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10 Free Family-Friendly Things to Do in Melbourne

Australia’s cultural capital is bursting with fun attractions and experiences for kids. Here are some of the best

ACMI. Image: Phoebe Powell
ACMI. Image: Phoebe Powell

1. Ride a tram

The City Circle Tram in Melbourne. Image Visit Victoria
The City Circle Tram in Melbourne. Image: Visit Victoria

Trams are synonymous with Melbourne, so including one in your itinerary when visiting the Victorian capital is a must. A free tourist tram operates on the City Circle line, otherwise known as route number 35. The route runs clockwise and anti-clockwise in the CBD along Flinders Street, Harbour Esplanade, Docklands Drive, La Trobe Street, Victoria Street, Nicholson Street and Spring Street. The free tram zone also extends along William Street and Elizabeth Street and around Victoria Market and the Docklands area.

2. Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Image Visit Victoria
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Image: Visit Victoria

Enjoy a picnic on the lawn, see ducks swimming in ponds and explore the themed gardens in this 38-hectare park beside the Yarra River in the city. Don’t miss the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden, which has lots of fun spaces for kids to play, including tunnels, a story tree, a rocky gorge, bamboo garden, potting shed and kitchen gardens.

3. Junior Rangers

Parks Victoria has an excellent Junior Rangers program for primary school-aged children during school holidays that encourages kids to explore the state’s parks and create lifelong connections with nature. Activities include treasure hunts, making nature-based art and learning how to identify different birds and how fire is managed. Sign up to the Parks Victoria mailing list to find out more.

4. Street art

Street art on Hosier Lane in Melbourne. Image Visit Victoria
Street art on Hosier Lane in Melbourne. Image: Visit Victoria

Melbourne is also known for its vibrant street art scene, and there are lots of graffiti-covered laneways to discover. They include Hosier Lane, Rutledge Lane, AC/DC Lane, Centre Place and Union Lane. Children will love seeing the bright and colourful artworks on display, and it may even inspire them to explore their own creative side!

5. St Kilda Beach

St Kilda Pier. Image Visit Victoria
St Kilda Pier. Image: Visit Victoria

Stroll along the esplanade at St Kilda Beach, watch kite surfers in action or build sandcastles on the shore. St Kilda Pier is a great spot for fishing, and you can also see the adorable local penguin colony come ashore at the breakwater at dusk. There’s a viewing platform at the end of the pier, but it can get busy at times.

6. Fitzroy Gardens

Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne. Image Visit Victoria
Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne. Image: Visit Victoria

With a miniature tudor village and a playground based around a large dragon slippery slide, there’s plenty to keep children entertained at Fitzroy Gardens. You can also wander along pathways lined with elm trees, race barky boats down the stream like Bluey and Bingo and explore the historic cottages and rotundas. The park is also home to a Scarred Tree, which had bark removed by Indigenous Australians to build a canoe, shelter or shield, and is listed on the Aboriginal Heritage Register.

7. ACMI

An artist impression of the Foley Room at ACMI
An artist impression of the Foley Room at ACMI

Dive into the world of film, television and gaming at this super fun museum, previously known as the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Aside from its family-friendly film screenings, activity days and school holiday programs, ACMI also boasts an exciting array of hands-on and interactive exhibitions that will appeal to kids of all ages.

8. Birrarung Marr

Angel Sculpture at Birrarung Marr. Image Visit Victoria
Angel Sculpture at Birrarung Marr. Image: Visit Victoria

This urban park on the northern bank of the Yarra River has a winding pathway inspired by the shape of an eel in recognition of the animal’s importance as a traditional food source for Australia’s Indigenous people. There’s also a semicircle of metal shields that represents the five groups of the Kulin Nation and a two-headed Angel sculpture decorated in bright, hand-painted ceramic tiles. An installation of 39 bronze bells, known as the Federation Bells, chime several times a day with different compositions.

9. National Gallery of Victoria

Families at the National Gallery of Victoria. Image Visit Victoria
Families at the National Gallery of Victoria. Image: Visit Victoria

Australia’s oldest and most visited art museum has an impressive range of artworks spanning various periods and styles. Children can take part in interactive art activities, including sketching and storytelling workshops, designed to ignite their creativity. While certain special exhibitions may have an entry fee, the permanent collection is free.

10. Serendip Sanctuary

See eastern grey kangaroos and birds such as whistling kites and yellow-billed spoonbills at this 250-hectare wildlife sanctuary at Lara, around 60 kilometres south-west of the city. It has four interconnecting nature trails no longer than two kilometres return each and a picnic area with free undercover electric barbecues, tables and a shelter.

More Information

Visit Victoria

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