Wondering where to take the kids over the winter school break? These city spots are now open for fresh air and holiday fun. Staying in? Scroll to the bottom for our top Melbourne picks for hanging out at home. And before making plans, be sure to check in with the DHHS for the most up to date guidelines and restrictions.
Yes, the Dino Lab, Lion Gorge, Elephants Trail, Gorilla Rainforest and more are open once again at Melbourne Zoo. With visitor numbers reduced, it’s almost like taking a private safari. Even better, entry for children under 16 is free during the school holidays. You’ll need to get in quick if you want to visit, though. Prebooking is compulsory, for babies and toddlers as well as kids and adults. Bring a picnic, as the zoo’s cafes are still closed.
Winter school holidays are a great time to discover the world of books. Readings Kids is a welcoming, light-filled bookshop, beguiling parents, infants and teens alike. There are books, music, games and more for kids and teens, with young adult fiction a speciality.
State Library Victoria
Melbourne’s favourite library is now open, with reduced hours from 10am to 6pm daily. On Saturday 27 June, the domed La Trobe Reading Room and Ian Potter Queen’s Hall are reopening. They’re the Library’s two very special architectural gems. Bookings are essential to visit the library, with morning and afternoon sessions available.
City of Melbourne libraries
Melbourne’s six libraries have been open with limited access since 9 June. During the school holidays, library members can pick up and drop off books at City Library, Library at the Dock, Kathleen Syme Library, North Melbourne Library, Southbank Library and East Melbourne Library.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Rain or shine, Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens are a family favourite. Garden events and tours aren’t running just yet. But there are lakes, flowerbeds and forests to discover. The camellias are at their blooming best in winter, which means right now. There are 950 different types to spot, in all colours and sizes. Some of these plants date all the way back to 1875.
SEALIFE Melbourne Aquarium
During the school hols, the world of jellyfish is the focus at Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium. The Ocean Invaders exhibit pulsates with these otherworldly creatures. Expect spectacular lighting tricks and projections across multiple displays. Again, visitor numbers are limited, so time and date bookings are essential. If you’re a group of four, two kids and two adults, you’ll make a big saving if you book the Family ticket.
Cue trumpet fanfare. Melbourne Museum and IMAX Melbourne have timed their reopening for day one of the holidays, Saturday 27 June. All galleries and spaces will be open in the museum, with capacity limits in place. Enter the miniature world of the Mini Mega Model Museum. Or explore the Bunjilaka River of Language exhibition. To help with visitor numbers, two-hour visits are recommended. Over at IMAX Melbourne, Jurassic Park 3D and Mad Max: Fury Road 3D is screening.
Queen Victoria Market
Specialty Shopping is back at QVM, between A to F Sheds. Get your winter wardrobe in shape with sheepskin slippers, knitwear, gloves and toe-warming socks. Your family will be spoiled for choice when the hunger pangs hit. Bite into a jam-filled doughnut from the American Doughnut Kitchen caravan. Add a latte from Market Lane Coffee. Are the tribe still hungry? A melting triple-cheese toastie from Ripe in the Deli Produce Hall will do the trick.
National Gallery of Victoria is also celebrating the school holidays. NGV International and the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia reopen on Saturday 27 June. Distancing measures, free timed ticketing and queue management will be in place. Visit NGV International to admire Japanese fashion in Collecting Comme. And there’s 1930s style in the Japanese Modernism exhibit. At NGV Australia, Top Arts 2020 shows off exceptional work of VCE art students. Or check out Marking Time, which highlights the NGV’s Indigenous art collection.
The iconic Melbourne Star Observation Wheel reopened on Thursday 18 June. Those views are as fabulous as ever. All rides have been upgraded to private cabins, with a maximum three guests per cabin. Now more than ever, it’s best to prebook tickets before your visit. The Family Saver ticket can save you more than 40% and can only be booked online.
Old Melbourne Gaol
The historic Old Melbourne Gaol is also cranking open its gates on Saturday 27 June. Apparently, the jail’s resident ghosts have been wondering why the place has been so empty. Prebook your tickets for your self-guided visit to the cells and timed entry to the City Watch House.
Melbourne fun to enjoy at home
- Melbourne Storm have released their monthly activity books for sport crazy kids to master from home. Download the fun from their Kids Hub.
- Discover all of Melbourne’s nooks and crannies from the couch and put together the Melbourne Map jigsaw puzzle.
- Vision Australia is looking for loving carers for their adorable seeing eye dogs in training. And you can now join their free, monthly information sessions online!
- Tune in for fabulous full-length performances with the Australian Ballet’s free cinema-quality digital season.
- Penguins, giraffes, baby snow leopards. No matter where you are right now, you can get constant cuteness from Melbourne Zoo’s Animal House.
- For the construction-minded, a model kit is a perfect project to get stuck into. Check out the planes, trains and automobiles from Hearns Hobbies and Metro Hobbies.
When you’re out and about, don’t forget the social distancing 1.5-metre rule. Details can change and businesses may close or change their offering at short notice. Check the venues’ websites or social media for updates. Confirm opening hours, whether you need to book, and if the cap on visitor numbers has changed.