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Family Guide To Melbourne

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    Melbourne is a cosmopolitan city with a vast mix of activities from cultural events to outdoor parks, beaches and sport, and plenty of day trip options to get a taste of Australia. Melbourne is also a foodie heaven with a thriving café culture and street art, making it a great cultural city break that kids can enjoy.

    Best Time To Visit Melbourne

    Given its location on Australia’s south coast, Melbourne is the country’s most seasonal city, experiencing hot summers and cold winters. You can visit throughout the year, but spring (September to December) and autumn (March through to May) are the best months where you’re most likely to encounter sunshine but not stifling heat.

    Taking advantage of the tail-end of the summer Sun, March is our favourite month with lots of festivities around town, including the Moomba Festival and the Australian Grand Prix.

    Come in September to see this sports-mad city at its best and the Aussie Rules Grand Final – or January to catch the Australian Open tennis action.

    You can visit Melbourne throughout the year, but Spring (October to December) and Autumn (March through to May) are definitely the best months when you’re most likely to encounter sunshine but not stifling heat.

    Be warned that Melbourne has a BIG reputation for experiencing four seasons in one day. You might have a heatwave followed by a cold front that drops the temperature by 10 degrees, followed by a downpour!

    When the sun comes out, though, there is nowhere more glorious to be. But always pack an umbrella year-round!

    Melbourne is really a city of culture and nature lovers, so finding out when events are on is a great way to plan your trip (do note, however, that hotels can book up and be more expensive during popular events).

    It can also be a little busier over the school holidays, though not as extreme as other cities (Melbournians tend to head to the northern states during school holidays).

    Melbourne In Summer

    January and February are Melbourne’s hottest months but are also a hub of activity. It’s not unusual for the city to experience extremely hot days in excess of 40c (104f) and you’ll find locals and visitors alike flocking to any patch of water they can to cool down. Popular places near the city are St Kilda and Brighton Beach, and along the Mornington Peninsula (to the east) and Bellarine Peninsular (to the west).

    The Australian Open tennis is held in January, which brings a tremendous multicultural feel to the city. With local kids being on school holidays too, there are usually many family-friendly activities going on all over town for the little ones to join in.

    With the heat can also come high fire danger. If you are taking day trips out into the bush, please be careful to heed warnings. Also, remember your sun safety. Even on a cloudy day, the UV rays are powerful here and can burn fair skin in minutes.

    Melbourne In Autumn

    March is the absolute perfect time to visit Melbourne. You can still get some long mild to warm days and enjoy the great outdoors.  The Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park always brings a hub of activity, as does the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. The delightful Moomba Festival on the banks of the Yarra has been entertaining Melbourne families over labour day long weekend for decades.

    Kids are back at school from the end of January through until Easter time, so it can be less crowded to get around, and the weather is a little more predictable. The many parks and avenues around Melbourne are planted with deciduous trees so that you will get a glorious display of colour. It can be getting pretty crisp and cool by May, and the rainy days start to set in.

    Melbourne In Winter

    It’s fair to say that winter is not Melbourne’s finest season! It is a great time to enjoy local sports, though, like Aussie Rules, and enjoy other cultural, shopping and indoor options… but I would hold off planning your BBQ!

    There is plenty of indoor exploring to do, though in a city used to rainy day alternatives! You’ll find lots going on at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), particularly over the July school holidays, as well as the ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Images) at Fed Square and the Melbourne Museum. Pop-up skate rinks are also increasingly popular attractions, or visit the O’Brien Group Arena in Docklands for indoor skating action year-round.

    Melbourne In Spring

    The entrance of Spring is marked by the end of the Aussie Rules footy season, with the AFL Grand Final being played in the last weekend of September. The captivating Spring Racing Carnival swiftly follows this. Even if horse racing isn’t really your thing, the floral and fashion are unmissable, and there’s a great vibe around town.

    Although the rain tends to ease towards year-end, it can still be quite remarkable all the way through to the end of December.

    How To Get Around Melbournemelbourne-intersection

     

    The Melbourne CBD is set up in a grid system which is great for navigation and easy to get around, but things get a little more complex as you head out of town.

    • Trams in the CBD are free! But get yourself a Myki card for using public transport further out of town.
    • Taxis and Uber are popular for short trips across town where public transport doesn’t always directly connect.
    • Hiring a car is a great way to see more of outer Melbourne.

    Public Transport In Melbourne

    Most visitors stay in and around Melbourne’s city centre. The grid layout makes the city easy to navigate, although it’s often hillier than you expect if you are sightseeing with little ones!

