Alternative Melbourne in summer: What to do if you want to avoid tourist traps

Having lived in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs for several years now, we are sometimes asked for ideas for travel activities and recommendations from friends and family members. While the Lonely Planet and other guidebooks are helpful, the people who seek us out are usually looking for something a bit different. Here are seven of our favourite places to point travellers to Melbourne to for fun and off-the-beaten-track activities in our city.
Eat at Welcome to Thornbury – a vibrant food truck park & bar in a converted car wash away from the city but accessible by tram. They have different selections of food trucks every night but always enough variety to satisfy everyone.
Friday nights at the NGV – see the National Gallery of Victoria in the evening with live music and a bar. Your $30 ticket includes the special exhibit (right now it’s Degas but that might change by December) and sometimes a special talk about the art on display.

See a film at The Astor Theatre – I took my family here at Christmas for a memorable our singalong Mary Poppins experience; that’s a special type of showing, though, and they mostly screen classic films. If it gets too hot and you feel like slowing down a bit, this old-fashioned cinema is worth visiting. Of course a choc-top ice cream cone is a mandatory Australian tradition when attending the cinema.
Shop on Brunswick St and see a great view of Melbourne from Naked in the Sky – there are lots of cute little shops along this street in Fitzroy and Naked for Satan, a popular restaurant that serves pintxos, but if you go upstairs in the elevator there’s a huge bar with a stunning view of the city.
Queen Victoria Market’s Wednesday night Night Market – this will be busy right before Christmas, but it’s fun– live music, lots of different types of food to eat, little shops plus the usual touristy options. It’s famous for the sangria and Korean spiral potato sticks.
Tour the Old Melbourne Gaol then try a paddle of Australia beer at James Squire Brewhouse up the street – we’ve taken several friends here and it’s quite a good tour; lots of interaction and a bit different from the usual museum. You can even take their Hangman’s Night Tour if you want to make it extra-spooky. A quick walk up Russell St following your tour brings you to the James Squire Brewhouse, home to a popular brand of Australian beer (slightly more upmarket than VB or Foster’s). Order a paddle of beer so that you can try six of their best offerings.
Go rock climbing up a building with views of the city at Hardrock Climbing Company Their climbing walls overlook Swanston St for an amazing view if you dare to look away from your handholds. They’re open from 6am (in case you’re still on another timezone!) and they have instructors if you’re not as experienced at rock-climbing.

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