Where to stay cool with your family in the city

Don’t let hot days in Melbourne become sweaty, temper-tantrum-filled nightmares. Escape the heat at these cool places, from air-conditioned art galleries to public pools.

Paddle in a pool

Did you know there are public pools both in and close to the city? Splish-splash at the beautiful heritage Melbourne City Baths, the North Melbourne Recreation Centre or Carlton Baths. Check out their school holiday activities, like North Melbourne’s Inflatable Fridays, and consider signing the kids up for swimming lessons. That way they’ll be ready for even more aquatic fun next summer.

Find out more with our guide to Melbourne’s cool pools.

Two kids swimming in a big outdoor pool as a lifeguard looks on

North Melbourne Recreation Centre

Chill out at public galleries and museums

Melbourne’s big public art galleries are a no-brainer on hot days: they’re free, air-conditioned and packed with amazing art. Explore homegrown wonders at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Or treasures from afar at NGV International, like the free Julian Opie exhibition. It’s contemporary art that all the family can get into, especially at Julian Opie: Studio For Kids.

School Holidays at Melbourne Museum are really cool too, starting with free entry for kids. They can check out everything from little bugs to big dinosaurs, and tackle fun activities like making puppets out of trash.

A large semi-circle shaped window with water flowing over it

The entrance to NGV International

Be cool at the library

There are more libraries in the city than you might think, and they have all sorts of programs for kids too. Like the free Harry Potter Book Night at the Kathleen Syme Library and Southbank Library – pure enchantment for young witches and wizards! Discover more children’s library activities, and add the City Library and Library at The Dock to your list.

Of course there’s also the library that most Melburnians know and love: the grand State Library of Victoria. Get better acquainted, from the beautiful heritage reading rooms to the parent rooms, on a free Welcome to the Library Tour. Or try the Ned Kelly Tour, which takes in the library’s collection of artefacts related to this notorious bushranger. The highlight is his homemade armour – see this famous steel riddled with bullet holes before it’s taken off display from 10 February. Don’t worry, Ned’s armour will be back for a new exhibition in May.

A large reading room in a library

The State Library’s Dome Room

Stay hydrated

If it’s hot, remember to drink lots of fluids. There’s no need to buy bottled water though. There are dozens of public drinking fountains in the City of Melbourne, which is good news for your budget and the environment. The new fountains make it easy to take a sip of Melbourne’s outstanding drinking water, or fill up your bottle. Find out where they are with our interactive map.

Give heat the cold shoulder at a shopping centre

Go luxe at Emporium Melbourne, which opened in 2014 but still feels shiny and new. There are dozens of distractions at this shopping centre, from junior fashion boutiques to the fancy food court. Refuel with souvas from Jimmy Grants or Dainty Sichuan’s noodles, then treat everyone to Seven Apples ice-cream. If things go pear-shaped, or baby just needs feeding, there are two parent’s rooms.

Melbourne Central’s massive, with 300-plus retailers over five levels, so there’s something for all the family here. Catch a movie at Hoyts. Have fun with everything from laser tag to karaoke at Strike Bowling. Celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday at the free exhibition featuring 90 original artworks. There’s even a comfy, colourful parents’ retreat.

Lygon Court Shopping Centre isn’t big but it does offer a wonderful place for fun, cultural escapes from the heat. At Cinema Nova, enjoy a movie with choc-tops and perhaps a cheeky sauv blanc for the grown-ups. Across the road, check out Readings Kids. From pop-up books to young adult novels, it’s a little bookworm’s paradise.

Find more shopping centres where you can while away the hottest part of the day in air-conditioned comfort.

A large bookcase set into a wall, with a green mural

Readings Kids in Carlton

Find more cool places on our interactive map.