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Royal Botanic Gardens
Photograph: Roberto Seba / Visit Victoria

The best picnic spots in Melbourne

Pack a hamper and roll out the rug – here are the top places in Melbourne to have a picnic

Written by
Time Out editors
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Dig out your tartan rug, it's time to go picnicking! There are loads of green pockets throughout Melbourne just perfect for a picnic. After all, there's just something about eating outdoors that makes food taste that much better. From inner-city parks to secluded riverbanks and even historic homesteads, these are some of the best places to picnic in Melbourne.

Or stretch your legs with one of Melbourne's best walks instead. 

Need some help planning your picnic? Check out our list of picnic essentials. 

Where to picnic in Melbourne

If there’s anywhere you can escape the madness of the city CBD without actually leaving it, the Royal Botanic Gardens is the place. The expansive lawns have so many spots for picnicking, whether you're looking to do so in full sun or under a tree. One of our favourite spots is at Dog Flat, which overlooks the ornamental lake. If you can't be bothered to pack your lunch, you can also grab food from the Terrace café.

Park perks: There are SO MANY spaces to roll out a rug in the gardens, including many that feel completely secret. 

You can feel the weight of the past as soon as you step into the grounds and look up to the gothic spires of the Abbotsford Convent. The complex began as a convent in the late 1800s and was also a commercial laundry, orphanage and aged care facility. These days, it’s a hub for artists, makers, community radio broadcasters and teachers – as well as a beautiful place to relax with a park picnic.

Park perks: If you forgot your food, pop into the Convent Bakery for loaded sandwiches, pies and pastries.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Footscray

Fun fact: Footscray Park is the most intact example of an Edwardian-era public garden in the whole of Victoria. First designed in 1911, the park was constructed between 1916 and 1964 and has plentiful garden beds plus barbecues, a fitness circuit, outdoor stage, playground and off-leash dog area. It sits right on the Maribyrnong River and has views of the city skyline and Flemington Racecourse. 

Park perks: For an after-lunch walk, follow the Maribyrnong River Trail towards Footscray Community Arts Centre.

  • Things to do
  • East Melbourne

Head to the scenic Treasury Gardens amidst Melbourne’s busy cityscape to kick back metropolis style. You’ll be sandwiched beside Spring Street, the tranquil Fitzroy Gardens and even Parliament station, which is great location wise, and there are plenty of green patches to spread out on no matter the size of your group. Do be careful if your day picnic slides into night territory, however, as Treasury Gardens is notorious for its large colony of brushtail possums.

Park perks: Location, location, location, mate.

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  • Things to do
  • Fitzroy North

This park is second only to the Fitzroy Pool for the number of hipsters crazily Instagramming their vintage picnic rugs. It’s a magical wonderland of trees, crosshatched by bike paths with public toilets, a free skate park and free table tennis (BYO bats and balls). There’s also a rotunda, which is handy if you’re crap at giving directions on where to meet.

Park perks: The North Fitzroy Bowls Club is in one corner if the mood for barefoot bowls strikes.

Yarraville Gardens
Photograph: Alpha on Flickr

6. Yarraville Gardens

Large swathes of green lawn, public toilets, a playground and picnic tables make Yarraville Gardens a serene location for a family picnic in the inner west. The park is also a great option if your family includes a canine companion, with a large off-leash dog area. The park is accessible without a car too, being just a ten-minute walk from Yarraville Station.

Park perks: If travelling from the station, stop in Yarraville's Ballarat Street shopping district to grab snacks to-go. Maybe even a pizza from Pizza d'Asporto?

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  • Museums
  • Elsternwick

This is the Downton Abbey of picnic spots. The enclosed grounds are heritage listed, and there’s a huge mansion in the middle as well as stables and a lake with a boathouse. Rippon Lea even rents out croquet sets for proper high-falutin’ revelry. Entry to the grounds costs $9 for kids and $15 for big kids. You can’t barbecue or booze on, but this is one of the best-looking patches of grass Melbourne has.

Park perks: Aristocratic good times and regular theatre performances in summer.

St Kilda Botanical Gardens
  • Things to do
  • St Kilda

Giant chess! If that’s not enough of a reason to hit up St Kilda’s 150-year-old beauty mark, perhaps we can interest you in the conservatory, grey-headed flying foxes, and the acres and acres in which to run, arms outstretched, like a toddler or agitated swan? You can bring your dog if you’ve got one, and should the weather be looking ominously Melburnian, there are plenty of shelters.

Park perks: You're not far from Acland Street, so why not top off your picnic with something from one of the strip's famous cake stores?

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Ardrie Park

9. Ardrie Park

Malvern East’s verdant jewel boasts epic views back over Melbourne, an excellent swing set and the chance to do some champion wedding photo bombing (not that you’re a jerk, but hey). A long boulevard of trees runs through the middle, and there are Japanese gardens in which to find a nook and/or quiet cranny if you like to pretend you’re at the picnic at the end of the universe.

Park perks: Fans swear it’s Melbourne’s most beautiful park.

Queens Park
Photograph: Bidgee on WikiMedia Commona

10. Queens Park

Love picnicking next to a lake? Queens Park in Moonee Ponds is a gorgeous green spot in Melbourne's northwest, with a large lake featuring an over-water gazebo and fountains. There are tables scattered across the park, plus lots of large shady trees – keep in mind many of the trees simply have dirt or patchy grass underneath, so a picnic rug is a must if you choose one of these spots. There's also a 50-metre swimming pool for swimming in summer.

Park perks: Queens Park has a number of beautiful gardens to explore.

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Studley Park Boathouse
  • Things to do
  • Kew

"There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats," once said World’s Best Picnicker, Ratty, from Wind in the Willows. We agree. Don a straw boater, commandeer a river-faring vessel from Fairfield Boathouse ($38-$48/boat for the first hour, $8-$11/hr after) and paddle down to the old Alphington Swimming Pool site. The community-built pool was closed in the ‘60s and filled with silt, but at this quiet, bushy bend in the river, you’ll find a little part-excavated monument and a clearing beneath a sweet grove of oak trees. Beyond that lies the park proper with barbecues and toilets.

Park perks: The serenity/opportunity to dress like a dandy.

Jawbone Reserve
Photograph: Parks Victoria

12. Jawbone Reserve

For those out Williamstown way, Jawbone Reserve is a gorgeous mix of wetlands and parkland. There's a playground for the kids, and plenty of flat lawn to lounge about on. The area is known for its birdlife, so it's a great picnic spot for twitchers (just don't feed the birds), and if you want a post-picnic walk, Williamstown Beach is just a hop, skip and jump away. When it comes to picking a spot, just follow the bay trail until you find somewhere to your liking.

Park perks: Waterfront views of Melbourne that aren't St Kilda (we love you St Kilda, but it's nice to have a change). 

Get your food sorted

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