Melbourne is a fabulous city for family travel as there are many things to do in Melbourne with kids. The kid’s activities Melbourne offers are endless, not just in the CBD but also in the surrounding areas.
The best things to do with kids in Melbourne include discovering the colourful murals down Melbourne’s laneways, soaring above the Melbourne skyline on the Star, cruising down the Yarra River, and the kids will even be entertained riding the free trams around the city.
This Guide to Visiting Melbourne shows you 35 of the best things to do in Melbourne for kids, including everything you need to know about ticket prices, where to save money booking online and opening times.
There are so many great things to do in Melbourne’s surrounding areas that I am just going to focus on the things to do in Melbourne CBD with kids in this post.
Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary
It would be impossible not to enjoy the Melbourne Zoo. You can see all the big animals you expect at zoos, such as lions, tigers, elephants, as well as Australian animals, penguins, a reptile house and a butterfly enclosure.
There is much more as well, with over 300 species calling Melbourne Zoo home. It is well set up and easily accessible with a pram as well as having many areas to sit and rest and for the kids to play. It is easy to see why it is one of the most popular things to do with kids in Melbourne.
It is quite a bargain on weekends and school holidays with kids under 16 free at these times. There is a fair bit of parking around the zoo, but it can take quite a while to find a spot in high peak times.
There are tram and train stops at the zoo. You can also visit the Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary. They are both worthwhile attractions but not as easily accessible as the central zoo.
However, if you have preschoolers, we do find that the Open Range Zoo can work better as a Melbourne family activity. It is smaller, and there are excellent bus tours mainly aimed at young ones in the morning.
For Melbournians, it’s worth considering a Zoo Victoria Membership. Within a year, you can visit all three attractions as many times as you want for about the same price as visiting each of them once for an adult with kids for free.
Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium
At the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, you can see penguins, crocodiles, sea horses, elephant sharks, and many fish! In addition, there are coral, turtles and other associated sea life. It has what you would expect to see at an aquarium, and it is well presented.
Babies are fascinated by fish, and at Melbourne Aquarium, you can get up close to sea life, big and small. Under 3s, get free entry! Buy discount Melbourne Aquarium tickets here, or buy a Melbourne Big Ticket at a discounted rate – giving you access to the Aquarium and Legoland Melbourne.
If you’re a regular visitor, then a membership (perhaps a combined membership with Legoland as part of the Merlin Annual Pass) might be worthwhile.
On the one hand, there is nothing wrong with this aquarium, and it is fun. On the other hand, it is pretty expensive considering it is pretty tiny. We got through it all in thirty minutes when I went with a two-year-old S, even going at her pace. If I were paying $93 for a family, I would be very disappointed with only 30 minutes of entertainment.
If you are in the CBD, you can walk or tram it here. It is not far to walk from Flinders St station.
You can wander around both and see the usual farmyard animals. However, it is worth checking out their schedule’s beforehand to plan your visit for feeding times and other events, such as pony or tractor rides.
The Collingwood Children’s Farm also has a farmers market on the second Saturday of the month. We enjoyed the Collingwood farm more, as it was more hands-on, although I have heard people voice the opposite opinion, so maybe it depends when you go.
Experience a bit of the country in the city and watch the cows being milked, pet the goats and chase chickens. Lady AB’s first visit to Collingwood Children’s Farm while she was still crawling – so don’t dress your baby in his/her best clothes as they’ll be on their knees in dirt, grass and barnyard floors!
If you go when the Farmer’s Market is on (second Saturday of the month 8 am – 1 pm), entry is only $2 for adults, kids are free, and you can stay all day. They often have the Mexican Music Man playing too! The Farm Cafe is an excellent family-friendly cafe on-site with pram access, high chairs and a kids menu.
We recommend a car to go to the Bundoora farm. It is a bit of a drive from the CBD. Collingwood Children’s Farm is much more central and can be reached via bus or train with a walk.
Apart from usual museum items, The Melbourne Museum houses a Children’s Gallery which is designed for 3-8 years olds. The Children’s Gallery centrepiece is an exhibition about how things grow. There are lots to touch and feel.
Located just outside of this exhibit, there are more great Melbourne family activities. S and Z loved making Roman buildings and putting on puppet shows. Additionally, there is a great outdoor area for the kids full of activities such as lego, hula hoops and skipping ropes. It’s gold. The main museum has plenty to offer kids with attractions such as the insect room, dinosaurs and lots of animals and fish, and a forest area.
