[Note: I live on the south side of Melbourne, so naturally that’s where most of these are.]
1. Go for a bike ride
Sometimes the weather can be a bit blustery down at the water, but a seaside bike ride is tough to beat. Start in Port Melbourne where the ferry, the Spirit of Tasmania, docks and ride south along palm tree lined beaches into St. Kilda.
Still got energy? The path doesn’t end there; keep heading south to Brighton Beach and check out the multi-coloured beach shacks, then to the Red Bluff of Black Rock for views of burnt-orange cliffs hanging over the ocean.
If you’ve happened to pack a tent with you, may as well keep going down to the Mornington Peninsula. Lots of foreshore camping to choose from.
2. Go for a hike
For a Canadian, calling the Dandenongs a “mountain range” is a bit of a stretch, but nonetheless they make for great hiking options near the city. You can get there by train — take the Belgrave line and get off at the Upper Ferntree Gully station — and of course by car. There’s a good network of trails through mountain ash forests, fern gullies, and boxwood stringybark woodland.
3. Go for a coffee and/or brekkie
Melbourne = coffee. Push Starbucks and any Australian chain like Gloria Jeans or Hudsons Coffee to the far edges of your mind. I’ve personally taste tested dozens of independent cafes around the city and these are by far my favourites to grab a “flat white” or a latte and some grub:
* Leroy Esperesso – corner of Barkley and Acland, St. Kilda. Order take-away from the window serviced by friendly gals. Sometimes it can take a while, but there’s a reason it’s always busy and a reason they take their time with the coffee. Spend your waiting time people-watching; it’s an eclectic scene.
* Inkr7 – 7 Inkerman Street, St. Kilda. The coffee runs a close second to Leroy. Get your mitts on a cinnamon scroll if they have them. Baked fresh.
* Mart 130 – Middle Park tram stop on the #96 tram. Mart is tram spelled backwards; the cafe is at tram stop 130. Get it?
I first made mention of this place in the article Matador’s Favourite Restaurants in the World. Top-notch coffees, top-notch brekkies. Sometimes it’s just fun to sit out back and watch people come and go as the trams make their stop.
4. Go play trivia
The Doulton Bar in St. Kilda does trivia night on Thursdays. Know your random facts. A $100 bar tab is the grand prize, but you can also score yourself a free beer if you volunteer to be one of the “horses” in the horse race. Game players guess who can chug a beer the fastest. The winning horse scores his/her team an extra two points.
Pure Pop Records, a great place to catch live acts in a secluded back courtyard, hosts Music Trivia on Tuesdays. Show up by 7 PM to add your name to the list.
5. Go scour the op-shops
Opportunity shops (aka op shops) can be great to find bargains and generally fun to browse around in. It’s always interesting to see what people are getting rid of these days. Flip through the dusty stack of vinyl records, picture what that 1960s dresser would look like re-stained, or pick yourself out a new traveling wardrobe (depending how long you’ve been traveling for, you may be sick of your clothes by now).
Op shops here are like Starbucks in Seattle. There’s practically one on every corner.
What are your favourite things to do in your city?