- Go to the State Library - The State Library is like a large free theme park for thinking kids. There you will find numbers of major displays, the Stawell Gallery which has art associated with the growth of Melbourne, the Keith Murdoch Gallery with changing displays around various topics, a significant chess section where you can sit down for a game, activity areas for children and, of course, books. During the school holiday period, the State Library usually has additional activities planned for children.
- Watch a flying display and get up close to the pilot before or after the display. The RAAF Museum at Point Cook has flying displays several times a week and they are free. The kids can also get to examine all manner of flying machines from the very earliest to the present day.
- Go to a children's farm. White Hat can recommend the Collingwood Children's Farm as a great place to take kids to experience a farm in a bushland setting in the inner suburbs. For those in the north there is a children's farm at Bundoora Park and for those in the east there is a farm attached to Westerfolds Park.
- The Melbourne Museum is free for children and a small entry fee applies for adults. There is a children's activity centre in the shape of a giant Rubix Cube as well as the standard exhibits. The dinosaurs are always a favourite. During the school holidays the Melbourne Museum usually has additional activities planned for children.
- During the Christmas holidays, got to a performance of Wind in the Willows at the Botanic Gardens. (More information below)
- Ice skating is usually popular with kids of all ages. The new Icehouse in the Docklands has plenty of facilities, and if you are on a tight budget, White Hat can recommend the half price Tuesday nights. There are several other ice skating facilities in the suburbs of Melbourne and you can find them at The White Hat Guide to Ice Skating in Melbourne.
- Rainy days can prove a problem, but you might find some useful suggestions at The White Hat Guide to 50 Things to do on a Rainy Day in Melbourne.
- Most kids love steam trains whether it is for their mechanics or for their sense of romance and mystery. Many steam train and miniature train locations have additional running times during school holidays. You can find numbers of suggestions at The White Hat Guide to Steam Trains in Melbourne and Country Victoria.
- ACMI (the Australian Centre for the Moving Image) at Federation Square has lots of exhibitions and interactive displays based around video, film and video games. Some are free and other have charges attached. Take your child along and they may come back having taken the first steps towards becoming a famous film director and supporting you royally in your retirement. Then again they might just say "boring" and you'll have to tear up that letter of resignation.
- Go cycling. Melbourne has some great bicycle paths and there is the opportunity to hire a bike if you don't already have one. There are plenty of stop-off places on the way for an ice cream for the kids and coffee or a glass of wine for you, as well as playgrounds and other attractions. You can find some suggestions at The White Hat Guide to Cycling in Melbourne.
- Luna Park in St Kilda is an old favourite. It may not have the same glitz of a Gold Coast theme park, but White Hat's theory is the more the kids scream on the scary rides, the less they have to scream at home.
- Stay home with some books, puzzles and games. Not all kids get their jollies out of making loud noises in public places. A favourite series of Melbourne books which have fascinated kids for over a century is Coles Funny Picture Book. See if you can get hold of a copy. If the kids don't like it you're sure to find someone who gets a giggle out of it.
- Scienceworks is full of things to climb on, pull apart, put together, figure out how they work and stimulate an enquiring mind. It is free for children and a small entry fee applies for adults.
- Go to the zoo. The Melbourne Zoo in Royal Park and Victoria's Open Range Zoo near Werribee both have plenty to occupy kids for half a day or more. Both zoos usually have extra children's activities during school holidays.
- The atrium at Crown Casino usually has a regular free animation and light show suitable for children occurring about every half hour throughout the day. If you are in the vicinity of the casino, the large gas flares on the riverfront go through a ten minute cycle on the hour starting at 6pm.
- The City Library in Flinders Lane usually has holiday activities for children including story time for the littlies.
- The Melbourne Aquarium has plenty to divert kids of all ages and usually has additional school holiday activities.
- Check your local council. Councils often sponsor school holiday activities for children. You can usually look them up on the internet or get more information at your local library which is also likely to have special school holiday activities.
- Take a day trip in the country. Some child-friendly destinations include Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, Puffing Billy in the Dandenongs and Healesville Sanctuary.
- Go swimming. Many large suburban swimming centres are indoor with heated pools and go out of their way to provide a fun environment for kids with quirky water features, slides and so on. Several that come to mind are the State Swimming Centre in Albert Park, the large leisure centre adjacent to Highpoint Shopping Centre and Melton Waves.
- Take your child's bestest-bestest friend with you. That way, it doesn't matter where you go or what you do, they will make their own entertainment in their own special world.
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