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 220 buildings across the city on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 July 2018.
There’s something for everyone at every age, with workshops and events just for kids. 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 kid-friendly activities, 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.
Plan a realistic itinerary for your family. Aim to see 2-3 buildings and give yourself plenty of time to do this.
As I have a young baby, I’m giving myself one ‘must do’ building a day, with a list of 2 or 3 optional venues close by. My ‘must see’s are 50 Albert and the Koorie Heritage Trust, which is going to be moved to make way for the controversial Apple Store in Federation Square.
2. Book sensibly
Some buildings require advance booking, and will sell out quickly. If you’re interested in 3CR Community Radio (booking has already opened), The Gipson Commons or Bunjil Place, put a reminder in your phone when tickets go on sale and book 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 25 buildings that are putting on activities for families, not every venue is suitable for kids or is accessible to prams.
4. Pack 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. Bring a water bottle, too.
5. Dress Well
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 texters for colouring.
Put a favourite book or toy in your bag, and look out for the Children’s Activity Book which will be available at any of the 25 kid-friendly buildings, and for download nearer the time.
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 Twitter for immediate updates as to where there is a #queue or #noqueue.
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.
Then pat yourself on the back for taking part in the 11th Open House Melbourne Weekend with your children. Well done you!