A rite of passage for every Melbournian is to do an escape room! Created by two psychology PHDs, you have 70 minutes to unravel the mystery of a hidden room, working as a team of 2-6 to solve some mind-boggling puzzles to escape. While Escape Rooms have been popping up all over the city, the OG was Escape Room Melbourne (ERM). Originally located in Flemington, ERM now has rooms in South Melbourne and Geelong, each one with a unique theme and story behind it. Step into the role of a Magician’s Assistant and solve a series of puzzles in order to prove your skill, or solve the mystery of your missing colleagues at a mine. For an even more intense experience, try the escapeXperience rooms in Oakleigh – themed “Amnesia,” “Burlesque” and “Clockworks” – make of that what you will! Whichever room you choose, an ERM experience is a must-do. Get your brain working and have plenty of fun along the way.
You’ve already seen Hosier Lane - and the gaggle of tourists that comes with it, fighting amongst themselves for the perfect Instagram post! Why not check out some of the lesser known street art laneways, where you can be guaranteed the perfect photo without the crowds? On your next visit to Queen Victoria Market, make your way to Blender Lane, the spiritual home of Melbourne’s street art scene. A colour explosion through and through, even the ground is considered a canvas. Near Little Collins St, find your way to Presgrave Place – home to Melbourne’s smallest art gallery where the tiny pieces rotate on a regular basis. It’s also home to Melbourne’s smallest bar, Bar Americano. For the infamous Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski mural, head to Sniders Lane, just off Drewery Lane, off Lonsdale St. Click here for the full lowdown from a local!
You’ve been to Melbourne’s most famous market, the Queen Victoria Market, now it’s time to check out the lesser known, but equally glorious South Melbourne Market. First opening in 1867, it is Melbourne’s longest continually running market, but needless to say plenty has changed since the days of food getting delivered by wagon! Today, there is over 150 stalls operated by small business owners selling fresh fruit and veg, hard-to-find meat, seafood and deli foods, men and women’s fashion, Manchester and fabric, homewares, kitchenware, books and stationery, as well as plenty of restaurants, cafes and unique food stalls to keep you energised. In particular, the Market is home to the city-renowned South Melbourne Market Dim Sims – enormous, delicious dumplings the size of your fist. So venture 10 minutes out of Melbourne’s CBD and check it out – once your belly and shopping bags are full, you’ll know it was an excellent decision.
Living in a city that never sleeps, it’s no surprise some Melbourne locals can get wound up and want to let off some steam. Some go running, some drink wine, others go to The Break Room in Collingwood. The concept is simple: a room where you can break things and relieve stress in a controlled environment. The team will kit you out in a Break Suit and helmet to protect your beautiful self from flying chards, then they will arm you with a baseball bat and a crate of crockery, and you’re free to go wild. Smash things with the bat, throw things at the brick wall and feel your stress slide off you with every plate you break. Listen to whatever music you like as you do it. You can even BYO things to break (gifts from your ex, anyone?) So if intense workouts aren’t your thing but you’re dying to use your body to relieve some stress, book a session at the Break Room and safely express yourself.
If there’s one thing Melbourne is renowned for within Australia, it’s their unrivalled, unique and super extra brunches! There’s no better way to soak up the booze from last night than to pay a visit to one of Melbourne’s infinite hip cafes and order food that is delicious, affordable and actually contains some nutrients. The cream of the crop has to be Hardware Societe - there’s generally always a wait but trust us, it’s worth it. One of Hardware Lane’s many eateries, this French-themed café is devoted to using the freshest, seasonal produce which means the menu changes regularly. In spite if this, you’re guaranteed to find something that hits that sweet spot, washed down with a famous Melbourne coffee of course. Other favourite spots include Higher Ground on Little Bourke St and Hash Specialty Coffee, just a stone’s throw from Hardware Societe. But, you won’t have to look far in Melbourne CBD at all for a fabulous, filling and memorable brunch.
