Planning a family trip to Melbourne? Check out this guide! HoneyKids junior reporter Siya Rathi shares her itinerary of top things to see, do, and eat in the capital city.
When it comes to family-friendly destinations, nothing beats Melbourne. From frolicking with animals and fruit picking to interactive exhibitions and watching a play, there are many things that the kiddos can participate in. HoneyKids junior reporter Siya Rathi pens down the top things to do in Melbourne.
Family-friendly things to do in Melbourne
1. Snorkel with seals
Join the team at Watermaarq to meet seals, fish, weedy sea dragons, and if you’re lucky, even dolphins aboard a thrilling, swift RIB boat ride that takes you across the Pacific Ocean. The ride also allows you to discover the Great Southern Reef colours. It was my first snorkelling experience, and spotting the nearby seals was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I’ll never forget. The team ensured we were comfortable and safe throughout the two-hour journey.
2. Meet Australia’s native animals
Want to say hello to Australia’s very own native animals? Then Healsville Sanctuary is the perfect place! Meet the stout wombat, endangered Tasmanian devil, duck-billed platypus, tree kangaroos, and more! Learn more about the different animals through the hourly zoo ranger’s animal briefings, and grab an opportunity to feed them too. I was enamoured by the Animal Hospital within the Sanctuary, which treats more than 1,500 sick and injured native animals yearly. It was exciting to see an animal Operation Theatre!
3. Go cherry picking
Take in the picturesque surroundings and pluck the freshest, juiciest cherries at CherryHill, a 100% Australian-owned family business for the last 80 years. The cherry-picking experience, which runs from November to early January, offers visitors the chance to pick, eat, and bring home lush, ripe cherries of over 80 varieties. I relished interacting with the friendly guides and walking through the dozens of rows of cherry shrubs hunting for the perfect cherries in this vast orchard.
Grab a bite: There’s no need… the cherries you pick are yours to eat! However, pop by Hubert Estate down the road if you’re looking for more.
4. Witness the penguin parade at Phillip Island
Experience the magic of little penguins – the smallest of the penguin species – cautiously making their way to their burrows after their hunt for food in the Pacific Ocean. I was wowed by thousands of penguins (2500 on the night we were there!) jumping over rocks and waddling through the small puddles of water from my spot on the viewing boardwalk.
5. Downtime at Legoland Discovery Centre
Yay! Legoland! Melbourne’s very own Legoland may be smaller in size, but it definitely packs a ton of family-friendly punch with its activities. From a Lego-city-inspired play area to a 4D short film, this was my Lego-loving siblings’ dream come true! I think this Legoland is more suited for children aged six to 10 years, as the activities for older children are quite limited. Chadstone Shopping Centre, where Legoland is conveniently located, is the biggest shopping centre in Australia and one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.
Grab a bite: There are plenty of familiar options at the mall – from Boost to Krispy Kreme to TGI Fridays. However, I recommend the popular Australian café Axil Coffee Roasters for a variety of local speciality baked goods like the vanilla slice and the sea-salted chocolate cookie.
6. Check out The Twelve Apostles and The Great Ocean Road
My family started our GOR trail at Torquay, with Port Campbell as our final destination. There are stunning and immensely different beaches along the coast, where we took multiple pit stops to wade in and collect glorious shells. Our last stop was at The Twelve Apostles, which are incredible rock structures that rise dramatically out of the fierce Southern Ocean, making a statement of power and majesty. Exit at the 12 Apostles signage to walk over the viewing deck to view the Apostles from all directions. A few minutes down the Great Ocean Road, discover other mighty rock stacks like Loch and Gorge, London Bridge, and The Grotto. No wonder it’s known as Shipwreck Coast!
Psst, note that the Great Ocean Road drive takes around four hours, and the road is very windy. If you have any nausea-prone siblings, sit as far from them as possible!
Grab a bite: If you are after pancakes, Doc Hughes at Torquay puts together a scrumptious stack with ice cream. Real Pizza Pasta Salads at Port Campbell focuses on sustainability and local sourcing. We also enjoyed Peterborough House, a 10-minute drive from Port Campbell, for its sourdough cheese toasties and Melbourne coffee for my parents.
7. Ride on the Puffing Billy Train
Ever wondered what trains looked like in the olden days? Keen to dangle your legs out of a moving train? Step into the timeless world of Puffing Billy for both! The Puffing Billy is a century-old heritage railway in Melbourne’s southern foothills of the Dandenong Ranges. The ride from Belgrave to Lakeside is a sheer experience – pass through towering forests, around bends, over bridges and streams, waving at passers-by while sitting on the carriage sill as Puffing Billy steams gently along the tracks.
8. Explore ScienceWorks
ScienceWorks is a magnet for science lovers. From interactive exhibits and designing your own car to a whole section on physical strength – a rock climbing wall, a netball hoop, a gymnastics scoring station, and more – there’s enough to keep you stimulated for hours. Explore all things energy at the ‘Lights, Energy, Action!’ show through three rounds of electrifying demonstrations involving different forms of energy and the grand finale – a ‘lightning’ dance with ‘singing’ Tesla coils! This was also my first visit to a planetarium. Stars lighting up the roof was a sight to behold!
Grab a bite: There is not much to eat nearby, so best to pack your own lunch and enjoy your picnic at one of the outdoor playgrounds.
9. Overdose on gelato in the Melbourne CBD
Melbourne CBD has two famous gelaterias – Piccolina Gelateria and Pidapipo Gelateria. They both offer a variety of interesting flavours like honeycomb, Nutella swirl, pistachio, and chocolate brownie gelato. My favourite is the classic vanilla at Piccolina.
10. Catch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Direct from Broadway, the re-imagined 3.5-hr Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a dazzling must-see production – Harry Potter fan or not. Having read the whole series thrice over, it was a dream come true for me to whiz through the wizarding world and immerse in the jaw-dropping special effects – gravity-defying magic duels, chilling Dementors floating above you, candy that makes steam come out of its chewer’s ears, and so much more.
Grab a bite: Take a trip on Melbourne’s tram to Queen Victoria Market for a hot Turkish Pide.
There you have it, folks. Enjoy your family trip to Melbourne!
Words by Siya Rathi
Apart from being an enthusiastic writer and holding the household record for the most number of books read in a week, Siya binge watches home design shows, incessantly bosses two younger brothers, and strongly believes that there’s no such thing as too much stationery!