Last year we ventured to Melbourne to catch up with friends and explore the city. It was the first time we had been as a family and our child was aged two and a half years old at the time. We had four full days there to explore with a travel day either side. Here is what we got up to…..
EXPLORE THE CITY
I personally love to get out and explore a place on foot and when your child stays in the pram you can cover a lot of ground. Over five hours we hit a few of the tourist highlights, a playground and a few other places that I don’t know the names of (but they were mostly food related because apparently whenever I visit Melbourne I must eat all the food!) If walking isn’t your thing or the weather is cold and wet you can make use of the trams that are also free within certain city spots.
The city highlights for us were:
Queen Victoria Markets – I think I have come here on every Melbourne trip. Exploring the markets first thing was a great idea. We picked up some fresh fruit to eat during our stay and had some morning tea (including churros!) and purchased a couple of small souvenirs.
State Library – More than just books, Australia’s oldest library gets many visitors. They have a range of exhibits, free tours on offer and other events. I had been here before but on this occasion we had dropped by to let our child get out the pram and have a play in the kids section (unfortunately it was closed for renovations). Instead he enjoyed the Possum Magic themed statue they have of Hush and Grandma Poss. Don’t underestimate how much there is to see here.
Flinders Street Station – a quick stop at this iconic train station for some photos!
Federation Square – we had a brief walk through here and stopped by the visitor centre to get some directions to the nearby playground.
Birrarung Marr Playground – we purposely sought out a playground so that our child could run around and burn some energy. After this we made our way back to the hotel for an optimistic nap…. which he refused. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent with our friends.
Check out the official site of Victoria and Melbourne here.
Melbourne Zoo! This was on our list of things to do as we thought that our child would enjoy it, plus neither of us had been to the Melbourne Zoo on any of our previous trips. Luckily our friends in the area decided to come along too. We spent the entire day and there were plenty of animals to see and a kid’s play section, named Keeper Kids that was fabulous. Our kid would’ve stayed there all day if we let him. You can read all about our day on my Melbourne Zoo post here.
BRUNCH AT THE HOPETOUN TEA ROOMS
Our friends really wanted to take us to have brunch at the Hopetoun Tea Rooms. I was concerned on arrival about taking a toddler in as it looked a bit more formal than I was anticipating. Added to this as we stood in line to get in, one of the guests gave us a rather disapproving look through the window. I had no need to worry as the staff were wonderful and welcoming. Please be aware that they don’t have room for prams but they were able to store ours somewhere nearby. Our toddler was a bit restless so we took turns walking around the nearby arcade as we waited for our food. He was more than happy to sit and eat once it arrived! The food was excellent and the tea quite lovely. Make sure you finish with some dessert!
Yes, I am one of those people who will take their toddler to a museum. I was quietly confident he would love the dinosaur exhibit as he had been enjoying the show Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures. I also knew that the cause and effect of hitting buttons within the exhibits are great for young kids. There is also a children’s play area at the Melbourne Museum which would be perfect for some downtime. He did enjoy all these things but I had completely underestimated how tired he would be after several days of travel. Therefore we only saw a few sections of the museum as he was clearly overtired and that was causing some interesting behavior. We spent some time in the kid’s area to try settle him, where he particularly enjoyed building blocks and then we called it a day in the early afternoon. We were back at the hotel soon after 3pm and we spent time watching the traffic through the window, playing with toys, reading and watching TV. I sent my husband out to bring us back food and we didn’t head out again until 11am the next day. Lesson learnt! I would like to go back and see what we missed as what we did see was quite good. Official museum info can be found here.
THE SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE
“The Shrine of Remembrance is the National War Memorial of Victoria, a monument dedicated to all those who have served in the armed conflicts and peacekeeping operations in which Australia has participated” (source: https://www.shrine.org.au/About-Us )
Honestly, I was nervous about taking a toddler into such a serious place but I am glad that we went. You don’t need to purchase tickets so you can always cut the visit short if your child isn’t being cooperative. We kept him in his pram for most of our visit with some snacks and we moved through the exhibits fairly quickly. I could have spent hours wondering and reading everything if I was on my own. Despite being quick I still felt emotional at times and was left wondering how I will explain this to my child as he grows up. They have done a wonderful job covering the history of our involvement in the war and it truly is an important place to visit. Go if you can.
ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS OF MELBOURNE
If you get good weather, go visit the Royal Botanic Gardens. When travelling with a young child, they like to move. The gardens are a perfect place to let them run around, explore the trees, colourful flowers and watch the ducks. We had already visited the nearby Shrine of Remembrance so this was a perfect follow on activity for a young family to do next.
They also have The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden which sounds like a wonderful place for the children to really get in and explore hands on, however it was closed on the day we visited. Definitely check the website for details and let me know if you’ve been there!
That covers the key places that we visited during our stay in Melbourne. Of course part of our trip was to also visit friends so we could have easily fitted in more activities if we wanted to. We had previously gone to the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium on another trip (before parenthood!) and if we had bad weather we would have gone there instead of the zoo.
Of course there are so many things to do in Melbourne, so please feel free to share your favourite places in the comments (I’m sure we will be back again one day!)
Haven’t been to Melbourne? Share a recommendation for another destination instead!