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Life by the sea in Brighton

Home to beautiful sandy beaches, quaint cafés and a luxe lifestyle, Brighton is Melbourne’s version of a cityside Hamptons.

A mere half hour train ride from city, Brighton has long been one of the most popular beach destinations in Melbourne, with its world-famous colourful beach boxes and panoramic vistas of both the city skyline and Port Phillip Bay.

Huts on a beach

Start your day at (where else?) the beach. No trip to Brighton would be complete without visiting the world-famous bathing boxes. Catch a train to Middle Brighton station and head towards the beach, before walking south. You’ll find a row of 90 colourful boxes lining the esplanade, each with its own colour palette, shape and character. The Brighton Bathing Boxes have proven to be excellent subjects for photographers around the world and have a particularly interesting history. Most of the boxes date back to the 1880s and were originally built to adhere to the strict Victorian traditions of that time. Initially built to allow women to modestly change into swimwear and not expose their bodies on the beach, the boxes are now used mostly in the summer for a barbecue, to store water sport equipment or just to have a place to take refuge from the sun for when it gets a little too hot. Get ready to take some epic photos for the ‘gram!

The great outdoors

If the weather is looking promising, it’s worth wandering through the many parks and green spaces that pepper the area. If you’re a dog lover, check out the Brighton Dog Beach (otherwise known as Sandown Street Beach). Located between Elwood Beach and the Middle Brighton Baths, it is the perfect place to watch all the pooches run wild amongst the surf and sand. Alternatively, you could also hit the Bayside Bike Trail, that runs from St Kilda Beach all the way to Beaumaris. Hop on a bike at North Brighton and make your way south at a gentle pace, while admiring the beautiful surroundings. With greenery on both sides for large swathes of the trails and breathtaking bay views, this is one bike ride you won’t want to miss.

Pay a visit to the historic Brighton Baths [251 Esplanade] for your hit of seaside fun. Established in 1881 as the Brighton Corporation Baths, the recreational centre has evolved to become more than just a place to swim. Originally used as protection from sharks and stingrays and a private space for when men and women were changing into swimwear, The Brighton Baths is now a thriving community hub with a host of activities for the entire family. Get active with a range of water sports like kayaking on a sunny day or try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding if the waters aren’t too choppy. To cool off, take a dip in the historic sea baths (with 100% sea water) and Victoria’s only 50-metre open water lap lane. A Casual Day Pass will give you access to Victoria’s only private beach and boardwalk, iconic sea baths, and full-service change rooms. We highly recommend picking up one of the inflatable tyre tubes on offer and spending your day lazing about on the water.

Brighton bites

After working up an appetite, you don’t have to venture far for some quality sustenance. The Brighton Baths cafe and bar located on the ground floor of the Health Club complex is the perfect place to refuel and relax by the water, while the restaurant upstairs serves an exquisite range of contemporary food and refreshing cocktails to go with the azure blue views. If you’re after something a little more substantial, make your way to nearby Church Street for a range of delicious lunch options such as burger aficionados The Royale Brothers [1 Church Street], Greek favourites Hellenic Republic [27 Church Street], fancy brunch at The Pantry [1 Church Street] or gourmet pub fare at Half Moon [120 Church Street]. Local patissier Keith’s Cakes [46 Church Street] and French-inspired Laurent [71 church Street] are also guaranteed to bring out the sweet tooth in all!

Historically speaking

One must indulge in some history when visiting a new area, and the Billilla Mansion [26 Halifax Street] provides that hit of culture just when you need it. Listed on the National Trust Register, the Billilla Mansion is a local landmark and is home to a large fountain, rose garden display, manicured gardens with both native and exotic flora. With a history that dates back more than a hundred years, the stunning Art Nouveau building is undoubtedly one of Bayside’s most impressive properties. The architecturally impressive St Andrews Anglican Church [228 New Street] is another landmark worth a look. Besides its jaw-dropping Gothic design, it’s also home to the Choir of St Andrew's Church, Victoria's oldest choir — you might have some delightful music to go with your afternoon tour.

Big screen chill

There’s nothing more enticing than winding down from the day’s activities with a good movie and some popcorn; luckily, you can get both in Brighton. The famous Palace Dendy Brighton [26 Church Street] is located right in the middle of the bustling section of the area, and offers comfort, class and luxury — exactly what you need after a busy day of exploring. Since its opening almost 25 years ago, it has consistently screened some of the world’s biggest blockbuster films and is a firm local favourite. In an area known for its dedication to tradition, it’s no surprise “the Dendy” (as it’s affectionately known) still houses the original Wurlitzer organ, which was originally installed in Melbourne’s Capitol Theatre, then reinstalled at the Dendy in 1967. Hit the wine bar for a glass of bubbly, have your fill of popcorn or grab a hot drink before settling into your plush seat to watch your favourite characters on the silver screen.