Today’s guest post is compiled by Julia Dixon from Things to do with Under Fives. Julia is a local mum who started this blog as a way of helping other mums with ideas for under-fives, whether they be new to Melbourne, new to motherhood or just looking for something new to do.
1. A Day at the Zoo
We are extremely fortunate here in Melbourne to have three distinctly different zoos in three great locations. Melbourne Zoo is a great play date zoo – easy to access as long as you avoid peak hour, flat pram-friendly paths, a playground, lots of good picnic spots and of course all the animals that toddlers love. Healesville Sanctuary is a bit of a drive but it offers a great array of Australian animals in a relaxed natural bush environment, whilst Werribee Zoo is our own piece of Africa over the bridge and every Tuesday they have dedicated activities for the under-five age group. With unlimited access to all three zoos as well as entry to interstate zoos, a quarterly magazine and a discount at the souvenir shop, Zoos Victoria membership is a must have for anyone in Melbourne with young kids. For further details, see my blog post on Zoo Memberships.
2. Diamond Valley Railway
Sundays, 11am to 5pm
Eltham Lower Park, Melways Ref. 21 H10
This is a great outing for under-fives and makes a perfect venue for a family get together or a birthday party. Located in Eltham Lower Park with its big oval, playground and bbqs, the railway is very well maintained and has plenty of tunnels, crossings and stations to delight the little ones. Full review.
3. Federation Square
ACMI / NGV Kids Corner / Birrarung Marr / Artplay
Fed Square offers a fun day out with the kids that is quintessentially Melbourne without requiring you to traipse all over the city. Keep an eye out for events at ACMI that are suitable for under-fives, including the Little Big Shots Film Festival showcasing local and international films for children aged 2 to 8 years. Next door at the NGV Kids Corner there are free activities and creative installations designed specifically for little ones. For some outdoor play, head to the playground at Birrarung Marr where tube slides, sand pits, swinging hammocks, rock and rope climbing features, etc. will keep your little ones entertained for hours. Also, check out the workshop schedule at Artplay.
4. Playschool Concert
Held annually at various locations throughout the state, this concert is one of my favourite toddler events. The 40 minute show consists of two regular Playschool presenters singing some of the more popular songs from the TV show accompanied by a keyboard player and of course our favourite toys – Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima and Humpty. Full review.
5. Dymocks Book Store Events
It is rare to find an event that combines a favourite storybook character, singing, dancing, colouring-in, storytelling and cake that is completely free. Dymocks Book Store in Collins Street have regular Sunday events for children that have included birthday parties for Spot, Bob the Builder, Maisy and Mister Men. These are good fun and allow your kids to meet their favourite character in an intimate birthday party setting. Full review.
6. Prahran Market
Tuesdays 9.30am – 12.30pm, Thursdays 10am – 1pm
This is one of Melbourne’s gems for under-fives. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the market square is transformed into a play area for mums and kids with free face painting, art activities, an animal farm on Tuesdays, and a play-along music session on Thursdays. This is in addition to the toddler friendly play equipment, mini carousel and the great selection of food options that are always on offer. Full review.
7. Mornington Peninsula
With the weather getting better by the day it’s a perfect time to explore the peninsula. Some suggestions include;
- Pick up something vintage for the kids at Mornington Antique Centre
- Check out the kids stores and cafes in Main Street Mornington, including DOC where you can find some yummy Italian produce for a picnic lunch
- Visit Rain, Hayne and Shine Farmyard in Balnarring
- Pick your own berries at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm in Red Hill
- Visit The Enchanted Maze at Arthurs Seat – summer ski slopes are coming in Jan!
- Let the kids run wild at the community-built playground in Sorrento
- Play on the beach near Portsea Pier, Blairgowrie Beach or Sorrento front beach
For more ideas on things to do in Sorrento, see full review.
8. The Dandenongs
Spring has sprung in the Dandenongs and its truly beautiful up there at the moment. Go midweek to avoid the crowds, pack a picnic lunch, and wear the kids out with lots of walking and fresh air. Highlights include Como Gardens, Cloudehill Nursery and Skyhigh at Mt Dandenong. Make sure you go up via The Basin where the kids can play at the playground and you can pick up a bargain at Hand-me-Downs.
9. Melbourne’s Café Culture
With so many great child-friendly cafés to choose from in Melbourne, there is no reason not to indulge your toddler’s babychino addiction. Whether you make it an outing in its own right or an adjunct to a day out, a visit to a kid-friendly café can provide quality time for you and your kids – just make sure they have marshmallows. For suggestions on where to find the best babychinos in Melbourne, check out the post here on Kid Friendly Cafes in Melbourne, or my Little Eats review.
10. School Holiday Events
There are so many great things to do with kids under five in Melbourne, but during school holidays it get a bit more exciting as there are just so many more things on offer. Whilst it means you will have to contend with the crowds, events during the holiday period are usually worth it as they are part of a well-planned out schedule aimed at varying ages. This allows your little one an opportunity to interact with older kids and enjoy the ‘buzz’ of the school holidays. Highlights for pre-schoolers include:
- Activities in the Children’s Garden at Royal Botanical Gardens
- Workshops at Gasworks Arts Park
- Craft activities at local community centres
- Craft activities at shopping centres
- Special events at major venues including Fed Square, Melbourne Zoo, Aquarium, Arts Centre, Scienceworks, State Library, etc..
- Pantomimes at Tivoli Theatre Restaurant in Malvern
The best places to discover what’s on during school holidays include local guides, Melbourne’s Child magazine, Planning Queen’s Kids Activities Round Ups and of course the Things to Do with Under Fives blog.
Footnote: On Saturdays during October and November, many Melbourne primary schools hold their fetes. Keep an eye out for your local ones as they provide a fantastic family outing for under-fives, plus it’s a good opportunity to explore your local schools. Activities include animal farms, jumping castles, pony rides and craft, whilst food options can include anything from sausage in bread and donuts to escargot and crepes. Bring on fete season!
What is your favourite place to take your youngsters?