The weather is warming up and there’s no better time to get out and explore. More daylight and better weather sees many take to our incredible beaches, but the beauty of Victoria means that you won’t have to solely rely on going to the beach for the perfect summer activity.
To help you live your best life, we’ve compiled a guide to some of the best free things to do this summer.
We couldn’t very well ignore our beaches altogether – after all, it’s what this country is known for.
Of course, it’s hard to look past the Great Ocean Road, with one of the world’s best coastal drives offering iconic beaches around every corner. Torquay, Anglesea and Lorne are all great spots offering some tried and true relief from the heat of summer.
If you’re keen to venture out a bit further, the Pillars at Mt Martha are only about an hour from the city and offer some of the most scenic spots in the state.
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
The NGV is arguably the most impressive gallery in the country. With new exhibitions popping up all the time, there’s always something new on offer. What’s more, the gallery’s diverse collection means the kids will also be entertained – something that we know is no easy task over the school holidays.
And while the arts centre is quick to impress with its collection of works from across the globe, a journey next door to the Ian Potter Centre highlights some of the best Australian collections in the country. Both are free of charge (however, the touring exhibits will cost a small fee) and definitely worth a visit throughout the summer.
Koorie Heritage Trust
Located within Federation Square, the Koorie Heritage Trust is a modern interpretation of Aboriginal arts and culture. As an aboriginal owned organisation, the Trust is dedicated to delivering an authentic and culturally immersive experience.
There are annual programs showcasing different exhibitions of contemporary Indigenous artists, as well as more permanent artwork and artefact collections.
Grampians National Park
About a three-hour drive from the heart of Melbourne, the Grampians National Park is one of the most alluring destinations in the state.
Filled with sandstone mountains, wildflowers and wildlife including echidnas and wallabies, the Grampians are well worth the journey for the photos alone. Be sure to visit the Pinnacle Lookout while you’re there, to experience some seriously awe-inspiring views.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Not moving too far away from National Parks, Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens are one of the most extensive in the country. Home to 36 hectares of garden beds, lakes and lawns, the Gardens have something for everyone.
It displays almost 50,000 individual plants representing 8,500 different species, which importantly means plenty of shade so you can still enjoy the best of nature on those hot, sunny days.
Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
As much as summer is a welcome reprieve from the colder weather, it also means school holidays. If you’re struggling to come up with unique activities to keep the kids entertained over the school holiday period, ACMI could be exactly what you’re looking for.
ACMI offers a range of film, TV, video games and digital art to keep the kids entertained for hours on end. What’s more, ACMI’s Family Sundays program sees a variety of free family activities take place on the first Sunday of every month, truly allowing you to breathe a sigh of relief.
Festival of Sails
January in Geelong wouldn’t be the same without Australia’s favourite sailing regatta, the famous Festival of Sails. With plenty of free family entertainment, music and stalls, you don’t even have to like sailing to love the festival.
And for those with time on their hands the festival can always use more volunteers. It’s a great way to get up close and personal with the festival and enjoy everything it has to offer. Just head to their website to register your interest.
Markets are the perfect place to pick up some local produce for a fresh summer meal, tasty gourmet treats and check out beautiful art and hand crafts. They’re also a great way to support local growers and creators.
If you’re in Geelong, there’s an abundance of farmers’ markets to visit on the weekends, as well as the Night Jar festival in Torquay and Central Geelong offering live local entertainment and much more. Check out the extensive list of local market options here.
If you’re heading to the city for a day trip, Melbourne has a rich history of wonderful markets to explore. From Dandenong in the south-east to the Queen Victoria Market right in the heart of the CBD, the city is sprawling with them.
Of course, while going to the markets costs nothing, we do suggest spending a little bit on the fresh farm produce and designer homewares that you’ll find throughout.