This is a guest post from Kate Nelson of the blog meetoo.com.au, dedicated to children’s activities in Melbourne.
If you are only in Melbourne for a few days and your time is limited make sure you check out some of these places you can enjoy with children of any age.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Melbourne is the capital of the Garden State – we are blessed with many beautiful parks. And the Botanical Gardens are among the finest in the world. The Gardens are a short tram ride from the centre of town or about 15-20 minutes walk from Flinders Street Station.
You can take a picnic or eat locally. If you are looking for something nicer than cafeteria food then visit the strip of shops and cafes just outside the Gardens on Domain Road. There are a number of great venues to eat to cater for most budgets – and most of them are very relaxed (they are used to joggers stopping after their lap of the running track).
The Gardens are a beautiful space to explore with meandering paths, ponds and lakes and different plantings from all over the world. Best of all there is a dedicated Children’s Garden – which in summer is a wonderful place for Children to explore and play. Be sure to bring extra clothes or swimmers as there are sprinklers and creeks to play in. It is closed at certain times of the year and week, so make sure you check the website before you go to avoid being disappointed: Melbourne Children’s Garden
National Gallery of Victoria, NGV International, St. Kilda Road
Recently opened at the NGV is the Kids Space – a permanent dedicated gallery for children 0-8 years. It is interactive, tactile and colourful – and best of all it’s fun. Both my children love this space.
The Gallery also offers other spaces where children don’t need to be too ‘hushed’. The Great Hall is a great space to sit and have a little picnic. The kids can lie on the floor and stare up at the amazing stain glass ceiling. If you have school aged children ask at the information desk for one of the trail activities – keeps the older kids busy trying to find things within the exhibitions!
Outside at the back of the gallery is a garden – which is often under-utilised – and not only can the kids run around the sculptures, but in the back corner there is a climbing structure!
And finally a trip to the NGV is not complete without running your hands through the water-wall (see below) at the front entrance.
Federation Square, Swanston Street
Fed Square is the central public space in the city. Things to check out:
• Australian Center for the Moving Image – is a gallery dedicated to screen and cinema. Kids love the permanent exhibition as it’s a history of all things screen, so think video games, television and movies from the 1950’s and beyond – lots of fun! ACMI also has its own cinemas that screen films – and it’s worth checking their listings for ‘kids flicks’ as the tickets are very reasonable at $6: http://www.acmi.net.au/kids_flicks.aspx
•Birrarung Marr – Down the side of Fed Square, on the riverbank, is an area called Birrarung Marr. This is where you will find the city’s best playground! And next to the playground is ArtPlay. ArtPlay runs workshops for children of all ages – and you need to plan these well in advance. Check their website to make bookings: Artplay. For more info about what’s on at Fed Square check their website: Fed Square
For more local insights, check out: meetoo.com.au. For child friendly places to eat: littleeats.com.au and for kid’s events listings alphabetstreet.com.au