Like any world city, Melbourne is packed full of activities for families to enjoy together. Whether it’s thrills, excitement or enlightenment, Melbourne has people covered. From toddlers to teenagers and even those who are simply young at heart, there’s no shortage of things to see, do or discover.
1. Luna Park
A historic amusement park in the beachfront suburb of St Kilda, Luna Park greets visitors with its iconic Grinning Man entranceway. There’s a variety of rides and attractions here covering everything from the thrilling to the sedate, with highlights including the Coney Island Drop Top, the Carousel, the Pharaoh’s Curse and the world’s oldest continually operating roller coaster, The Great Scenic Railway.
2. Old Melbourne Gaol
Step back in time to the days of bushrangers and gangsters at Victoria’s oldest prison, the Old Melbourne Gaol. Visitors have the chance to visit the cells and see the gallows where 133 people were hanged between 1842 and 1929. One of the most famous inmates was bushranger Ned Kelly, hanged in 1880. The Gaol has several items relating to him there, including his death mask, one of his revolvers, and a replica of his iconic home-made armour. As an added attraction, the gaol is also reputed to be haunted.
3. Melbourne Zoo
There’s nothing quite like a day at the zoo and Melbourne Zoo, located near the city’s centre, is one of the city’s most popular attractions. More than 250 species live here, including lions, kangaroos, penguins, emus and lemurs, with a host of exhibits and information to discover as well. Further adding to the family appeal, entry for under 16s is free on weekends, school holidays and public holidays in Victoria.
4. Polly Woodside
Berthed in the South Wharf precinct at Melbourne’s Southbank, the Polly Woodside sailing ship was launched in 1885 and sailed more than 1.5 million km, circumnavigating the Earth 17 times in the process. Now moored in Melbourne, the ship is a floating museum with guided tours, visitor activities, the chance to learn more about live as a 19th century sailor, and more.
5. Melbourne Museum
Museums are an excellent place to learn more about a city’s history and culture and Melbourne Museum is no exception. Located next to the Botanic Gardens in Carlton, the museum features a range of exhibits on all aspects of the city’s past, including its Aboriginal history, its Colonial past, and its flora and fauna. One of the notable exhibits is the skeleton of legendary Australian racing horse Phar Lap, along with his preserved heart. There is also an exhibition on the human mind, a forest gallery, and a children’s gallery to explore too.
6. Werribee Mansion
Built by wealthy sheep farmers in 1877, Werribee is a stately mansion from the Colonial era located about half an hour west of Melbourne. Retaining its luxurious period interior, the building is a snapshot of elegant life in the late 19th century and encompasses 60 rooms across numerous wings, with many furniture items and period artefacts on display. The property is also set on 10ha of formal gardens with a pond, grotto and parterre geometric pattern.
7. Royal Botanic Gardens
Located on the southern side of the Yarra River, these popular gardens are home to more than 12,000 species of plants and numerous species of native wildlife. A Children’s Garden is a particular highlight for families, including a playspace for children to explore and a bamboo forest, and there is also an Aboriginal heritage walk, garden discovery tours and an ornamental like to admire as well.
8. Eureka Skydeck
Sitting 88 storeys up in the Eureka Tower building, the skydeck offers an unparalleled view of Melbourne, reached via an express lift which can bring visitors up from ground level in 38 seconds. Visitors who are feeling particularly adventurous can even step into The Cube, a glass structure which extends out from the building to suspend guests 300m over the city below.
An ideal place for curious young minds to discover more about the world around them, from electricity to heavy machinery, and from the core of the Earth to the solar system beyond, there’s something here to entertain and engage the whole family. One highlight is tours of the city’s old pumping station, which even demonstrate the century-old equipment is still in functioning order. Children will also love the Nitty Gritty Super City, a scaled-down opportunity to learn more about what makes a real city tick.
10. National Sports Museum
It’s well known that Australia loves its sports and it’s only fitting the national sports museum is located at one of the country’s best-known sporting locations, the Melbourne Cricket Ground – better known as the MCG. With a range of exhibits covering the Olympics, cricket, AFL, horse racing and more, there are more than 2500 items on display, making it a must for die-hard sporting fans of all ages.