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Karaoke at Goros
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Late-night activities that don't involve drinking

Just because you're off the booze, doesn't mean you can't enjoy a big night out. Melbourne is full of after-dark alcohol-free activities – here are our favourites

By Rose Johnstone
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Giving up drinking for a while – or even for good? We've got good news: here in Melbourne, sobriety doesn't equal boredom when the sun goes down. There are plenty of dessert bars, activities and shops open way past dinnertime, which means you can go out, kick on and have a great time whether you're boozing it up or not.

Find out more about the city's late-night culture with our ultimate guide to 24-hour Melbourne, and pre-plan your midnight feast with our top late-night eats.

Alcohol-free activities in Melbourne

A generic image of a group of people in a karaoke room singing
Photograph: Anna Kucera

1. Let loose at a karaoke bar

Nightlife

Open until: 3.30am 

'Total Eclipse of the Heart'. 'Rock Lobster'. 'Someone Like You'. 'Man! I Feel Like a Woman!'. What do these songs have in common? They're all A-grade bangers that will help you slay your next karaoke set and leave your fellow singers gasping. Who needs alcohol when you've got clean, wholesome sing-offs?

2. Stay in your lane (or bust out of an escape room) at Strike

Things to do Melbourne

Open until: late

Strike QV is heaven for adults who never really grew up. Knock 'em dead at the bowling alley, belt out your favourite hits in the karaoke room, challenge your mates to a laser tag tournament, or race against the clock in one of Strike's three themed escape rooms. The best part? Think of how much better your sober self will be at dominating these activities.

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4. Expand your mind at Readings

Things to do Carlton
Open until: 11pm 

A bookstore might not be the first thing that comes to mind late at night, but that's precisely what makes this Carlton institution special. Warm, welcoming and packed with great magazines, books, music and gifts, a trip to Readings is a joy at any hour.
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A worker drizzles nutella over a gelato scoop at Pidapipo Carlton
Photograph: Graham Denholm

5. Grab a scoop of fresh gelato at Pidapipó

Restaurants Ice cream and gelato Windsor
Open until: 11pm

Metres up the road from Readings is one of the best gelaterias in Melbourne (which you can tell from the queue out front). Lisa Valmorbida's fresh, delicious gelato ranges from the traditional (trust us, get the banana) to the adventurous (rosemary and chestnut, for starters) – and you can (and should) top it off with warm Nutella. If you're on the southside, pop into Pidapipó's second venue in Windsor.
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8. Sing along to your favourite showtunes at the Butterfly Club

Clubs Melbourne

Open until: late 

This hidden CBD bar is arguably the home of cabaret in Melbourne, boasting an impressive program of shows every night of the week. Every Friday after 10.30pm, musical theatre-lovers and cast members from all over town flock to the kitsch-themed club for a night of sing-a-longs and performances – no alcohol necessary.

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9. Treat yourself to a fancy dessert at Om Nom

Travel Melbourne

Open until: midnight (10.30pm weekdays)

Did you know that the Adelphi Hotel (home to one of Melbourne's most famous pools) also has a specialty dessert bar? Sweets are everything at Om Nom: just try to resist the rich, chocolate-filled 'nut bomb' or the silky panna cotta.

Brunetti interior
Photograph: Graham Denholm

10. Pass the hours with coffee and cake at Brunetti

Restaurants Carlton

Open until: 10pm (11pm on Friday and Saturday)

Ending an evening with an espresso and an Italian cake at Brunetti is pretty much a Lygon Street rite of passage (the creamy ganache inside the brightly coloured macarons is perfection). These days, this famous pasticceria is a triple threat with a café, piazza and restaurant. In the city? Brunetti's Flinders Lane outpost is also open late.

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12. Achieve your cheese dreams at Milk the Cow

Restaurants Carlton

Open until: Midnight (1am on Friday and Saturday)

These licensed fromageries in St Kilda and Carlton are home to an extraordinary range of cheeses from all over the world. Sure, wine is the usual pairing of choice with fromage, but that triple cream brie won't be any less delicious on its own.

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13. Create your perfect dessert at Yo-Chi

Restaurants Carlton

Open until: 11pm

Not only is this frozen yoghurt dessert joint a welcome change from your usual bar or pub, but it also allows you to mix and match flavours, toppings and sauces, which is just as fun as it sounds. Go for classics like vanilla or chocolate, or get adventurous with lime and avocado, peanut butter and salted butterscotch. Toppings-wise, if you can imagine it, they’ve probably got it: wafers, fresh fruit, cheesecake, Reece's pieces, and those cute little pearls that burst when you bite them.

Hungry?

If you don't mind dancing sober...

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