15 things to do with kids over the winter school holidays
Your guide to the best things to do with kids in Victoria over the winter school break.
With the June school break fast approaching (26 June to 11 July), finding new and exciting ways to keep the kids entertained (that don't include endless hours in front of the TV screen), might seem an impossible feat. But never fear. If you're looking for ideas for how to chill out over the winter school holidays, here are 15 of the best things to do with kids in Victoria.
Go from lockdown to locked up at Old Melbourne Gaol. Image: Visit Victoria.
1. Become part of the artwork at ArtVo
Hoverboard in space, ride a giant swan or get up close and personal with King Kong at Docklands’ immersive trick-art gallery ArtVo, where you become part of the art in more than 80 hand-painted works. Prompts on the ground direct you where to stand and how to hold your phone so you can capture the ultimate trick shot. There are nine themed zones set over 1400 square metres to appeal to all ages, including a new fantasy theme stretching from oceans to forests, polar ice caps to space. RACV members save on ArtVo tickets when booking online.
2. Build an empire at Legoland Discovery Centre
The Lego fans in your tribe can indulge their passion with a visit to the Legoland Discovery Centre at Chadstone. While specifically designed for ages three to 10, there’s plenty for all the family to enjoy. Check out miniature versions of Melbourne landmarks including the MCG, Flemington racetrack, Eureka Tower and Fed Square at Miniland, explore the Fire Academy soft play area, rev up at the build-and-test car-racing zone, ride the Kingdom Quest and Merlin’s Apprentice rides, learn new skills at a master builder workshop, and relax at one of five movies at the 4D cinema (complete with rain, wind and snow). RACV members save on entry to Legoland when booked online.
3. Get your thrills on at Luna Park
A Melbourne childhood isn’t complete without a visit to the retro fun of Luna Park in St Kilda. Step inside the iconic Mr Moon entrance for a session of timeless family-friendly amusement.
Plus, these holidays you can putt loose at the NEW Hole in Fun Mini Golf Course for all ages. Presented by Big Swing Golf, the 9-hole course is a great way to navigate all the obstacles before hitting the rides! Make sure to book ahead to ensure you don't miss out!
Admission gives you access to unlimited rides and attractions, including the Ghost Train, Carousel and Scenic Railway, as well as dodgems, the Mirror Maze, and new carnival rides like the 32-metre-high Supernova with 360-degree views of the city and Port Phillip Bay. RACV members save on admission to Luna Park when booking online.
4. Do prison time at Old Melbourne Gaol
Step your kids back to the darker side of our city’s history with a wander through the cold stone corridors of Old Melbourne Gaol, the forbidding bluestone building that housed notorious criminals including gangster Squizzy Taylor and Ned Kelly, who was hanged there. Take a self-guided tour of the prison, stepping inside the eerie cells, and get ‘arrested and processed’ by a ‘charge sergeant’ in the City Watch House. See Ned Kelly’s death mask, gun, body bag and noose, and other grisly items including the gaol gallows, handcuffs, leg irons, cell-door padlocks and lashing collars. (Parents be warned – this can be a genuinely chilling experience not ideal for younger children.) RACV members save on general admission to Old Melbourne Gaol when booked online.
5. Experiment at Scienceworks
You don’t have to be the scientific type to enjoy a trip to Spotswood’s Scienceworks. This Melbourne institution brings science to life in the kind of mind-bending, immersive, interactive ways that get into your head and just explain stuff. Race against Cathy Freeman at Sportsworks, reimagine your future body at Think Ahead, design flying machines at Ground Up. There’s also a Planetarium, Lightning Room, and constantly changing exhibits and workshops for school holidays.
6. Take pole position at Melbourne Indoor Go Karting
If your teens’ motor-racing abilities sit somewhere between dodgems and Formula One, Melbourne Indoor Go Karting in Port Melbourne could be the perfect place for them to upskill. In 6.5-horsepower pro-racing karts they’ll be able to race their friends through hairpin and sweeping bends, switchbacks, around sunken corners, over a pit-lane bridge and along straights at up to 60kmh. Catering for 13-year-olds and over, sessions range from 15 to 40 minutes, and RACV members save on Melbourne Indoor Go Karting experiences when booked online.
