Melbourne keeps visitors pouring in with incredible sporting events, street art, kid-friendly cultural activities and the best coffee in Australia. These are the best things to do in Melbourne with kids.
The best things to do in Melbourne with kids
Check out the cool street art
The artwork in Melbourne is as changeable as the weather. So even if you’ve done a street walk before – go again, the art will have changed. The easiest way to check out street art in Melbourne with kids is to begin in the city.
Hosier Lane is the best know laneway for street art in Melbourne. You’ll find large murals, secret sculptures and textured artworks.
Named after the legendary Australian rock band, AC/DC Lane is covered in tributes to rock’n’roll.
The City of Melbourne council website has a great map for visitors who would like to wander the city laneways in search of art.
Get tickets to an AFL match
Watching an AFL match at the MCG is top of the list for many families planning a trip to Melbourne. Even if you’ve never been a fan, the roar of the crowd, the meat pies and the action on field will likely win you over.
Check the schedule of matches for the MGC and Marvel Stadium before you go. If your trip coincides with a match you can book tickets here.
Melbourne theatre shows
Melbourne is Australia’s theatre capital. Since 2019, it has been the exclusive home of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Watching this two-part play is one of the best things to do in Melbourne with Kids. You can do back-to theatre sessions or book separate times over a couple of days.
Frozen the Musical is also playing in Melbourne until the end of October 2021.
If you are looking to catch a show in Melbourne with kids, we highly recommend that you book a hotel close to the theatre. That way you can always duck back to the room if you (or the kids) forget something.
URBNSURF Surf Park
Not near the beach? No problem! In fact, the team at URBNSURF Tullararine ensure kids and adults learn in the most controlled environment possible with no critters in the water.
Melbourne’s crystal-clear, all-immersive surf experience is the first dedicated surf park in Australia.
The park produces up to 1,000 ocean-perfect waves per hour, ranging from gentle half-metre swells to barrelling two-metre waves, with the intensity able to be adapted to suit the experience of any surfer.
When out of the waves, kids will love the playground and the chance to ‘free surf’, or take part in structured lessons.
Splash and Crash
Got a child that loves to make a mess?
If they’re over 5, take them to Smash and Splash in Oakleigh.
This incredible Melbourne play centre allows kids and adults to throw paint on the walls and themselves in the Splash rooms. The company supplies paint balloons, paint and brushes to get you started. You can also purchase additional canvasses so that you can take home a reminder of your experience.
If you need more action, try the “Crash” room. In here, the whole family can dress up in Sumo suits and smash into each other as you attempt to shoot hoops, capture the flag and find the mystery ball.
If you’re in Melbourne with kids older than 18, you can also try the “Crash” room, where you can smash all kinds of items with a hammer for stress relief.
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
The Tan, a 3.8-kilometre short walk around the Royal Botanic Gardens, is one of the most popular tracks in Melbourne.
Kids will love The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.
There’s a water feature to keep you cool on hot summer day.
In the Kitchen Garden area, you’ll learn how plants grow and how to save water.
In the Bamboo Forest, you might see a panda or spots statues of characters from the classic picture book, The Magic Pudding.
ArtVO immersive gallery
No matter what age they are, the kids will LOVE ArtVo. This awesome immersive gallery allows visitors to become a part of the 3D art.
Kids are encouraged to touch and interact with the artwork, breathing new life into their gallery experience.
Teenagers are going to take a lot of Snaps in here. The venue features 11 areas with more than 100 giant floor-to-ceiling artworks to explore.
Melbourne Zoo’s huge menagerie of animals means that Melburnians won’t miss out on the zoo action either.
Free keeper talks on a number of species are a must for your day’s itinerary, along with visits to creatures great and small – from butterflies and baboons to elephants and giraffes.
Little ones aren’t left out either: aspiring zookeepers, vets, horticulturists or researchers will love the Keeper Kids indoor play area, which has dress-ups and toys for role playing.
