You don't have to spend big-time to enjoy Melbourne big-time – even when you've got the tribe in tow. Here are a few starters to get you thinking free, family, and actually a lot of fun.
Search 'What's On' and 'Free' on the City of Melbourne website
Some things are so obvious that we don't even think to do it. Search here and you'll find all the free-listed events in and around Melbourne by date. It's constantly being updated, showing events for all ages. Simply choose the ones that most suit you and your family. Then head off and enjoy!
Check out the free museums and galleries
The NGV International is possibly Melbourne's best-known art gallery. Not only is it free, it's brilliant. But there are plenty of other great places that don't charge either. The Australian Centre for Moving Image is nearby at Federation Square. Head out a little further for the Ian Potter Museum of art in the University of Melbourne, or the Melbourne Museum (though it's only free for kids or members) in Carlton. Back closer to the centre is the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) in Southbank. And don't forget the State Library of Victoria – whose galleries and exhibitions and family activities make the name quite misleading.
Take a themed walk
Melbourne might be known for its laneways and arcades (and vibrant street art scene), but that's just one of the types of walks you can take around city. How about a Secret Gardens walk that takes in art, history and of course gardens? An Art Of Sport walk that pays homage to the design of the city's modern colosseums, and of course the Melbourne Music walk, taking in venues and points of interest not matter what your musical tastes are.
Walk a little further out
Of course, Melbourne city doesn't have all the walking action. Just a short drive and you and the clan could be enjoying the Point Nepean Coastal walk in the Mornington Peninsula (an easy 6km amble), the Toorongo Falls Circuit walk at Noojee, or the Mount Oberon Summit walk at Wilson's Promontory. Of course, you could still keep your further out walk quite central and simply take one of the many St Kilda walking trails (taking in the St Kilda pier while you're at it). Too easy.
In terms of getting out and about with the kids (and not spending while you do so), this hits the nail on the head. It's a high-tech treasure hunt where all you need is a smartphone, a pencil and your wits. Best thing is, wherever you go, you'll always discover something new. Melbourne has its own geocaching site, or you can head to the Geocaching Australia site to find out more. There are discoveries to be made all over Melbourne, so get your kids ready and get exploring
And whilst the Melbourne winter season is still very much in full swing, there’s nothing quite as comforting as a hearty soup to stay warm. Packed with veggies, try our Soup-er Minestrone recipe that's not only healthy, but full of flavour too. Simply fill up a thermos and you’re on your way!