So you never thought you'd say this….but entertaining kids and enjoying family-friendly things to do in Melbourne can COST NOTHING! You can find top free things to do in Melbourne today, tomorrow and just about every day.
Our family has been exploring places to go with kids in Melbourne for almost a decade. That's a lot of money we've saved by hanging out at these awesome places for free!
If you're wondering what to do in Melbourne, read on for my guide to the best free things to do in one of the world’s most liveable cities.
All of these Melbourne free activities are open all year round or open regularly during the year. For seasonal things to do eg things to do in Melbourne at Christmas or places to go in Melbourne during the school holidays you can subscribe to my weekly newsletter to find out more ways for your family to have fun together!
Explore popular things to do in Melbourne and Victoria and pre-book your tickets online to skip the queue. Planning to visit two or more Melbourne attractions within three months? Get Klook's Melbourne and Beyond Pass to save on entrance fees. Click the button below to learn more bout this pass and to browse close to 150 tours and activities in Melbourne and Victoria.
Free DAYS OUT IN Melbourne CBD / Docklands
1. Take a free tour of the grand State Parliament of Victoria. They even have an express 20-minute tour for those who don't have a lot of time (or short attention spans!). It is not necessary to book for a public tour, unless you have a group of 6 or more.
2. Sky Park at Melbourne Quarter is a public park near Southern Cross Station and elevated above Collins Street. It reminds me of the awesome rooftop gardens found in Japan! Note it is only open to the public during business hours, Monday to Friday.
3. Artplay is a unique place where babies to 12-year-olds can explore their creativity with professional artists. They often hold Melbourne free workshops such as Artplay Backyard and Artplay Inside Out and free exhibitions.
5. Queen Victoria Market is Melbourne's iconic market and has been operating since 1878. Lots of stallholders offer free samples and you can often enjoy free music and entertainment as part of their program of pop up festivals, the Summer Night Market and the Winter Night Market.
6. Free things to do in Melbourne city include a stroll to admire the architecture and atmosphere of Melbourne's famous arcades, such as Block Arcade and Royal Arcade. Say hi to Gog and Magog flanking Gaunt's Clock!
7. There's a few free attractions in Melbourne Central; it is home to one of Melbourne's most photographed landmarks, Coops Shot Tower. Also look for the giant Marionette watch hanging in Tower Square as it chimes on the hour, every hour.
8. If you would like to see Melbourne tourist attractions free of charge, look down the laneways for awesome street art. The art on the street is vibrant, topical and ever-changing and often found in unexpected locations.
9. State Library of Victoria is Australia's oldest library and home to the landmark Reading Dome. Every day there is a free guided tour exploring the Library’s many spaces and services. One of the free Melbourne activities perfect for rainy days. And they run free entertainment Melbourne toddlers and kids will enjoy with storytime sessions and other programs.
10. The Wheeler Centre is a space for ‘Books, Writing and Ideas’ and events are often free to attend, including their Wheeler Kids program that runs during school holidays. They are the perfect free activities Melbourne bibliophiles will enjoy.
11. Experience all the sights, smells and sounds of Chinatown Melbourne, the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world.
12. One of the free things to do in the city, Arts Centre Melbourne is Australia's largest performing arts venue and they regularly host children's performances. During the school holidays they often run free drop-in activities such as Feast by Polyglot.
13. Australian Music Vault is a free exhibition inside Arts Centre Melbourne that celebrates Australian contemporary music. There are interactive and digital experiences and exhibitions of iconic objects from the Australian Performing Arts Collection
14. The Parents Room in Level 3 of Emporium Melbourne has a small area and touch screen display that my kids love, plus unusual views of Melbourne CBD.
15. If you have a transport aficionado, and want to do free things Melbourne has the largest urban tram network in the world and it is free to ride trams within most of the CBD as it's within the Free Tram Zone. However, only the historic City Circle Tram lets you see Melbourne for free and provides a commentary on what you're seeing as you trundle along a loop around the city and down to Docklands. Note that the vintage W-class trams are not great for prams or those with mobility difficulties.
16. Take a free guided tour of Melbourne Town Hall and learn about its architectural, social and political significance. Note you have to book 24 hours in advance and the tour only runs on certain days.
