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10 Day Trips From Melbourne By Train For A Family Day Out

Just a short train ride away from Melbourne CBD and its surrounds lies a treasure trove of diverse and picturesque destinations waiting to be explored for locals and tourists.

In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the best day trips from Melbourne by train, particularly for families. No need to worry about parking, navigation, or traffic—simply hop on a train, enjoy the convenience and comfort and let the adventure begin! 

Note you’ll need a Myki card and it can be used for Victoria’s regional trains (V/line) as well. That means you can travel directly to your destination for less than $10 per person.

Ballarat

Best Day Trips By Train From Melbourne

1. Ballarat

Step back in time with a train trip to Ballarat, a city steeped in gold rush heritage. 

Explore the Sovereign Hill outdoor museum and immerse yourself in the 1850s gold rush experience – read our extensive review of Sovereign Hill for tips on how to make the most of your day. Pan for gold, take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage and get your olde worlde portrait taken. If you’re there in winter, don’t miss the Winter Wonderlights – read our review of Sovereign Hill’s Christmas in July festivities. 

When visiting Ballarat with kids don’t forget to visit the Ballarat Wildlife Park, home to a wide variety of native Australian animals and check if there are children’s activities on at Ballarat Art Gallery. Kryal Castle, a medieval castle experience, is also a 15-minute taxi ride away (read our Kryal Castle review). 

Read more tips on things to do in Ballarat with kids

To discover Ballarat’s rich history, catch a train from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station to Ballarat. The journey takes approximately 90 minutes. Upon arrival in Ballarat, you can explore the city on foot or use local buses or taxis to reach specific attractions.

Looking for where to stay in Ballarat? Check out the accommodation options to suit your budget on Booking.com.

sovereign hill ballarat
Ballarat

2. Dandenong Ranges

For a refreshing escape into nature, catch a train to Belgrave in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges. 

At Belgrave see a movie at the independent Cameo Cinema (they even have an outdoor cinema in summer) or visit the Belgrave Big Dreams Market that happens on the second Sunday of every month.

Don’t miss the iconic Puffing Billy Steam Railway, a heritage train that chugs through the beautiful forested landscapes. It heads to Emerald Lake where you can alight and ride a floating cycle bike, swim in the swimming pool in summer an explore the Emerald Lake Miniature Railway exhibition.

To explore more of the Dandenong Ranges you’ll need to travel by bus from Belgrave train station. For instance, marvel at the stunning panoramic views from the SkyHigh Mount Dandenong lookout (the 694 bus will take you there from Belgrave station), go bushwalking in the lush national parks, and explore the cute mountain towns of Olinda and Sassafras for tea shops, gifts, galleries and gardens.

To get to Belgrave take a train from Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station or Parliament station. The train journey takes around an hour. From Belgrave, you can easily access various attractions within the Dandenong Ranges, including the Puffing Billy Railway.Buy tickets to Puffing Billy Railway

Looking for where to stay in Dandenong Ranges? Check out the accommodation options to suit your budget on Booking.com.

Puffing Billy Playground
Puffing Billy Playground

 3. Werribee

If you’re looking for a day trip from Melbourne that offers exciting wildlife encounters and family-friendly attractions, Werribee is the perfect destination. 

Once you arrive in Werribee, head to Wyndham Park for two stunning playgrounds along the Werribee River. Stroll or scoot along the Werribee River Trail and spot native wildlife and enjoy the tranquillity of nature.

Werribee Open Range Zoo is the big drawcard attraction in Werribee. Just note that the train station is not near the zoo so you’ll need to take a bus or taxi to get there. The award-winning zoo offers an immersive safari experience where you can encounter animals from Africa, including lions, giraffes, zebras, and more. You can even book a Werribee Zoo Deluxe Safari Adventure Experience for an up-close-and-personal encounter!

While you’re in the Werribee Park precinct, visit the Werribee Mansion and State Rose Garden. Explore the grand mansion, stroll through the stunning gardens, and enjoy a picnic on the picturesque grounds.

If your kids are water enthusiasts, head to the Werribee Outdoor Pool during summer, equipped with slides, splash zones, and shallow pools perfect for little swimmers. 

Wyndham Cultural Centre hosts a variety of family-friendly performances, including theatre, dance, and music events. Check the schedule in advance to see what shows or activities are available during your visit.

To reach Werribee, catch a train from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station to Werribee Station. The train journey takes approximately 35 minutes, making it a convenient option for a day trip with younger kids.

Looking for where to stay in Werribee? Check out the accommodation options to suit your budget on Booking.com.

Werribee
Werribee

4. Geelong

Escape to the coast and discover Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula, which offers a delightful blend of coastal beauty and cultural experiences. 

Victoria’s second-largest city is easily accessible by train, and once you’re there stroll along Geelong’s picturesque waterfront precinct, soak in the atmosphere at Eastern Beach and visit the impressive cultural institutions such as Geelong Art Gallery and the National Wool Museum

Read more tips on things to do in Geelong with kids

For a day trip to Geelong, take a train from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station to Geelong. Trains to Geelong take approximately 1 hour 15 minutes and run frequently, allowing for flexibility in planning your itinerary. Once in Geelong, you can easily explore the city’s attractions on foot or catch a local bus to further destinations on the Bellarine Peninsula.
On the Bellarine, you can explore the stunning beaches, go for a swim or surf, and explore the charming seaside towns of Queenscliff and Portarlington.

