“I’m bored” is a phrase every parent has heard too many times to count, so with that in mind, Culture Trip has created a guide of the best family-friendly things to see and do in Melbourne. From Crafternoon, to Puffing Billy and the Aquarium, these activities will keep the kids out of trouble and earn you brownie points.
Named one of the top 5 child-friendly cafés in Melbourne as published by The Herald Sun Sunday, Time Out Magazine, and Hey Bambini, Crafternoon invites you to unleash your inner child and nurture your artistic side alongside your kids through painting, pasting and playdough activities. If all those crafts have made you hungry, you can choose from their all day brunch menu. Crafternoon also hosts crafty kid’s parties as well as high teas for adults.
Take an underwater expedition at Sea Life Melbourne, which features 12 themed zones and holds over 10,000 extraordinary sea creatures. Be amazed by the Bay of Rays, get your hands wet at the interactive Discovery Rockpools, journey into the fathoms below in Shipwreck Explorer and gaze at the enchanting panoramic views of the 2.2 million litre Mermaid Garden Oceanarium. You can also chill-out with Sub-Antarctic penguins and meet Pinjarra, the saltwater crocodile.
Geared towards inquisitive young minds, Scienceworks is a museum where kids can ask why and discover how. See an electrifying presentation in the Lighting Room, voyage into deep space at the Planetarium and discover the science behind sport. There are also school holiday activities including robotics, coding workshops and planetarium sleepovers, as well as Little Kid’s Days. Scienceworks in an autism friendly museum.
Rug the kids up and head to the O’Brien Group Arena in Docklands – Australia’s largest ice skating rink. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry, as the Ice Ambassadors will teach you the basics in a free 15-minute session and with no age restrictions, (their smallest skates are a toddler size 7) it’s never too early or too late to learn to skate. The arena also presents school holiday programs with classes, face painting and designated sessions for children under the age of 8.
If your kids are animal lovers, then take them to Melbourne Zoo, the oldest zoo in Australia and home to over 200 native and exotic species. Only four kilometres from the city, Melbourne Zoo has an assortment of exhibits including the magnificent Trails of Elephants, the Tropical Butterfly House and the Orangutan Sanctuary. You can even go behind the scenes on a Wild Encounter or listen to the zoo keeper talks. The best part is that children under 16 receive free entry every weekend, public holiday and during the school holidays.
While some art intuitions turn their noses up at children, preferring to maintain their hushed and arrogant reputations, The National Gallery of Victoria welcomes art aficionados of every age. The gallery’s devoted program NGV Kids offers a range of interactive exhibitions, workshops and publications developed specifically for children and families. There are even activity sheets available because you’re never too young to appreciate art.
If the kids are bouncing off the walls then take them to Bounce Inc, where jumping on everything is completely acceptable. Just some of the activities at Bounce Inc include the Free Jump Arena featuring 50 massive interconnected-trampolines, Cliff Jump, Big Bags, Dodge Ball and Slam Dunk. Kids can’t get enough? Book them a Bounce birthday party and relax as the staff take care of everything.
Relieve your childhood and let your children create their own memories at Puffing Billy. Rolling through the glorious Dandenong Ranges since the early 1900s, Puffing Billy is one of the most popular steam heritage railways in the world and still delights passengers today. Dangle your legs over the side of the carriage and take the scenic journey between Belgrave and Gembrook, remembering to snap a photo as you cross Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge.