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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

Photograph: Anna Kucera

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


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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By: Time Out editors

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

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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Expand your mind at Readings

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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Grab a scoop of fresh gelato at Pidapipó

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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Treat yourself to a fancy dessert at Om Nom

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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Sing along to your favourite showtunes at the Butterfly Club

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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Feast on homemade pastries at Balha’s

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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Tuck into a tasty pizza at Café Romantica

Open: 24 hours (except Monday nights)

Late-night dining doesn't get more wholesome than Café Romantica: Brunswick's haven for hungry hospo workers, revellers and locals. The friendly staff offer gluten free and vegan options on their pizza and gelato, and use local produce whenever possible.

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Brunswick East

Pass the hours with coffee and cake at Brunetti

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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Achieve your cheese dreams at Milk the Cow

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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Create your perfect dessert at Yo-Chi

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.

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The best late-night eats in Melbourne

Here’s the thing about the late-night diners of Melbourne: they’re not just for drunk people. At 11pm, a sea of (mostly) sober ushers, concierges and waiters are just clocking off. Paramedics aren’t even mid-shift by 1am. So you won’t starve in Melbourne after midnight. If you know where to look, you can even get a whole grilled crayfish at midnight, a bowl of carbonara at 3.30am and a pre-dawn plate of fried chicken.

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By: Gemima Cody

If you don't mind dancing sober...

The best nightclubs in Melbourne

Melbourne’s dancefloors offer booty-shaking vibes aplenty. Here are our favourite places to throw shapes on the weekend.

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By: Rose Johnstone