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50+ cool things to do in Melbourne for older kids

50+ cool things to do in Melbourne for older kids

Finding cool things to do in Melbourne for older kids was surprisingly easy. It’s a city that caters for young and old, rain or shine.

Melbourne is effortlessly cool — and not just because of the infamous weather. Although, that plays a big part.

Melbourne gets that the weather is often going to suck, so they’ve made the most of their eateries, galleries, museums and event spaces. They understand the importance of a ‘destination café’ and they’re all over the ‘in between’ years.

When your kid is no longer thrilled by the monkey bars, but isn’t old enough for the other kind of bars, we’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re on a strict budget (we’re talking freeeeee) or cashed-up and ready to splurge, here’s what’s fun in Melbourne for older kids.

Check this out too: 50+ cool things to do in Sydney for older kids

Fun things in Melbourne for older kids

1. Get curious at Scienceworks

The mum in me is starting with Scienceworks, located in the suburb of Spotswood. It’s just such a fascinating, curious place that I know will please the inner-nerd in every kid. Highlights include the Lightning Room (high-voltage pickled onion, anyone?); the Planetarium with its 16-metre domed ceiling; and the Beyond Perception: Seeing the Unseen exhibition that’s made especially for teens. Aim to spend at least a morning or afternoon here, but you could happily spend all day.

2. Head to the Aquarium

3. Hover over the city at Skydeck

4. Overdose on chocolate at Bibelot

Melbourne for older kids - take a picnic

5. Shop for a picnic at the Queen Victoria Market

Vibrant Queen Victoria Market is fun anytime, but you can make it even better with a challenge. This is where you set your kids the goal of shopping for X, Y and Z to make a picnic. They can create the menu and find the necessary food as you roam around the market. Just remember to pack a picnic set and a rug. A good place to take your picnic is Flagstaff Gardens, just down from the market.

6. Explore the National Gallery Victoria

The NGV Teens program really opens wide the National Gallery Victoria to older kids. Even kids who aren’t ‘into art’ will find a morning or afternoon here fascinating. Don’t ever underestimate the power of art to educate and open hearts. There are often activity programs that bring art to life – for instance, at the time of writing the NGV was offering brooch-making classes, creative writing character design workshops, paper sticker creating and workshops in styling your best look.

7. Celebrate Aboriginal Victoria

The Koorie Heritage Trust is a non-profit First Peoples arts and cultural organisation that encourages us to learn, connect and re-connect with the rich living cultural heritage of Aboriginal Victoria. Aboriginal knowledge enriches our understanding and experience of the world around us and I think it’s so important to pass that onto our children.

8. Dunk yourself at Gumbuya World

Gumbuya‘s tagline is “where rides, slides and wildlife collide” and that sums up a great day out in any teen or tween’s world. There are four zones in the park, three of which your older kid will be all over — the waterslides at Oasis Springs, the rides at Oz Adventure and the Wildlife Trail which has more than 50 species of animals. Plan for a full day here and note that it’s not easy to get to by public transport. You’ll need a car and it’s a good hour drive from the CBD, but it will be worth it to see those buzzing faces.

9. Kick off at the Australian Sports Museum

Past glories and future promises are both represented at the Australian Sports Museum… which is exactly what its name suggests. Naturally there’s a gallery dedicated to Melbourne’s beloved AFL and cricket (the museum is located in the Melbourne Cricket Ground after all)  gets its own gallery as well. But the Olympics, horseracing and every other sport you can mention also get a guernsey somewhere in the museum. It’s interactive and playful and just a really good day out for any older kid who loves their sport.

Luna Park is a great Melbourne institution

10. Thrill to Luna Park

Melbourne boasts Australia’s original Luna Park (and many say our best) is just a hop, skip and a twirl from the CBD in St Kilda. Rides like Supernova and The Power Surge will keep the thrill seekers happy, while the Ferris wheel and Great Scenic Railway will be to everyone’s speed. She’s a little tatty around the edges, but Luna Park still offers a fun day out and I’d feel confident leaving older teens to their own devices.

11. Join a writing bootcamp

12. Watch a film at IMAX

13. Hit the beach at St Kilda

Dendy Street Beach is a top place in Melbourne for older kids

14. Or have an Instagrammable moment at Dendy Street Beach

15. Browse around Rose Street Market

16. Scare yourself silly on a ghost tour 

17. Honour screen culture

Teens love their screens, but not as much as ACMI. It celebrates the history and future of film, TV and videogaming and it delivers a great time while doing it. Their goals is to “build a vibrant, diverse connected society of screen literate and technologically skilled watchers and players, and a thriving ecology of creative makers.” It’s a celebration of everything screen and your teen will be here for it.

18. Get Lost in Melbourne

There is no shortage of escape rooms in this city, but it you want to scare your kids to pieces (and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t), then the horror rooms in Lost in Melbourne are where you want to head. The rooms are rated based on difficulty, level of physical activity involved and fear factor. The echoing screams coming from the rooms as you wait your turn in reception tells you all you need to know. Kids over 12 years can do the rooms unaccompanied. If you have kids under 12 and you’re not into horror yourself, best to skip this one!

19. Hear the story of immigration

20. Play some old-school arcade games

Wunderkammer in Melbourne

21. Shop for curiosities at Wunderkammer, Spellbox or Curiosity Merchants

22. Row, row, row your boat

23. Lose yourself in virtual reality

While we’re not ones to encourage screen time, we’re talking next-level video gaming at Virtual Reality. Try out a job simulator, battle zombies, fly around earth, walk the plank… what a day! There are also nine different VR escape room experiences that you can do individually or as part of a multi-player experience. As they say, ‘fun for the whole family’ here.