This attraction is only $14 for adults and free for under 17s and concession cardholders. It is easy to get to as it is located on the edge of the CBD and on multiple tram lines. There is also an Imax cinema at the museum with discounted tickets with a museum ticket.
One of our best things to do for kids in Melbourne is definitely Scienceworks. It is a science museum and is fun for all ages. It is packed full of hands-on activities for the kids, as well as housing a planetarium.
There are also lots of special shows and events running regularly. For the preschoolers, about once a month, there is a “little kids day in” with special events for under 6s running all day. However, I would actually recommend avoiding this day! It has far more people and long lines than on a regular day.
The upstairs level of the museum has a fantastic preschoolers area with things like a pretend cafe, cranes and blocks and many more activities to keep kids’ entertained – my kids love it.
You can catch a train here, and there is also plenty of parking. Kids under 17 are free, as are concession card holders (so we got to go for free thanks to my university student card – bargain!).
Children’s Garden at the Botanical Gardens
One of the best things to do in Melbourne city is to visit the Children’s Garden in Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens. It consists of plants, waterways, lots of fun statues, pathways and a kitchen garden.
There is also a water feature that sprays the kids in summer, a wetlands area, a bamboo forest and a plant tunnel. It’s a great space and easy for the kids to play and get their hands dirty. Fabulous for our inner-city kids!
The Botanical Gardens is easily accessible from the CBD and is located close to Flinders Street station. Entry is free, making this the best of the cheap things to do in Melbourne with kids.
ACMI Screen Worlds
ACMI Screen worlds is a great little attraction inside ACMI in Federation Square. The central location makes it very easy to pop in for a visit, especially as it’s free!
Want more free children’s activities Melbourne CBD has? Then within Federation Square, check out the ACMI. This free museum showcases Australia’s film, TV, video games, digital culture, and art.
This is another one of the free and fun things to do in Melbourne CBD with the kids. It was cool seeing all the old school video games we use to place and how far technology has come in a relatively short time frame.
Throughout the year, the ACMI hosts various exhibitions. While we were there, we went to the Wallace and Gromit and Friends: The Magic of Aardman exhibition.
This was a great exhibition learning about how the fantastic Aardman Studios make Claymation. In addition, we got to meet Shaun the Sheep and see the various movie and TV sets. We even had a go at making our own Claymation film.
Screen Worlds aims to tell the moving image story over 110 years, and it’s superb. It traces the early beginnings of film, television, game consoles, and the internet, emphasising the digital age. It does this through many TV screens, interactive media and old memorabilia.
So many fun exhibits are fantastic for adults and kids, like making your own shadow puppets playing on old game consoles.
The centre is located within Federation Square and is an exciting way to spend an hour or so. It’s one of the free fun activities for kids Melbourne has to offer.
Latitude Melbourne is another trampoline park, and I especially recommend this for families with preschoolers.
It’s located out in Heidelberg so that you will need a car. However, it has many different activities, including trampolines and obstacle courses, climbing walls, pits full of foam and other fun things.
As the mum of a four and 5-year-old when we visited, what stood out for me was the excellent kids’ zone. This is where it beat our Bounce experience. There’s play equipment, ball pits, trampolines and a big foam pit. It would best suit kids 2-4 years old, and it would have been too young for my 5.5-year-old had she not had her brother to play with and make things fun.
My only problem with this place only applies if you have kids of a similar age to mine – S would have been better suited to playing in the older areas, which Z was too short for (need to be 1.1 metres). Ideally, this place works better if all your kids are 5+ or under 5. However, this is a small criticism of a fun place to let your kids let off some steam!
There’s something novel about an ice bar, where you literally get to stand and have a drink in a big freezer where the walls and decorations are made of ice.
There’s one in Melbourne, close to where we live, and S and I decided to check it out. This is the third incarnation of Melbourne’s Ice Bar, and unlike its predecessors, it is more kid-friendly – kids are welcome before 6:30 pm.
If you don’t know what an ice bar is, it is essentially a bar where the walls, furniture and as much as possible is made of ice. There are some great ice sculptures, a few games and, of course, a bar from which you can get cocktails and mocktails (some of which come in glasses made of ice).
Most entry packages include a free drink. It’s pretty darn cold – the room stays around -10 degrees C (apparently the coldest ice bar in the world, so they tell me).
