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10 things to do with kids under five

With a seemingly endless supply of energy, it can be hard work to keep the little ones entertained. We’ve put together some top toddler-friendly activities and ideas to add to your list for your next trip out. 

Visit Melbourne Zoo

Kids get free access to Melbourne Zoo on weekends, public holidays and school holidays, where they can discover over 250 species of animals from across the world. Crawl inside a giant tortoise shell and meet brush turkeys, meerkats, reptiles and insects in the interactive Growing Wild exhibition. Designed especially for children aged three to eight.
Learn more about endangered animals like the corroboree frog on Fridays or the Tasmanian devil on Tuesdays. Sessions include stories, craft, games and face painting and are on from 10.30-11.30am. 

A meerkat on a rock

Melbourne Zoo

Ride the City Circle tram

To the little ones, a tram ride can be as much fun as a rollercoaster. Hop on the free City Circle tram to do a loop of the city with audio commentary. Pass tourist attractions like Parliament House, Federation Square, the Princess Theatre and more. 

Stomp and sing at libraries across the city

Every week during school terms you can take the little ones to Stompers, a fun 30 minutes of stories, songs, rhymes and music. The free sessions run mornings on weekdays at library locations in Docklands, CBD, Carlton, Southbank and North Melbourne. 

Preschool storytime 

Three to five year olds can enjoy stories, activities, rhymes and songs at Preschool storytime. Sessions are free and run once a week at six different library locations across Docklands, East Melbourne, North Melbourne, Southbank, CBD and Carlton. Library at the Dock in Victoria Harbour runs bilingual Hindi storytime every second Friday as well as additional Chinese storytime sessions. 

Discover the Children’s garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens 

For kids who love getting their hands dirty, take them to the Children’s garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Explore water features, wetlands, the bamboo forest, plant tunnel and kitchen garden. Free, and open from 10am Wednesday to Sunday during school holidays and seven days a week during school term. 

An aerial shot of a large garden with various trees and botanic displays

There’s plenty for children to explore at Royal Botanic Gardens

Explore the Children’s Gallery at Melbourne Museum

Designed especially for babies and kids up to 5 years of age, the Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery at Melbourne Museum is a great place to let the little ones explore, learn and play. There’s a huge outdoor area where they can play in the sandpit, forage for fossils and explore plants and stories. Inside they can dance in the camouflage disco, play games, and climb through and discover many nooks, crannies and sensory experiences. Entry to the museum is free for kids under 16. 

Let off steam at parks and playgrounds 

There are way too many parks and playgrounds across the city to mention them all. However, we’ve got you covered with an interactive map, a full list of parks on the City of Melbourne website and some highlights below.
Gardiner reserve in North Melbourne has just had a makeover. Play with giant spider sculptures, climb their webs, and explore tunnels, bridges, ladders and cubbies. Bring along some sausages for a barbecue and find a spot on a picnic table. 
Located near ArtPlay, Birrarung Marr playground has been a long-time family favourite with tube slides, swinging hammocks, balance beams, and rock and rope climbing. It’s also a great stop if you’re taking the kids for a walk along the Yarra. 

A low wooden footbridge leading to a playground

Birrarung playground near ArtPlay

Get creative at ArtPlay

Let your child explore their creative side at ArtPlay, a creative arts studio for kids and their families, running free and paid workshops for kids of different ages. 
Baby and toddler-friendly sessions coming up in October and beyond include: Listening to here (various dates suitable for ages between 12 and 36 months),  Play Date and Inside Out (suitable for ages 2 to 5) and Scrapatorium (suitable ages 3 and up) and Mixing lab for ages 2 to 5.  

Meet Spot at Arts Centre Melbourne

Come and meet Spot, everyone’s favourite yellow puppy at Arts Centre Melbourne this November. Off on an adventure to visit his dad’s farm with his friends, the stage show brings Eric Hill’s books to life with puppetry, songs and puzzles for children aged three and up. On Wednesday 13 – Sunday 17 November, tickets from $27.

Looking up at a tall, pyramid shaped write structure on top of a buildingThe iconic Arts Centre spire Looking up at a tall, pyramid shaped write structure on top of a building

See Spot at the Arts Centre

Stop for lunch and ice cream

Feed hungry tummies or stop in for sweets at one of these amazing kid-friendly eateries across the city. 
Ice cream
Like watching a science experiment, seeing liquid nitrogen gelato being made is almost as much fun as eating it. Take them for a nutella floatella or unicorn party gelato at Dex2rose or have them inject their popcorn covered gelato with a syringe full of caramel at The Lab – Nitrogen Gelato
With toppings like jelly beans, honeycomb and M&M’s, everything on the menu at Milkcow looks almost too good to eat. If they’ve been really good, surprise them with a signature, ‘unicorn burrito’, a fairy floss burrito with rainbow ice cream, waffles and oreos. 
For something a little more savoury, wander through Chinatown for some of Melbourne’s best dumplings. Try the signature fish dumplings at Shandong MaMa, or fried chicken and prawn dumplings at Shanghai Street. 
Food courts and markets
When everyone is after something a little different, the city’s food courts and markets tick all the boxes. Pick between tacos, souvlaki, ramen, pizza, pho, Indian and so much more at Emporium. Or head to the newly opened ELLA at Melbourne CentralIn Chinatown, Paramount Corporate Centre is home to an international food court, as well as three levels of shopping. Or check out the restaurants, cafes, fresh produce and hot jam donuts at Queen Victoria Market.

 A bamboo steamer basket with small Chinese dumplings on a piece of white paper inside

Dine on dumplings in Chinatown

More fun for kids

Still looking for a few things to do, here are a few more ideas.

  • Adopt a puggle and catch it as it slides out from a tree at Lost Forests in the District Docklands. This whimsical forest themed store is filled with talking trees, storytellers, and hundreds of magical and mythical creatures and toys, which are made on-site by their resident toymaker. 
  • Wander through the penguin playground, spot the clownfish in the coral caves and touch a starfish in the rockpools at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium. Catch daily keeper talks to learn more about crocs, rays and turtles. If you’re a member of Playgroup Victoria, one adult and up to two children (under three) can head along to a playgroup hosted session for $25, find more details here.
  • Hop onboard a cruise with Williamstown bay and river cruises. Cruise from Southbank to Williamstown and back again.