Melbourne is a treasure trove of family-friendly fun, and what’s even better is that many of these activities are free! From engaging cultural experiences to outdoor adventures, there’s something for every family to enjoy.

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended holiday, Melbourne promises to keep both kids and adults entertained.

Here’s your go-to guide to making the most of free kids’ attractions and events in Melbourne.

Free Things To Do in Melbourne For Families

We know you’re not travelling to Melbourne with the crew just to stay at Dorsett Melbourne. So, what’s on in this dazzling city?

Don’t break the bank – when planning your itinerary, there are plenty of free family events to enjoy. Check out our top picks for kids of all ages (we think the grown-ups will be happy with these, too).

Related: Spend the School Holidays at Dorsett Melbourne

Library Cinema at The Docklands

107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands

Kids watching a movie at the cinema

Nestled in the heart of Docklands, the Library Cinema offers a cosy and free movie experience for families. Enjoy a selection of family-friendly films in a relaxed environment, perfect for a quiet yet entertaining afternoon.

There’s a big variety of films on rotation here, from artistic indie movies and documentaries to the more kid-happy cartoons and family flicks. We recommend researching before you go to make sure there’s something age-appropriate on during your visit.

ArtVo

Level 1/26 Star Cres, Docklands

While you’re at the fabulous Docklands, make a stop at ArtVo, an immersive art gallery that admits kids under 4 for free. It’s one of the best free things to do in Melbourne with toddlers!

This interactive space allows families to become part of the artwork, creating memorable photo opportunities and a fun, creative experience. It’s dubbed ‘trick art’, a pioneering feat that’s designed to make you look like part of the art.

Unlike other museums and galleries, ArtVo encourages guests to touch and interact with all the displays – in fact, the more, the better!

While this one isn’t fully free for kids of all ages (prices for children over 4 years old range from $17–$22), we highly recommend this as an experience they’ll cherish forever.

ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image)

Federation Square, Flinders St

ACMI is a cultural gem in Melbourne, providing interactive exhibits and free entry to various family-friendly galleries. Kids can explore the magic of movies, video games, and digital culture.

Immerse yourselves in larger-than-life displays, gaze at giant screens playing a kaleidoscope of colours, and let the little ones dance and play with various interactive exhibits.

ACMI has different exhibitions throughout the year, so check out what’s on during your stay.

NGV (National Gallery of Victoria)

180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

The NGV offers free entry to its permanent collection, featuring a diverse range of artworks. While this collection may be more targeted towards older kids (or perhaps some sleepy toddlers in prams), the actual NGV building is enough to occupy imaginations of all ages.

Be sure to take some photos in front of the iconic waterfall wall at the gallery’s entry. Take the kids through to the back garden area on the ground floor for some sunshine and play time.

Finally, be sure to stop at the Gallery Kitchen or Garden Restaurant, the two best kid-friendly dining spots in the gallery.

Melbourne Museum

11 Nicholson St, Carlton

Two children at a Melbourne Museum exhibit

Credit: Melbourne Museum

Explore the wonders of science, history, and nature at the Melbourne Museum. Entry is free for children under 16, and the museum's engaging exhibits are sure to captivate young minds.

Gaze at towering dinosaur displays, wander through the outdoor plant-filled Forest Gallery, fuel their minds with the 600 Million Years exhibit, and surround yourselves with all the colours (and the many legs) of Bugs Alive.

Melbourne Zoo

Elliott Ave, Parkville

Melbourne Zoo offers free entry for children aged 0-3 all year round and for kids aged 4-15 on weekends and holidays. Wander through the zoo's lush landscapes and discover fascinating animals from around the world.

Watch the impressive big cats at the Lion Gorge, see the famous Asian elephants with their adorable calves, witness gorillas and monkeys in the Gorilla Rainforest, and dive with the deep sea creatures in the Wild Sea exhibit.

While zoos can be hotly contended by many, it’s well worth taking the little ones to Melbourne Zoo to experience its incredible wildlife extinction protections and environmental initiatives. The conservation efforts at Melbourne Zoo are second to none, and its fight for a good cause for our animals is truly special to be part of.

City Laneway Graffiti

When it comes to free things to do in Melbourne for families, nothing beats a walking tour of the city’s famous laneway art.

Wander through Melbourne's renowned laneways, adorned with vibrant street art that gets refreshed and spruced up weekly by talented local artists.

This outdoor gallery is free to explore and provides an exciting backdrop for family photos. Plus, you might even see some of the graffiti artists in action!

Budget-Friendly Family Activities

People at a colourful light exhibit at The Lume

While these venues aren’t free, they may be affordable for a lot of families visiting Melbourne. If we had to choose just a few paid entry activities, these would be top of the list:

Archie Brothers Cirque Electrique: Archie Brothers in the Docklands offers a lively atmosphere with bowling, laser tag, arcade games, and more. It’s a perfect spot for a fun-filled family outing.

  • The Lume: While not free, The Lume offers an immersive digital art experience that’s well worth the admission. Kids and adults alike will be mesmerised by the stunning visuals and interactive displays.

  • Marvel Stadium: Catch a game or take a tour of Marvel Stadium. It’s a fantastic way to spend the day, especially if your kids are sports enthusiasts.

  • IMAX Cinema: Treat the family to an awe-inspiring movie experience at IMAX Melbourne. The giant screen and high-quality sound make it a thrilling outing.

  • House Down Under: Experience the world upside down at House Down Under. This unique attraction offers a fun and quirky adventure for families, with plenty of photo opportunities.

Tips on Travelling to Melbourne with the Family

Getting Around

Melbourne's public transport system is extensive and family-friendly.

Hop on the free City Circle Tourist Tram and enjoy a leisurely ride through Melbourne's CBD. This heritage tram service provides an easy and enjoyable way to see the city's major attractions.

Buses, trains, and paid trams are also readily available, providing convenient access to various attractions.

Things to Look Out For

  • Family Tickets: Many attractions offer discounted family tickets, so always check for special deals.

  • Pram and Wheelchair Access: Melbourne is generally pram and wheelchair-friendly, but it’s a good idea to check access details for specific venues in advance.

  • Weather: Melbourne's weather can be unpredictable. Pack layers and be prepared for sudden changes.

Book Your Family Stay at Dorsett Melbourne

A family having fun at an indoor hotel pool

After a day enjoying the best free kids activities Melbourne has to offer, there's no better place to unwind than Dorsett Melbourne. Our hotel is perfectly situated in the heart of the city, providing easy access to all the activities and events that make Melbourne a top destination for families.

Our stylish rooms are well-equipped for big and little trekkers – and if you can’t bear to leave your fur baby at home while on holiday, we’ve even got dog-friendly rooms available.

To complement your comfy, cosy inner-city sleep pad, Dorsett Melbourne also has fabulous family-friendly amenities, including:

  • An inviting indoor pool where the little ones can splash around.

  • The Arcade, a dedicated games room with pinball machines and more.

  • Room service offering kid-approved meals (we’ve done extensive research just to be sure!).

  • The charming Diva Garden, the ultimate imagination zone for little ones to gaze at in wonder.

Book your family stay at Dorsett Melbourne today and discover why our hotel is the perfect home base for your Melbourne adventure.

Further reading: Check out these 10 Marvellous Melbourne Tourist Attractions to Add to Your Itinerary