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is a perfect way to spend a rainy day and definitely one of the best things to do in Melbourne with kids.
You could spend a week trying to meet all the residents, but if time is of the essence then the aquarium has you covered, with plenty of experiences and tours to help you get the best out of this underwater kingdom.
For a real adrenaline rush, you don’t need to go any further than the Shark Dive Xtreme Experience, which sees you learning to scuba dive and getting down and dirty with the apex predators of our oceans.
Shopping in Melbourne
If you’re going to visit Melbourne with kids, you should make sure they’ve saved up their pocket money. Melbourne is filled with fantastic, unique stores with fashion, toys, sporting goods, lollies and everything else they love.
Wander down Bourke Street Mall and pop down any one of the city’s laneways to find quirky stores. The DFO at South Wharf is a great place to score a bargain.
Chappel Street, which stretches from South Yarra to Windor and Prahran is a mecca for fashion-savvy teenagers.
Watch the Australian Open tennis
Every January, Melbourne hosts the Australian Open with top-seeded tennis players from all over the world.
You can often book packages that include tickets to the Australian Open and a hotel.
Families can also book unique experiences at the Australian Open including a centre court walk-on.
Melbourne’s love affair with coffee began with the arrival of Italian and Greek immigrants after World War II. In the time since brewing coffee has developed into an art form. The best part? Visiting a cafe is something you can absolutely do with kids in Melbourne.
According to Tourism Australia, the best places for coffee in Melbourne are ST ALi in South Melbourne, Seven Seeds in Carlton and Market Lane in South Yarra. But in reality, it doesn’t matter where you go, Melbourne’s coffee will not disappoint.
If you’re in the city, head down to bustling Degraves Street. This was one of the first laneways in Melbourne to make its mark. The coffee is fantastic, the food is delicious and the people watching is out of this world.
For families who like the high life, Eureka Skydeck offers awe-inspiring views from the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere.
Located on Level 88 of the Eureka Tower, the Skydeck offers 360-degree views of the stunning Melbourne skyline.
If you dare, you can venture out onto The Edge – a three-meter transparent glass cube, which slides out from the building, suspending guests 285m above the city.
Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
The 38-storey Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is another great way to take in a 360-degree unobstructed view of Victoria.
The wheel’s 21 fully enclosed air-conditioned glass cabins offer more than just a view, with engaging commentary on the city’s history, culture and eccentricities.
Luna Park Melbourne
Luna Park and its laughing face are a Melbourne icon that’s been entertaining families for over 100 years with its carnival atmosphere.
From gentle rides for littlies to the jaw-dropping and eyeball-popping thrill rides and the chills of the spooky Ghost Train, there is something here for everyone.
Long before the arrival of European colonists, the area now known as Federation Square was an important gathering place for members of the Kulin Nation who came together on the banks of the Yarra River.
These days Fed Square is the gateway to Melbourne’s arts and sporting precincts. The building is home to three of Victoria’s major cultural institutions – the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), the Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT) and the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia (NGVA).
In summer, Fed Square often has relaxing bean bags dotted across the fake grass lawn. If you’re in Melbourne with kids, it’s a great place to stop and rest their legs after you’ve tackled some of Melbourne’s biggest attractions.
Queen Victoria Market
Melbourne’s most famous market is filled with fresh produce, unique clothing, technology, gifts, stationery and homewares. It even has a barber.
The market is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
If you find it a little overwhelming, join a foodie tour. The two-hour tour includes generous tastings, a $5 Market voucher, a Queen Victoria Market shopping bag and a Market Cafe coffee voucher.
Become a pirate for the day!
Climb aboard the tall ship Polly Woodside and be a real pirate for a day.
On the first Sunday of every month, kids can unleash their inner marauder and discover what life could be like sailing on the high seas.
Your little buccaneers can head on their very own pirate treasure hunt, scrub the deck, ring the bell and engage in interactive pirate-themed games and crafts.
The Polly Woodside also offers other visitor activities including a fascinating history museum and picnic area.