    Get Yourself A Myki Card

    A myki card is needed for travel on all of Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses. You pre-pay money onto this plastic smart card, which is then deducted each time its used. You can top up your myki card online, over the phone or in-person at various shops (including 7-Eleven) and at top-up machines in train stations and selected tram stops.

    Melbourne Trams

    One of the most popular ways to get around the inner city is on Melbourne’s iconic trams. Most traditional old trams have been replaced by sleek, light rail versions in all but the city circle route, where you can catch a heritage tram with commentary.

    Note trams within and around the CBD only are FREE to use. If you head into Zone 1 or 2, you will need to tap in with your myki (and inspectors show no mercy or ignorance that you’re a tourist, you’ll get an on the spot fine).

    Metro Trains Melbourne

    Heading further out of the city, trains are a popular option to key Melbourne suburbs. There are five underground stations in the CBD, with all trains into central Melbourne taking this loop. Watch which way around the loop trains are going, or you could find yourself with a long wait! Melbourne trains use the myki card, and tickets are available for Zone 1/2 and Zone 2.

    Melbourne Buses

    Buses also operate around Melbourne’s suburbs, and V Line services operate in regional areas too. Visit the Public Transport Victoria website for regional bus information.

    Melbourne Taxis

    Public Transport taxis are easy to spot; they are mostly painted yellow, silver or white and marked with a rooftop lamp. Taxis can be booked to a designated address, picked up from a signposted cab rank or hailed from the street side if it’s safe for them to pull over. A lit rooftop indicates that it the taxi is available for hire. Melbourne taxis are all metered with drivers in uniform.

    Note you may pay extras on top of the fare displayed for tolls and late-night surcharge. If you book a cab between 10 pm and 5 am, the driver is entitled to ask for a fare deposit upfront based on an estimator.

    Ridesharing apps such as Uber are legal in Melbourne and an increasingly popular alternative. There is UberX, a standard service, and uber black, a premium service. These are cashless systems as you’ll pay by credit card through the app.

    What Are The Best Areas To Stay In Melbourne With Kids?

    Melbourne is a city that has sprawled from the centre. You will find more budget accommodation options as you get further out of town, however, you will also find yourself further away from the action and main attractions. Public transport within central in Melbourne is great,  however, as soon as you head beyond the centre, it’s not excellent.

    • Basing yourself in the CBD is best but will come with a higher price tag.
    • Visiting for sporting activities such as the MCG or the tennis? Base yourself around Richmond and East Melbourne but expect to pay a lot more during these times (wherever you stay in the city).
    • Here for the beachside or transferring on the ferry to Tassie? St Kilda is your spot.
    • You can save money by situating yourself just outside of the CBD in the close inner suburbs.
    • Check out our 3-day Melbourne Itinerary if you’re still unsure what activities you will get up to in Melbourne, this will help ensure you are staying in the best location to maximise your time in the city.

    Top Tips For Booking A Melbourne Hotel

    Beware the exclusions. Notably, parking may not be included and “free WiFi” may only apply to communal areas.

    Often hotels offer ‘kids eat & stay free’ style packages, including attraction tickets to make the most of your time in Melbourne.

    Hotels can ultimately book out well in advance of popular sporting events.

    Compare rates on hotelscombined.com before you book, as rates can vary between booking companies.

    Things To Do In Melbourne With Kids

    Enchanted Adventure Garden

    If you’re looking for an out of the ordinary outdoor experience, look no further than the Enchanted Adventure Garden. The award-winning natural park is packed with fun, adrenaline-filled activities that will take you by surprise. From getting lost in a hedge maze, playing in giant tube slides, swinging off to ancient woodlands and following a magical tree course, there’s no doubt you’ll find anything more fun. There are courses designed for adults and kids, so the whole family can be sure to enjoy themselves. Enjoy the entire day at the park with a picnic or by getting lunch at the cage. Make sure to check out their tree surfing! Sold separately, but one of the best things there are to do here.

    Walk Melbourne’s Inner City

    There is plenty to be seen and enjoyed right in the heart of Melbourne. The city’s grid system of streets makes it easy to navigate your way around from famous shopping streets such as Bourke Street Mall and Swanston Street down to Flinders Street.

    Here you will find Federation Square, always a hub of activity and home to the Melbourne Visitor Centre and the Ian Potter Museum of Art, as well as many bars and restaurants. In the winter months, you will also find an ice rink.

    A popular and unique feature of Melbourne’s CBD is its many laneways, which have become home to famous street art. Check out Croft Alley in China Town or Centre Place (between Flinders & Collins Streets).

