Melbourne has its fair share of grey, rainy days, so when the sun shines it’s time to pack the picnic blanket and head outdoors. Finding things to do in Port Phillip is easy with picnic options like these! So grab the kids, some sandwiches, and give one of these spots a go.
Coot Picnic Area
1 Aughtie Dr, Albert Park VIC 3206
Coot Picnic Area is the urban picnickers dream with its grassy lakeside setup and a backdrop of city views. There are toilets, a playground, two barbeques and even a football oval if you fancy a kick around after lunch. One of the most unique things you will see while picnicking at Coot is the famous black swans. Albert Park lake has a fluctuating population of roughly 150 black swans that you may see gracefully floating across the still waters. If you happen to see one with a collar, you can even report a sighting to contribute to the efforts of a local research group. To access the area, enter the Lakeside car park off Aughtie drive and head in about 100 metres on the pathway. The car park is wheelchair accessible. For more information, head over here.
Photo: Andrew Katsis
St. Kilda Botanical Gardens
11 Herbert Street, St. Kilda VIC 3182
A beautiful location to wander through at leisure, the St. Kilda Botanical Gardens is a popular weekend spot for birthday parties, family outings, or for tucking in with a book amongst the trees. If you’ve never been before, grab your picnic basket and meander through the grounds until you find your very own nook that calls out to you to lay your blanket down. Between the rose garden, the sub-tropical rain forest conservatory, winding pathways and myriad plants and birdlife, you may even forget that you’re in the middle of residential Elwood and only ten minutes from the chaos of the beachfront. If you’re planning a romantic picnic, head over in spring and be charmed by the sweet scents of flowers in bloom. The gardens have free entry and are open until sundown.
Just a short stroll in from the St. Kilda foreshore you will find nearly 6 hectares of tastefully manicured grounds known as Catani Gardens. The gardens were originally created by Italian designer, Carlo Catani, in the early 19th century and still show-off their famous palm-tree lined pathways for Port Phillip residents to enjoy. Catani is now managed by the City of Port Phillip and is a heritage listed destination. Besides the quintessential photographs you can capture here, Catani Gardens is one of the most beautiful places in all of Port Phillip for a weekend picnic. There are plenty of grass areas to lay down a picnic blanket or you can opt for setting up at one of the picnic tables while the kids head to the playground. It’s good to know that there are also toilets, baby changing areas, some shaded spots, paid parking, and wheelchair accessibility. Side note: If you plan your Port Phillip picnic here in March, you might even overlap with the annual Melbourne Beer Fest, or the Pleasure Garden Festival if it’s early December.
St. Vincent Gardens
Albert Park, VIC 3206
In true, elegant, Albert Park fashion, the St. Vincent Gardens are an exquisite example of a nineteenth century, Georgian Era design. It has several plots of daintily planted flowers arranged in symmetrical plots and bordered by pathways that invite you to wander in contemplation as your feet guide you to your perfect picnic spot. The garden itself is registered with the National Trust and is taken care of as such. There is a tidy, simply playground for children and the toilets even have a posting of their most recent clean. You can bring your dog but make sure to have them on lead, bring bags for clean up, and keep them out of the play area. While there are no barbeques, there are some lovely park benches beneath the trees and a few picnic tables and areas of shelter. You might even stroll down Albert Park’s popular Bridport Street for picnic fixings before heading to St. Vincents, or pack your own and head in for a coffee at any of the trendy cafes in town after lunch. For information on transport and facilities, head over here.
Next time you’re looking for things to do in Port Phillip on a sunny day, give one of these local spots a try. Head out on weekends to enjoy the hustle and bustle of families and out-of-town visitors, or pack your picnic midweek for a quieter day amongst the trees.