Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city and you could easily spend weeks here without experiencing all there is to see and do. But if you are only stopping over, or have limited time, we have you covered with a 3 days in Melbourne Itinerary for families.
Melbourne has been voted most liveable city in the world on many occasions and for good reason. This cosmopolitan city is the capital of Victoria and is full of culture. Known for its variety of world class dining, shopping and eye for fashion, Melbourne is filled with museums and art galleries, hidden laneways and markets, and various world-class sports venues.
Here we welcome guest blogger and Melbourne local Chontelle from Mum’s Little Explorer’s to share with us all the best things to do in Melbourne with kids.
Melbourne is the perfect destination to start, or end your family trip to Australia. If you are travelling around Australia with kids, Melbourne is one the most strategic cities to fly into, especially if you are heading up the East Coast.
Our Melbourne Itinerary: 3 days
There really is an abundance of things to do with children in Melbourne if you have the time. But if you are limited and you only have a few days, we can help you with a basic Melbourne itinerary to get the most out of your short trip and make sure you fit in as many family activities in Melbourne as possible.
One thing to remember about Melbourne, is that it is the city where you can experience 4 seasons in one day. Yep, no matter when you plan to visit, make sure you pack for all occasions. Bring your jacket, umbrella and sunnies no matter the time of year… because you just never know.
We have tried to include a variety of different kids activities in Melbourne that also adults will enjoy too, so that the whole family can enjoy this amazing city together.
So if you are wondering what to do in Melbourne with kids, read on!
Melbourne Itinerary: Day One
On day one of our Melbourne family itinerary we are going to start off at one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, Melbourne must see Flinders Street Station, before strolling along the Yarra River to the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium. We will spend the afternoon relaxing in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens and end our day taking in the views from the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel.
Morning: Federation Square, Southbank & SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
Start your day early arriving at Flinders Street Station, built in 1909, and one of the most iconic things to see Melbourne. Across the road is Federation Square where you can find a selection of kid friendly Melbourne cafes for breakfast if you haven’t already had some in your hotel.
Sip on a cappuccino, and try an Aussie breakfast of bacon and eggs, or typical Melbournian brekkie – smashed avocado on toast. Most cafes will serve up babyccinos or juice for the kids too and there is plenty of space for the kids to run around.
When you are ready, head straight for the SEA LIFE Aquarium, one of the top Melbourne attractions for kids. The aquarium is a gorgeous 15-minute walk from Federation Square along the Yarra River. The walk itself has some great views of Melbourne city and so take your time to take it all in and enjoy the views.
Once you get to SEA LIFE, you can spend the morning exploring the underwater world, viewing a range of tropical fish, sharks, and one of Australia’s largest saltwater crocodiles. SEA LIFE usually has different exhibitions throughout the year targeted for kids so there is always something exciting on.
Visiting the aquarium is one of our favourite indoor activities for kids in Melbourne and so is a good one to have up your sleeve for a Melbourne rainy day activity.
Lunch: Crown Complex
A short walk from SEA LIFE Aquarium is the Crown Complex. While the Crown Casino itself is one of the top Melbourne tourist attractions, it obviously isn’t kid friendly. However the complex itself is worth a walk through. You don’t need to enter the actual casino.
For lunch options there is a variety of restaurants inside, in the food court, and also along the river if the weather is nice. There are lots of seafood restaurants as well as Asian and Italian, with plenty to choose from, depending on your tastes and budget.
Afternoon – Melbourne Botanical Gardens
After your busy morning, you are probably looking for some more relaxing family things to do in Melbourne. Just east of the CBD is the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne with over 89 acres of lakes, lawns and garden beds, and over 8500 different species of flowers, plants, and trees.
You can easily arrive by tram, or it is about a 25-minute walk. It depends on how many little legs you have, or how you are doing for time.
The Botanical Gardens are a great place to just chill and relax. There is even a special garden dedicated to children called the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden. This is one of our favourite outdoor things for kids to do in Melbourne. They will love exploring the bamboo forest, and climbing the trees.
If you are too tired to move far for dinner there are some cafes and restaurants within the Botanical Gardens and its surroundings. But if you are looking for further options, you could head to the District Docklands, where you can find a range of restaurants.
The District Docklands are also home to another of our favourite Melbourne family attractions, the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. Here you can finish your evening with the best view of Melbourne at night.
Melbourne Itinerary: Day Two
It’s all about kids fun in Melbourne today with animals being top of the agenda. We will spend the morning at the zoo and then end the day with the penguins! What fun.
Morning & Lunch: Zoo
If you are looking for fun things to do in Melbourne with kids you will be pleased to learn that Melbourne has three zoos: Melbourne Zoo in Carlton near the city centre, Werribee Open Range Zoo, and Healesville Sanctuary.
All three are fantastic but different in their own way. Each of them is perfect for a day of family fun in Melbourne for your second day.
