Widely regarded as Australia’s arts and culture capital, the Victorian capital of Melbourne keeps families pouring in with a range of great family attractions and events year-round. Its hidden side streets and various suburbs are filled with trendy cafes and boutique shopping, while its stunning parks and museums also have lots to offer.
Old Melbourne Gaol
As well as housing some of Australia’s most infamous offenders, including the one-and-only Ned Kelly, the Old Melbourne Gaol is also one of Melbourne’s oldest buildings. Kids will love the ‘escape’ activity, which requires families to solve various clues and makes for a great bonding exercise.
Kids will love a visit to the dinosaurs and blue whale skeleton and, after saying a quick hello to the taxidermied Phar Lap upstairs, heading to the dedicated Children’s Gallery at Melbourne Museum. It includes both an indoor play area and outdoor garden with a water feature, sand pits to dig for fossils and little hidden creatures to discover.
Surrounding are the World Heritage-listed Carlton Gardens – be sure to a snap a pic in front of the fountain!
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
A visit to Australia’s first LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Chadstone Shopping Centre is a must. The indoor LEGO playground is a cornucopia of brick delights, with incredible attention to detail. Plus, you can enjoy a hit of retail therapy after.
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
Located within a stone’s throw of iconic Flinders Street Station, Melbourne’s SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is home to a beautiful array of marine creatures the kids will love discovering. Our favourite is the Gentoo penguin enclosure!
Drop by Fitzroy Gardens to find Captain Cook’s Cottage, play on the dragon slide and climb on the dolphin fountain. With a little exploring, you’ll also find a carved fairy tree and miniature Tudor village, all in the one park.
Best time to go to Melbourne
If you’re visiting from up north, you’ll find Melbourne is a touch cooler than some of Australia’s other sunny capitals. In summer, this can make a great escape from the oppressive humidity, if that’s not really your style. But whenever you visit, you’re bound to be delighted by Melbourne’s endless array of attractions, with plenty of indoor ones for the wet weather days.
December to February, with average high temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius and an average five days of rain per month.
March to May, with average high temperatures of around 21 degrees Celsius and an average six days of rain per month.
June to August, with average high temperatures of around 14 degrees Celsius and an average eight days of rain per month.
September to November, with average high temperatures of around 19 degrees Celsius and an average eight days of rain per month.
Melbourne’s major airport is Melbourne Airport. It’s serviced by all domestic carriers and most international. There’s a regular bus charter that goes directly to Southern Cross Station in the CBD, from which you can catch a range of buses, trams or trains to nearby locations.
Melbourne is well serviced by public transport. In the inner city, the trams are frequent and within the CBD they are free (the free zone is bordered by Spring Street, Flinders Street and La Trobe Street).
Heading further out, there are lots of buses and trains. You can also hire your own car, or hail the easily identifiable yellow taxis.
Food and drinks that kids will love
Melbourne’s hidden side streets are a maze of endless trendy cafes with great food and drink for kids and adults alike. On main streets, finding a bite is effortless – you can choose from a range of recognisable chains found all around Australia, but we recommend supporting some local businesses, since it’s close to a criminal offence to visit Melbourne without indulging in its world-class cuisine!
Melbourne is famous as a shopping capital. In the city, Bourke Street Mall is lined with local artists busking, and a lot of retail options. Getting here is easy, with a tram that drops you off right in the middle. There’s also Melbourne Central, which has floor upon floor of retail outlets, plus a cinema for a chilled movie day.
In the outer suburbs, you’ll find some of the chic boutique stores and amazing op shops for which Melbourne is really renowned. Northcote and Fitzroy are particular hotspots, both easily accessed by a tram from the CBD.
Tipping is appreciated, but not expected in Australia.
What to wear
Melbourne will famously require that you are prepared for four seasons in a day. Don’t trust your window! Always check the forecast, and be prepared with warmer and cooler layers alike.
Mains voltage in Australia is 230V AC, 50Hz. Use a two-pin (shaped like a “V”) or three-pin adaptor (different to British three-pin adaptors).
No special immunisations or vaccinations are required to visit Australia unless you have come from, or have visited, a yellow fever infected country within six days of your arrival. However, regulations and medical advice can change at short notice, so check with your doctor and the Australian Department of Health before you leave home.
Tap water is generally safe to drink in Australian cities.
By and large, Melbourne is considered a safe destination, although still exercise regular safety precautions as you would at home.
Eureka Skydeck 88
As the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s easy to figure why Eureka Skydeck 88 is a great photo op. If you dare, The Edge even looks down straight through a glass door – we wouldn’t recommend this if you’re afraid of heights!
A day trip to Phillip Island won’t disappoint, because the parade of fairy penguins is truly a sight to behold. These super-cute feathered friends certainly deliver on the “aww” factor – bonus points if you catch a snap with the sun setting over the water.
National Gallery of Victoria
Just near Flinders Street station, the National Gallery of Victoria is Australia’s oldest and most visited public art museum. The fountains out front and huge water wall are a Melbourne photo fave, plus there is a dedicated interactive kids’ space.