A warm layer is provided – we each were given a warm poncho, socks, ugg boots and gloves. S was also offered a scarf and beanie as well. That said, it pays to dress as warm as you can underneath. Some reviews online have mentioned their reluctance to admit smaller kids who are too small for any gear.
The ice bar itself is small. This didn’t bother six-year-old S, who loved playing the games and climbing over the impressive ice sculptures. We were there for an hour before I could take any more and made us leave. When not freezing to death, it was fun playing the games and enjoying the artwork.
On the downside, you’re not meant to take photos in there. Instead, you can use the fixed cameras in there and buy photos or prints when you’re done. That annoyed me as the cameras didn’t cover the stuff I would have wanted to take a picture of, like S riding a big Cerberus made of ice.
Entry isn’t cheap, and the drinks are mainly pre-made (which is understandable), and although strong (the cocktails anyway, to stop them freezing), you’re not coming here for the drinks. It’s all about the novelty of a mini-world of ice. Even though it’s a bar, kidsit can get a lot more out of it than adults.
Melbourne Star Observation Wheel
One of the fun things to do in Melbourne for kids is taking them soaring above the Melbourne skyline on board the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. This 30-minute journey is an excellent introduction to the city and one of the more popular Melbourne family activities.
As well as fantastic views across the entire Melbourne CBD skyline and beyond, you will receive commentary about the various sites around Melbourne. With your ticket, you receive a free map so you can follow along with the commentary identifying the various landmarks.
The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel has 21 individual air-conditioned, fully enclosed cabins. Each cabin can fit up to 6 people, although the day we were there, there were only a handful of people, so pretty much everyone had an entire cabin to themselves. So there is plenty of room to walk about and take some fantastic photos of the city skyline.
We went during the day, but I would be keen to ride the Wheel during the evening or just at dusk to see the city lights. At night the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel even has a dazzling LED light show. A ride on the Melbourne Star is undoubtedly one of Melbourne things to do; kids will just love it.
Ice Skating at Docklands
Looking for active things to do for kids in Melbourne? Then head down to the O’Brien Icehouse for some ice skating at Docklands. This is quite literally one of the cool things to do in Melbourne.
I have never been ice skating beforehand, and Myla had only done so once, so I was a bit nervous about how our visit here would go. I was surprised how easy it was to walk with the skates on, and while I was no good, I managed to skate (very slowly) a few times around the rink. With the aid of a seal, Myla skated around and around the rink many times.
Ice skating is an excellent opportunity for some family bonding time, and I love any activity that gets the kids physical. It was difficult to drag Myla away! While I recommend bringing warm clothes, once you get going, you warm up, so make sure you wear layers that you can take off.
If you go on a weekend or school holidays, you can join one of the free skate lessons before you get started. Over school holidays, this is undoubtedly one of the fun places to go in Melbourne as the arena has a variety of fun family activities, including games, face paintings, circus performers, skating performances and a craft zone.
Nestled along the banks of Stoney Creek in Yarraville is McNish Reserve, better known as “the Dinosaur Park”. This small but fun park is home to a three-metre tall dinosaur sculpture, Mimi the Muttaburrasaurus, complete with a slide for a tail. Mimi is designed to be played in and on, and kids can climb inside, go down her tail or make her talk or roar through her mouth.
The park is small, with Mimi the star of the show, some dinosaur eggs to climb on or into, and some dinosaur rocking horse type things. Even though there isn’t much, our kids loved it, and despite it being a windswept day, many other kids did too.
Even after an hour, I had to drag S and Z off for lunch. Mimi’s really well made and obviously a lot of fun, making this park one of Melbourne’s better kids playground.
There’s decent parking at and close to the park, although it’s time-limited. There’s water taps but no public toilets.
It’s hard to go wrong with a trip to Luna Park – Melbourne’s only amusement park. Luna Park is located in an excellent spot by the water in famous St Kilda. It’s a short tram trip from the CBD, and it is free to enter – although then, of course, you have to pay to go on the rides.
It’s a low key theme park. It’s much more about having fun than being scared to death by roller coasters. You can see the main roller coaster around the park’s edge is actually 104 years old and quite rocky. I got more of a thrill out of the lovely views than the speed, but it is a lot of fun.
There are enough rides to fill at least half a day, and it’s worth getting an unlimited ride ticket. It’ll be more fun if the kids are at least 1.2 metres, as that will get you on everything but one ride (which is a minimum height of 1.3 metres). There are rides specifically for little ones as well, though, so you will find something to do.