South Yarra.
Acland Street Cakes | St Kilda cake shops Melbourne
Feeling hungry? Take a 20-minute tram ride to St. Kilda, and get off at Acland Street; an entire street dedicated to cake shops. Heaven for sweet tooths!
Where to stay in Melbourne
If you are looking for family-friendly accommodation in Melbourne, we recommend you choose something close to the CBD or in the inner-city suburbs to allow easy access to public transport.
Our favourites places to stay in Melbourne for families are:
Alto Hotel on Burke > Check here for latest prices
Best Western Riverside Apartments > Check here for latest prices
Citadines on Burke > Check here for latest prices
Mantra on Russell > Check here for latest prices
Stamford Plaza Melbourne > Check here for latest prices
Getting around Melbourne with kids
Take a tram. It’s essential even if you’ve got a car. Melbourne is famous for its tram system. Travel from one end of the city to the other for sightseeing or just for the fun of it. Either way, taking a tram should be high on your to-do list. You can get your timetable here.
You can reach all the attractions and activities mentioned easily by tram, or local train, which run from early morning to late night. You’ll need to buy a MYKI card before you ride. They are available at MYKI machines at all train stations, some tram stops, and at all 7-Eleven convenience stores.
There is even a FREE tram, the No. 35 City Circle that plies a route around the CBD, passing many popular tourist attractions.
Family Events in Melbourne
Wondering what’s on in Melbourne for kids and parents during your stay? Lucky for you there are plenty of family-friendly events in Melbourne.
Book tickets early to iconic sporting events like The Melbourne Cup, Australian Tennis Open, Boxing Day Cricket Test, and of course the AFL Grand Final. If you’re not in Melbourne for one of the iconic sporting events, then be sure to watch a game of AFL, relax and enjoy the cricket, or experience the power at Formula One Grand Prix.
Know before you visit Melbourne
Getting from Melbourne airport to the city
Melbourne is serviced by two airports: Tullamarine (about 20 minutes from the CBD) and the smaller Avalon (about 50 minutes near Geelong).
The cheapest option for families is SkyBus which takes you into Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station or to one of four stops in St Kilda. If you want to be dropped at your hotel door in the city, you will need to change to a different bus once you get to Southern Cross Station.
If you want to be dropped straight to your hotel, and there are more than two of you travelling, taking a taxi or Uber is the best option at around about $50 a trip. Be aware that Melbourne peak hour traffic is often a nightmare so taking a taxi or Uber during these times can end up costing you a more.
If you’re off on a romantic weekend or heading off on your own a hotel shuttle bus is cost effective. We used StarBus last time we were in Melbourne and found they were great at around $16 each one way. It’s a bit of a pain you have to phone the driver when you get through baggage collection but it’s cheaper than a taxi and easier than SkyBus. We booked through Jayride as they had cheaper rates when we visited.
Melbourne Public Transport
The public transport you will use most in Melbourne is the tram system. The largest tram network in the world, it is easy, cheap, versatile and super convenient. It will get you where you want to go with no fuss. Of course, the usual suspects of trains, buses, and taxis are available, too. Buy a MYKI – it’s a reusable travel card for trains, trams, and buses in Melbourne.
Driving in Melbourne
Renting a car is a great option if you want to soak up the sights outside of Melbourne, like the Great Ocean Road, the penguins on Phillip Island, Mornington Peninsular or the wineries surrounding the city.
If you are game enough to drive in Melbourne, you need to know the road rules especially when it comes to hook turns along the tram lines. The fines for getting it wrong are high so here is a guide from Yarra Trams to help you drive in Melbourne.
Parking in Melbourne
Like any major city, parking can get tricky. Street parks are always snapped up pretty quickly, which leaves parking garages; and let’s face it, they can be really expensive. But if you are game, here is a guide to where to park in Melbourne.
Melbourne’s weather in one phrase: ‘four seasons in one day’. When visiting, it’s best to pack clothes for all sorts of weather. Spring and autumn are glorious, summer is dry and hot and the winters are cold… like, really, really cold!
Read more on Melbourne with kids
Phillip Island attractions for families – by Thrifty Family Travels
How to see the pink lake in Melbourne – by Universal Jetsetters
We hope you’ve discovered some wonderful places to explore in Melbourne. Now it’s time to see how many cool experiences you can pack into your trip.
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