Kids-travel-activities

Melbourne’s Best Family Outings

Anyone who has ever visited or lived in Melbourne, knows it an amazing city. Going out as a family can be pricey though, plus there’s always that unpredictable weather. I’ve gathered some intel for the budget-minded family and found the two best outings, for rain and shine.

RELATED: 5 Of The Best Beach Holiday Getaways

Scienceworks

If you are looking for that one family outing that you can do when it’s pouring outside; you can’t beat The Scienceworks, for entertainment and affordability. Patrons are encouraged to touch, play and interact with the exhibits; spend hours exploring and learning new things. The facility houses several other attractions; including The Planetarium. (It’s defiantly a bucket list experience!) Trust me; even Dad will get into it!

As the name suggests, it’s all about science. There is a section for younger children upstairs and a large outdoor area, with a playground, for those who want to bring their lunch and make a complete day of it. There’s a gift shop and canteen, as well as having some of the most spectacular views of the city, from within its confines.

Car parking is available for a flat rate of $2. The only issue; be prepared for a crowd, because it really is one of Melbourne’s most affordable and entertaining, family outings. Even with a crowd, it’s a top day out.

Here’s the run-down of the most important info:

Address: 2 Booker Street Spotswood, Victoria, Australia

Hours: Open daily, 10am – 4:30pm (Closed Good Friday & Christmas Day)

General entry: Adult $12.00; Child (0 to 16 years) and Concession free

Optional extras (Planetarium show, Lightning Room show, Rescue exhibition): Adult $6.00; Child $4.50; Concession $5.00

Bookings and enquiries: 13 11 02

The Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens

For a sunny day outing, the best pick would have to be The Melbourne Zoo. It’s undergoing some extensive renovations to it’s predator enclosure; but don’t let that deter you. It’s excellent value and looks like it’s only going to get better!

There are animals from all over the world, as well as a selection of Australian native inhabitants. The monkeys, tigers and elephants are a real treat and just before closing, the elephants go out to feed. There’s even a baby elephant, who is sure to capture your heart.

There are various food options and plenty of room for everyone to spread out and pull up a piece of grass for a picnic, if you want to keep the cost down. There are gift shops scattered throughout and prices start low enough, to take home a small souvenir or two.

Getting there is relatively easy, either by car or train. Once again, car parking is a flat rate of $2 for 5 hours. For most families, 5 hours of wandering around the zoo is plenty, but it’s so big you’ll probably need to make a second trip. It’s stroller and wheelchair friendly (tip: call and pre-book, if you need one for Nana), but some of the pathways do get muddy in wet weather.

Here’s the most vital info:

Address: Elliott Avenue, Parkville 3052.

Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm every day of the year.

Cost: Adult (Ages 17+) $30.80; Adult concession $23.60; Child 4-15 years (weekends, Victorian public holidays and Victorian government school holidays) free; Child 4-15 years (Monday to Friday, outside holidays) $13.60; Child (0–3 years) free

Family package deals (Monday to Friday – except school holidays): 2 adults with 1 child $74.60; 2 adults with 2 children $74.60; 2 adults with 3 children $81.60; 2 adults with 4 children  $88.40; 2 adults with 5 children  $95.20

Tickets and bookings: 1300 966 784

Image via zoo.org.au

October 2, 2014

How To Keep Kids Entertained In The Car

Do you enjoy long trips with kids in the car? I’d be surprised if you answered ‘yes’. I dislike long car trips so much that I try to go on holidays within 2 hours drive from home or somewhere we can fly to. But sometimes driving can’t be avoided. For those occasions I’ve collected some ideas on how to keep the kids entertained without relying on technology too much.

Bring the kids’ favourite toys and activities

I draw the line at paint and playdough, but anything else goes. We bring books, craft, colouring in, building blocks, doll houses, toy picnic sets… The latest craze at our place is loom bands and they are prefect for the car – the kids can spend hours looming, it keeps them quiet and in the end they have something to show for their efforts. We find loom bands all over the floor later, but they are easy to clean up and it’s a small price to pay for peace.

Play simple games

Two of our favourite car games are ‘Spotto’ and ‘I spy’.

To play ‘Spotto’ you simply have to call out ‘Spotto’ every time you see a yellow car. We’ve tried playing it with other colours and yellow is the only one that works well – you get a few yellow cars, but not too many. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. Encourage your kids to discover for themselves (it will keep them occupied longer). If you want to complicate the game slightly, you can develop your own scoring system. For example, you can give 1 point for a car, 5 points for a truck, 10 points for a bus…

We play two versions of ‘I spy’. When the child says, ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with…’ (followed by the first letter of the word), it means they’re referring to something they can actually see. Or they can say, ‘I spy with my little mind…’ and then think of any word they like, whether the object is somewhere around them or not. In the very unlikely case that you’re not familiar with this game, I’ll mention that the goal is to guess the word your child is thinking of. It can be fascinating to discover how much your kids’ vocabulary has developed since the last time you played.

Sing songs with a twist

It’s a lot of fun to sing songs that everyone knows but with your own words. Using the tune of the song describe how you’re feeling, what you’re seeing around you or anything else that comes to mind. The kids catch onto it quickly and the lyrics they come up with are hilarious.

Bring healthy snacks

Have you noticed this phenomenon? Your kids might be completely uninterested in food at home, but as soon as they’re in the car they’re all starving. Now is the time to offer cut-up fruit and veggies, cheese sticks or other healthy snacks that they may not choose to eat otherwise.

Hopefully, these suggestions will make your next trip easier. They may even spark ideas for your own things to do in the car. Whatever activities your choose, make them fun for yourself, too, not just for your children. Wouldn’t it be nice to get there and think, ‘Wow, I had so much fun with my kids today’?

Image by Ryan McGuire/gratisography.com

By Tatiana Apostolova

June 24, 2014