Things to do when it rains in Melbourne
It's amazing that pastry, at its simplest, is just flour, lots of butter, sugar, and maybe an egg or two. Yet Melbourne's best bakeries and patisseries have made an art out of creating pastries out of these raw ingredients, from what could be the best croissants in the world, to old-school cakes you want to take home to your grandmother. Grab a box of the sweet stuff to have with your afternoon cuppa.
If you love music, theatre, dance, opera, circus, or pretty much anything else on stage, then tixatsix might just become your new favourite thing. This Arts Centre Melbourne initiative sees at least 20 tickets becoming available from 6pm every single night – and they cost just $30 each. Yep, $30; and that could be a premium seat at an Opera Australia show, a gig at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, a classical music concert at Hamer Hall… anything that is at an Arts Centre venue could be up for grabs. All you need to do is rock up to the Arts Centre box office at 6pm and see what's on offer for the night.
In case you didn’t know, there are plenty of bars around Melbourne with a selection of board games that punters are free to pull out and play with over a few pints. You could play giant Jenga at 29th Apartment in St Kilda, chess at The Rooks Return in Fitzroy or Scrabble at The Fox in Collingwood – all with a drink in your hand.
Skim your fingers along the waterwall at the entrance of NGV International and get set for an afternoon of world-class art. There's always something new to see for art buffs young and old, from weird contemporary installations to the classics. At any time of the year, you can spend hours at the fabulous (and free to enter) permanent collection. Once you're finished, exit through the local design-filled gift shop – it's worth it.
If you haven't yet heard, getting yourself trapped in a room and being forced to solve puzzles to escape is huge right now. Escape rooms have made their way here from parts of Europe and Asia, and these days, there are plenty to choose from across the city. Some are more challenging (and terrifying) than others, and all of them are a perfect way to get away from the weather with your mates. Here's what happened when we tried some of Melbourne's best escape rooms.
Melbourne's cinemas are definitely world-class, and a rainy day is your chance to catch up to the latest releases. Lido Cinemas in Hawthorn is one of our favourites: downstairs you'll find a Huxtaburger diner for a pre-movie bite and a well-stocked candy store to get you prepared for your movie. Cinema Nova and Palace Westgarth stock the best choctops in town, while westside legend The Sun Theatre in Yarraville is an art deco dream. Want cheap tickets? Here's our guide to getting cheap cinema tickets all year round.
Go and grab yourself a sandwich and a coffee from the STREAT café in Melbourne Central or in Collingwood. The crew at all the STREAT cafés are at-risk youth who are being given training and support to help them build a better future. Alternatively, head to Long Street Coffee in Richmond, a café staffed by refugees looking to skill up in hospitality.
When it gets cold and rainy, take yourself on a mini-getaway at Melbourne's best spas and bathhouses. Sink into Onsen Ma, a traditional Japanese bathhouse, in the CBD or treat yourself to a dip in the luxe Chuan Spa at The Langham. You'll emerge feeling rejuvenated, warm and ready to take on any weather.
You'd be forgiven for not being aware of the insane amount of things to do at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), located at Fed Square. There are always fascinating films to watch, including new releases, classics, hard-to-find documentaries and films that form part of a regular succession of themed film festivals. While you're there, be sure to get involved in the fascinating permanent and interactive Screen Worlds exhibit. Love games? You'll want to spend hours at ACMI's Games Lab, which features the latest incarnation of Mario Kart and Minecraft.
Melbourne has some truly gorgeous buildings just waiting to be discovered and like the arcades, serve as a quick (and undercover) walkway. On a rainy day, scan the list of tenants or jump in a lift and go for a wander. Go beyond the first floor in the Nicholas Building or Curtin House where you’ll find antique jewellers, local artists and vintage clothing boutiques. To really splash some cash, get yourself to Emporium Melbourne, then grab a bite to eat in the café court while you watch raindrops streak the glass walls.
To spice up a dull day inside, sneak in a game of pool at Red Triangle. The cavernous venue is open until 2am every day. You can play pool, snooker or billiards on their full-sized tables and there’s also a selection of board games for those who are cue-challenged. Red Triangle is unlicensed, but it’s famous for its outrageously good milkshakes in flavours like Jam Donut or Snickers.
This glorious, sprawling space is a must-visit for Melburnians and tourists alike. Don't miss out on your chance to immerse yourself in the museum's top-notch permanent exhibits, including Bunjilaka which presents Indigenous stories through objects, music and the voices of those past and present. And Victoria's recent history – that familiar to fans of Neighbours – is equally enjoyable, with the stuffed hide of Depression-era hero thoroughbred racehorse Phar Lap still the most popular exhibition with young and old alike.
Avoid the droves at Chadstone or Emporium with a good ol’ crafty market, like PAM Lane in Preston. Vintage-lovers shouldn't go past Chapel Street Bazaar or Lost and Found in East Brunswick. Hungry? Mix shopping with dumplings and dim sum at the South Melbourne Market; their SO:ME space for local designers is particularly fab.
Who says you have to head somewhere warm when it’s raining – why not rug up and go ice skating instead? O’Brien Group Arena is also a ‘safe’ place you can be as daggy as you like and revisit your adolescent almost every night of the week – albeit on skates – without judgment.