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
Karaoke at Goros
Photograph: Anna Kucera
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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

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

Let loose at a karaoke bar

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?
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Strike Bowling: QV
Things to do

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

icon-location-pin 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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Readings: Carlton
Things to do

Expand your mind at Readings

icon-location-pin 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
Restaurants, Ice cream and gelato

Grab a scoop of fresh gelato at Pidapipó

icon-location-pin 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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Girls and Boys dessert tart
Restaurants, Vegan

Satisfy your vegan treat cravings at Girls and Boys

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

Open until: late 

Earlier this year, the masterminds behind Vegie Bar and Transformer expanded their vegan empire with the opening of an entirely plant-based dessert bar. Their soft serve ice-cream is a miracle of vegan science; or for an extra healthy option, go for a dragonfruit, mango, pineapple and coconut yoghurt smoothie.

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Om Nom dessert bar 'nut bomb'
Travel

Treat yourself to a fancy dessert at Om Nom

icon-location-pin 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.
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Butterfly-Club-03.jpg
Clubs, Cabaret and burlesque

Sing along to your favourite showtunes at the Butterfly Club

icon-location-pin 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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Balha’s Pastry
Restaurants

Feast on homemade pastries at Balha’s

icon-location-pin Brunswick
Open until: 11pm (midnight on Friday)

Sure, there are plenty of excellent bars on Sydney Road – but Brunswick's main strip is also home to some top-notch Middle Eastern cafés, eateries and cake shops where drinking isn't an option. Our pick of the bunch is Balha's, where you can go to town on baklava – almond, pistachio, whatever floats your boat - and trays and trays of other sticky, sweet Lebanese delicacies.
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Brunetti interior
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants

Pass the hours with coffee and cake at Brunetti

icon-location-pin Carlton

Open until: midnight

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.

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Milk the Cow: Carlton
Restaurants

Achieve your cheese dreams at Milk the Cow

icon-location-pin Carlton
Open until: 1am

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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Yo-Chi Carlton
Restaurants

Create your perfect dessert at Yo-Chi

icon-location-pin 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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