Every winter, Open House Melbourne encourages Melbournians to be active participants in the city, by encouraging visitors to explore sky-scraping towers, religious buildings, plus houses from the richest and poorest of our city’s past.
This year the free annual event opens buildings across Melbourne on Saturday 27 July and Sunday 28 July 2019 and there is a special Open Kids program with over family-friendly activities across Melbourne city, Boroondara, Hobsons Bay, inner north, north, inner south and further afield. You can log into Open House Melbourne using my public account (username: email@example.com password: Joyce) to get my curated itinerary for families on your desktop, mobile or app, to print the full itinerary or to map my journey.
To help the whole family enjoy this fun weekend, here are my Top 10 tips for visiting Open House Melbourne with kids.
Even with gallons of coffee and a superfast Segway at your disposal, you wouldn’t be able to see everything Open House Melbourne Weekend has to offer. Filter your options by precinct or even type of building by using the website – or I've done the hard work for you and collected the best locations for families, sorted by location and date. Not all locations are pram accessible, some properties have age limits.
Plan a realistic itinerary for your family. Aim to see 2-3 buildings and give yourself plenty of time to do this and then another 2-3 optional venues close by.
Also consider how you'll travel to your locations. I recommend picking an area and sticking to it rather than spending all your time travelling across town. There are public transport recommendations in the transport section of each building listing. This year GoGet Carshare have provided an exclusive offer for attendees including a free sign up to GoFrequent (valued at $55) and 15% discount across the Weekend.
2. Book sensibly
Some buildings require advance booking, and will sell out quickly. Keep to a maximum of 1 time-sensitive booking a day to avoid rushing.
For other buildings, self-guided tours will be more family-friendly. Unless your children are very well-behaved and quick to leave the house, it easier to see the buildings at your own pace.
3. Read The Fine Print
Beware! Not every building is open on both days, and not every building is open all day.
If you really want to see a building that’s not open for the whole day, note the opening time and turn up 20 minutes early.
In addition, apart from the buildings that are putting on activities for families, not every venue is suitable for kids or is accessible to prams.
4. Pack Lots of Snacks
Come armed with plenty of food for kids to snack on, and even some secret lollies if you need to revive them at the end of the day. In Melbourne CBD check out my list of top family friendly cafes and restaurants for refuelling.
Bring a water bottle, too.
5. Dress For the Weather
Make sure everyone wears warm clothes and shoes they can walk in.
Winter jackets, woolly hats, perhaps a small umbrella and sunglasses in case of bright sunshine are perfect for Melbourne in July.
6. Create a Fun Pack for Kids
Look around your home to find things that will help your child enjoy looking at buildings. You might find binoculars, magnifying glass, a clipboard for ticking off places, stickers to show how much they enjoyed a visit, a sharpie for cool adult drawing, and textas for colouring.
If you're visiting the City of Boroondara Families can pick up a special Open House activity book for the City of Boroondara Precinct which features kids activities for each of the Boroondara buildings. It's available from any of the Boroondara sites or the Open House Info Hub.
7. Encourage Your Kids’ Opinions
Ask your kids what they think makes a building ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Should it have plants? Large windows? Should it be warm, big, small, or pretty? Come up with 3 criteria and rate each building after you’ve visited.
Kids will enjoy ticking boxes with you or applying stickers to show which was their favourite building.
8. Get Social
Follow Open House Melbourne on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for immediate updates as to where there is a #queue or #noqueue, for navigational tips, and to ask questions. You can also use the hashtags to post your own updates, share photos, and connect:
9. Speak to the Volunteers
Open House Melbourne relies on an army of workers donating their time for free. They keep the weekend going, welcoming visitors, and answering their questions.
Encourage kids to say hello to them, ask what they like best about a particular building (if they’re not busy), and say thank you when they leave.
10. Find the Nearest Playground or Library
Relax with your kids at the end of a busy day enjoying Melbourne’s architecture. Head to a playground or library, which you can find using the search function on this website. For instance, if you're in the CBD keep them happy with a trip to the ArtPlay Playground at Birrarung Marr in the City of Melbourne.
Then pat yourself on the back for taking part in the Open House Melbourne Weekend with your children. Well done you!
Click here for my list of the best buildings for families in Open House Melbourne
For accommodation options in Melbourne, I recommend checking out what's available on Booking.com and Airbnb
I hope this post has helped or inspired you! Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to find out more ways for your family to have fun together!