Australian Sports Museum
If you’re looking for things to do in Melbourne with kids who love sport – this is the place for you. The Australian Sports Museum houses the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, and galleries dedicated to football, cricket, the Olympics and horse racing.
Kids can also test their sporting skills with interactive exhibits that allow them to ride, cycle, surf or climb to their own gold medal moments.
Eat your way around Chinatown
Melbourne’s Chinatown is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world. It’s a great place to take kids to learn about diversity and Chinese culture. And it’s also a great place to eat!
Chinatown extends along Little Bourke Street between Swanston Street and Spring Street. In between, you’ll find dozens of eating houses and top-class restaurants.
China Red serves Shanghai, Canton and Szechuan-style dishes. The kids will love ordering on the touch screens. One of our favourites is Hutong Dumpling Bar City which is renowned for Xiao-Long-Bao, Spicy Won Ton and Pan-fried dumplings.
Fitzroy Gardens is one of the city’s most beautiful outdoor spaces and one of our favourite things to do in Melbourne with kids.
Kids adore the miniature Tudor Village, carved Fairies’ Tree and fabulous playground where they can play on a dragon slide, climb on a dolphin fountain and swing on a giraffe’s ears.
A walk through the Victorian-era gardens also leads to Captain Cook’s cottage, the oldest building in Australia, transported brick by brick from Yorkshire, England back in 1934.
Go Kart racing in Melbourne
Melbourne is the home of the Formula One Grand Prix. If you can’t make the event, you can always recreate the adventure and battle it out with your teenagers on go-karts.
This incredible city has both indoor and outdoor go-kart tracks. Several claim to have the “fastest” go karts in Melbourne. You can make up your own mind on that.
Check the age limits for each track as they do differ. Ace Karts takes children aged 12 and up. Auscarts, an indoor go-karting track in Port Melbourne, allows kids aged 13+ to race. Le Mans Go Karts, Dandenong South has options for kids as young as eight to race.
Who needs the Gold Coast? Melbourne’s 15.7 hectare Funfields Themepark dominateds the suburb of Whittlesea, 40 kilometres north of Melbourne’s CBD.
Kids will love the heated outdoor wave pool, named Volcano Beach,the Gravity Wave water slide and the Voodoo pendulum ride. It starts off gently… watch it on the video below.
Spend a day in St Kilda
The seaside suburb of St Kilda has so much to offer families, from historic Luna Park to visiting the local penguin colony found on St Kilda Pier.
Take a stroll down Acland Street, home to many continental cake shops that will delight tiny taste buds.
Nearby Alma Park hosts the Hank Marvin food market on Saturdays for families looking to spend their day tasting delicious street foods and tempting treats.
Old Melbourne Gaol
If you’re up for an even more haunting experience, join a ghost tour at Old Melbourne Gaol, the grim scene for 135 executions during colonial days, including that of the infamous Ned Kelly.
Melbourne’s oldest prison – and the heart of the city’s law and order since the 1840s – is now a fascinating three-storey museum.
Kids will love the ‘escape’ activity, which requires families to solve various clues and makes for a great bonding exercise.
This pantheon of Melburnian culture and knowledge boasts a huge variety of exhibitions for every age.
Feel dwarfed by the skeleton of diprotodon, the largest marsupial to ever live, on the Dinosaur Walk; hear stories of Melbourne’s heroes and scoundrels in The Melbourne Story; or use virtual reality to learn about the science of road safety in the Road to Zero experience.
Younger tots will love the Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery, where they can excavate fossils, explore the discovery garden, or look at objects to learn about history.
Bunjilaka is a permanent exhibition at Melbourne Museum dedicated to representing the Koorie experience.
Bunjilaka is co-curated by First Nations people and has three main spaces to explore: the Birrarung Gallery (with three rotating exhibitions per year), the Millari Garden (with a family trail winding through Indigenous flora and fauna and a cave with paintings) and a performance space.