No doubt your brunch will fill you up until it’s time for dinner – and you’re absolutely spoilt for choice with options. There’s nary a cuisine you can’t find or a craving you can’t satisfy, and you won’t have to look far to uncover fantastic eateries only the locals know about. To get the ball rolling try Touche Hombre for Mexican food and cocktails, AKA, the best combo ever! You'll enjoy a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere and authentic Mexican food right in the heart of Melbourne. For an epic burger experience, try Grand Trailer Park Taverna – read here for more info on this much-loved American-themed burger joint. If you’re craving Asian food you’re in luck – Hochi Mama serves delicious Vietnamese fusion food and inventive cocktails to boot. Searching for the best pizza in Melbourne? Look no further - +39 Pizzeria is where you’ll find it. As the foodie capital of Australia, the best way to do Melbourne like a local, is to eat in Melbourne like a local.
Now that your tummy is well lined, it’s time to party! You may think you know Melbourne’s bar scene from the hotspots you’ve been taken to on a pub crawl, but you really don’t! Melbourne is home to many quirky bars, and one of the city’s most popular is Berlin Bar. Found in Corrs Lane off Little Bourke St, ring the doorbell for entry…and you’re in for an experience like no other. Be transported to Cold War Germany, as you realise the bar is split between East and West Berlin (the bleak and the lavish). The only difference is this time, you’re allowed to cross the border. Pay a visit to State of Grace on King St – make your way past the glitzy chandeliers and find your way to a bookcase downstairs. Slide it across, and bam! You’ve discovered Fall from Grace, one of the best “hidden” bars in town. Finally, all science-lovers must check out the Croft Institute – like a science lab, but with more booze and DJs.
The concept behind Aqua Donut is simple “grill and chill!” Gather up to 9 other mates and hire out a “donut,” a small boat that includes a gas BBQ station, LED lights and a shade umbrella. Here, you can cook your own BBQ as you float down the river at the stunning Melbourne Docklands. While the driver must be over 25 years of age, no boating licence is required – float seamlessly down the river from a certain point and back, and enjoy two hours of BBQing while you do. All you have to bring is your own food, drinks and music – cutlery, plates, cups and all the BBQ equipment is included in the hire cost. A totally original concept, you won’t find anything like Aqua Donut anywhere in Australia. If you love a good barbie and enjoy being out on the water – this is a must-do.
Puffing Billy is a steam train with open carriages that takes you on a scenic drive through the breathtaking Dandenong Ranges, only an hour east of Melbourne. It’s the perfect opportunity to get out of the city smog and relax and breathe the fresh air, with the soothing rattle of the train weaving its way through the temperate rainforest. Simply taking the trip is an experience in itself, but if you want to add a lil’ more sparkle, Puffing Billy offer a number of fun experiences. Steam & Cuisine After Dark offers the opportunity to step back into the romantic era of train travel – enjoy an evening of luxury dining as you zoom through the ranges. If you’re a fan of dressing up, try the Murder on the Puffing Billy Express experience – kit yourself out in 1920s gear and enjoy a three course meal, a 2 hour journey plus 2 hours of live entertainment in the Nobelius Packing Shed! However you choose to ride, Puffing Billy is a truly unique and unforgettable Melbourne experience.
You’ve seen the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, but you’ve never seen it like this! Like the rest of the city, every Friday, the aquarium stays open well onto the night, with their 18+ only After Dark event. An exclusive and unforgettable experience, you will start your night out with entering the Underwater World of the aquarium, complimentary cocktail and canapé in hand. Wander the aquarium under the moonlight – with not a screaming child in sight, you will able to fully immerse yourself in the experience of being so close to majestic sea creatures. Better yet, curators are still around to provide expert talks on the animals – and you can enjoy a personalised and thorough experience. You will finish your evening on the Upper Deck Zone for live music, more drinks and a delicious meal. If you love being around animals and also love gourmet food and wine, the SEA LIFE After Dark experience is a must-do!