17. Federation Square is arguably the city's heart, with numerous places, spaces and eateries to enjoy and the host of a regular calendar of special events and community festivals. Take a free guided tour and learn about the site’s history, unique architecture and the engineering marvels. Federation Square is also the host of many things to do in Melbourne free of charge, so check out What's On.
18. Visit Australia's Australia's national museum of film, video games, digital culture and art at ACMI. It's one of the Melbourne free things to do that truly caters for a diverse range of ages and entertainment interests.
19. Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Southbank hosts a revolving exhibition calendar of contemporary art. Sometimes the content isn't suitable for children, so check first!
20. Testing Grounds is a free arts space behind the Arts Centre Melbourne with a cafe and an opportunity to get a sneak peek into how artists develop their work.
21. Experience great art at Australia's oldest, largest and most-visited art gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria. One of the free places to visit in Melbourne where you can explore something different every time. At NGV International touch the water wall then go inside to check out their regular rotation of Children's Gallery exhibitions, stare at the stained glass ceiling and enjoy a snack in the garden. See exclusively Australian art at the Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria.
22. Old Treasury Building is a heritage museum where (older) kids can explore the gold vaults and earn a gold licence!
26. Ron Barassi Snr Park is hidden under the shadows of the Bolte Bridge and offers sand play and water play.
28. The Port of Melbourne runs free boat tours from Victoria Harbour, Docklands on Sundays during the warmer months. The tours are the best way to see Australia’s busiest port and guided commentary from port staff.
Best Things to Do in Melbourne NORTH / NORTH-EAST
29. Take a self-guided heritage walk in Abbotsford, Clifton Hill, Collingwood, Queens Parade and Smith Street. The walks take up to 3 hours to complete and cover quite a distance, so you may want to break up the walk into parts. Great for those times when you're pushing the pram trying to get bubs to sleep!
31. Visit Kathleen Symes Library which has an excellent children's section as well as hosting regularly storytimes.
33. In 2021 the Science Gallery Melbourne will have a new permanent home in Parkville. It's part of an international network of science galleries that aims to engage young people with arts and science.
35. ‘Cubbies' Fitzroy Adventure Playground is a solar-powered junkyard playground just made for adventure! It's one of the fun free things to do in Melbourne that will see kids making memories.
37. Abbotsford Convent is an arts, educational and cultural hub with cafes, a bakery, a farmers market and other public events regularly. It's home to children's art organisations such as Polyglot Theatre and Kids Own Publishing.
38. CERES is a not-for-profit, sustainability centre and urban farm located on the Merri Creek in East Brunswick. There's a cafe, organic groceries, animals and play area to explore.
39. Coburg Lake Reserve is a huge green space with two playgrounds and a nice lake with geese.
41. When the weather's hot check out Hadfield Park‘s splash pad.
43. Craigieburn Library is in one of the most spectacular libraries in Melbourne.
44. There's a huge insect that's landed at Golden Sun Moth Park and it's spectacular!
Best THINGS TO DO FOR FREE IN Melbourne SOUTH / SOUTH-EAST / BAYSIDE
46. We're lucky to have Melbourne attractions free of charge, and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria manages the Melbourne Gardens and Cranbourne Gardens. At the Melbourne Gardens visit the Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden for picnics and water play. At the Cranbourne Gardens explore the amazing Australian Gardens and play areas.
47. Wondering what to do in Melbourne for free with guests? St Kilda Beach is one of Melbourne's most visited locations. Stroll along the beach walk and down St Kilda pier to take in the views, drool over Acland Street's European cake shops and take a photo of Luna Park‘s entrance. Every sunset look out for the little penguins coming ashore!
49. Browse the aisles of South Melbourne Market, a lively undercover market with stalls for produce, art and design and cafes with restaurants. Check out What's On at South Melbourne Market, for free live music and activities such as kids face painting.
50. If your kids like boats then head to Station Pier in Port Melbourne to wave to the massive cruise ships and Spirit of Tasmania.
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51. Maritime Cove is a playground that's basically one huge sandpit – adjoining a beach for double the sand fun!
52. Booran Reserve is an amazing $10 million playground in Glen Huntly that's a clever repurposing of an old water reservoir.
55. Take a net and bucket and explore the rockpools at Ricketts Point, a marine sanctuary at Beaumaris.
58. One of the free attractions Melbourne is known for; take your camera to visit the Brighton Beach Boxes for that iconic postcard shot.
