The phrase “child in an adult’s body” is about to hold more truth than ever before. Take your next trip to Melbourne, and let yourself play, see, and eat with the wonder, imagination and happiness of a child. With excellent options for education, culture and enrichment for children, you’ll find yourself comfortably joining the fun. Here we have some of the best options in the city to satisfy the whole family, with a special nod to the adults.
You’ve heard of specialty shops, but never like this before. The Little Bookroom was the first bookstore to open in the world with an unwavering focus and dedication to enriching the youngest minds through literature. The first children’s books specialty shop is only a short walk from the zoo. Easy double whammy, no? If you’re totting a particularly picky crowd, or just prefer a different claim to fame, the largest children’s bookstore in Melbourne, located in the city center, is called Dymock’s and is also a great place to spend the afternoon. For the older crowd, including Mom and Dad, we recommend Reader’s Feast or the Paperback Bookstore.
Melbourne has a cozy collection of parks to make you feel right at home. The Melbourne Zoo and its surrounding grounds are a lovely place to have a picnic and spend a sunny afternoon with the kids. Docklands Park and Footscray Park both have great playgrounds and barbequing equipment free for public use; Docklands is located by the harbor, while Footscray is complete with landscaped ponds. The Collingwood Children’s Farm provides a chance to meet and play with farm animals.
Melbourne eating has found the sweet spot between the sneaky nibbling off your babies’ high chair tray and the refined, white-tablecloth, grown-up´s-night-out dining. With limitless family-friendly options, your best move here is to enjoy your kid’s favorites with special twists to satisfy your more adult palette. Here are some of our favorites: Birdie’s Num Nums Café has an extensive children’s menu (with a special feature of “fairy bread”), a courtyard sandbox out back complete with toys, and delicious coffees and treats for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Huxtaburger is completely make-it-your-own, which means they won’t forget to leave the pickles off your five-year-old´s sandwich nor forget to put the extra ones on yours (or forget your cold beer, as is their other specialty). Perfect for an early dinner, Mr. Wolf’s Restaurant and Bar has a special for pizza, coloring and ice cream sundae for 12$ between five and six in the evening. Just call ahead.
So much to do already and we haven’t even gotten to the best things to see! First, the Melbourne Aquarium is guaranteed to leave your kids in wonder. For a special experience, try ArtPlay, a unique space for children and artists to collaborate and create something everyone will treasure forever. Get the slightly older crowd off their iPhones and look around for a bit at the (ACMI) Australian Centre for the Moving Image, where they can learn about film and see and interact with some of their favorite Pixar characters in full costume! For the sportier crew, the National Sports Museum is both informative and fun, with full-interactive exhibits and a location of the old, iconic cricket ground. For any history buffs in the family, check out the Old Melbourne Gaol, where during the day, and at candlelight in the evening, old prison cells come alive with tales of the most epic gangsters to rule the streets.
For a family vacation you’ll not soon forget, hop across whichever pond needed and spend a week in Melbourne. Happy playing!