loaderWit
15 minutes

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.

The top 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids

Melbourne is known as the cultural capital of Australia. That isn’t surprising with all the historical and contemporary cultural venues you can visit in the capital of the state of Victoria. Art is everywhere, and not only indoors or in the parks. There are thousands of murals spread out through the entire city, most of them within the CBD (Central Business District).

But culture isn’t the only reason you should visit Melbourne. And especially when visiting this city with your children, you’re looking for more family friendly attractions. Luckily, there are lots of other fun family friendly things to do here. To help you plan your ultimate family trip to Melbourne I’ve compiled a list of best 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids.

Image Sas Crossing Countries

Why Melbourne is a great choice for a family visit

I’ve already named the cultural aspect. Kids will love a visit to the Melbourne Museum, but they probably won’t get excited if your trip solely consists of visits to museums and exhibitions. Mix it up with a visit to the zoo, an indoor playground or an aquarium. And what about a stroll through one of Melbourne’s beautiful parks?

Let’s not forget the food scene. Because Melbourne is home to people from all over the world, you can find restaurants and food trucks who offer dishes from every country imaginable. In between all the exploring you can treat your family to poffertjes, dumplings, pies, curries and pasta.

Melbourne offers something for everyone in your family. With the right balance every family member will return from your Melbourne trip with a suitcase full of fond memories.

When to visit Melbourne

It’s best to visit Melbourne between March and May or September and November. Not too hot and not too cold and airfares are generally lower during these months.

Unfortunately most of us have to travel during school holidays, meaning during Melbourne’s winter season from June through August. The good news is that there are fewer tourists there and mostly families, the bad news is that it can get quite cold and windy with temperatures between 7 and 16 degrees Celsius.

Image Sas Crossing Countries

How to get there

If you’re flying in internationally then I recommend you to use a site like Expedia to check which airline offers the best price for your flight to Melbourne. Expedia is an online travel agency where you can not only book your flights, but also hotels, rent cars or even excursions. I usually turn to Expedia for flights, but if you like to book everything in one place then Expedia is going to be your best friend.

If you are taking a domestic flight or if you want to travel to Melbourne by train, I recommend 12Go. During our ultimate family road trip through Australia we used them to find the cheapest flight from Darwin to Sydney and from Sydney to Melbourne. It’s a user-friendly website that will show you all the different price options and comparisons as well as reviews from fellow travellers.

Do you enjoy this list of 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids?

If so, read more about family travel in Australia

You might also like:

After all this basic information about Melbourne it is time to present you with the ultimate 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids!

10 things to do in Melbourne with kids

Fitzroy Gardens

Legoland Discovery Centre

Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Star Observation Wheel

City Circle Tram Tour

Flinders Street Railway Station

Queen Victoria Market & Chinatown

Watching a game at Melbourne Cricket Ground

Hosier Lane

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium

Fitzroy Gardens

Image Sas Crossing Countries

The Fitzroy Gardens can be found close to the city centre and have been there for over 150 years. Not many cosmopolitan cities in the world can say that about a park of this large size. The landscape is diverse and follows a classic Victorian-era design.

Large lawns are used to have a picnic on and the wide pathways give you the possibility to easily navigate through with a stroller. It has a nice big playground and you and your kids will love the fountains, little rivers and even a few small waterfalls that can all be found throughout the park.

Have a nice picnic here, walk around and let the kids play in the playground for a bit. This is a nice and free outdoor activity for the family as a whole.

Image Sas Crossing Countries
Image Sas Crossing Countries

Cooks’ Cottage

Cooks Cottage is kind of a strange attraction, in my opinion. It was built in Yorkshire, England, by Captain James Cooks’ parents. In 1934 it was brought to Melbourne by Sir Russell Grimwade. James Cook never even lived in the cottage, because his father built it when he was already out at sea. But still, its connection to the Cook family was enough to transport the whole cottage to the other side of the world.

It is fun to explore this oddity, though. And learn about its English origins and relocation to Fitzroy Gardens. Because it was built in England it automatically became the oldest building in Australia, not built by the Aboriginal people of Australia.

The fun thing is that your kids can play dress up and play a game of ring toss with the volunteers, while you graze through the factsheet that’s made available to paying customers.

Yep, while entrance to Fitzroy Gardens is free, you do have to pay a fee to enter the cottage and partake in the activities within the gates of the house. Adults pay 4 euros per person and it’s 2 euros per child.

