The long summer school holidays can sometimes tend to feel like they are dragging on f..o..r..e..v..e..r and trying to keep the kids entertained can be damn hard!
We like to stay away from the obvious and crowded holiday spots. While the Melbourne Zoo and Melbourne Aquarium are fantastic places to visit, we prefer to visit them during the school term and hit these less crowded spots during the holidays:
1. Healesville Sanctuary
The sanctuary has a huge range of animals and encounters to be had and is way less crowded than the zoo in the city. Be sure not to miss the Spirits of the Sky presentation that is run twice a day at 12pm and 2.30pm – it’s amazing!
You also can’t go past the fact that kids are FREE on weekends, public holidays and Victorian school holidays!
Why not make a whole day of it? Pack a picnic and enjoy it in the sanctuary grounds, or at a nearby park, take a mosey through the local Healesville shops and check out the nearby Hegend Maze.
We’re a family of movie buffs and the weekend and school holidays will quite often find us heading off to the nearest cinema.
Movies on our must-see list these school holidays include Puss in Boots, Happy Feet 2, Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked and We Bought a Zoo.
Top Tip: Avoid the first week of school holidays and the first release week of a new movie – these are the times you’ll usually find the super long queues and packed cinemas.
The perfect location on a warm summer’s day, but remember to slip, slop and slap! We usually hit either the Brighton or Mentone beaches, but Melbourne is blessed with stacks of great beach locations. Santa has bought us a family sized beach shelter this year and I’m definitely looking forward to trying it out ASAP – bring on the sun, sand and surf!
4. The Dandenong Ranges
The ranges are a gorgeous place to visit and only a short drive (39km) from the CBD. We quite often load up our bikes and a picnic and head off to one of the scenic national parks for a day of exploring and family fun.
While you’re in the area (particularly if you have younger children) you absolutely must pay a visit to the Puffing Billy steam train that passes through from Belgrave to Gembrook.
And if a picnic is not your thing and you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy lunch with the family, you can’t go past Pie in the Sky at Olinda for awesome food and service.
5. Caribbean Market
There really is something for everyone at the Caribbean Market; plenty of stalls and shopping for the adults (and you HAVE to try the toffee coated fruit skewers = to die for!), and great entertainment for the kids from the train, chairlift and jungle cruise boat rides to the trampolines and multiple playgrounds.
The market is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays (and it’s free on Wed & Fri). Children’s rides run every market day from 11am during the school holidays, with free rides between 9am-11am on Fridays.
And if you’re still stuck for ideas, here are some other favourites: Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, Royal Botanic Gardens, your local games arcade (i.e. Intencity), or grab a bag of balls and head to your local footy ground for a kick.