24. Go to Old Melbourne Gaol

Victoria’s oldest prison, Old Melbourne Gaol does a fantastic job of bringing the past to life. The standard tour is great, but it’s worth paying $5 more for the Cluedo experience, which takes a step back in time to solve a mysterious murder like in the boardgame Clue. Teens can also take a night tour in the gruesome Watch House (for ages 16 and above, but ‘mature themes’ means anyone under 18 needs to be accompanied by an adult). There’s also a ghost tour and a Hangman’s night tour, both of which are also strictly for older teens.

25. Surf a tree at Enchanted Adventure

This tree top challenge with over 50 aerial obstacles across five different levels — are your kids up for the Enchanted Adventure challenge? No problem if they’re not as there are other fab activities to keep the grounded ones occupied. There’s are genuinely tricky mazes to find your way out of and beautiful gardens to get lost in as well. Plus tube sliding (which looks like stacks of fun), giant puzzles and elevated boardwalks through the canopy.

26. Zipline through the treetops

27. Play archery arrow tag

The skate parks in Melbourne for older kids are next level

28. Shred a skatepark

29. Say hi to the lions

30. Learn some circus skills

31. Ask yourself What the Putt

What the Putt is next-level mini-golf and teens will be happy to come here on the name alone. There’s indoor mini-golf, arcade games, pool tables and table games. The nine holes of mini-golf are inventive and super fun. What the Putt is  open for kids and teens up until 8pm, after which it becomes more night-club than kids-club.

Le Mans is great for teens and older kids

32. Speed around Le Mans 

Located just outside of Melbourne in Dandenong South, Le Mans go karting is insanely fun for older kids. It’s been operating for 30 years, so you know you’re in safe hands. There are three tracks for different levels of age, speed and experience — all of them are fast. There’s also laser tag and some mad virtual reality gaming on site, so every kid will find something they love telling their friends about.

33. Jump into action

Rush HQ bills itself as an ‘indoor adventure park’ and that sums it up nicely. It offers a huge multi-level obstacle course, ninja warrior course, two large dodgeball areas, a rock climbing and bouldering area, jump and slam basketball lanes, and over 102 interconnected trampolines. Yes, 102. There’s plenty to do across a full day here – it’s next-level Melbourne for older kids!

34. Spend the day getting to know ex-racehorses

35. Go mountain biking

36. Glide around a retro roller rink

Archie Brothers for bowling

37. Hit the bowling lanes

38. Play laser tower tag

39. Surf’s up far from the beach

40. Drag ’em to the museum

Drag them kicking and screaming into Melbourne Museum, whatever it takes. Once there, they will be so engrossed in the fossils (600 million years in the making), bugs, dinosaurs and forests that they’ll forget they didn’t want to be there in the first place. Check their website for special exhibitions before you go as the good ones will mean a couple of hours at the museum will turn into a happy day out.

Artvo is super fun for older kids

41. Visit selfie paradise

Most older kids love taking selfies and ArtVo (see feature image) provides the ultimate photo backdrop. My kids totally loved it here. The self-guided ‘trick art’ gallery provides some pretty spectacular illusions that your kids will be right into too. It’s rather addictive once you’re there (and be prepared for crowds at some of the more spectacular set ups!). Take a look at the ArtVo Instagram page @artvo_melbourne for inspo!

42. Get your ninja on

The Burden Park ninja warrior course is completely free to use. There are tips for completing the course for different levels and a leader board for the competitive. This whole unmissable set up shows just how amazing parks can be for older kids.

43. Tour the MCG

This one might be for cricket enthusiasts, but seeing as that’s most kids I reckon we’re good. The back-stage tour of the MCG is simply a must for fans. The kids get access to the players’ viewing room, oval, arena and even the changerooms (sans players, of course!). Along the way they’ll learn more about the history of both the grounds and cricket itself.

A day out on Puffing Billy is a nostalgic way to be in Melbourne for older kids

44. Take a ride on Puffing Billy in the Dandenongs

45. Paddle the Yarra in a kayak

46. Unleash your artistic side at Signal

Melbourne street art

47. Tour the street art laneways

You can take a wander around Melbourne’s amazing laneways on your own, or join an organised tour. Either way, you’ll be showing your kids some of the best street art in the world. It’s colourful, it’s thought-provoking and it’s great exercise. This is a side of Melbourne for older kids they won’t want to miss.

48. Eat pastries at Brunetti

49. Take a parkour class

50. Complete a high ropes circuit

51. Go punting at the Royal Botanic Gardens (and just go to the Gardens in general)

52. Throw an axe

Of all the things to do in Melbourne for older kids, this is the one. Axe throwing is a thing… and one the teens will be right into. They can participate as long as they’re over the age of 14 and you have a go with them. Go on! It’s surprisingly therapeutic.

Feature image by Maxabella ; picnic girl by Gustavo Fring; luna park by thaths; beach huts at Brighton Beach from Wikimedia Commons; Wunderkammer supplied; skate park by Tim Mossholder; Le Mans go karting supplied; bowling by Archie Brothers Cirque Electric; Artvo image by Maxabella; Puffing Billy from Wikimedia Commons; street art by Fernando de Sousa