The ‘City Day’ is a classic school holidays favourite for many so I thought I’d put together a list of our favourite free city attractions and some tips to keep the day under budget.
🏬Kids five and over need a Myki for public transport but not on trams within the free city zone so try and stick to those. If you are travelling with wheels download the free tram tracker app that tells you when the next accessible tram is (because trams are either accessible or very much NOT).
🏬The National Gallery of Victoria is free and has an interactive kids space where you can make cardboard animals and create digital artworks. Open daily 10am-5pm.
🏬To see some cool street art the most popular spot is Hosier Lane which is opposite Fed Square. I also love AC/DC lane which is only a short walk from Hosier and is generally much quieter. There are also some great murals across the road from Southern Cross Station.
🏬If you are looking for a bit of nature The Royal Botanic Gardens are lovely and they have a Children’s garden with water play. Fitzroy Gardens have a dragon playground, fairy tree and minature Tudor Village plus heaps of great trees to climb and Flagstaff Gardens are brilliant for autumn leaves this time of year. There are also smaller grassed areas on the roof of Hamer Hall (ace city views from here) and in the enclosed garden at the back of NGV.
🏬Fed Square has many free events and activities as well as being home to NGV Australia and ACMI (Australian Cetre for the Moving Image) which are both free. ACMI has lots of interactive gaming and movie themed activities.
🏬The State Library is fun to explore as you can go right up into the dome. There is also a kids play area.
🏬For playgrounds in the city the best choices are Birrarung Marr (behind Fed Square), the dragon in Fitzroy Gardens, the quirky box playground behind the Library at the Dock in Docklands and the playground in Carlton Gardens behind the Melbourne Museum. Ron Barassi Snr Playground in Docklands is a bit further out but it’s a really good playground too.
🏬Check out Melbourne City Library for free activities for the kids from coding to reptiles. They are held at all the branches.
🏬Grab the scooters or skateboards and try out the big skate park in Alexandra Gardens or, for a more low key experience that would suit beginners, the rooftop car park at District Docklands that is closed to cars but can be accessed with the lifts. It’s a cool spot to have a spin right under the Melbourne Star.
🏬Visit Myer in Emporium for a huge animatronic T Rex, Disney Princess area, Lego models and pretty much any toy you can think of. While you’re in the Melbourne Central zone watch the chocolate makers whip up custom kit Kats on the ground floor, visit the little Free Library and swap a book (level 3) or book into a free tour of the rooftop and dome (running some Sundays, check the Melbourne Central Website for more details on that one.) Try and time your visit so you can also see the clock open on the hour. There’s also walkways between Melbourne Central and Emporium with big windows over the streets below and chairs to watch the city. My kids love that spot.
🏬If you are visiting in the evening the Crown firetowers light up on the hour down along South Bank with the power to melt any ice creams you may be eating at the time. Seriously, if you have little kids or ones sensitive to loud noises don’t stand too close!
🏬The Shrine of Remembrance is a beautiful building to visit the the views of Melbourne are some of the best in the city.
🏬On Fridays at 10.30am you can visit the Fire Safety Demonstration at the Eastern Hill Fire Station and get to test out the fire hose too.
🏬If you are a cycling family there are some good paths down along the Yarra and through Birrarung Marr. We like to put the bikes on the train, hop off at Flinders St Station and then ride up and around the MCG. It gives the kids the chance to cycle in the city without the intimidating parts.