Stop! We both know damn well that there is more to Melbourne than the Botanic Gardens and Federation Square, so why are you sending your tourist friends there? Nay, why are you sending yourself there?
We’ve put together a list of the ‘other’ best things to do around town. You may not have heard of the following places but that’s exactly why they’re worth checking out. Get the free Yelp app and start bookmarking the 29 ‘other’ best things to do in Melbourne:
1. Visit the Elvis shrine at Melbourne Cemetery
The phrase ‘only in Melbourne’ is thrown around quite a bit, but in this case it’s really true. Within the famed Melbourne Cemetery (which is a destination all on its own, particularly for their midnight tours on Halloween) lays Australia’s only Elvis Memorial Shrine. The memorial was commissioned by the President of the Elvis Presley Fan Club of Australia in 1977 and is truly a sight to behold.
2. Get the best fitting pair of jeans in the world
So you want a decent pair of jeans? Here’s what you do, go to Dejour Jeans on a weekday morning (don’t even think about going on the weekend, there’s a permanent line down the street. Just chuck a sickie, capiche?), pick a colour (they have all the colours of the rainbow), and have them tailored exactly to your body. Length, waist, even the amount of fabric that’s gathered around your knees! Pay $50 (yes, that’s all) and walk out wearing the best fitting pair of jeans your butt has ever cuddled.
3. Take a botanical design course
Loose Leaf had a few thousand instagram followers before they even opened their Collingwood doors. Imagine this: a huge warehouse filled to the brim with fiddle leaf figs, parlour palms and devil’s ivy. But the coolest thing? You can sign up to take flower and plant arrangement courses. Your house will be in Frankie Magazine before you know it.
4. Watch a movie while dodging fruit bats
It’s called Shadow Electric, it’s only around for a few months of the year, and it is stupendous. Drink craft beer under the stars and scare the sh*t out of your date as you watch the famous Melbourne fruit bats fly over head to the gardens. Oh, and then giggle at cult anime films or that wacky Will Ferrell movie you secretly wanted to see. The Shadow has recently moved from it’s previous home at the Abbotsford Convent, keep an eye on Yelp to find it’s new summer location…
5. Make your own wine and then drink it in a bar
After finding a concrete wine fermenter under their new house, the boys from Noisy Ritual did what anyone would do… they ordered half a tonne of shiraz grapes and got their friends over to help them stomp it. Word spread, and Noisy Ritual was born. Here you can stomp the grapes, watch it ferment, have it barrelled and bottled, and then drink up in their charming Brunswick bar.
6. Drink a blue algae latte
Remember the time before alternative lattes? Life was so simple then–coffee plus milk made a drink, but now there are almonds, matcha, and even blue-green algae involved! We tip our hats to Matcha Mylkbar for making these weird flavours utterly delicious (and for really upping our Instagram game.)
7. Meditate in a floatation tank
Remember that episode of The Simpsons when Lisa and Homer bond by going into a gravity floatation tank and Lisa talks to her cat? Well you can totally do that in Melbourne too (except without the cat chats.) If you’re feeling stressed or simply can’t switch your brain off, The Gravity Floatation Centre will make you more mindful.
8. Chuck a snag on the barbie and take your shoes off
It’s summer. It’s too early for the pub but you still want a beer…what do you do? Two words: barefoot bowls at the Fitzroy Bowls Club. Beer is cheap, bring a couple of snags to whack on the resident BBQ and have one of the glorious members show you how to play lawn bowls. Sundays in summer were made for this kinda thing.
9. Compete in Seinfeld trivia
Do the following phrases mean anything to you? Chocolate babka, Rochelle Rochelle, The Human Fund? If so you really need to get your butt to George’s Bar (named after Costanza, obviously) ASAP and sign up to their Wednesday night trivia. You’ll smash it, pal. We have faith in you.
10. Take a spin class in a nightclub
11. Sit in a hot pool with an incredible view of the countryside
Ok, ok, so this one is technically not in Melbourne, but it’s only a short drive away. For this one, why not go in the heart of winter? Step into the steamy pools at the Peninsula Hot Springs on a freezing August day and feel the stress melt away!
12. Drink a pine lime beer and eat David Hasselhoff
Oh, pineapple beer doesn’t excite you? What about one that tastes like Red Skin lollies? Or maybe hibiscus is more up your alley. Head to Moon Dog Brewery tucked away in Abbotsford and you’ll be sure to find a flavour that tickles you. Oh, and while you’re there, you should try the David Hassel Hock (a pizza named after your favourite Baywatch star.)
13. Eat free fruit samples from Vietnam
Everyone always raves about the Queen Victoria Market and sure, it’s truly amazing. But have you ever tried the Little Saigon Market? While it’s located in Footscray, you’ll feel like you’re in bustling Vietnam. Plus there are free samples of delicious tropical fruit in winter–there’s nothing like biting into a creamy custard apple or juicy papaya.
14. Watch live music, any night of the week
Ahh…The Evelyn–home of cheap pours and sticky floors. Part bottle shop, part late-night haunt, former employee of Ruby Rose and full-time live music venue. It’s true! Go to the Evelyn on any night of the week and you’llbe able to catch a local or international band smashing up their band room.