If you are visiting Melbourne with toddlers or younger children and travel is an issue, then Melbourne Zoo, located in Carlton, is your best option as it is the closest to the city centre.
If you are happy to travel for the day, Healesville Sanctuary is about an hour and half away but well worth the distance as one of the best family outings in Melbourne.
All three zoos have wildlife encounters where you can get close up to some native Australian animals. So, it is a great opportunity to pat a koala or feed a kangaroo.
Afternoon/ Dinner: St Kilda and Penguins
After your zoo experience, head down to St Kilda for a relaxing walk and dinner. There are plenty of restaurants down Acland Street and Fitzroy Street to choose from, depending on your taste and budget.
After dinner, make sure you grab yourselves a gelato and head down to see the penguins. If you have heard of the penguin viewing at Phillip Island, you will be excited to know that St Kilda is also famous for viewing penguins and you don’t have to drive over 2 hours to see them.
The penguins arrive in St Kilda at breakwater every night of the year and you can see them at the end of St Kilda pier. The best viewing spots are on the boardwalk about 30mins after sunset.
Day Three: Day Trips from Melbourne
If you are lucky enough to have a third day in this exciting city, then you should definitely take one of these popular day trips from Melbourne for families. Melbourne is in the ideal location to reach many beautiful places within just an hour or two drive from the city.
From the famous Great Ocean Road, to the wine region of Mornington Peninsula, here are our pick of the best Melbourne day trips:
Great Ocean Road
This stunning coastline is home to some of the best beaches near Melbourne, including Torquay and the famous Bells Beach. One of the most popular attractions is the 12 Apostles.
There are only actually 8 apostles left so check them out before it is too late. It is possible to do a Great Ocean Road Day Tour from Melbourne, but we recommend taking your time and doing a self-drive tour over a few days. Click here to read more about our experience visiting the Great Ocean Road with Kids.
Ride the famous Puffing Billy Steam Train where you can hang your legs out the window while winding through the stunning forests.
Experience some of Australia’s history and head back to the days of the gold mines at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat.
On the South East Coast, there are plenty of gorgeous seaside towns to spend the day including Mornington itself, or further down to Sorrento or Rosebud.
Click here to read more about visiting Mornington Peninsula with Kids.
Other things to do in Melbourne with Family
If you have longer for your Melbourne family trip, or want to mix things up a bit, here are some more suggestions for children’s activities in Melbourne.
If you are a sports enthusiast and plan to visit Melbourne between Friday and Sunday, you should definitely take the kids to an Aussie Rules Football Game at one of the football stadiums in the city, such as the MCG. The ground itself is quite impressive and can fit almost 100,000 people inside. They actually hold guided tours in the ground during the days too.
Melbourne Museums for Kids
If you are in Melbourne on a cold rainy day, head to one of Melbourne’s Museums:
- The Melbourne Museum is located in Carlton and has an area specific for children from 0-5yrs old.
- Scienceworks is in Spotswood in Melbourne’s West and is great for those with curious minds. The Melbourne Planetarium is also in the same complex.
- The Old Melbourne Gaol was built in the 1800’s and is one of Melbourne’s most historical buildings. You can visit and explore the cells and see what life was like for some of the most notorious criminals, including Australia’s most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly.
About the author: Chontelle is the founder of Mum’s Little Explorers, a family travel site featuring things to see and do in Melbourne with kids, and other national and international travel. Chontelle is originally from Melbourne and spent over 14 years travelling, living, and working abroad before returning to this amazing city with her husband to raise their 2 young children.
Family Hotels in Melbourne
There is a good range of family friendly hotels in Melbourne to choose from. Here is our pick of where to stay in Melbourne with kids:
Novotel Melbourne on Collins
The Novotel on Collins is a great choice for family accommodation in Melbourne CBD. It is in a brilliant location in the middle of the shopping district and just a short stroll from many bars and restaurants, including the popular Flinders Lane and Desgraves Street. Southbank and the Crown Casino complex are within easy walking distance too.
The spacious Melbourne hotel rooms most suitable for families at this Melbourne city centre hotel include the Junior Suite, which comes with a double sofa bed, and the Deluxe Room with two double beds. You can also opt for a family suite, which comes with a king bedroom and interconnecting twin room, plus lounge and dining area.
There is an onsite bar and restaurant and two kids eat for free with every paying adult. The other reason this is our pick of the best place to stay in Melbourne with kids is its indoor swimming pool.
For a unique Melbourne laneways experience, we love this hidden gem of a funky boutique hotel. Ideally located close to the bars, restaurants and shops of the CBD, this Melbourne family friendly hotel has awesome 2-bedroom suites with loads of space for families, with separate lounge and dining areas.
We particularly love the free mini-bar and in-room snacks, free self-service laundry and free grab n’ go breakfast. Rooms also have Apple TV and microwaves.
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