National Gallery of Victoria
Melbourne’s NGV houses one of the most impressive art collections in the Southern Hemisphere with more than 70,000 artworks showcasing important works of European, Asian, Oceanic, American and Australian art.
Diverse temporary exhibitions pop up throughout the year and school holidays see the NGV come alive with programs that include shows and hands-on workshops for kids.
The NGV Kids Space offers an interactive kids’ play space, garden and climbing structure, where little ones can engage with art.
A short walk leads to NGV’s Ian Potter Centre and incredible displays of Australian and Indigenous art.
Arts Centre Melbourne
The Arts Centre is Melbourne’s leading venue for theatre, dance and music. The Theatres Building houses the State Theatre, The Australian Ballet, the Playhouse and the Fairfax Studio. Hamer Hall is a premier venue for musical performances, including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl is popular for open-air concerts.
If you’re looking for things to do in Melbourne with kids, you should check to see what’s on, when you plan to visit.
The free interactive exhibition, Under the Spire, celebrates Australian contemporary music with rare archival footage and famous artefacts.
Got a budding rock star or magician in the house? Arts Centre Melbourne also provides drama workshops for kids of all ages.
Courses include Now Hear This, a fun programme where they can create live sound effects with everyday objects. ‘The Magic Workshop’ is designed for those children with a conjurer’s touch. Another popular workshop will teach them how to become the next greatest rock star.
The creative course teaches kids how to create and make digital music and even produce and star in their very own music video. The workshops run until May, giving kids plenty of time to try out each one.
State Library Victoria
The State Library Victoria is Australia’s oldest public library, as well as one of the first free public libraries in the world.
The kid’s pod play area is great for rainy days.
You can see Ned Kelly’s real suit of armour in the library.
Plus, the library’s Chess Room is home to one of the largest chess collections in the world.
If your kids like animals of the illustrated variety, let them spend a few hours with a warrior panda, a neurotic giraffe, a talking donkey and some friendly dragons at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).
Located right by Flinders Street Station in the CBD, it’s a museum of a different kind for kids, dedicated to all things film, video games and pop culture.
Embark on a VR adventure
Get the family together or invite a couple of friends to the VR Plus Studio to experience the latest in gaming technology.
VR allows up to four people to play games together in a virtual world. The HTC Vive gear allows for room-scale technology that is capable of fooling you into believing that you are somewhere else!
Try virtual Minecraft, Jungle Quest, shooter games and more.
Inspiring little ones with the magic of science since 1992, Scienceworks is packed to the rafters with activities to enthrall kids and get them asking questions about the great mysteries of the universe.
The Lightning Room is one of the most popular attractions in the venue, putting on 30-minute shows that electrify in every sense of the world.
Take Part in the epic CBD Treasure Hunt
Combining urban life and treasure hunting, Cityseekers adventures are designed for small groups of children to actively teach them about engaging with the city.
Volunteer leaders teach little hunters to read maps and catch public transport safely, while clues challenge their minds and allow an appreciation of the cultural and historical areas of the city.
The hunt takes place around the arts precinct of the CBD, starting in Federation Square on the last Saturday of every month.
Learn some cool IT skills
If you already envy your child’s computer skills then be prepared to become a little more jealous, with CoderDojo for kids and teens aged seven to 17.
The volunteer-run centre allows young people to understand computer programming and coding in a way specifically catering for their interests, and entry is free.
CoderDojo provides a fun and interactive learning experience for tech-savvy kids and teens, giving them a creative introduction into a field with endless opportunities.
CoderDojo has multiple locations around Melbourne and all kids need to bring is a laptop.
Looking for more inspiration for your family holiday in Victoria?
Families looking to head further afield can find our selection of the best family-friendly things to do in Victoria here.
You can also find our complete family-friendly guide to Melbourne here.
This article on things to do in Melbourne with kids is a Holidays with Kids digital exclusive. For the latest family travel news, deals and inspo, sign up to receive our free enewsletter here.
Main image: Alison Godfrey
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