Open House Melbourne Weekend is an annual winter event that gives people the opportunity to access and experience great design and architecture in Melbourne.
This year’s program extends the widest ever geographical area and there are houses, infrastructure and landscapes to visit over two days – Saturday 29 July and Sunday 30 July 2017.
Some of the locations and events are special one-offs and some are buildings you can access all year around (though you may get some behind-the-scenes access that is not otherwise generally available).
Here are my Top 10 tips for visiting Open House Melbourne with kids:
- Make a plan
Look at the website and plan your itinerary. As buildings are spread as far as Fitzroy, Hawthorn and Newport you need to stick to certain precincts to make the most of your time and energy.
My recommendation is Docklands. A few of the most spectacular buildings – NAB, AGL, Medibank – are within close walking distance of each other (and Southern Cross station) plus it’s close to Library at the Dock and Ron Barassi Snr Park for a break.
- Lower your expectations
Realistically plan on visiting 2-3 locations within a precinct before everyone needs a lie down. There is a limit to how much architecture a child will be happy to admire.
- Don’t pre-book or just pre-book the first tour of the day.
Don’t bother with pre-booked tours unless you have a child you can happily restrain in a pram or carrier for an hour. We took the Medibank tour (drop in) which was about 30 minutes and Lady AB started to get bored, hungry and tired by the end.
Not having to work to a rigid timetable also relieves the pressure with having to be somewhere at a specific time.
If there are places you desperately want to visit then try to just pre-book the first event of the day, when you’re less likely to be running late.
- Bring some books/toys for the queue
Some of the most popular buildings eg Medibank will involve queues, as there is a sign-in security procedure before you can join a tour.
I took a stack of Melbourne and architecture-related books for Lady AB who was happy reading for the 30 minutes or so we had to wait in line.
- Visit self-guided buildings and be early
To avoid lines either just visit self guided buildings or turn up before opening time of 10am at your must-see building with a tour.
We arrived at Medibank at 9:40am for a 10am opening and waited approximately 30 minutes.
- Check social media
Follow Open House Melbourne on Twitter for immediate updates as to where there is a #queue or #noqueue.
- Give kids a camera
Find an old camera phone and let kids snap away to their heart’s content.
Lady AB took pictures of literally everything, from furniture to baristas, but it kept her amused for the whole period of the tour.
Of course bring your own camera too!
- Dress warmly
Dress for a Melbourne winter – it’s likely to be windy, rainy and cold. There may be outdoor queues or heritage buildings may not be heated. I find earmuffs are great because they keep you super warm outside but you won’t overheat inside.
- Pack water and snacks
The corporate buildings will likely have their foyer cafes open for trade, so it’s a good place to stop after seeing a building before heading to your next destination.
Pack water and snacks for on the go.
- Find your nearest playground or library
Everyone will need a break after touring a few sites. Plan ahead and know where your nearest playground or library is so you can all blow off some steam.