    The Australian Center for Moving Images

    The Australian Center for Moving Images is one of the most incredible museums in the whole of Melbourne. The museum explores and celebrates Australian history, culture, hopes and fears through moving images, film, video games, and other types of digital art. You can expect to see stories about pretty much anything, prepare to be surprised!

    The museum has several film programs and also has some dedicated to families. We strongly recommend looking into watching one of them during your stay in the city. It’s a beautiful way to discover different perspectives on Australian culture, which can help see the city and country differently.

    Melbourne Zoos

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    There are three exceptional wildlife facilities in Melbourne. Each is quite unique, so if you can squeeze in all three, you won’t be disappointed! They all full under the umbrella of Zoos Victoria and are part of local and international breeding programs, wildlife conservation and fighting extinction.

    First, not far from the city centre in Parkville, you will find the Melbourne Zoo, which is renowned for its breeding programmes. Unique to the Melbourne Zoo is a big focus on insect conservation, and you will also find a beautiful butterfly house with an array of worldwide creatures.

    Heading to the west of Melbourne, you will find Werribee Open Range Zoo – home to many African species. Take a 40-minute “safari” tour across the park with their knowledgeable guides or join in one of the regular keeper talks. They also run night programs during summer and school holidays and a “keeper for the day” program.

    Lastly, Healesville Sanctuary nestled in outer northeast Melbourne is absolutely worth the day trip into the hills. As well as capturing the edge of the fantastic Yarra Valley, Healesville is where you come to see Australian native species.

    They are involved in many rescue and rehabilitation programs and hold several daily talks, live shows and close up encounters. Their animal hospital is a superb hands-on learning experience for kids.

    Walk Around the Dandenong Ranges

    There’s nothing more wonderful than getting lost in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges. Less than an hour away, you’ll find some of the most breathtaking scenery of the forest to indulge in adventure. Walking and hiking through their many trails is a great way to enjoy the wilderness and see a different side of Melbourne. From its lookouts, you may be able to see the You Yangs and Port Phillip Bay at the same time – we can confirm it’s beyond impressive. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, we recommend going to the Great Dividing Range to see the sunrise – the ultimate natural spectacle!

    Just over an hour east of Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges is a hub for family activities. There’s the botanic garden, tulip farm, sculpture garden, forest sanctuary, and orchard tour for green thumb types. Other activities include a rainbow trout farm, picnic ground, Healesville animal sanctuary, scenic railway and the SkyHigh lookout that has a spectacular vista of Melbourne’s skyline (and happens to be the state’s highest viewing point)

    We recommend staying a couple of nights in one of their accommodations to discover as many gardens, walks, and parks as possible. For example, the Waster Sherbrooke Forest Walk and Gumbuya World are great places to encounter Australia’s most precious wildlife, from koalas to hairy spiders.

    Melbourne City Parks

    If there is one thing Melbourne excels at, its green spaces (thanks partly to the steady rain!). Very close to town, you will find Birrarung Marr beyond Federation Square with a great shaded playground, including slides, obstacles, and a sandpit.

    Next up is Treasury Gardens and Fitzroy Gardens – kids will enjoy the Fairies Tree and Model Tudor Village here, as well as historic Cook Cottage, and there’s a great little playground.

    The biggest inner-city park is the Royal Botanical Gardens. Within the grounds, you will find The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden, made for exploring and a great interactive introduction for children to the world of plants and botanical life. During warmer weather, pack your togs for splashing at the Meeting Place, and even if the weather is not on the side, there’s still fun to be had in the wetlands area with the natural pond. Get dirty in the kitchen garden and play hide and seek in the plant tunnels.

    Royal Park in Parkville is another excellent outdoor space close to town. Full of grasslands, a eucalyptus forest, walking trails, a bike track and a vast playground. Expect climbing frames, rope courses, slides, swings, water play – and a massive hill for roly-polys!  If you are looking for the kids to have a carefree day of running about, this is your spot – great combined with a Zoo visit or a trip to nearby Vic Markets (Tram 59).

    There's plenty to keep families big and small entertained in Melbourne. From interactive museums and kids' festivals to exhilarating outdoor adventures and wildlife parks, you'll discover a whole host of fun things to do with the family.
    The Best Suburbs to Live in Melbourne in 2020
    • St Kilda.
    • Carlton.
    • Brunswick.
    • Footscray.
    • Fitzroy.
    • Richmond.
    • South Melbourne.
    • East Melbourne.

    The inner east is filled with leafy and trendy suburbs. There is no doubt that In the east, you will find more restaurants, more shopping and more things to do than in Melbourne's west. This is probably why so many people justify paying more to live in these suburbs.

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