7. Plunge into the deep at Sea Life Melbourne
Come nose-to-jaw with a five-metre saltwater crocodile, Leo the friendly leopard shark, or a clutch of curious Antarctic penguins in their icy home … all on the banks of the Yarra River. Sea Life Melbourne brings together more than 10,000 sea creatures right at eye level, including mesmerising jellyfish, delicate sea dragons, mighty rays and thousands of gorgeously coloured tropical fish. Time your visit for daily shark and ray feedings, try the hands-on touch pools or catch the 4D cinema show. RACV members save at Sea Life Melbourne.
8. Catch the ferry to Williamstown
Explore Melbourne by boat by catching the ferry to Williamstown. Float down the Yarra River on this scenic, two-hour cruise, which offers best seats in the house from which to take in some of the city's best sights, including Crown Casino, the Bolte Bridge, Melbourne Star Observation Wheel and the Westgate Bridge before sailing into the Gem Pier at Williamstown. Make a day of it by taking a wander along Williamstown's idyllic main street, then pull up a table overlooking the bay at waterfront bistro Pelicans Landing and tuck into fresh seafood platters, seared scallops, seafood paella or a classic battered fish and chips.
Hang out with King Kong at ArtVo.
9. Check out Gumbuya World
Escape the daily grind with a trip to Gumbuya World. Adventure along the wildlife trail and spot animals, including koalas, kangaroos and tropical birds in their native habitat. Budding animal enthusiasts can step into a Gumbuya Park Ranger's shoes for a day with an immersive three-hour experience, while younger kids will love the gentle thrills of the Outback Pursuit. There are also rides aplenty, while the on-site cafe will keep you fed and watered.
10. Experience the magic of Puffing Billy
What's better than riding the heritage Puffing Billy steam train? Following it up with Devonshire tea, of course. Meander through the lush Dandenong Ranges rainforest, travelling over historic timber trestle bridges, before stopping in at Little Toot Cafe for a spot of fresh scones with jam and cream. Your ticket to ride also comes with free entry into Menzies Creek Railway Museum, which is home to 80 rare, historic steam locomotives and railway-related artefacts.
11. Ride the Arthur's Seat Eagle
Fly high above the Mornington Peninsula on a private gondola. From your enclosed, state-of-the-art cabin, the Arthurs Seat Eagle offers unparalleled views over Port Phillip Bay and beyond. On a clear day, you can even spot Melbourne's CBD on the horizon. The breathtaking journey takes about 15 minutes each way.
12. Cruise with dolphins
It may be a bit cold to swim with the dolphins, but you’ll certainly get some remarkable wildlife viewing and photo opportunities on this dolphin and seal watching eco-adventure cruise. You'll want to rug up for the 90-minute open-air boat ride, over which your experienced guides will help you spot Australian fur seals, dolphins and, depending on the time of year, even migrating whales.
13. Make new friends at Ballarat Wildlife Park
If you've ever wanted to cuddle a koala, smile at a crocodile or come face-to-face with a Sumatran tiger, then head straight to Ballarat Wildlife Park. As well as having a range of reptiles and native wildlife you won't see at bigger zoos, the conservation attraction aims to foster respect, empathy and understanding for animals through a range of intimate experiences.
14. Battle it out at Kryal Castle
Challenge your siblings to a duel at Australia's only medieval theme park, Kryal Castle. Wander through the castle's sprawling medieval village and take part in a range of activities, including jousting tournaments, wizardry, sword battles and more.
Plus, these holidays, make sure to check out the Knights of Fire - the Festival of Flames. Featuring flaming lances and swords, interactive potion and puppet-making workshops, knight training and roving entertainment, it's fun for the whole family. Don't forget to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy the castle's stunning surroundings.
15. Watch the penguin parade
If there's one benefit the cold weather brings it's that you don't have to wait until the wee hours of the evening to catch Phillip Island's majestic penguin parade., with the flightless fluffy birds making their nightly beach dash a little earlier in winter. Be sure to bring a blanket, and rug up in your warmest winter woollies.
Availability and opening hours may be limited at some of these experiences because of COVID-19 social-distancing and capacity restrictions. Please check before your visit for up-to-date details and availability.