Legoland Discovery Centre

Image Sas Crossing Countries

What kid doesn’t get excited about LEGO! And, let’s not forget that most of us parents have very fond memories of building with the small bricks when we were young. Some of us still do!

Legoland Discovery Centre is a huge indoor LEGO playground and is located in Chadstone, Australia’s largest shopping mall. You can check out Miniland, a replica of Melbourne’s most famous buildings and landmarks and really beautifully done. The smaller kids will love the Duplo playground, pictured below. Kids can build with Duplo and climb and play in a farmhouse in Duplo style.

Another fun activity is the 4D cinema where you can watch Lego movies. I must say that this is only fun for kids ages 4-10, so if your kids are older or younger, I would skip it.

How to get there

It’s a 30 minute drive from the city centre if you go by car. You can also go to Flinders Station (also part of this 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids list) and take a bus or train from there. This will take anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour.

Image Sas Crossing Countries

To be honest, Melbourne has lots to offer in and around the CBD. And if you’re only in Melbourne for a few days, I would skip a visit to Legoland. But if you have a week: go for it! It’s heaps of fun. We didn’t visit it during our first visit to the city, because we wanted to check out the other highlights first. But we did go the second time. Our teen and toddler loved it. There’s something for kids of all ages.

Prices

Adults and children pay the same, about 18 euros per person. Do you have kids under the age of 3? They are free.

Melbourne Big Ticket

If you want to visit Legoland Discovery Centre and Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, you should buy the Melbourne Big Ticket. This way you can scratch off 2 attractions of this 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids list with a discount of around 10 euros per adult and about 6 euros per child.

You can buy the Big Ticket online in advance or at one of the two attractions. The ticket is valid for 90 days.

Below I listed the prices in Australian Dollars.

Prices updated: October 2021 Adult Child
Legoland Discovery Centre 27,60 AUD 27,60 AUD
Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium 36,80 AUD 25,60 AUD
Melbourne Big Ticket 49,60 AUD 47,60 AUD

Children under age 3 get to go in for free.

Image Sas Crossing Countries

Melbourne Museum

The Melbourne Museum can be found in the Carlton Gardens and is an architectural gem filled with natural and historical treasures. Kids will love all the bugs, dinosaurs and fossils on display. But there’s more to see in this 6 level building, half of which is located underground.

Image Sas Crossing Countries

You and your kids can learn about Aboriginal cultures in the Bunjilaka, the Aboriginal Centre located in the Melbourne Museum. And what about a stroll through the Forest Gallery? Located within an enclosed courtyard, with living plants and animals. This is a replica of the environment of a eucalyptus forest.

The younger ones will love a visit to the Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery where they can learn and play.

Image Sas Crossing Countries

Pictured above is the temporary exposition Wild. Lots of people visit the Melbourne Museum to see more than 1000 taxidermy animals on display at the museum for 11 years. I’m really sorry to say that this exposition closed permanently in February of 2021. In its place you will find a 67 million year old Triceratops Horridus skeleton.

Melbourne Star Observation Wheel

Image Sas Crossing Countries

This is a tricky one. When I first wrote about the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel it was before the Covid19 pandemic hit us. Our family loved the ride on the wheel, because we got a great overview of the Docklands, the CBD and other parts of Melbourne.

In September 2021 its operators announced a sudden shut down. The business could not weather the impact of the loss of international tourists they had to endure because of Covid19.

I thought about replacing the wheel as part of this 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids, but I decided against it. The reason is that the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is still intact. And its faith has yet to be decided. It’s very likely that it will be sold to a new owner who can continue operating it.

With news that Australia will open its borders to international tourists in November 2021, there is still hope for the wheel. At the very least it’s a nice landmark to see when you’re strolling through the Docklands.

Image Sas Crossing Countries

We’ll see if there’s going to be a second chance for the Observation Wheel or if it will be demolished.

I will update this post when there’s news about the faith of this wheel. In the meantime, the way I want to look at it is that the glass is always half full. And I’m hopeful a new owner will come along and give its visitors a 360 degree view of Melbourne from 120 metres high. That’s why it deserves a spot in this top 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids.

City Circle Tram Tour

Image Sas Crossing Countries

What can kids do for free in Melbourne? Well, let me hook you up with a great tip: a ride in the City Circle Tram! A form of public transport you don’t want to miss.

