Whether you’re looking for an excuse to get outdoors — or stay indoors — with the kids, Melbourne’s northern suburbs are filled with options for family fun.
Come face-to-face with ducks, goats, sheep, cows, chooks and more at Animal Land Children’s Farm [200 Duncans Lane, Diggers Rest]. Why decide between a pony ride or a tractor ride when you can have both included in the ticket price? They have an an onsite cafe, plus if you want the celebration of a lifetime, book your child’s next birthday party here — they’ll even do the catering.
Open Wednesday and Friday to Sunday, with tours running at various times.
Looking for somewhere to explore the great outdoors on horseback? Uncle Nev’s [1115 Wallan–Whittlesea Road, Upper Plenty] is the place for you and your kids. Whether it’s your first time riding a horse or you’re a seasoned pro, spend an afternoon winding your way through the Mount Disappointment State Forest or galloping across fields. Breathe in the fresh air and reinvigorate your body. It’s open daily and best suited for ages eight and over.
When Melbourne’s first surf park — yes, you read that right — was announced, excitement levels went through the roof. Now Australia’s first man-made surf park URBNSURF [Airport Drive, Melbourne Airport] is nearly here, and kids, teens and parents are gearing up for days spent on the water. LED lighting means the waves will be breaking day and night, and with lessons available, a fully-stocked surf shop and cafe on, there’s something for every member of the family.
Scheduled to open Spring 2019.
Spend some time surrounded by nature at CERES Community Environment Park [Robert Street, Brunswick East]. It’s a haven for native fauna and flora, nestled on the bank of Merri Creek. Learn from experts about how to sustainably farm and grow vegies, do some shopping at the weekly CERES Makers and Flea Market (Saturdays 9am–2pm except June–August, when it’s on 10am–3pm) or grab a coffee and have a bite to eat at the onsite cafe.
Is this the best-kept secret in Melbourne? The city’s newest ice-skating rink iceHQ [1 Blake Street, Reservoir] is open, on the banks of Darebin Creek near Northland, and is waiting for you and your kids to check it out! Book in for skating lessons, learn to play ice hockey with players from the Melbourne Mustangs, or simply drop in for a casual skate. The rates are super-competitive ($16 for children 6 to 14, $6 for 3 to 5 year-olds, and you can hire skates from $3), and they also offer studio dance classes and birthday parties that will make your child the envy of their friends.
Want to treat your kids to an experience they’ll never forget? Want to spoil a grandchild, nephew or niece with a delicious sugar hit? Book in for a tasting tour at Ratio Cocoa Roasters [186 Sydney Road, Brunswick], where you and your little ones will not only enjoy some of the best chocolate in Melbourne, but you’ll learn about the origins of the cocoa beans and traditional chocolate-making techniques.
Darebin City Council Libraries are beacons of knowledge and inspiration, with branches in Northcote [32/38 Separation Street, Northcote], Fairfield [121 Station Street, Fairfield], Preston [266 Gower Street, Preston] and Reservoir [23 Edwardes Street, Reservoir]. Spend hours letting your child browse the aisles as they discover tales of adventure or learn about the world around them. Or time your visit for one of the many workshops and events that run throughout the week.
Forty kilometres from the city centre, Funfields [2365 Plenty Road, Whittlesea] is Melbourne’s hottest theme park. With 25 rides and attractions, there’s no shortage of adrenalin-rushing fun to be had. Pack a picnic or take advantage of the onsite barbecues then slip, slop, slap and spend the day splashing around! Funfield’s season kicks off in September through to April.
After the largest capital works project ever undertaken by Moreland City Council, the brand-spanking new Oak Park Sports & Aquatic Centre [563a Pascoe Vale Road, Pascoe Vale] is a state-of-the-art facility that will impress kids — and their grown-ups — of all ages. With two waterslides, splash pool and a 50-metre heated outdoor pool, there’s fun to be had whenever the sun is out.
This place is so much fun! Whether you’re looking for an activity for kids that is sensory-safe, or you’re after a new rainy-day destination, We Rock the Spectrum [378–380 Gilbert Road, Preston] has you covered. The indoor gym — with climbing frames, swings, flying fox and more — features a calming room, art and craft area and NDIS-supported programs. Suited for kids of all abilities, especially those aged 12 and under.
Spend an hour at Melbourne Airport’s closest attraction, where international champion race horses — including Melbourne Cup winners — rest and play: Living Legends [Woodlands Drive, Greenvale]. Let the kids run wild through the gardens that surround Woodlands Historic Homestead, or take a stroll to see wild kangaroos bound through the paddocks. Treat yourselves to a special lunch in the Black Caviar Cafe, and time your visit for a guided tour (11am and 2pm).
Laser tag? Check. Rock climbing walls? Check. Heaps of arcade games? Check. TunzaFun Xtreme [415 McDonalds Road, Mill Park] is the place for an action-packed afternoon. Climb up to nine metres with a state-of-the-art (and super-safe) self-belay system. No buddy required, so everyone can climb at once! Or pit yourself against the kids and go for it in the laser tag arena.