Now that the sun is out and the warmer weather is here, you can do all of those things you’ve been putting off for a sunny day. What are you waiting for? Oh, this list. Here you go then – here’s some of our favourite things to do, in the summer time.
Look, you were going to go sit in a park all day anyway, you may as well structure your sedentary lifestyle around a sport that actively encourages drinking during the course of a match. There’s plenty of worthy contenders about, but for a combination of 70s lawn bowl chic mixed with clientele who probably weren’t born in the 70s, it’s hard to go past the North Fitzroy Bowls Club, an easy going affair wedged in the underrated Edinburgh Gardens (there are also tennis courts, a skate bowl and a cricket pitch). Head along on Tuesday evening when it’s $15 for two games, a barbeque and a Coopers Pale.
Public Swimming Pools
Running in summer is roughly as entertaining as sleeping naked in a park in winter. Swimming, on the other hand, makes much more sense. Because in the pool, no-one can see you sweat. As with any good Australian city, Melbourne is well gifted with attractive public pools, but the outdoor 50 metre pool at Fitzroy Leisure Centre strikes an excellent balance between location, price and friendly community vibe. Though you're like to bump into your neighbour, ex-boyfriend, colleague, cousin, or teacher there, but they have extended hours on hot days for a sunset splash and have been known to have DJs play poolside on Sunday afternoons in the summer months. Closer to the city, the 30 metre pool at the Melbourne City Baths is a little less expansive and, well, indoors, but it's nonetheless a beautiful building to splash around in. Or else you could just cut to the chase, make a trip to Noble Park Swim Centre and intersperse your laps with trips down the largest water slide in Melbourne.
Much as I’m generally hesitant to recommend anything involving the phrase ‘Southbank’, there’s little doubt that wandering along that Yarra-side promenade provides some pretty stunning aspects back on to the city proper. Splashed with lights and written in history, they’re the kind of views that remind you anew how remarkable this city really is. And if you wander all the way up toward Swanston Street, you can finish up your stroll with a well earned pint at Riverland.
Beachside Drinking Haunt
God knows nobody is coming to Melbourne for the beach lifestyle, but even here there are moments when you just crave the sight of water stretching to the far distant horizon. But if, like me, the thought of actually frolicking in the sand makes you distinctly uneasy, you need somewhere like The Espy to provide you with the pleasure of solid concrete underfoot while you admire the vast expanse of ocean in front of you. While things get unbearably hectic here on weekends, lining up a front porch table on a weekday afternoon is about a good a use of one’s time and money as I can imagine.
City Picnic Spot
Melbourne’s CBD is gifted with a remarkable amount of immediately accessible greenery, any of which can make a superb location to sit down and while away a few hours over cider and sandwiches. But it’s hard to beat the south side of the Carlton Gardens for that perfect combination of easy-going communality, relative quietude and all round prettiness. Stake a claim in the dappled light and enjoy the fact that you get to hang out in the company of the old Exhibition Building, one of the single loveliest backdrops this city has to offer.
This is the sort of discussion that can get otherwise staid people remarkably animated, so let me start off by saying there are many, many good beer gardens scattered all around Melbourne. However, to my mind it is pretty hard to go past the outdoor area at The Standard. Containing more floor space than the entire interior of the pub, the beer garden manages to be both intimate and bustling at the same time, open enough to the sun to be permanently bright, but closed enough to stop you feeling exposed. Other worthy contenders include The Retreat on Sydney Rd and Sentido Funf on Gertrude Street.
Melbourne’s obsession with al fresco dining means there are many, many worthy contenders for this title, but there are few that tick off the holy trinity of service, value and spectacle as well as the City Wine Shop on Spring Street. Offering cosy views of the even-better-at-night Parliament House, the menu is simple but superlative and the wine list unsurprisingly robust. It’s the kind of place that begins with a meal and suddenly transforms into a four bottle free-for-all, because, hey, it’s 24 degrees at 10pm and your view of Parliament House is pretty great and properly respectable, and so that next bottle is definitely a good idea.