Melbourne has the largest urban tram network in the world and is a very convenient mode of transportation while on a family citytrip. The best thing is that when you remain within the Free Tram Zone, which covers the CBD, it is a totally free thing to do in Melbourne. You do need a Myki card if you’re planning on traveling further than the Free Tram Zone.

But why am I so excited about this? The picture above answers that question. We are talking about an old school tram, giving real San Francisco vibes, don’t you think?

Riding the City Circle Tram is not only a very convenient way to get around central Melbourne, that’s why lots of locals also use it. But it also offers audio commentary about the landmarks it passes by. You can hop on and hop off wherever you like. The full City Circle tour stops at 23 locations.

Image Sas Crossing Countries

We have never been on a free hop on/hop off bus in other metropolitan cities. They are always quite expensive and the buses are not easy on the eyes. These historical trams are pretty eye-catching if you ask me. It’s like going back in time. A definite must and not just to get around.

Flinders Street Railway Station

Image Sas Crossing Countries

Flinders Street Railway Station is Australia’s oldest train station and one of Melbourne’s most recognisable landmarks. It was completed in 1910 and had a beautiful green copper dome, an arched entrance, multiple clocks and a tower on the other side of the station.

Over 1500 trains pass through this station everyday and you can hop on the bus or trams right outside the station.

This is another free activity you and your family can do in Melbourne. Most smaller children will love to check out the trains and a short amount of time of people-watching.

But the most fun your kids will have is to count all the clocks you can find in the station. They indicate the next departure for Melbourne’s train lines. They are computer-operated, but can you believe that they were once manually changed for each departure?

Just a short and sweet activity to undertake while you’re waiting for your train to depart or while you’re strolling through Flinders Street.

Do you enjoy this list of 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids?

If so, read more about family travel in Australia

You might also like:

Queen Victoria Market & Chinatown

I’m kinda cheating here, because you could also count these as two separate things to do in Melbourne with kids. But because they are located within a 15 minute walk of each other and it’s great to check them both out as a family, I bundled them. Together they will take a few hours of your day, including a meal at one of these places and a snack at the other. Believe me, it’s hard not to spend the entire time eating while your visiting these places.

Queen Victoria Market

Start your morning at the Queen Victoria Market. A major landmark in the CBD area. It’s also major in size, covering over seven hectares. Don’t come here at Mondays or Wednesdays, because you’ll find that the gates are closed for the day.

There’s a large non-food related market selling clothes, shoes, arts&crafts and second-hand toys. I have to say that this part of the market isn’t particularly interesting for kids. But the food court is a different story! Fresh fruits, poffertjes (a Dutch delicacy that I can best describe as a tiny, fluffy pancake) served with butter and powdered sugar, Sicilian doughnuts, slices of pizza, sushi, oysters and hamburgers. You name it and it’s here. We opted for a snack by trying Sicilian dougnuts (yummy!) and a piece of home by ordering poffertjes.

Try and resist the smells of the lovely Asian food on offer, because you’re going to Chinatown next. Order something sweet and walk it off by strolling further through the Queen Victoria Market and then all the way to Chinatown.

Image Sas Crossing Countries
Image Sas Crossing Countries

Chinatown

Walk to Chinatown in 15 minutes. Melbourne’s Chinatown is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world. It was the discovery of gold in 1850 which attracted Chinese immigration to Victoria on a large scale.

Nowadays you will not only find restaurants who sell Chinese food, but also other cuisines like Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese and Malaysian food. The lovely scents will eventually lure you in for lunch. You won’t have trouble finding a restaurant and cuisine that every family member wants to enter and try.

Image Sas Crossing Countries

We had dumplings at HuTong Dumpling Bar and loved the noodle soup and dumplings we ordered.

Watching a game at Melbourne Cricket Ground

Image Sas Crossing Countries

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is one of the biggest and most important cricket stadiums in the world. But you cannot only watch cricket here. Also football (Americans call it soccer, but that’s blasphemy 😉 ) and Australian football. Watching a match here is one of the cool things to do in Melbourne with kids. It’s an insanely big stadium and the atmosphere is amazing.

We always love watching sports that we are unfamiliar with when we are on the road. It’s part of getting to know a culture. That’s why this experience is one of the top 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids.