15. Watch The Room and throw spoons at the screen
Since 2010, Cinema Nova on Lygon Street has been playing The Room on the first Saturday of every month. Not familiar with it? It’s a film that has been universally described as one of the worst ever made. Don’t attend thinking the audience will be quiet and polite! Expect yelling, inappropriate laughter, and even a lot of spoon-throwing (it’s an in-joke.)
16. Eat the world’s best pizza
Melbourne is home to not only the world’s best paella (you can find it at Simply Spanish) but also the world’s best pizza. Head out to Preston and you’ll find Pizzaly. Now they have some pretty strict rules in place (no takeaway, limited reservations, only 25 people can be inside at one time) but hey, they have the world’s best margherita pizza–so can you really argue with them?
17. Order a cocktail and have it blowtorched in front of you
Oh, your bartender set your drink alight with a lighter? Pfft. Eau De Vie does it with a BLOW TORCH. Order the Countessa (their version of a negroni) and watch as it is lightly dusted with Campari and then set afire with a blowtorch. Hold on to your eyebrows!
18. Take a coffee masterclass with the world’s best barista
Melbourne is one of the coffee capitals of the world, right? So why not learn how to brew it like the masters do. Ben Morrow, head barista at St Ali also happens to be the world champion barista (officially; he’s won the World Coffee Masters twice now) and he is giving away some of his secrets in this exclusive masterclass. Latte art secrets included!
19. Eat a three-course dinner inside a moving tram
A touristy inclusion to the list but also something that every Melburnian should do at least once, right? The Colonial Tramcar restaurant can be seen cruising around Melbourne nightly jam-packed full of smiling, happy faces slurping down on white wine. Here’s what happens: you get a three course meal (it’s a set menu) and your wine glass is bottomless. Seriously. The waitstaff are infamous for never letting you get to the bottom of your glass. You will disembark boozed.
20. Pay what you feel for lunch or dinner
A weird concept but one that us Melburnians LUUURVE. Head along to any of the now four Lentil as Anything venues, choose what you’d like to eat, reflect on your feels and decide how much you want and can pay for your food. Each venue has a magic box that you put money into.
21. Row a boat
A truly wonderful way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. Head to the gorgeous Studley Park Boat House, grab a flat white and a slice of cake from the cafe and then hire a rowboat. When you get on the water it will almost certainly take you a few minutes to get into the rhythm, and your arms will almost definitely hurt the next day, but you’ll get to see a part of Melbourne you never normally would.
22. Eat freshly shucked oysters on the deli counter
Since 1969 the crew from Aptus Seafoods at the South Melbourne Market have been shucking and serving their $1 oysters to seafood-guzzling Melburnians. Order a dozen and you’ll be asked “here or takeaway?” Yes, you can eat your oysters on top of the counter and watch the market-world go by. Lemon included.
23. Ride on the oldest roller coaster in the world
The scenic railway (AKA the roller coaster) at Luna Park is tame to say the least, but did you know that it’s the oldest continually-operating roller coaster in the whole wide world? Yep. Luna Park opened its doors and 1912 and that’s when the ol’ scenic railway started ticking along. Still works like a dream!
24. Channel your inner cat lady
And get into the Cat Cafe Melbourne, where you can play with an entire room full of crafty felines while drinking coffee. You’ve only got an hour though, so pet as many as you can, and try not to be too needy. They can smell desperation.
25. Instagram your brunch, give zero f***s
Roll into Kitty Burns for the most Instagram-worthy brunch you will ever have the pleasure of photo-eating. Don’t get all judgey when you see everyone with their phones out snapping away like paparazzi at a Miley sighting–you’ll be doing the same once your order arrives.
26. Catch a matinee at an art deco cinema
The grand ol’ dame of movie cinemas, The Astor Theatre, is what movies used to be like before the soulless megaplex came along and ruined things for everyone. Don’t come along expecting to see the latest J-Law/Bradley Cooper rom-com. Instead, expect The Gremlins, Woody Allen marathons, or maybe even Gone With The Wind.
27. Burn your tongue on hot jam donuts
There’s a reason the Queen Vic Market is always so stupidly busy. Some will claim they go there to get their fresh veggies and meats. They’re lying. They’re going there for the hot jam donuts. The American Doughnut Kitchen truck will always have a line in front of it, so just commit, it moves quickly. For $5.50 you’ll get five sugary, doughy, and piping hot jam-filled donuts. Every day is cheat day.
28. Learning is drinking… beer
Learnin’ and drinkin’ is a pretty decent combo if we do say so ourselves. Do both of these things at Foresters Hall on Tuesday nights. Every Tuesday from 6pm they ship in a different brewer who will tell you all about their beer, all the while filling up your glass with it.
29. Indulge in a whiskey and cheese pairing
Cheese! Is there anything it can’t do? There are tens, nay, hundreds of cheese-friendly venues all across Melbourne but if you’re going to do something you should do it correctly. Head to Milk the Cow, order a cheese and whiskey (or tequila, or wine) flight, eat, transcend to heaven and never leave your happy place. You’re welcome.