Senior travel does not have to be a sedate affair, and certainly not when you are in Melbourne, the city crowned with top honours for being the world’s happiest, most liveable, and most diverse place.
To rejuvenate your body and spirit, follow our guide to finding the proverbial fountain of youth here in Melbourne, the city that welcomes everyone regardless of culture, lifestyle, and age.
What to do in Melbourne: Join a Walking Tour
A leisurely walk is one of the best ways to get acquainted with Melbourne. After all, a city is made for walking, says the writer and perpetual wanderer Rebecca Solnit, and those who walk instantly become “practitioners” of a city, as they chart their own paths of exploration on foot.
Begin with the Melbourne Sights Free Walking Tour, which takes place twice every day (except on Christmas), be it rain or shine. On this three-hour tour, you will learn about the major developments in Melbourne since its founding in 1835, while viewing the city’s most prominent landmarks including Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, and the Old Melbourne Gaol. Pay-as-you-wish donations will be requested at the end of the tour, and groups larger than 10 should call ahead to arrange a private session. And yes, this tour is wheelchair-friendly.
With your initiation to the city complete, look for themed outings that are aligned with your personal interests, such as a chocolate or foodie tour. Book one with special-interest tour companies such as Melbournewalks, which runs a host of intriguingly titled events.
Try “The Lost Melbourne Tour,” dedicated to “vanished buildings and forgotten infrastructure.” Or embark on a tour to solve Melbourne’s most vexing murder mysteries, before exploring the city’s “fascinating maze of lanes and arcades.”
Another tour provider to look up is Hidden Secrets Tours, where you can enjoy a taste of Melbourne through its cafe culture and degustation jaunts. This inclusive tour company has tours for electric and standard wheelchair users, as well as for individuals with visual impairments; you can also contact them to cater to your own special needs.
If you prefer to travel without a guide, use the City of Melbourne’s self-guided walking maps instead.
The Best of Melbourne: Get Your Nature Fix
Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens attracts over 1.8 million visitors each year, so this is one park worth making time for. What you can expect here: stunning vistas, tranquil lakes, and a collection of over 50,000 plants from around the world.
To many Melburnians, the Royal Botanic Gardens is more than a mere park. It is a place of contemplation and celebration, and for that reason, it has earned a place in their hearts.
“No doubt this is one of Melbourne’s treasures. Peaceful, beautiful, majestic, and—each time I visit—I find something I’ve never seen before,” says one enraptured visitor. “Give yourself at least two or three hours to wander and relax. And as a bonus treat, make some time to visit the sister gardens in Cranbourne, dedicated to native plants and landscapes.”
There are several ways to experience the Royal Botanic Gardens on your Melbourne holidays. You can download the official map to plan your own tour, or look for walks created by the park’s ardent fans. For a more comfortable option, book a ride on the Garden Explorer, an electric buggy that seats up to 25 people and takes about 50 minutes to complete a full loop of the park. Visitors can also hop on and off at any of the Explorer’s seven designated stops. For booking details, refer to the park’s What’s On page.
The page also lists park-hosted events that you can join, such as high teas, aboriginal walks, and a night of stargazing at the Melbourne Observatory.
All areas of the Royal Botanic Gardens are wheelchair and walker accessible, except for the Melbourne Observatory and Fern Gully. Visit the website for accessibility details.
Indoor Things to do in Melbourne: Museum Hopping
The Melbourne Museum weaves together a compelling web of stories about life in Victoria, with dazzling displays of historical, cultural, and environmental artefacts that will keep visitors captivated for hours. Beyond its impressive collection of dinosaur bones and whale skeletons, the museum provides a complete visual, aural, and olfactory experience for museum goers of all ages and interests.
Prefer to immerse yourself in visual art? The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is the oldest and most-visited gallery in Australia, and it claims to hold the most significant collection of art in the region.
In 2018, the NGV has partnered with New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to show over 200 key works from MoMA’s collection. They include monumental works by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Salvador Dalí, Frida Kahlo, and many more. “MoMA at NGV” runs till October 7 2018—catch it before it ends.
If you have additional time to spare, an under-the-radar museum worth paying a visit to is the Immigration Museum, which seeks to answer the question, “Why do people leave their home countries for another, and what is their experience of building their life anew?” The answers are “sad, sometimes funny, but always compelling,” and they are guaranteed to give you much food for thought.
Accessibility details for visitors are available on the respective museums’ web sites.
Day Trip from Melbourne: Phillip Island
Just shy of a two-hour drive from Melbourne is Phillip Island, which is reputed to be the “day trip from Melbourne you can’t miss.”
The island’s top draw is its “Penguin Parade,” where troops of Little Penguins return to their home on Phillip Island for a well-deserved rest in the evening, after a day spent foraging for food out at sea. Phillip Island is home to about 32,000 Little Penguins, which are the smallest penguins in the world.
“Given the popularity of the nightly march, I was worried about a theme-park vibe,” writes Annie Fitzsimmons in her National Geographic review. “But when I saw the first group of penguins come waddling out of the ocean, determined and adorable, I drew a giddy breath. It was just plain awesome.”
Apart from the parade, there are a whole host of activities to enjoy on the island during the day, including exploring wineries, farms, local markets, and more. If you would like to spend a full day at Phillip Island, do research available transport options here. There are also shorter tours dedicated to the Penguin Parade, such as the “Phillip Island Penguins Direct Tour” by Wildlife Tours, which lists Pan Pacific Melbourne as one of its designated pick-up stops.
Visit the Phillip Island website for accessibility details.
Where to Stay in Melbourne: Pan Pacific Melbourne
At Pan Pacific Melbourne, we have the comfort of our guests with special needs in mind. Our hotel complies with ADA guidelines, and service support animals are welcome. To ensure your safety and comfort, our hotel is equipped with the following facilities:
- Accessible guestrooms
- Accessible public areas and facilities, including meeting rooms, elevators, and carpark
- Audible alarms
- Bedroom and bathroom doors at least 32 inches (812 mm) wide
- Braille elevator
- Emergency call button on telephone
- Evacuation chair available to help evacuate a disabled person
- Grab bars in bathroom
- Level or ramp entrance into the building and to the lobby/reception area
- Lowered emergency evacuation instructions
- Roll-in shower
- Strobe alarms
- Visual alarms for the hard of hearing in hallways and public areas