After spending most of 2020 in lockdown, sitting outside in the sun with your mates just hits different.
Summer is here! It’s time to relocate that long-lost picnic rug, saddle up the esky, and head to one of Melbourne’s many green spaces for some good times.
But with so many parks to choose from, where does one go? Where are the best spots in which to picnic and beer, and what do they offer us? We’re looking for amenities – bathrooms, recreational areas and proximity to public transport. We’re looking for good dog-watching zones, and of course, juicy green grass and plenty of nice things to look at.
Without further ado, here’s a non-extensive list of Melbourne’s best places to chill, rated on a scale from one to excellent, for your enjoyment.
A classic. A cliche? Whenever the sun graces our skies, day-beer-ers and picnic-ers alike make the pilgrimage to Edi, trekking from suburbs all across Melbourne, in pursuit of what can only be identified as that specific Fitzroy North vibe. Fabulous amenities offered by Edi include eight entire toilet cubicles, a skate bowl, ping-pong table and even a basketball court – it sure has it all. Even better yet, Piedemontes, Just Falafs and Super Tasty Rooster right around the corner have you nicely covered for emergency snacks and booze runs.
8.5/10 – Incredible puppy and people watching to be had, but good luck finding your ideal spot, or waiting less than 15 minutes in line for the bathroom on super sunny days.
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The Median Strip
Ah, Melbourne’s front yard. The Median Drip is the envy of inner north real-estate, and for good reason. Situated perfectly for people watching, and always manicured to perfection by local council, the strip is the ultimate picnic place. Don’t fret if you don’t have one to call your own, they’re public property. Plus, no one really knows their neighbours well enough to care anyway. So take your pick, and enjoy the scene.
8/10 – A supreme, iconic hangout space, losing points only for its dual use as a puppy bathroom.
St Kilda Botanical Gardens
In need of a post-beach reprieve? Perhaps you’ve somehow found yourself on Acland Street, at a loss for what to do next. Well, St Kilda’s Botanical Gardens are lush. Simply stunning. Must be that sea-breeze in the air. It has pretty much anything you’d want from a hangout spot, including sweet flower beds, palm trees, ponds… you get the picture. It’s a botanical garden!
9/10 – Bathrooms aren’t always perfectly stocked, but they’re there, and they’re accessible.
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Carlton Gardens’ varying terrain offers park-goers a plethora of choice. The area you choose says everything about you. If it’s the city side, with its manicured flower beds, cherub-peppered fountain and glimmering duck ponds – you’re fancy. You’ve got the bubbles, the “grazing box” and even remembered to bring a picnic rug. If you’re into the playground side, you’re a literal child… Or maybe you have one or two of your own. The museum area is for the skaters and primary school groups, no exceptions. What’s that, the Carlton side is your favourite? You’re either chilling on the stubbies, a local savouring your neighbourhood green space, or in the midst of a PT session. I don’t believe there is any in-between.
9.5/10 – We love a park with nuance, but does anyone actually know where the bathrooms are?
It’s Carlton Gardens for people who live in the south-east and can’t be arsed crossing the city for a picnic. Fitzroy Gardens is actually quite lovely, and definitely a hole-in-in-the-wall-type garden for more tranquil times. If this is your favourite park, you’re probably a doctor, nurse or some kind of hospital employee, and you’ll forever treasure the slice of serenity Fitzroy Gardens offers you on your lunch break.
6/10 – Nice, but lacking a distinct vibe. Bonus points as it’s situated next door to Treasury Gardens. A two-for-one nature experience!
Known for Moomba, Piknic Electronik and rowdy NYE celebrations for the city-goers, Birrarung Marr is a pretty reliable spot. River vistas and sprawling grassy areas make it the perfect area for a spontaneous city-side picnic. Local amenities include plenty of bathrooms, a giant television screen at Fed Square – the purpose of which remains unknown – and convenient proximity to the CBD’s many bars, shops and of course, public transport.
6.5/10 – Great scenery and plenty of open space in which to chill, but to be completely honest, we could use a few more shade-bearing trees. It’s bloody hot out!
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Royal Botanical Gardens
If you’re into the fresh smell of bat wee and exotic flora, the CBD’s Botanical Gardens are the spot for you. The vast, sprawling landscape of the park makes it a less-than-ideal spot for timely beery gatherings – even with the advancement of pin-dropping technology, it can be difficult to find your way. That being said, the sights and sounds are a lovely accompaniment to jolly banter, once everyone finally makes it to the spot, that is.
7.5/10 – While it loses points for its anxiety-inducing labyrinthine landscape, the Botanical Gardens are nonetheless an iconic asset to Melbourne’s bountiful park scene.
Half Moon Bay
While it isn’t necessarily a park, we had to throw in Melbourne’s favourite sheltered bay. Just close enough to the city to be accessible, but just hard enough to find that it maintains a veil of “seclusion”, it’s the perfect spot for a beachy getaway. Unfortunately, Half Moon is Sandringham’s worst-kept secret, and if you happen to be heading there, chances are half of Melbourne is too.
1000/10 – Gentle, crystalline waters, stunning ochre cliffs and a half-sunk ship you can swim out to. Consistent beach party energy, we love to get amongst it.
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