Take the littlest family members to soak up the sights and sounds of Chinatown. Impress their little fingers with dolphin-shaped dumplings and touch screen ordering at Chinese eatery China Red.
Start out on Southbank where the kids can run around while you stroll with your hard-earned coffee. Take them down to marvel at the aquatic wonders at the aquarium, keep with the marine them and make like pirates at Polly Woodside, or give them a bird's-eye view of the city from Eureka SkyDeck.
Pack a picnic and explore the Botanic Gardens. In summer, catch a show in the gardens – outdoor theatre, staged for kids big and small. If outdoors isn't an option, check out the kids' events program at the Arts Centre, National Gallery of Victoria and State Library of Victoria or book in for a matinee session of one of the big shows in town.
For interactive play, see what's on at ArtPlay at Birrarung Marr, a great kids' space running workshops and activities in music, art, theatre – any kind of play – for babies and children.
If the little ones (and you) are still going, consider a visit to Melbourne Central where the family can choose from a range of eateries and flop in front of a movie.
Throw all the animals in together and take the family to one of Melbourne's zoos. Let the kids run free at the Growing Wild exhibit at Melbourne Zoo or head out to Werribee Open Range Zoo for a safari adventure.
Choose a north-, west- or south-side adventure.
Spook the kids with ghost stories or have them arrested by the charge sergeant at the Old Melbourne Gaol. Nearby, roam the Carlton Gardens then explore the many and magical exhibits at the Melbourne Museum. See bugs, dinosaurs, Phar Lap and more. Take the littlest ones to the children's gallery, designed just for the under-eights. If time allows, get wide-eyed at the adjoining IMAX cinema. For dinner, expect a warm welcome for the bambinos at family-friendly Italian eateries on Lygon Street, Carlton.
Take the whole family to Scienceworks in Spotswood for an awesome interactive afternoon of super science. Little kids can hang out in the Nitty Gritty Super City, and big kids, the planetarium. Keep up the adventure with a ferry to Williamstown, to check out the passing boats and of course, for fish and chips for dinner.
Spend the afternoon in St Kilda, exploring the beach and running riot at iconic amusement park Luna Park. Ride rollercoasters and dodgem cars till you can no more, and when the little bellies have settled, go on an ice cream mission to Acland Street. If there's room for dinner, consider Republica on the foreshore, where you can relax with a wine and distract the littlies with views of the beach and boats. Just after sunset, head down to the breakwater to see the locals' favourite families come home from a hard day's fishing: the St Kilda penguins.