10 Free Things To Do With Kids In Melbourne

by Claire Halliday, ellaslist

Entertaining little ones can be an expensive pursuit. Those activities they love – everything from watching movies to skating to bowling – all cost money and if you’ve got a large family, it can add up quickly.

In between those special treat outings, it’s great to know that our fabulous city also offers a range of free things to do with kids in Melbourne. Here are some of our favourites for you to sample:

1. Ride The City Circle Tram

When was the last time you had a good look around your own city? On the free City Circle tram, it’s easy – and the guided tour commentary fills you in on some highlights of our history. The Heritage W class trams that ride this journey are just like the ones from 1923, with wooden seats, brass and leather hand straps.

What You Need To Know

When you check out the route this tram takes, you’ll understand what tourist attractions it takes you past and how it can link you up with other tram and transport routes.

More information: visit the website

2. See St Kilda's Little Penguins

Yes, there are Little Penguins at Phillip Island but it’s an epic trip and one that can set you back quite a bit – especially if your family is a big one. But down at St Kilda, the penguins are doing similar things – but it’s free to watch although making a donation (there is a spot to do this at the site) will help protect this wonderful little creature.

What You Need To Know

To protect these birds, visitors need to think about the impact their visit has on this precious colony. Flash photography can be frightening, and people following penguins back to their nests and trying to get a closer look at their babies by poking a selfie stick down their burrow is not on – so please behave and encourage others around you to respect the habitat as well.

More information: visit the website

3. Discover Sailing

If your kids have ever dreamed of sailing the seven seas, learning how to do it properly is a good start. And even before that happens, it’s handy to know if seasickness is something that might put a stop to their plans.

Sure there are Discover Sailing courses you can pay for but several times a year there are also free come-and-try days that take you out on the water without taking out your wallet.

What You Need To Know

More information: visit the website

4. Storytime at Your Local Library

If you’re the parent of a young child, looking for free things to do during the week is a great way to get out of the house and keep your little one stimulated with new things to see and do. Storytime at your local library is a great choice because it’s interactive fun the combines stories, songs and even some movement, to help them nurture of love of books – and libraries.

Don’t be precious – you’ll be expected to sing along too!

What You Need To Know

Check the website of your local library to find out details of their weekly storytime sessions. Some libraries even have multiple events that cater for slightly different age groups. Because they are weekday events, they cater only for the pre-school set. It’s worth talking to your friendly librarian to check what other events they might have coming up during the school holidays for all ages, too – libraries often have really interesting, and generally free, workshop activities for older kids on offer.

5. RAAF Museum

Do your children know that Australia is home to the second oldest airforce in the world? The history of it is told here – with a variety of planes on show to help tell the story of how aircraft design has changed over the years.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday, an interactive flying display kicks off at 1pm – a fantastic way to see some vintage planes take to the sky

What You Need To Know

Free guided tours are available but it’s important to book first. Hearing someone else talk you through the history and technical details of the planes on display can add to the experience – especially if your children have a real interest in flying.

Phone: 8348 6300 or 8348 6040

Address: Point Cook Road, Point Cook

More information: visit the website 
(Be aware that the website is a good place to get the basics but last time we looked, the mentions of its current exhibitions were years out of date – perhaps more reason you should consider donating a gold coin when you enter to help this great museum!)

6. Fitzroy Gardens

If you’ve got a day in the city planned with your children, try to make some time for a trip here. Safe wide open spaces for kids to explore in the CBD are a rarity and this sprawling park is as good as it gets. There’s an English-style garden, as well as avenues lined with impressive mature trees that your kids can look up to in wonder.

A small playground, a model Tudor village, the Fairies Tree, Cook’s Cottage and the stunning conservatory will leave a great impression – and are wonderful to revisit. Going into Cook’s Cottage will cost you but looking at it from the outside is good too. Keep an eye on school holiday special events when programs incorporating a fun angle to our Australian history are on offer at a low cost.

What You Need To Know

230-298 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

More information: visit the website

7. Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market

Well, it won’t be free if you shop for anything but even browsing is great to do here – and if the only thing you fork out for is a serve of the amazing churros from the food truck out the front, you can buy yourself some looking time while the kids enjoy dipping the deep-friend treats in the delicious chocolate sauce.

The historic site stretches across two city blocks and is packed with colourful characters, hawking everything from broccoli to bratwurst.

What You Need To Know

Address: Corner of Victoria & Elizabeth Streets, Melbourne

More information: visit the website

8. Riverslide Skate Park

This inner-city skate park has a reputation as one of Melbourne’s best – and it’s free. The action can get pretty dangerous when it’s crowded, as everyone from beginners to highly skilled daredevils try their skills on scooters, skateboards and BMX bikes.

When you are ready to invest dollars and time into ramping up your little one’s skills, weekend classes and school holiday clinics are all on offer.

What You Need To Know

Phone: 9663 0495
Email: [email protected]
Address: Boathouse Drive, Alexandra Gardens, Melbourne

More information: visit the website

9. NGV Ian Potter Centre

The permanent exhibitions are free, but there are some additional costs for special events.

If school holidays are on the calendar, it’s worth checking to see if there are any extra activities on offer. If not, simply walking through the gallery to look at the diverse range of artworks on the walls can lead to some interesting conversations.

What You Need To Know

Phone: 8662 1553
Address: Federation Square
More information: visit the website

10. Picnic In The Royal Botanic Gardens

Packing a picnic is a lovely way to spend time with your children. It becomes even more of an event when you plan for it and get them involved (if they’re old enough to help prepare food). Baking your own banana bread, or making a cake or some simple biscuits gives you a delicious treat to pack. As for the rest of the food – let every member of the family choose one favourite food item – from fresh berries or orange wedges to watermelon slices or sandwiches with their favourite topping. Dips, crackers, wedges of cheese (don’t forget the refrigerated bag and ice pack if the weather’s warm!) are all low-cost foods to bring along.

What You Need To Know

No sporty games are allowed in the Gardens – the plants are too precious to hurt, and nobody browsing the botany on show wants to get hit with a flying ball.

If the eating of your food requires cutlery, plates and serviettes to clean up messy faces and fingers, make sure you pack them – and a bag to put your rubbish in. Grabbing a picnic rug or old blanket will prevent itchy legs on the grass – as well as help keep a temporary barrier between you and the bugs.

Phone: 9252 2300
Address: Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra

More information: visit the website





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