15 FREE activities for kids in Melbourne

Melbourne is known as the cultural hub of Australia with unique music, art, laneways and cultural festivals, it’s a city full of surprises. If you’re exploring Melbourne with kids, there are plenty of free activities to keep them engaged.

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Here are my top 15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne:

15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: NGV – KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness (detail)

1. National Gallery of Victoria

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is the oldest and most visited gallery in Australia. Situated over two buildings in the heart of Melbourne, NGV International and NGV Australia. The NGV hosts a wide range of international and local artists, exhibitions, programs and events; from contemporary art to major international historic exhibitions, fashion, design and architecture. The NGV holds Australia’s largest collection of art with over 73,000 works in the NGV Collection, from the art of ancient civilisations to the present day.

15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
NGV International Photo: NGV Photographic Services

NGV International on St Kilda Road, houses the Gallery’s international collection, major shows and kids exhibitions. Visitors can also enjoy time in the NGV’s beautiful sculpture garden, a uniquely tranquil space on the city’s edge.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square is home to the Australian art Collection – including works by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne

2. City Circle Tram

The City Circle Tram is a free and easy way for families to see major attractions around Melbourne City Centre including Melbourne Museum, Parliament HouseState Library Victoria, Docklands, Federation Square and SEA Life Melbourne Aquarium. For first time visitors, there is also a free audio commentary providing details of major attractions and city landmarks.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: St Kilda, Melbourne

3. St Kilda

St Kilda is one of Melbourne’s most famous seaside suburbs. Located just 6km from Melbourne’s city centre. Take a walk along St Kilda beach down to the pier. Little penguins can be seen on St Kilda breakwater every night of the year, it’s best to arrive 30 minutes after sunset. St Kilda is also home to Luna Park, St Kilda Esplanade Market (every Sunday) and the famous cake shops down Acland Street.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: Shrine of Remembrance

4. Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance is the Victorian state memorial to Australians who have served in war and peacekeeping operations. A major part of remembrance is education, the Shrine offers Shrine Kids – Explorer Kits that can be borrowed from the Visitor Centre. There are four different Shrine Kids activity cards provided – Unlock the Secrets, Discover How Things Work, Use Your Imagination and Solve the Mysteries.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
image credit: Federation Square

5. Federation Square

Federation Square also known as Fed Square is one of the main hubs of Melbourne, with over 2,000 events a year the square always seem to have exciting festivals and live events. It’s also home to ACMI, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia and world-class restaurants and cafes. Pull up a deck chair and enjoy Fed Square’s giant digital screen with content that includes major sporting events that are screened throughout the year.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: Yarra River, Melbourne

6. Yarra River

The Yarra River also know as Birrarung has spiritual and cultural significance for Aboriginal communities. The river was an important food source and meeting place for the Wurundjeri people. The river runs through the heart of Melbourne City with the Princes Bridge connecting Swanston Street and St Kilda Road. There are lovely walks on both sides of the river.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image credit: Queen Victoria Market – String Bean Alley

7. Queen Victoria Market

Queen Victoria Market also know as ‘Queen Vic’ is a historic landmark in Melbourne. Spread over two city blocks, the market precinct offers over 600 small businesses and stalls within the Dairy Produce Hall, Elizabeth Street Shops, F Shed Laneway, Fruit and Vegetables, String Bean Alley and more.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden

8. Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden

The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden is located in the Royal Botanic Gardens just 3km from Melbourne’s CBD. The Children’s Garden is a fun interactive environment where kids of all ages and abilities can explore, play and discover the importance of conservation and the environment. Kids can wander through the Ruin Garden, Meeting Place, Wetland Area, Bamboo Forest, The Gorge, Plant Tunnel, Kitchen Garden and The Rill. Please note the children’s garden is closed in winter.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: ACMI – Australian Centre for the Moving Image

9. ACMI

Situated in Federation Square ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) is Australia’s national museum of film, TV, video games, digital culture and art. ACMI is undergoing a visionary redevelopment and will reopen late-2020.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter. Photo credit Trevor Mein

10. State Library of Victoria

The State Library of Victoria is located on Swanston Street in the heart of Melbourne, it’s one of Australia’s oldest public library. One of the newest spaces in the library is The Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter. It’s a free, purpose-built space for children aged up to 12 years (and their parents and carers) to read, learn and play, with an associated program of activities.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: Hosier Lane, Melbourne

11. Street Art

Colourful murals and street art cover most inner-city laneways around Melbourne. The city’s street art scene hot spots are located within a short walk of each other, hot spots include ACDC Lane, Hosier Lane, Duckboard Place and Rutledge Lane. If you’re lucky you may see the art being created before your eyes.

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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: ArtPlay – free Backyard activities

12. ArtPlay

ArtPlay is located next to the Yarra River and Federation Square, it runs more than 300 workshops, events and performances each year. They offer some free drop-in workshops and some paid activities. Activities include weekend programs, school holiday activities, weekday school and under-fives programs. ArtPlay also works closely with Melbourne events and festivals.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes

13. Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes

The iconic Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes are located just 15km from Melbourne’s CBD. These multi-coloured boxes are a must-see for first-time visitors to Melbourne. Take a stroll down Brighton Beach foreshore to Middle Brighton Baths or up to North Road Foreshore Playground.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne
Image: Parliament House, Melbourne. Photo by Donald Tong.

14. Parliament House

Parliament House in Melbourne is one of the most important buildings in Australia’s history. If you are interested in seeing Parliament in action, visitors are welcome to watch from the public galleries when Parliament is sitting. Parliament House offers a Parliament House Art Tour, Parliament House Gardens Tour and Behind the Scenes Tour. All tours run for approximately 90 minutes, bookings are essential.
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15 FREE kids activities in Melbourne

15. Fitzroy Gardens 

A stroll through Fitzroy Gardens is a lovely day out with kids. There’s an enchanting Fairies Tree which has a series of beautiful carvings of fairies, dwarfs, gnomes and Australian animals and birds. In the heart of Fitzroy Gardens is a charming miniature English Tudor Village and the historic Cook’s Cottage. The Conservatory is currently closed for major works and maintenance until late 2020.
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