Since opening more than 20 years ago, the Observation Deck has been a can't miss for tourists visiting the city. Visitors can choose to climb the 1,254 steps or take a short lift ride up the 55 floors to the deck from where they can take in breathtaking views of Melbourne. The deck circles the Rialto building, offering a 360-degree cityscape, including Southbank Promenade, the Royal Melbourne Zoo, Waterfront City and Melbourne Exhibition Center. Also on offer are a cafe and theater showing an awarding-winning 20-minute film titled "Melbourne the Living City."
Winner of the Heritage and Cultural Tourism Award, the Old Melbourne Gaol is the oldest prison in Australia. Now a museum along with the former Magistrates' Court and Police Watch House, the Gaol was once home to notorious prisoners, including the infamous convicted cop killer Ned Kelly. Visitors can stand in the dock, step into the shoes of prisoner and get arrested by the Charge Sergeant during an interactive tour.
3. Como House
Como House was originally built in 1847 as the home for the famous lawyer and judge, Edward Eyre Williams. The house and its five acres of historic gardens are just a short distance from the very center of Melbourne. Visitors to the house can take a journey through the colonial lives of those who previously lived there, while those wishing to stay outside can picnic under the Morton Bay Fig tree or explore the vegetable garden. Como House is also home to the Como Cafe, perfect for afternoon tea.
Spread out over more than 90 acres, the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is one of the world's finest botanic gardens, home to more than 10,000 species and 50,000 individual plants. Visitors can tour the gardens, viewing the Ornamental Lake, Australian Rainforest Walk, the National Herbarium of Victoria and the Water Conservation Garden. Throughout the month of July there is also a Chocolate and Spice Walk during which visitors are shown cinnamon, cardamom and the vanilla bean. A walk around the entire park should take 2-3 hours.
Situated on Federation Square, the Ian Potter Center: NGV Australia is home to the largest collection of Australian art anywhere in the world. With more than 200,000 works of art, more than 800 are on display in collections, including the Shared Sky, John Brack and the Indigenous Collection. Visitors are also encouraged to attend one of the many talks held each day, and to dine at the Crossbar Cafe with its stunning views of the Yarra River.
Home to the IMAX Melbourne, the museum is visited by more than a million people each year. Current exhibitions include the Human Body, a Day in Pompeii and Marine Life. Visitors should also be sure to see the newly opened Dinosaur Walk, where they will be transported back in time finding themselves in the company of flying reptiles as well as the dinosaurs themselves. A children's gallery also offers interactive experiences for little ones.
For those wanting to make the trip to the surrounding areas, the Mornington Peninsula is just an hour or so drive. There, visitors will find a wide variety of local wineries offering tours and wine-tasting sessions. Many of the wineries are small, boutique family-run businesses and include Darling Park, Box Stallion and the Elan Vineyard and Winery. The area is also home to a number of beautiful and relaxing spas, including the Peninsula Hot Springs, which offer guests a variety of spa treatments in addition to the springs.
Close to the Glenelg River, the Princess Margaret Rose Cave was first discovered in 1936. Today it offers visitors an "underground wonderland" where they can view the 700,000-year-old stalagmites. There is a 45-minute tour of the caves themselves, and the surrounding area also offers all the beauty of the Lower Glenelg National Park. While at the park, visitors are also encouraged to take the hour-and-a-half scenic cruise along the river.
This museum is at the heart of Australian sport and in 2005 was included in the National Heritage List. Built in 1853, the stadium is an icon of sports and the museum is now host to the Cricket Hall of Fame, Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum and Melbourne Cricket Club. A tour of the museum includes the Cricket Center, Northern Stand change rooms and Long Room. The museum also invites visitors to take a seat in its cinema to watch one of the specially made sporting films.
Melbourne is home to the Immigration Museum which offers such exhibitions as Talanoa: Stories of the Fiji community, Station Pier and the Cultural Diversity Quest Awards Exhibition. Visitors wanting a more firsthand experience should also visit the famous Lonsdale, Little Bourke and Lygon Street, home to the Greek Precinct, Chinatown and Little Italy, respectively. Here, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the culture of these communities while sampling traditional dishes.