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Free Holiday Fun on the Mornington Peninsula

Home > Melbourne > Day Trips | Family | Free | Fun Things To Do | Lists
by Deborah Jayne, Practical Mum (subscribe)
Motto: Have a plan and be prepared! I'm a highly organised mother of three as well as a freelance, blog and fiction writer based in Melbourne. Follow me for the best adventures and I'll show you how to survive them in style.
Published November 21st 2015
Playground at Rye

School holidays are the perfect chance to unwind and have some family fun, but keeping the kids entertained, especially on a budget, can be tricky.

Here are a few cost FREE destinations on the Mornington Peninsula to visit these holidays.

Cranbourne Botanical Gardens

If you've never been to these amazing gardens, you really have missed one of the peninsula's most valuable destinations.

Free holiday activities playgrounds beaches destinations
Cranbourne Botanical Gardens


Separated into sections, there is plenty to see and do at the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens. Water features, Australia garden, sensory garden, giant rocks and backyard landscaping ideas to name only a few.

Kids are free to run and explore the garden, get their feet wet in the running water or enjoy the two playground areas.

One playground is hidden away, outside the actual garden area and has BBQ facilities and covered tables. You could easily spend a couple of hours there, but be prepared to lug everything a fair way from the car park.

Alternatively, there is restaurant at the entry and café at the far end of the gardens.

The Cranbourne Botanical Gardens also has a walking/bike track throughout, suitable for riders of every age and ability.

The gardens are open 9am-5pm daily and entry / parking at the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens is FREE.

The Cranbourne Botanical Gardens on Ballarto Road & Botanic Drive, Cranbourne.

Free holiday activities playgrounds beaches destinations
McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park


McClelland Sculpture Gallery

Finding places where kids can run, explore, touch and learn for free is always a holiday bonus. With this in mind, the McClelland Sculpture Gallery is a hidden treasure.

The ever-changing exhibits inside the gallery are well worth a look, but for families with kids it is in the gardens where you'll have the most fun. Prepare to lose yourself for ages finding hidden delights set amongst natural bush setting. Good sturdy shoes are recommended for this adventure.

There is a licensed café serving brunch, lunch and afternoon tea both inside and al fresco overlooking the lake, or you could take a picnic. Alternatively, Karingal Hub Shopping Centre is right around the corner with food court, selection of major fast food outlets, bakery and supermarket.

The sculpture park and gallery is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am-5pm (closed Mondays).

Entry and parking at the McClelland Gallery is FREE (although donations are requested).

McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery is located at 390 McClelland Drive, Langwarrin.

Free holiday activities playgrounds beaches destinations
Cape Schanck Lighthouse


Cape Schanck Lighthouse

The Cape Schanck area is a prime spot for bushwalkers or families looking for a little exercise.

Entry fees apply for lighthouse tours and museum entry, but there is no reason to outlay any money if you don't want to see inside. You can easily see her majestic red top above the trees. Instead, take the boardwalk right to the water's edge, sidelined by a thick bed of basalt rocks. Please note the stairs and boardwalk are not pusher friendly.

There are picnic areas complete with tables, shelter, BBQ facilities and toilets, and from here you can explore the back beaches or zoom across to Rosebud for shopping, food and safe swimming beaches.

The Cape Schanck Lighthouse can be found at 420 Cape Schanck Road, Cape Schanck and is open for tours every day except for Christmas Day. The surrounding park is always open to visitors.

Free holiday activities playgrounds beaches destinations
Coolart Homestead


Coolart wetlands and homestead at Somers

The historic Coolart mansion is a picnic destination with a difference. The house is open to the public and is a beautiful preservation of life long ago. Set within wetlands, woodlands and beautiful gardens, you can stroll down to the lake, watch the animals from the bird hide and enjoy a picnic beneath the huge trees.

There are free electric BBQ's onsite with toilet facility and a visitor information centre, but as the homestead is some distance away from shops, you will need to bring everything with you.

Entry to the park, house and parking is free and the grounds are open from 9am-5pm daily.

Free holiday activities playgrounds beaches destinations
Photo Credit: Deborah Jayne


Tyabb Packing House Antiques

When you think of antiques, you don't automatically think of Tyabb, but there is a treasure trove to explore in this tucked away corner of the Mornington Peninsula.

Now you may be asking why antique shopping is on a list suggesting family friendly holiday outings. The Tyabb Packing House Antique Centre is a quirky little village everyone will enjoy, but best of all there is a Red Rattler Train Café that will appeal to people of all ages! Make yourself comfortable in one of the carriage compartments and enjoy a milkshake with Devonshire tea or hot lunch. Whatever your fancy, this train experience is sure to delight.

From millinery to pottery, fairy garden, jewellery and art there is ever so much more to this thriving little community that just old wares, but who knows what treasure you will find.