59. Get into nature play at Valley Reserve with tree houses, a ropes course, dry creek bed and sand area and interactive sculptures of local wildlife.
60. Look out for aliens when you visit the UFO Park at The Grange Reserve Clayton!
62. Casey Fields is an amazing playground for all ages with separate areas for different abilities.
63. The Old Cheese Factory is part of the 1860s historic Springfield Homestead and offers beautiful gardens, a large children’s playground, barbecue/picnic facilities and the Homestead Café.
64. McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park has a wonderful collection of outdoor sculptures and a great cafe.
Best FREE PLACES TO GO IN MELBOURNE EAST
65. Fitzroy Gardens has a small but unusual dragon playground, fairy trees, a miniature Tudor Village and glorious avenues of trees with beautifully tended gardens.
66. The Metropolitan Fire Brigade hosts free events Melbourne kids love! Fire station demonstrations run at fire stations through the week. The East Melbourne fire station is next door to the Fire Services Museum (entry fee required) so you could double down on your fire safety experience!
67. Heide Museum of Modern Art is an art museum set within sixteen acres of heritage-listed gardens and a sculpture park. It's free to access the park, though exhibitions are normally charged. During school terms they run Heide Art Babies and Heide Mini Artists and in school holidays there's an extensive arts program.
68. Hays Paddock is a huge fenced playground that's one of the most popular playgrounds in Melbourne's east.
69. Ruffey Lake Park boasts three separate playgrounds as well as walking tracks, cycling paths and rolling parklands.
70. Bring your bathers for some water play at the Lillydale Lake splash pad!
71. There are so many slides at Ringwood Lake Park you'll lose count!
72. Schwerkolt Cottage and Museum in Mitcham is an original pioneer's stone cottage with lovely gardens and a museum.
73. Train-mad kids will swoon when they see the full-size steam engine at the Marie Wallace Train Park in Bayswater.
74. At the foothills of the Dandenongs you'll find a magical playground at Tim Neville Arboretum.
75. Head to Montrose for the only playground in Melbourne with an adjoining chocolate shop (that I know of)!
76. See beautiful foliage, particularly in Spring and Autumn, at Alfred Nicholas Gardens.
77. The massive Olinda Forest Playspace is built on the site of an old golf course.
78. Seville Water Play Park is also a creative reimagining of an old public pool.
79. Go forest bathing at the stunning Redwood Forest.
Best Things to Do in Melbourne WEST
80. Footscray Park is a classic Edwardian park that boasts a great fenced playground next to the Maribyrnong River.
81. Get amongst the shopping throngs at Footscray Market, a hub for the Vietnamese community in Melbourne.
83. See aircraft for free in Melbourne at The Royal Australian Air Force Museum in Point Cook has free aircraft and aviation displays (donations are appreciated).
84. At Williams Landing, you'll find another aviation-themed attraction – the Aircraft Control Tower playground at Ashcroft Park.
86. Go for a gentle bushwalk inside Newport Lakes and you'll never know you're in the city. There's a self-guided nature trail around the lake and lots of opportunities to go bird-watching.
87. One of my favourite free things to do near me; Altona Beach is a hidden gem with expansive sand, clear water and city views.
88. Head to the Point Gellibrand Rockpools to look for tiny sea creatures.
89. Sunvale Community Park is a playground in Sunshine CBD with a skate park and water play.
90. Zoom up into space at Buckingham Reserve's Rocket Ship playground in Sunshine!
91. Navan Park playground has a spectacular high tower and lots of equipment for all ages. The playground is within a park with a lake and barbecue and picnic facilities.
92. Step into Melton Library and your jaw will drop – it's the most beautiful double-storey library design ever.
94. Get splashy at Riverwalk Water Park and Playground!
95. Picnic in the historic grounds of Werribee Park and learn about their historic trees.
96. Brimbank Park in Keilor East has walks, a nature play space and cafe.
97. Slide down the huge pirate ship slide at Bayview Park Pirate Playground!
98. At Harpley Estate there's a wonderful play space presided over by a giant brolga. The playground is designed for all abilities and has an Australian animal and bird theme.
99. At Serendip Sanctuary you can get up close to native Australian animals such as emus, kangaroos and birdlife.
100. Look out for planes arriving and leaving Melbourne at the Tullamarine Airport viewing area.
Click here for my 100 best things to do in Melbourne with kids
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