Admittedly, Melbourne never really made it on our list of holiday destinations. The Mister lived in the culture capital of Australia for six years where he went to college. A few years later, he showed me a glimpse of “his city” on our honeymoon. Despite being notorious for having weather that’s like a Katy Perry song (because it’s hot and it’s cold), we love this artsy city, the culinary adventure and the endless cafe hopping, but we actually thought that it’d be pretty boring for the children. We were wrong; our 10-day holiday to Melbourne turned out to be an exciting adventure as a family that we’d love to do again.
Melbourne is such a hip and happening city, but what makes it a great family destination is that it has so much to offer both adults and children. The city is easy to get around, has awesome attractions with great food, and best of all, it is stroller friendly and has great parent facilities around the city. 10 days went by (almost) stress-free because aside from having great places to explore, there’s always a nice park or a cozy coffee shop (for the parents – LOL!) to take a break in.
I’m sure that my kids loved it too. On the night before we left Melbourne, M2 sat at the tram stop with a gloomy face. “What’s the matter, M2?” I asked him. He said, “I love Melbourne. Everybody speaks English.” I burst out laughing (and I think some Aussie bystanders did too). To this day, every time we talk about holidays, both M1 and M2 (because I think that M3 still can’t fully grasp the concept of holidays) will bring up Melbourne again.
So, what really went down for us in the down under? Here are 12 things we loved most about Melbourne:
- ScienceWorks Museum. This one was a great hit with the children. It’s a bit far out of the city center but very well worth the trip. The bigger kids loved the exhibitions while M3 had a good time running around the park. Just before we left, I looked up Scienceworks Museum on the internet. It turns out that they had a “Meet The T-Rex Family” exhibition during the time we’re there, which was perfect for M2 who was pretty much obsessed with dinosaurs after watching Jurassic Park. We loved how interactive the programs were. The kids had a bit of learning aside from the fun.
2. Melbourne Zoo. Oh. My. God. Perfect. We absolutely loved it. It’s one of the top attractions in Melbourne and we understand why. Clean, educational, and a lot of fun!
3. Dymocks on Collins Street. The very minimum selection of English of children’s books in our country makes this place a little bit of heaven for the children and I. They have a really nice cafe (with Free WIFI – important!) to chill at inside the store which makes it a little bit of heaven for all of us including the Mister.
4. All Nations Park in Northcote. Of all the things there is to love about Melbourne, for me personally, their public parks take up the biggest space in my heart! Seriously, they’re the best! Especially for my M3, the strong-willed child with energy that can light up a whole city, this place was perfect to just burn enough so he can be a well-behaved little traveler. The playground facility is top notch (I may have a pretty low standard / expectation when it comes to public facilities but, really, they’re great!) This park is in the suburbs, a little far out from the city center but close to where we were staying. It has a free bbq pit that you can make use of. Get sausages and food at Coles (right at the park) and you can have a picnic while the kids play on the playground.
5. Churchill Island Heritage Farm on Phillips Island. When we wanted a break from exploring the city and felt like being closer to nature, we drove about an hour and a half out of the city towards the island. One of our favorite places there was the heritage farm, which besides having a large plain to run around in or a lot of shady trees to chillax under, the kids had a lot of fun shearing sheep and milking cows.
6. Maru Koala and Animal Park. Another place to interact with animals, still on Phillips Island. We touched a koala and fed a whole family of kangaroos.
7. Penguins Sighting on Phillips Island. This may be an overrated tourist attraction; it’s packed with tourists, it’s quite pricey, it was quite cold and windy, plus… if you didn’t catch the penguins, that would be quite a sucky experience. Lucky for us, however, after about half hour of waiting, we got an up, close, but not too personal, encounter with a penguin. The Mister and I were admittedly more excited than the kids (probably because we got our money’s worth).
8. Phillip’s Chocolate Factory on Phillip Island. Also known as Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate because it really is pretty amazing. Educational exhibitions about cocoa, interesting game corners, photo ops with chocolate sculptures, chocolate waterfall (oh yeah…!) and *free* chocolate tasting! The kids came out of the place hopping around like bunnies… yep, you guessed it, sugar rush is to be expected.
9. Cozy coffee shops on street corners that are serious about really good coffee. If you walked into any random coffee shops on the streets of Melbourne, you’ll get yourself a great cup of coffee (or so I’d like to believe). We made a stop at a few shops, which served great coffee, however, the cups of coffee we got from Patricia Coffee Brewers (on the corner of Little Bourke St. and Little Williams St.) and Brother Baba Budan (in the CBD), in particular, were extremely memorable.
10. Queen Victoria Market. We simply loved discovering our way through the iconic food halls. We picked up fresh fruits to munch on and made a stop at a few stalls and had our breakfast on the patio as we soaked in the morning rays.
11. Melbourne Central’s Parent’s Retreat. Alright, call me a mom who is easy to please (because I really am) but this place is uh-may-zing! It’s not only clean but it’s also well thought out. The co-toilets and gated mini-playground with a phone charging station are what won my heart.
12. Max Brenner Chocolate because, really, who can resist dessert in a form of hot chocolate on a chilly evening?
Where we stayed:
We rented out AirBNB apartments the whole time we were there (one in the suburbs – Thornbury area – and another in the city, on Spencer St.), except for the two nights we spent in Phillip Island where we stayed at Silverwater Resort.
How we got around:
We mostly took the trams and the trains. We got to and from the airport in a Maxi-Cab (fits more than 6 people and luggage) and rented a car for when we were in Phillip Island. Children below 8 years of age need to be in a car/booster seat (except when you’re riding in a taxi).
Truth be told, there’s so much more to love about Melbourne than the 12 things we mentioned above. There is still so much we want to explore and discover. We simply can’t wait to do that again… it’s only been six months since our trip and our children are already asking, “when are we going to go back to Melbourne again?”