A melting pot of cultures, there’s always something new and exciting to discover in Melbourne! Known for its diversity and creativity, its artistic and musical locals as well as its laid back Aussie attitude, you’ll find hip new ventures and vibrant street art springing up in the city every day. The problem isn’t finding things to do, it's how to make the most of the time you have there - and there's no better way than to start with our local’s guide to what to do in Melbourne!
By Bethany Kinner
Welcome to Thornbury
This trendy, on point bar and permanent food truck venture is a true gem of funky north Melbourne. It's 60’s drive-in vibe is a nod to the site's century-long ties to the automotive industry. Aside from the visually stimulating layout and design, the true stars of the show are the food trucks. Welcome to Thornbury have an invigorating mix of food trucks on its daily rotation. From decadent desserts, to spicy east asian lunches, to Greek street food. Come to mingle, share or simply eat and experience the best of Thornbury has to offer.
Dance at a gig
Melbourne's music scene is as varied as it is beloved. And for good reason- many of today's most sought after Aussie acts got their start right here. You're sure to find a live performance in your preferred genre most nights of the week in this musical wonderland. The central and northern corners of the city support the most venues, but don't let that stop you from venturing south of the CBD to Melbourne's artistic seaside neighbourhood, St. Kilda. When there be sure to check out the Prince Bandroom. This venue has been hosting local and international acts for more than half a century. The unique history and energetic vibes which engulf this exciting venue make it a popular stop for all kinds of touring acts and one off shows.
Want to hear a joke? Decaf. That’s about how serious Melbourne is about its coffee. For years now the city has landed at the top of various “Best Coffee Cities” lists- representing the Pacific nations amongst a slew of European powerhouses like Vienna, Rome, and Istanbul. Cafe culture is like religion here, it’s best when it’s all around you. Every neighbourhood has it’s own shinning star or two, which aligns with the city’s support of small independent business and demand for variety. If you go to Melbourne and don’t devour at least one artisan coffee, did you really go to Melbourne?
For a chance to ditch the concrete footpaths, car horns, and crowds of the city take a day trip out along the Mornington Peninsula. The thin strip of land that curves back in towards the city is a stunning stretch of natural beauty. From Flinders Street Station jump on a train headed to Frankston and enjoy the scenic views as they pass by your window. Use this day adventure as an opportunity to experience traditional Aussie beach culture mixed with Melbourne’s unique aesthetic. You can hop off at any of the gorgeous beaches along the way or continue on to Frankston, or beyond.
Royal Botanic Gardens
This lush oasis sprawls along the meandering curves of the Yarra River just 2 km from the city centre. It's central location makes its tranquility all the more impressive. As does the amount and variety of plant species artfully positioned throughout its 36 hectares. Various lookout points can be reached for panoramic views of the city skyline in the background. Up close there are islands, lakes, hidden nooks, and open fields aplenty. Bring your favourite park essential- picnic lunch, yoga mat, or binoculars and do or don't go down the beaten path to discover your new favourite outdoor spot in Melbourne.
As day turns to night on go the city lights which create enchanting reflections along Melbourne’s various waterways. The Yarra River that snakes its way through the city provides one option for such night time strolling. The water’s calming movement set against iconic buildings like Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, and the Crown Casino complex attracts casual walkers, marathon trainers, and photographers alike. We also suggesting taking a loop around Prince Alfred Park Lake in the evening. It is virtually flat the entire go and has plenty of grassy patches and benches to stop and soak it all in- the tranquil water, skyline views, flying bats, and all.
Catch a Game of Footy
Sport lovers rejoice. Not only are Australians epic fans of sport, it’s Melbourne that hosts three major international sporting events each year- Formula 1 Racing, The Australian Open Tennis tournament, and The Melbourne Cup. However, the most popular sport in Australia is AFL, or footy. It’s a fast-paced, high energy game that borrows elements from many other sports including rugby, American football, soccer, and lacrosse. The 23 game season commences in Melbourne at the MCG and is something of a national holiday. Once you get passed the somewhat confusing rules, you’ll be swept up in the crowds energy making friends with your neighbours in no time.
Heide Makers’ Market
A whimsical art and nature fusion set on the expansive 15 acre grounds of the Heide Museum of Modern Art. The artist stalls on site are a shoot off of Rose St. Artists' Market and provide visitors heaps of options to purchase their very own design, art, or handcrafted piece. Stroll the grounds of the Heide exploring the sculptures park and gardens, or pop into one of the three galleries on site to view their rotating exhibitions. Just a 20 minute journey from the CBD, Heide Makers’ Market is well worth blocking off the 2nd Saturday of the month for.
Shop local brands
Whether you want to up your own street style game, bring back gifts, or add to your knick knack collection you’ll find yourself amongst endless options throughout the city. Many respected Aussie brands have started in Melbourne. Chapel Street in the city’s southeast is one shopping hotspot that showcases both young and well established labels. You’ll also find heaps of locally produced clothing, home goods, and art in the north. Wherever you go you shouldn’t have any trouble lightening your purse.
Photo: Chapel Street, Hello Melbourne
Drink local beer
Long after your hot milky morning brew has warmed your soul it’s time to shout your mates at one of the city’s popular craft breweries. Australia’s robust history of drinking combined with the innovative, adventurous, and playful modern-day culture of the city has resulted in the explosion of Melbourne’s craft beer scene. It is revered for its depth, quality, and methodologies meaning you’ll never have to travel far to find yourself on the doorsteps of a handcrafted beer refuge. Start your self-guided beer tour through the city hitting a fe of the local favourites: Hop Nation Brewing Co, Westside Ale Works, and Moon Dog Brewing.
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