When I told my co-workers I was spending a long weekend in St Kilda, they promptly responded with, "You mean Melbourne."
The fault is not theirs. Only those who have visited St Kilda are able to truly grasp how distinct it is from the actual city.
Fair call, it is technically a suburb of Melbourne's greater metropolitan area, but we're not dealing with an ordinary suburban branch here people.
My colleagues need only visit to understand what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, getting on the same page as me has never been much inspiration to travel.
Well, here are some far more noteworthy reasons for making St Kilda the setting of your next long-weekend escape.
Phillip Island might be better known for its penguins, but it's possible to never leave St Kilda's shore and still witness these cute creatures in their natural habitats.
The St Kilda breakwater is home to more than 1,000 little penguins, many of which return to their homes in the rocks just after sunset.
Head down to the St Kilda Pier around this time each day to see penguins walking across the sand and rocks.
You usually have to share the moment with a crowd of snap-happy tourists, so plan to arrive early or late if you want to avoid the masses. However, you might also miss the penguins.
Volunteers are on hand to provide interesting facts about the penguins and to stop anyone from hurting the animals with flash photography or torches (only red lights are allowed).
2. The Sea Baths
The St Kilda Sea Baths immediately catch the eyes of passersby. The 19th-century, sandy marble facade initially looks out of place on an Australian beachfront, but once you spend a little time inside there's no doubt it belongs as much as the suntanned surfers.
The range of facilities for active pursuits is impressive – kite surfing, pool swimming, SUP and weight lifting are all on the menu. However, the Sea Baths' most frequented areas are its ocean-facing bars and restaurants.
I recommended heading upstairs to Captain Baxter to join the afternoon crowd for a cocktail or craft beer while watching the sun melt into the ocean.
Republica, on the ground floor, has an outdoor patio with faux grass and wicker egg-shaped lounges hanging from the ceiling, perfect for chilling out as beachgoers stroll past.
Where else in Melbourne?
3. Luna Park
If you aren't visiting with children, Luna Park might seem a little adolescent. Warm your frozen adult heart – the theme park isn't just everything your inner child has been screaming for, it's also home to a significant piece of Australian history.
The park is free to enter, but the rides are a little expensive (almost $11 each time for adults), so avoid the underwhelming ones, such as the 30-second haunted house, and spend your dollars on The Great Scenic Railway.
The world's oldest continually operating roller coaster transports you around the entire theme park providing excellent views of Port Phillip Bay and St Kilda Beach, along with some surprisingly steep drops.
Part of the fun is the bumpiness of the historic track, but if you're long-limbed, expect sore knees by the end. Worth it? I say yes.
4. Community Markets
It seems like markets are in almost every Australian city and town these days. However, St Kilda's three organised markets provide a fresh diversity of stalls and atmospheres compared to most.
The Esplanade Market is held every Sunday on the Upper Esplanade. About 120 artists and crafty folk set up their marquees and sell artisan goods, from furniture and jewellery to chocolate and artwork. The rhythmic tunes of street buskers accompany you down the street as you browse for gifts and souvenirs.
Every first Saturday of the month St Kilda's community garden hosts The Veg Out St Kilds Farmers' Market where you can pick up herbs, organic veggies, honey, smoked meat, wine and more delicious local produce.
Not an early riser? Check out the Twilight Market beside Luna Park every Thursday night between December and February. Similar clothing, artwork and vintage goods to the aforementioned Esplanade Market can be found.