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As The Economist’s most liveable city for the seventh year in a row, Melbourne is the place to be (plus, you won’t find a better coffee anywhere else in the world!).

Aside from the well-known Federation Square, MCG and Botanical Gardens, there are many other incredible areas to explore, and today we highlight the Docklands and Geelong as our two top picks for families.

The Docklands

The Docklands is an area of Melbourne that has quickly moved on from its past slightly sterile reputation. Families can easily spend an entire day here brunching, lunching and taking a ferry to Williamstown or shorter boat ride along the Yarra River.

For meals there are good Middle Eastern and Mediterranean options, as well as plenty of casual ice cream and fish and chips for kids with more particular palettes. Quality Yum Cha is also available for those seeking Asian cuisine.

Docklands is also home to Melbourne’s equivalent of the London Eye, the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. This is a fun way to view the city, but check around online for deals prior to entry to save on ticket prices.

The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel

Entertainment

For the truly organised, you may wish to time your visit to the Docklands with an outing to the Channel 9 television studios. Monitor ticketmaster.com.au for dates when they need a live, studio audience.

Artvo has also recently opened in the Docklands, which is a must see attraction for people of all ages. This immersive ‘trick-art’ gallery not only encourages you to touch and play with the exhibits but is a dedicated place for illusion photography that features you! So take your phone/camera and explore over 1900 square metres of space and become part of the art yourself.

Visit Geelong

If you’ve visited Melbourne before, you may choose to plan some fun family activities in Geelong, which is only an hour’s drive from the CBD. Here, you have iconic spaces such as the huge Adventure Water Park, which houses hours of water play activities along with rides, mini golf and even an archery range.

A visit to the Geelong Waterfront is also highly recommended, with some fun public art on display as well as a variety of restaurants with truly waterfront dining available.

Also of note for the young and young at heart, is the Carousel Pavilion which houses one of Australia’s most beautiful and working carousels. Inside a stunning glass pavilion, it’s been painstakingly restored from its 1892 construction, featuring a majority of the original hand carved horses.

Next, hit up Eastern Beach for its swimming and recreation reserve and a stroll along the boardwalk. Families will enjoy the children’s swimming pool and ample dressing room facilities and the shark proof sea bath is useful for anyone who prefers their flake on a plate.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Featured header image by Russell Charters.

    26 Comments

  1. Hi Megan…..
    You are awesome , you write an amazing article ! Second time reading this post…. Very very informative !Thanks a lot .

    • Glad we could help Lisa – have an amazing trip to Melbourne :)

  2. Melbourne is so high on my travel list! It keeps getting rave reviews by all the big travel media outlets. And your description is no different! I would definitely have to do the Melbourne observation wheel – I am a sucker for things like that! And I love the idea of taking a side trip to Geelong!

    • It seems to rate highly with everyone who visits – hope you’ll have the chance to travel soon Kate!

  3. I don’t have a family so not sure the list with amusement parks and restaurants is really appealing to me. That being said: Everybody (unless they’re Sydney-Siders, LOL) keeps telling me to go see Melbourne. So I shall heed that advice :-)

    Happy continued travels!
    C

    • Haha yes there’s a bit of a friendly rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne as to which city is the best :D But there are definitely a diverse range of options in Melbourne for everyone, here’s a post we wrote on recommendations for attractions, food, culture and shopping, not specifically limited to family travel on this one: https://www.mappingmegan.com/trip-to-melbourne/

  4. I have a friend who lived close to Geelong and had always asked me to visit – pitching all the fun things to do with kids that you mentioned, the beach and the boardwalk (and then more)! They’ve recently moved to Jakarta for her husband’s work, though I think whether or not they’re in Melbourne, I should still plan a trip with my family. Looks like a cool place to visit!

    • Great excuse to visit if you have friends who live in the area – definitely a wonderful place for a family trip. Can highly recommend!

  5. Docklands sounds a little like our Docklands here in London…

    I’m definitely tempted by Artvo though, sounds fascinating!

    • I didn’t know London had a Docklands too – ours was probably named after yours! Usually the way with Australian places :)

      The Artvo exhibit is awesome, highly recommend a trip!

  6. That Star Obserservation Wheel looks so cool. I had no idea they had this. The Docklands also sound interesting especially with the possibility of catching a live TV show. What kid wouldn’t love that? I’ve heard Melbourne was great for coffee culture. One thing I loved about the UK (but am so disappointed in Canada) is how so many coffee shops catered to kids. Do many Melbourne coffee houses offer kiddie hot drinks and have toys laying around?

    • Melbourne definitely has a burgeoning coffee culture / scene – not too many toys laying around, but kids are always welcome and baby cappuccinos are usually a favorite in Australia or hot chocolates for kids after a hot drink :)

  7. I’ve never been to Melbourne, but it’s on the list. :) I like the idea of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel even though I am just a wee bit afraid of heights (okay, maybe a bit more than that). Still, those views are worth a little nervousness. I also think the television studios tour sounds like a lot of fun, and a walk along the Geelong Waterfront would be a must. Thanks for sharing!

    • You feel very safe in the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, so it’s a nice ride even if you’re a little bit unsure of heights :)

      Hope you have the chance to travel soon!

  8. I just saw an Instagram post about a crazy Artvo exhibit. It sounds like a blast, and the Docklands sounds like a fun place to visit. I’ve been to Australia but never Melbourne and if it’s consistently billed as one of them most liveable cities, I’m definitely overdue for a trip there. I’ll have to pass on a Channel 9 studio visit, though, as no one has ever called me truly organized and likely never will. Haha.

    • It’s getting a lot of press – a very cool exhibit! Sounds like you would love Melbourne Carol, definitely consider including it on your itinerary for your next trip!

  9. Been to Melbourne only once but didn’t go to Docklands. We went when my hubby and I were dating and would love to return when our daughter gets bigger and can remember the journey. For now, I will forward this to some friends who just moved to Melbourne.

    • Sounds great, would be a lovely trip back as a family, and an opportunity for yourself and your husband to reminisce :)

  10. I’ve never even heard of the Docklands, but it sounds like a really interesting area. I’d definitely love to go for a spin on the Star Observation Wheel! The views look incredible. I still need to make it “down under” ;)

    • Glad we could introduce you! Definitely include Melbourne on your list when you make it to Australia :)

  11. This is all new to me as I have never been. I hope I can get soon. I would love to get into one of those pods. Those are the only kind of ferris wheels I will even mess with.

    • The pods are a great way to experience a ferris / observation wheel but feel safe throughout the ride – not so bad even if you’re not good with heights :)

      Glad we could introduce you to some of our favorite parts of Melbourne / Victoria :)

  12. Hi Meg Jerrard,
    Great thanks for sharing the link of the cheapest flights to Melbourne by downloading the free Skyscanner app. This one is most useful for me. thanks again.

    • Glad we could help Ashley – it’s our favorite app for flights :)

  13. I just can’t seem to skip a day without reading your blog . Everything in it just fascinates me , specially that you are able to send the message across very well. Thanks again Megan!

    • Glad you’re enjoying our posts Ralph :) Happy travels!

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