The Tyabb Packing House Antique centre is open Thursday to Sunday and public holidays, 10am-5pm and is located at 14 Mornington-Tyabb Road, Tyabb. (Closed Christmas Day).

Entry and parking is free.

Free holiday activities playgrounds beaches destinations
Hastings Marina


Bike Rides:
There are plenty of great places to ride your bike around the Mornington Peninsula, but two especially come to mind for families for their off-road value.

The first great bike ride destination is Point Nepean National Park. Now you don't have to be a bike rider to enjoy this destination. There is a shuttle bus or you could simply walk, but as there are a few kilometres in it for real freedom – and to save your legs and hip pocket - take your bike and enjoy everything the Point Nepean National Park has to offer at your leisure.

If you can't transport bikes for the entire family, they can be hired from the information centre between 10am-5pm (except Christmas Day) and the office is closed 1pm-1.30pm daily.

The park is open 8am-5pm every day and entry is FREE.

Point Nepean National Park is located at the end of Point Nepean Road, Portsea

Free holiday activities playgrounds beaches destinations
Photo Credit: Deborah Jayne


The second great family friendly, off-road bike ride is along the Hastings boardwalk. Known more officially as the Western Port Bay Trail, it begins in Somerville and travels south through Tyabb, Hastings, Bittern, Somers to end in Balnarring.

The path is partly gravel, then moves onto a specially constructed boardwalk through the swampy part of town. (Note: Young riders need to be able to hold a reasonably straight line or they may end up getting wet!)

Park near the Pelican Park playground and aquatic centre or the yacht club and set off from there. Pick up the trail on Marine Parade to wind along the foreshore, passing the Hastings jetty and Western Port Marina.

Free holiday activities playgrounds beaches destinations
Photo Credit: Deborah Jayne


Holidays just aren't holidays without a playground visit or two. There are plenty of playgrounds around the Mornington Peninsula, but if you're setting your sights on spending some real time at a decent playground then may I make a couple of suggestions.

Frankston's best known playground is Ballam Park, Karingal. Located at 260 Frankston-Cranbourne Road, Karingal (Frankston), there are two sections to this park. The front section is a huge fort where kids can run over, under and every which way, with slides and climbing structures and swings. There are a limited number of picnic tables and sheltered areas, along with toilets and BBQ facilities.

Over the back (you can also park along the side and behind the park) there is a higher play area with taller slides and a zipline flying fox. There is also a fully enclosed toddler sand play area.

If you'd like to combine some beach play with your playground experience the Frankston foreshore offers a full day of activity. Situated near the Frankston pier, there are restaurants here for lunch or dinner along with the visitor information centre.
Note: You will need to pay to park here.

If you're not familiar with the area, the GPS address is Pier Promenade, Frankston.

If you'd like to head a little further down the Peninsula you will find heaps of places to stop if you take the C783 Esplanade starting in Mornington. You'll drive waters edge all the way to the Portsea tip. But for a more substantial playground set your sights on Rye.

Near the Rye pier and summer carnival you will find a fully fenced fort where kids can burn off all that excess energy.

This park offers a very limited amount of seating and shelter, but there are also BBQ's, water and toilets. The playground is also right on the beach and there are shops offering plenty of food options within walking distance.

Note: Some areas are paid parking, but you will also find free parking in the vicinity.

Free holiday activities playgrounds beaches destinations
Photo Credit: Deborah Jayne


We couldn't properly round out a list of Mornington Peninsula attractions without touching on the many assorted beaches. Of course you could stop anywhere you liked, but if you rarely lay eyes on some of our most prime beach front properties, then perhaps you would like to choose a beach decorated by a colourful row of bathing boxes.

Bathing Boxes can be found along Mt Eliza, Dromana, Rosebud, Portsea, Mt Martha and Mornington beaches.

Mt Martha is an excellent beach in that it also offers rock pooling along the cliff face at the southern end. It sand is very coarse, so it's hard walking and the water becomes deep quite quickly in parts, but if you like to explore, the rocky area is great.

Mornington Beach – Mother's Beach near the playground/pier is a very safe, sheltered beach with large shady trees! Always a bonus.

Of course, in summer Rosebud cannot be beat. Rosebud is where it is all happening and is perfect for every age and water sport, but this area is very busy with tourists camping and toilet facilities are reserved for campers. Rosebud is also the main shopping capital on the Peninsula. You'll find major department stores, tourist shops and food galore!

Take this link for a comprehensive list of all the beaches on the Mornington Peninsula, their conditions and amenities.
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Why? Free Holiday Destinations & Activities
Where: Mornington Peninsula
Cost: FREE!
Your Comment
A fantastic list Deborah.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|5676) 672 days ago
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