Looking for where to stay in Geelong? Check out the accommodation options to suit your budget on Booking.com.

Eastern Beach Reserve, 95 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong
Geelong

5. Bendigo

Bendigo is a city brimming with culture, art, and architecture. 

Catch a train from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station to Bendigo for a journey that takes approximately 2 hours. 

On arrival, explore the awesome Discovery Science Centre, a hands-on science museum for kids. 

Also take the time to visit the renowned Bendigo Art Gallery and the surrounding Arts Precinct, delve into the city’s gold rush history at the Central Deborah Gold Mine or visit the Golden Dragon Museum to learn about Bendigo’s Chinese heritage. 

Or just take a leisurely stroll through the heritage streets, stop for a play at Rosalind Park and soak up the charm that this regional gem has to offer.

Read more tips on things to do in Bendigo with kids.

Looking for where to stay in Bendigo? Check out the accommodation options to suit your budget on Booking.com.

Bendigo
Bendigo

6. Frankston

Arrive in Frankston and you’ll be greeted by stunning beaches. Take a leisurely stroll along the Frankston Waterfront and enjoy picturesque views, relax on the beach with a picnic overlooking Port Phillip Bay and the nearby Frankston Foreshore Playground is sure to delight children. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try watersports such as kayaking or paddleboarding!

Frankston Arts Centre hosts a range of exhibitions, performances, and events throughout the year and Frankston City Centre is where you’ll find a diverse array of shops, cafes, and markets.

To visit the beautiful beachside town of Frankston just catch a train from Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station to Frankston. The train journey takes approximately 50 minutes, making it an ideal destination for a relaxing day out. 

Read more tips on things to do in Frankston with kids.

Looking for where to stay in Frankston? Check out the accommodation options to suit your budget on Booking.com.

Frankston
Frankston

7. Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail

The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is a former rail corridor that’s been transformed into a walking and cycling path. The full 38km (24 mile) route goes past farmland, native forests, the Yarra River and several small towns, with food options and old-fashioned pubs en route. 

Trains run to Lilydale from Melbourne’s Flinders Street station. Bus 683 from Lilydale to Warburton generally follows the trail, so you can walk some of the way, starting from Lilydale and then take the bus back to the start when needed. Read more tips on things to do in the Yarra Valley with kids.

Looking for where to stay in Melbourne? Check out the accommodation options to suit your budget on Booking.com.

Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail
Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail

8. Woodend

Woodend is a gorgeous town in the Macedon Ranges and is easily accessed from Southern Cross Station. The train ride takes about 1 hour 10 minutes. 

Upon arrival in Woodend, you’ll be greeted by a charming town surrounded by natural beauty. Start your adventure by visiting the Woodend Children’s Park, a delightful playground where your little ones can climb, slide, and swing to their hearts’ content. The park also has picnic areas, making it an ideal spot for a family lunch, or head to the family-friendly Holgate Brewhouse.

To finish, make sure to stop by the Woodend Ice Cream Company, offering delectable artisanal ice cream flavours made with locally sourced ingredients.

About a 10-minute taxi ride from Woodend is Hanging Rock Reserve. Hanging Rock was made famous by Joan Lindsay’s novel Picnic at Hanging Rock which was later turned into a film and TV series. After browsing its displays the Discovery Centre, climb the path to the top of the rock for magnificent views. 

Read more tips on things to do in Woodend with kids.

Looking for where to stay in Woodend? Check out the accommodation options to suit your budget on Booking.com.

Woodend
Woodend

9. Kyneton

Another Macedon Ranges town worth visiting is Kyneton, the administrative and cultural heart of the shire region. It is also easily accessed from Southern Cross Station and the train ride takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

Start by exploring the picturesque Piper Street, lined with boutique shops, cafes, and galleries. Try some delicious treats or a leisurely lunch at one of the family-friendly eateries.

For a dose of nature and outdoor fun, head to Kyneton Botanic Gardens. Let the kids run free in the expansive parklands, have a picnic and enjoy the farm-themed playground where kids can swing, slide and climb.

Read more tips on things to do in Kyneton with kids.

Looking for where to stay in Kyneton? Check out the accommodation options to suit your budget on Booking.com.

Kyneton
Kyneton

10. Castlemaine

Start your adventure by visiting the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens. Explore the lush greenery, enjoy a picnic by the lake, and let your kids run and play in the open spaces. The gardens also feature an award-winning playground with swings and slides, ensuring that your little ones have a fun-filled time.

To immerse yourselves in Castlemaine’s history, take a stroll through the town centre. Explore the historic streets, admire the beautiful architecture, and drop into Castlemaine Art Museum, which often hosts family-friendly exhibitions and interactive programs.

If your family enjoys outdoor adventures, head to Kalimna Park. This natural reserve offers walking trails, rock formations, and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. It’s a perfect spot for a family hike or a picnic surrounded by nature.

To reach Castlemaine, catch a train from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station to Castlemaine Station. The train journey takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Read more tips on things to do in Castlemaine with kids

Ready to explore Melbourne and Victoria? Book your stay at one of Melbourne’s best family hotels!

Looking for where to stay in Castlemaine? Check out the accommodation options to suit your budget on Booking.com.

Castlemaine
Castlemaine

Melbourne’s best train experiences

Visit the Melbourne Tram Museum


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About Joyce Watts

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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