Things to do with kids in Melbourne
No childhood is complete without a walk through that famous giant mouth at Luna Park. From the moment you walk through you're exposed to a world full of carnival flair; older kids will love The Power Surge and Enterprise, while the family-friendly Silly Serpent and Arabian Merry are best for the little ones. But nothing beats the classic Scenic Railway Roller Coaster for a whirlwind adventure around the entire park. Classic carnival treats are on offer, and those with a more sophisticated pallet can enjoy gourmet pizzas, deli-style sandwiches and burgers at Café Luna.
Melbourne Museum's children's gallery is designed for very young children from babies to five-year-olds, setting a new standard in early childhood learning. Walk in the shoes of a palaeontologist at the Dinosaur Dig or dance the morning away at the Camouflage Disco, complete with a mirror wall, light projections and unique soundscapes. Tired tots can then rest their weary legs at the ‘nothing nook’ – a quiet space to recharge in between adventures.
Funfields, located in Whittlesea, opened in 1985 and has since become one of Melbourne's best-loved attractions. Your entry ticket gets you access to 22 rides, plus a water play area for kids and barbecue area. Little children are well catered for, with mini go karts, ferris wheels and carousels tailored just to them. From there, things get more adventurous: take the journey to the top of the hill and zoom back down the Alpine Toboggan Slide, feel that flutter in your stomach on the Blackbeard's Fury pirate ship and challenge your friends to a race on the go karts, for a start. Make sure you bring your bathers, because the waterslides are always a highlight.
Bringing the country to the city, the Collingwood Children’s Farm gives urban kids a chance to give farming life a go. You can milk the cows, feed the chooks, ride a pony or play with the baby lambs. A farmer’s market takes place every second Saturday of the month, where you can pick up fresh produce. The Farm Café serves up hearty meals with a paddock-to-plate policy: everything is made from scratch and ingredients are sourced locally. Check the website to make bookings for children's parties.
Plunge head first into the aquatic world of Melbourne Aquarium. There are 12 themed zones filled with aquatic animals and plenty of educational and interactive exhibits for all ages, including a state-of-the-art Croc Lair, an interactive Rainforest Adventure and a Penguin Playground.
Revolutionising the climbing experience, Clip 'N' Climb has exploded in popularity since its opening in March 2013. How is it different to other climbing experiences, you ask? Well, there are 33 different climbs, each with different themes and difficulties. You can also race your friends on the Speed Wall or use the challenge boards to tackle each wall in a different way.
Animal Land gives city slicker kids a real hands-on farming experience. Expect the usual suspects: cows, sheep, goats, pigs and ducks, plus a few surprise additions thrown in. Kids get to pat, feed and ride the animal residents with the entry price including pony and tractor rides, duck feeding, egg collecting and cow milking.
Gumbuya Park has had a $50 million facelift and rebranded as Gumbuya World – and there is a lot more fun to be had. Gumbuya World comprises four discrete areas: Oasis Springs, Wildlife Trail, Oz Adventures and Outback Explorers. The Oasis Springs water park features fast slides with steep drops and exciting twists and turns. For a walk on the wilder side, there is the Wildlife Trail, with more than 50 animal species to see. Oz Adventure is a rides section for everyone, and Outback Explorers comprises rides for smaller visitors. Gumbuya World is open every single day except Christmas Day.
The one school excursion that all Victorian primary school kids look forward to. This theme park is a collection of castles, cottages and caves with over 22 mechanical scenes featuring princes, dwarves, wolves, piggies and ogres, that come to life at the push of a button. Giant toadstools pave the way to the castle and back down to the playground, complete with stocks and dungeons. Created in 1959 by a German family, it’s still going strong. The only way you could improve on this is by introducing zombies. Please note: Fairy Park closes for a few weeks in winter each year.
Hidden away off Neptune Street, this huge playground features a flying fox, trampolines, a wooden maze, giant ship and a castle. There’s a barbecue area too so bring a picnic and make a day of it.
If you were a kid in the 1990s there’s a good chance you remember going to the Lost Forests. These toy stores were based off a book series of the same name and were notable for featuring an OTT rainforest decor and lots of fantasy toys to "adopt". There used to be 18 Lost Forests stores across Australia, New Zealand and the USA, but the 1990s recession forced most of them to close, with the District Docklands location being the sole survivor. The store does more than just sell toys too, with toy making workshops, storytime sessions and children's parties also offered.
Adventure Park is the place to go when you want some waterside fun. There are plenty of waterslides, kids rides or family activities such as go-karting or mini-golf. Up for a scare? Try the Wild West Canyon, where the water slide takes you through a dark tunnel and you perform two, 360 degrees spins. Feel like chilling out? Get onto the Lazy River where you simply sit back in an inflatable ring and idly float down the tropical themed river.
Like a fairy-tale book come to life, the Enchanted Adventure Garden is a magical bush land adorned with giant wood sculptures, wrought iron work, manicured hedges, breathtaking blooms and giant puzzles. Your tackers will want to leg it straight to the mazes, though. There's the Hedge Maze with its Japanese Garden, the Labyrinth Maze with giant topiary dragon, Children’s Maze with fairies, and every other unimaginable, garden-y delight. There are also tube slides and a lolly shop.
Phillip Island is home to a lot of amazing things, including the adventure park that is aptly named A Maze’N Things. Full of family fun, there is maxi-golf, mazes and playgrounds. Puzzle Island is where you want to head if you’re up for getting lost in the mirror maze or taking a spin in the rotating room. The Illusion Rooms are designed to confuse you, where you can be shrunk, lose gravity and even disappear.
Known to locals as Cubbies, this playground is a haven for inner-city kids who don’t have access to a large backyard. A new playscape called Coal Flowers was recently unveiled and features five flower poles housing 25 solar panels. The flowers generate and harness electricity for Cubbies’ use and feed into the power grid. Not only that but the petals are also designed to provide shade for children using the playground throughout the year