10 family-friendly ideas for the summer school holiday break
Keep the kids amused these summer school holidays with a day out at one of these top Melbourne attractions.
Whether you’re dealing with cries of ‘What are we going to do today?’ or struggling to prise the kids away from their screens, thankfully Melbourne has a wealth of family-friendly activities to get the family off the couch on weekends and school holidays. And RACV members save with discounts at some of the city’s most sought-after attractions that kids will love.
Just don’t forget to book in advance as many venues need to impose limited visitor numbers due to social distancing restrictions. And, if you're going to be indoors, don't forget to bring a mask.
Go for a ride at Luna Park.
Get creative 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.
Wander through the Ian Potter Children’s Foundation Garden
Budding green thumbs in the family will be inspired and delighted by the Ian Potter Children’s Foundation Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens. It’s a child-scaled plant wonderland with a ruin garden, cool green bamboo forest perfect for hide and seek, a plant tunnel, kitchen garden, warm-weather fountains and a gentle stream that winds its way through the garden – perfect for setting leaf boats afloat and following their voyage.
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.
Explore Melbourne Museum
On rainy afternoons and summer days when the temperature soars, Melbourne Museum is the place to be. For those with little ones, the Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery takes hands-on exploration to new levels with a dinosaur dig, discovery garden, hand-picked-for-kids exhibits and a camouflage disco where children ‘turn into’ different animals. The main museum has plenty to offer, too, from the fascinating Mind and Body section to the Insect Hall of Fame and Quarantine Room with live tarantulas and local arachnids including redbacks and orbweavers. And spare 10 minutes for a wander in the shady Forest Gallery – a verdant slice of our mountain landscape in inner Melbourne. Both Melbourne Museum and Scienceworks (read below) provide sensory maps for families with children on the autism spectrum, as well as ‘social stories’ to explain what to expect when they visit.
Get building 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.
Hang out with King Kong at ArtVo.
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. 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.
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.
Go hunting for Melbourne’s best playground
There are playgrounds, and then there are playgrounds, mini worlds of imagination and open-air fun that will keep littlies and older kids on the run for hours. Plenty of Melbourne examples fit this description, so pack their runners, some snacks, a picnic blanket and go! The Royal Park Nature Play Playground in Parkville has a ropes course, water-play area with hand-pumps, a birds-nest swing, slides, rock-hoppable steps throughout and the perfect grassy slope to roll down. Tim Neville Arboretum in Ferntree Gully boasts two zip lines, a carousel, rope pyramid, sandpit, swings, slides and a climbable Loch Ness monster. And rope bridges connect three ‘treehouses’ at Frontier Park Playground in Rockbank, with tubular slides that twist down to the ground, along with water play, swings, sandpit and a mini skate park. Also try Ruffey Lake Park in Doncaster, Eltham North Reserve Playground, Isabella Williams Memorial Reserve in Deer Park, St Kilda Adventure Playground and Hays Paddock all-abilities playground in East Kew.
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.
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.
Availability and opening hours may be limited at some of these experiences because of COVID social-distancing and capacity restrictions. Please check before your visit for up-to-date details and availability.