7 Fun, Free, and Family Friendly Activities in Melbourne this Summer

3 January 2024

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Looking for summer fun with the family without blowing the budget? Check out our list of free summer activities in Melbourne 👇

Summer is well and truly here in Melbourne. While for some that means holidays by the beach and BBQs with friends, it can also be a stressful time for families. Whether it’s the pricey activities or the need to keep your children occupied over the holidays, summer can take its toll on parent’s minds and budgets.

To ease the nerves, we’ve compiled a list of fun (and free!) summer activities around Melbourne from musical plants to paper dragons. Better yet, many of our top picks are educational, so your child will learn a thing or two while out in the sun – just don’t forget the sunscreen!

1. Myer Christmas Windows

Every year since 1956, Myer host their famous Christmas Windows art exhibit, which has become a mainstay Melbourne tradition. This year, the theme is none other than Bluey!

If you’ve never seen the Windows for yourself, this is the perfect opportunity to get your child out of the house and experiencing the city in a safe, wholesome environment. Naturally, Bluey is fun for the whole family, with plenty for parents to enjoy (as well as some great photo opportunities).

Date: 12 November 2023 – 6 January 2024

Time: 7:30am – 10:00pm

Where: 314-336 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000

2. The Plants

This unique musical installation is one you don’t want to miss. This summer, your family is invited to join in on this one-of-a-kind interactive art installation.

The Plants allows your child to engage with music and nature through experimental instruments, combining digital sensors and organic matter to make genuine, playable plants!

Date: 16 January 2024 – 21 January 2024

Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm, Mon – Sun

Where: Theatres Forecourt
Arts Centre Melbourne
100 St Kilda Street
Southbank 3004

3. Fitzroy Gardens Exploration

If making music out of plants isn’t your style, why not just look at them instead? This summer, take advantage of the warmer weather by exploring Fitzroy Gardens! Start your journey at the Visitor Centre to pick up a pamphlet, collect adventure map, and enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner with the family.

Then, take a journey around the Gardens, either following your adventure map or enjoying a leisurely walk among the flowers. Some key attractions around the Gardens include:

  • The Conservatory
  • Scarred Tree
  • Elm Tree Avenues
  • Hotham Walk
  • Fairies’ Tree
  • Model Tudor Village
  • River God Fountain

Date: Anytime

Time (Visitor Centre): 9am – 4pm, Mon – Sun
Time (The Gardens)
: Anytime

Where: Fitzroy Gardens
Wellington Parade
East Melbourne 3002

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4. Rififi: Jean Jullien for Kids

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is the perfect summer outing to immerse your child in art, culture, and creativity. This summer, they’ve transformed their children’s gallery into a colourful underwater wonderland!

Created by French artist, Jean Jullien, RIFIFI: Jean Jullien for Kids is a truly unique art exhibition. Journey through hallways filled with interactive art, hands-on activities, mind-boggling sea facts, and an Underwater Drawing Club for the children.

Through its lively mixture of art and an important message of conservation, this is a must-visit exhibition this summer.

Date: 20 December 2023 – 7 April 2024

Time: 10am – 5pm, Mon – Sun

Where: National Gallery of Victoria
Ground Level, Children’s Gallery
180 St Kilda Rd
Melbourne 3006

5. Road to Zero Helmet Heroes

Did you know that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of bicycles accidents by 74%? Therefore, if safety is your number one concern for your child this summer, check out the Melbourne Museum’s ‘Road to Zero Helmet Heroes’ holiday program.

Designed for children three to four and up, this experience allows children to try on different helmets and safety gear, interact with props, and take photos with a state-of-the-art digital backdrop!

Importantly, this program teaches children the importance of helmet safety in a fun and memorable way.

Date: 2 January 2024 – 20 January 2024

Time: 10am – 3pm, Mon – Sat   

Where: Melbourne Museum
11 Nicholson St
Carlton 3053

6. Lunar New Year – Dragon Festival

Join the festivities as Chinatown celebrates Lunar New Year in February of 2024 – the Year of the Dragon! This is the perfect summer outing, filled with music, art, dancing, great food, local market stalls, and – of course – the festival itself.

Lunar New Year festivals are famous for their rich performances, intricate puppets, and dragon dances – and Chinatown is no exception. Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to introduce your child to the culturally diverse heart of Melbourne, while also enjoying a day out in the sun!

Date: 11 February 2024

Time: 10am – 9pm

Where: Little Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000

7. Playgrounds Around Melbourne

When all else fails, why not visit a playground instead? Melbourne is full of exciting playgrounds and natural play spaces which are perfect before, after, or during a day in the city.

With more than 40 playgrounds in and around the CBD, you can find them located in:

  • Carlton
  • Docklands
  • East Melbourne
  • Kensington
  • Melbourne
  • North Melbourne
  • Parkville
  • Southbank
  • South Yarra
  • West Melbourne

Date: Anytime

Time: Anytime  

Where: Click here for the full list of playgrounds located in and around the city.

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As summer unfolds in Melbourne, the pressure on parents to find affordable and engaging activities for children can feel overwhelming. However, by incorporating a few of these free activities, you can ease the burden this summer without sacrificing the fun.  

From the timeless charm of Myer Christmas Windows to ushering in the Year of the Dragon, take the time this summer to embrace all the free and interactive experiences Melbourne has to offer. Moreover, these experiences are perfect for the whole family, so be sure to strike a pose with Bluey or take a trip down the slide at the playground – you’re only as young as you feel!

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website at Explorers Early Learning today!