We chose to check out an Australian football match. We didn’t get any of the rules, even though a kind family next to us tried their best to explain, without us even asking.

Image Sas Crossing Countries

Stadium food

Part of the fun for me and the kids, my man is a bit more serious about sports, is to get classic stadium foods. You know, when in America you eat hot dogs, in England you eat chips with vinegar and us Dutchies eat patat (french fries, but more hefty) served with mayo (never ketchup!). While at a stadium in Australia you have got to eat pies.

To let you in on a little secret, we ate them all over Australia, no pie seller was safe in Western Australia and Northern Territory and I think the only place we forgot to down them was in Sydney. Of course we had to correct that error and ate them in Melbourne. Eating them while thousands of people are singing and cheering either the Geelong Cats or Collingwood on in the epic venue that is Melbourne Cricket Ground made the pies taste even better!

Oh, and of course we bought some for our new friends who where lovely enough to take us through the rules. Thanks, mates!

Hosier Lane

Image Sas Crossing Countries

Street art is what made Melbourne’s urban art scene known all over the world. There are lots of places in the CBD where you can spot colorful murals. The most known can be found in streets and laneways around Flinders Street.

Cobblestoned Hosier Lane is arguably the most famous spot and it can be found by crossing Flinders Street from Federation Square.

Everywhere you look there’s graffiti. Cartoons, monsters, tags, you name it and it’s there. Even the garbage bins are tagged up. A visit to Hosier Lane is a fun free thing to do in Melbourne.

Image Sas Crossing Countries
Image Sas Crossing Countries

Disclaimer: this post promotes the visit to an aquarium and I have to say that after these visits I haven’t been to a zoo or aquarium of any kind. I simply don’t want to spend money at places that keep animals in captivity. And my believe is that in lots of cases their living space is way too small.

This doesn’t mean that I believe that zoo’s or aquariums necessarily treat animals badly, but in my lifetime I did see things that made me cringe. Animals need to roam freely in nature.

The other side of the medal is that some animals that are on the verge of extinction are being kept in zoo’s which makes us believe and hope that this way they will survive and hopefully their numbers will grow again. So there are pro’s and con’s to visiting a zoo. That’s why I write about our experience at Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium. The good and the bad.

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium

Image Sas Crossing Countries

The Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium is a kid favorite. We had been to the Sydney aquarium before and felt that the one in Melbourne was even bigger.

Most of the aquariums are huge, which is great for the animals. We saw lots of sharks in tanks that weren’t only next to us, but all around us. And not just sharks, but also (sting)rays and even dugongs. And don’t forget to check out the penguins. They are always a pleasure to watch.

With all these large animals it is easy to forget the small aquariums, but you really shouldn’t. All the cute and colorful smaller fish are beautiful to watch and they’ll make you want to sit in front of the aquarium for hours on end. Of course Dory and Nemo are here too!

Image Sas Crossing Countries

All in all we liked spending time here and learning about all the different animals we saw. That’s why Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium is part of the 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids.

But there is something that we did worry about and I would like to address, concerning the well-being of wildlife.

Animal abuse in the tourism industry

The thing we didn’t like is the shark dive experience they offer. People could feed and pet sharks and that’s just a big no no for us. They are wild animals and it’s sad enough that they are locked up in huge water tanks for our enjoyment and research. Petting them, following them and getting all up in their faces can’t be fun for the sharks. Certainly not on a daily basis. We should all be more aware of the feelings of the animals around us. And treat wildlife with respect. I hope that zoo’s and aquariums worldwide will stop exploiting the animals they care for. If we all stop partaking in these activities, companies will stop selling them.

Prices

If you opt out of the Melbourne Big Ticket, then adults pay about 23 euros per person for a ticket and children about 16 euros per person. Do you have kids under the age of 3? They are free.

Do you enjoy this list of 10 things to do in Melbourne with kids?

If so, read more about family travel in Australia

You might also like:

That’s a wrap on the best things to do in Melbourne with kids. Do you have any questions or comments regarding this list? Or do you have extra tips for our readers and for us? Leave a comment below, we’d love to read them.

If you want to read more about traveling around Australia, check out our ultimate family road trip guide from Perth to Darwin, the top 10 things to do in Sydney with your family, 8 things to do in NT’s most famous national park: Kakadu or read the top 10 things to do in Western Australia with kids.


You might also like: