Thirty. The big three-oh. A daunting prospect for most young whippersnappers – whether the big day is looming menacingly in the near future, or relatively far off in the distance. But let us reassure you. It’s all going to be OK. Yes, it’s true that you may not be able to drink all three (yes there are three) nights of the weekend without suffering serious health issues for nigh on the entirety of the following week, but it’s not all bad news. Here in Melbourne we are #blessed with an enviable bucket list of exciting activities to do in the lead up to turning thirty.
Being the kindly people we are, we’ve done you a solid and put together our version of that bucket list for you. A decent amount of these are cheap – or even better, free – because god knows; if you’re under thirty, living in Melbourne, and not subsisting on Mi Goreng packets and baked beans the last day or so before payday, you’re doing something very right.
Without any further delay, these are our picks for the top 20 things to do in and around Melbourne this summer before you hit the big 3-0*.
*If you’ve passed that particular milestone, you can join in the fun too – no ageism here. Promise.
Can you truly say you know Melbourne, in all her historical glory? If not, then make sure you hop aboard the City Circle Tram – it’s free (!), and comes complete with an informative running commentary throughout your journey. Now, I am a firm believer that sight seeing should never descend into an uncomfortable, sweaty affair (this isn’t a hot yoga session, amiright?), so go ahead and do what we millennials *apparently* do best – take a shortcut. Trade in the runners for the wooden chairs, brass and leather hand straps offered by the Heritage ‘W Class’ trams, for fuh-ree. Bonus: sound like a learned adult when you repeat the facts you’ve gleaned for unsuspecting visitors later.
All crazy cat ladies had to start somewhere, right? No, guys – I’m kidding. But seriously, get down to the Cat Café (located at 30 Guildford Lane) and snuggle some rescue moggies while enjoying your beverage. You’ll need to book in advance, which you can do here. Fun fact: Science tells us that stroking a cat lowers blood pressure, stress, depression and anxiety. Can’t imagine what might be causing any of those symptoms…
How, you ask? Simple. Play board games… in the pub. Get nostalgic over Guess Who (the game, not the nightmare morning-after-a-big-night-out scenario you’ve probably found yourself in once or twice), or act the big kid with Giant Jenga. Wherever you are in the city, there’s likely to be something in the vicinity to quench your thirst, literally and figuratively. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few of our favourites:
- The Fox (351 Wellington Street, Collingwood)
- 29th Apartment (29 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda)
- Katuk (517a Chapel Street, South Yarra)
- The Alehouse Project (98-100 Lygon Street, Brunswick East).
4. Go in completely the opposite direction and fool everyone into thinking you’re a mature adult – feat. wine
If board games and beer aren’t your thing, perhaps a more mature, wine-based activity might whet your appetite. If so, take a day trip to the Yarra Valley to indulge in a spot of wine tasting. These tastings also include some delicious nibbles and beautiful countryside vistas to help you maintain the illusion of a seamless segue into adulthood. You can hire a car and make your own way around, or get a guide to take one for the team so you can all get your (totally mature) booze on.
Yes my friends, now you can make your very own, personalised gin. Visit the Bass & Flinders Distillery and take a Gin Masterclass – it includes nibbles and tastings, in addition to the lesson and a take-home bottle. Basically a win-win scenario; because in case this ‘adulting’ malarkey all goes to pot, at least you’ll have the ability to brew up some delicious alcohol to help numb the pain.
Fairly self explanatory this one. If you haven’t had a taste of Melbourne’s live music scene, then have a word with yourself and get amongst it before you’re the weird old guy lurking in the corner, adrift in a turbulent sea of impossibly young-looking young people.
Whether you’re retroactively reclaiming your youth or proactively acting the adult, Melburnians use their attire to portray the vibe they aspire to. One street has a reputation as THE place to shop ’till you drop – of course, it’s iconic Chapel Street. Even if you’re not in the market for new threads, Chapel Street is still worth exploring. Make a day of it and grab a cold-pressed coffee or niche craft beer with the local hipsters. In fact, you can gauge their reaction as a litmus test re: whether you’ve pulled off the fashion look you were going for. Two birds and all that, eh?
Stand-up comedy has a reputation for being a bit hit-and-miss, but luckily, Melbourne’s reputation as a comedy heavy-hitter trumps the potential for a date night filled with the bad kind of groaning. There are multiple venues dotted around the place with deals on food and drinks sporadically. Check them out here.
Sunbathing on the foreshore, promenading across the promenade, peering off into the abyss from the pier, quaffing coffee in any one of the multiple pavement cafes, or just people watching from afar; it’s all there for you at St. Kilda on a nice day. If you haven’t experienced this Melbourne institution as yet, then get your skates on. No, really – you can hire roller-skates to really jazz up your bayside experience.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also pay Luna Park a visit. Even a quick selfie in front of the grinning monstrosity that is the entrance way will provide you with a level of insta-kudos.
Ever wish you had some intellectual material to pull out and impress all your colleagues with? Well, you’ll want to attend one of the many enlightening and thought-provoking talks at the Wheeler Centre. Who knows? You might actually learn something. And they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
11. Take a Southbank stroll, stopping only to shake your head sadly at the tourists shamelessly flocking to Crown Casino
Come on. Like you weren’t going to go and have a cheeky spin on the roulette. What if you won?
Your twenties are a time for experimentation, and ethical eating is definitely an idea worth giving a try. You pay how you feel at Lentil as Anything – a brilliant not-for-profit eatery with multiple locations across Melbourne.
If you’re broke with expensive taste (like Azealia), then dining on some of Coles’ finest cuisine al fresco might be just the ticket for a day out. Of course this activity is as cheap as you like – because you set the menu. You get bonus romantic points if you take someone special along to share in the contents of your picnic hamper. EXTRA bonus points awarded if you manage to orchestrate a picnic in some of the few sunny hours Melbourne has offered us thus far.
If you haven’t seen Melbourne from really, really high up, then you haven’t lived. Before you turn thirty, get yourself up to Eureka Skydeck 88 and watch the sun set over the skyline. For more of an adrenaline rush, try the ‘Edge Experience’, where you’re suspended 3 meters out from the building, 300 meters above the ground.
It must be done, I’m sorry. That’s just the rules.
Nothing reminds you how good it is to have a few years under the belt more than the ability to go out and do day time things… at night. One of the best twilight activities to enjoy during the summer months is the Queen Victoria Night Market. Browsing is free (duh), and you can often find plenty of tasty tidbits to sample if that takes your fancy.
Melbourne is jam packed with markets of all descriptions, so if you’re more into day time bargain hunting, or you’re not nearby QV, go ahead and check out some of the cities many other markets. Heck, try ’em all.
I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve tried Greek cuisine at some stage. If you haven’t, then this needs to shoot right up to first place in this list. Lygon Street – a.k.a the Greek Precinct – houses some of Melbournes best Greek restaurants and cafes for you to sample. Do it.
On that note, dinner and a stroll through Chinatown is another food-based Melbourne ‘must-do’. Dumplings? Yes please. BYO bottle of wine? Absolutely. Make sure you explore the little laneways and side streets as well as reveling in the bright lights of the main strip, because you’ll find some hidden gems – and great bargains too.
19. Have an exceptionally well-meaning Friday afternoon drink in a rooftop bar which ends in you dancing in Revs at 8am, Sunday morning
It has to be done, at least once. Nothing more need be said.
Cheers, Melbourne, for all the fabulous places to go, people to meet, and things to see. Before you turn thirty right here in the city, get yourself down (or up, more accurately) to one of the many awesome venues Melbourne has to offer. Find ‘em all right here.
By Courtney White
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