Melbourne is Australia’s second most populous city and is filled with just as many attractions. While most tourists will check out the MCG, Eureka Skydeck, Sea Life Aquarium, Queen Victoria Market, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, others may be searching for experiences a bit off the beaten path.
So what do local Melburnians do for fun, while escaping all the tourist hot spots? Here we explore Melbourne’s lesser known gems which will leave you with more unique experiences and feeling like a true local.
Things to do in Melbourne that will Make You Feel like a Local
Food & Drink
1806 Cocktail Bar
169 Exhibition St
With their extensive award winning cocktail menu, it is no wonder that 1806 is one of Melbourne’s best bars frequented by locals.
The atmosphere resembles what I would expect a speakeasy of the past would have looked like and reminds me of the inside of the Moulin Rouge in Paris.
Drinks are served in glassware that is just as beautiful as the drinks that are served in them. Conveniently located in the CBD next to taxis and trams allowing you to get home safely after knocking back a few drinks.
99 Lygon St, Brunswick East
For the best pizza in Melbourne, and maybe even the world, head to 400 Gradi. The name refers to the extremely hot 400 degree wood fired ovens that cook the thin authentic Neapolitan pizzas.
The founder Johnny Di Francesco was the first Australian to ever be crowned as World Pizza Champion back in 2014 in Italy. Be sure to try his award winning Margherita Pizza and check out his handmade gelato next door at Zero Gradi.
You can also find his beloved pizzas on P&O’s Pacific Explorer cruise ship, and at other store locations in Essendon, Eastland, and Crown.
Image credit: uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs
3/48 Easey St, Collingwood
An incredibly unique dining experience that has repurposed Melbourne’s Hitachi train carriages into a restaurant.
Set upon a rooftop, you can enjoy great city views while also diving into unique burgers like their Melbourne Madness with bacon, jalapenos, potato cake, and dim sim. They also include vegetarian and gluten free options.
7/309-325 Bourke St
Located next to the Bourke Street Mall, this popular lunch spot serves up incredible sushi at a great price.
Arrive around noon and you may have to join a long queue but the staff manages to always work through it quickly and the sushi will be worth it.
Try traditional lobster rolls as well as spicy salmon or go crazy and sample the chicken and avocado.
The Royal Botanic Gardens may get more attention, but locals prefer Fitzroy Gardens. It always makes my list of top things to do in Melbourne.
Located in Eastern Melbourne, this beautiful lush Victorian Era garden area provides wonderful photography opportunities as well as relaxation.
The gardens have over 150 years of history including Cook’s Cottage which was built in 1755 and then shipped from England brick by brick to be reconstructed in Melbourne.
The park is also home to an abundance of birdlife as well as a Spanish style conservatory and Aboriginal scarred tree.
3 Boathouse Dr
A local favourite for a morning walk, Alexandra Gardens runs upstream from Princes Bridge.
If you find yourself in the Southbank/Arts Precinct of Melbourne, be sure to stop by for some instant relaxation and stunning views along the Yarra River.
Enjoy the shade of the palm trees, cook up a meal on one of the riverfront barbecues, or watch the rowing club hard at work while you lay in the grass.
5 Aquatic Dr, South Melbourne
Albert Park is one of Melbourne’s more open parks where you can enjoy a beautiful walk around the lake.
The park is surrounded by lovely cafes and restaurants, the Albert Park Yacht Club where you can learn to sail, beautiful architecture, boutique shops, and Gasworks Arts Park.
Did I mention it is also the home of the Australian Grand Prix?
Become a Part of a Studio Audience
Many of Australia’s favourite shows are filmed in Melbourne and you can join a live audience for free to learn what goes on behind the scenes of some of your personal favourite shows.
See Carrie and Waleed present the news on The Project or get some laughs watching The Weekly with Charlie Pickering or Have You Been Paying Attention.
Kings of Comedy
585 Lonsdale St
Located on Lonsdale Street, this comedy club has freshest mix of Melbourne’s best up-and-coming talent. The club rotates their line-up every night so no two shows are the same.
They support fresh local talent along with local and international headline acts. No better way to smile and experience Melbourne’s diverse comedy scene.
Listen to Live Music @ Toff in Town
252 Swanston St
The Epitome of Melbourne’s night-time culture, this venue provides an intimate setting to enjoy great live music. Enjoy album launches, open mic nights, Broadway Unplugged, and cabaret.
Take a Punt Tour
Royal Botanic Gardens
OK technically this takes place in the touristy Royal Botanic Gardens, but not too many people know you can take a punt tour upon the gentle waters of Ornamental Lake.
Much like an Italian gondola, you will feel like you have been transported into a romcom movie. Enjoy a short journey around the lake as you are presented with a parasol to shield you from the sun.
Your professional punter will explain the garden’s history, wildlife, and plants before being brought back to land where you can enjoy a bite in the cafe.
Nourish Body and Skin
157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda
Where locals go for a bit of pampering, Nourish Body and Skin is Melbourne’s best beauty salon.
Located in the inner suburb of Melbourne, the spa and skin clinic provides massages, spa services, waxing, spray tans, manicures & pedicures, facials, and more.
A bright and clean sanctuary that will have you feeling like a million (Australian) dollars.
Rose St. Artists Market
60 Rose St, Fitzroy
Yes Melbourne is home to the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere, Queen Victoria Market, but avoid all the chaos and head to Rose St. Artists Market instead.
Located in Fitzroy, it is the place to find unique art and goods created by fresh Melbourne talent. Search for art, home goods, clothing, accessories, jewellery, and more.
Here you get to meet the talented craftsmen and women that create the amazing goods you will find.
439 Lonsdale St
If you have ever wished you could purchase the items you see in museums, then head to Wunderkammer where you will find all kinds of incredible artefacts and one of kind items.
The store is filled with scientific and medical instruments, taxidermy, fossils, animal skulls, and more. The store has so many fascinating curiosities that would make great gifts for that person that has everything.
37 Swanston St
Set in a historic Commercial Palazzo style building designed by architect Harry Norris, you will find one of the most notable arcades in the city, Cathedral Arcade.
The first two levels contain alternative retail shops selling things like books, clothing design supplies, retro clothing, jewellery, art, and more.
Be sure to shop during the week when most stores will be open and look into public open studio days when you can visit the private studios of the artists that are situated on the higher floors of the building.
Inquire about taking a wide range of artistic skills classes or to have your own jewellery and clothing designed for you.
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