5 Melbourne Date Ideas With A Difference

Melbourne is a city on the rise, its population has an astoundingly fresh average age of 28; the youngest in Australia. The city lives and breathes youth; Coffee pours from all corners and street art is never far away. Along with its young and trendy culture comes a hefty price tag. A coffee can cost anywhere from $4 to $30 (yes an astounding $30 and apparently it doesn't taste that nice), a standard cocktail comes in at $20 and don't be alarmed if you order a smashed avo (Melbourne's signature dish) and get a bill for anywhere north of $12. This hefty price tag can really put a downer on dating in Melbourne, but it doesn't have to. Whether you live there, you're just visiting or you're planning a visit, here are some great ideas for dates with a difference that won't break the bank.

Milk The Cow

The ultimate date spot to impress. There's nothing like cutting the cheese with a prospective partner to liven the atmosphere. Milk the cow is a wine and cheese bar that offers an experience sure to go down well with anyone who isn't lactose intolerant. You're not committed to the length or formality of a proper dinner date which is ideal for a first date scenario where the night can be tailored depending on how well it's going. The menu is essentially crafted to a date situation, there are a number of options of cheese and booze flights ranging from a whopping-ly low $17 (small cheese and beer flight) to a really-not-that much $35 (a decadent cheese and sparkles flight!). If you really want to impress, it's best to make your own. With over 120 cheeses from around the world to choose from, build your own board and show off your cheese pronunciation skills. The low lighting, well dressed staff and lively buzz create an unrivaled atmosphere of cheesy romance. Milk The Cow have two locations, one on Lygon St that fits right in with the European charm of Carlton and one in St Kilda for those closer to the bay!
A generous cheese board at Milk The Cow

A generous cheese board at Milk The Cow


Ice cream might seem a classic date choice, but Messina's ice cream is anything but. With locations all over Melbourne, there is no excuse for not making a visit. This is no baskin robbins. Take a stroll around Fitzroy late at night and end up at Messina on Smith Street. It might seem like you're entering a club with the pumping music that's played through the night but rest assured the only drinks served are milkshakes. Messina offer weekly specials that range from wagon wheel to honey and bread flavour; they are all mind-blowingly delicious, check their instagram to find out what's on offer when you go. The exceptional flavour choice, paired with the bar-like atmosphere make Messina an ultimate date spot. A couple of ice creams will cost you less than $20 as well, so if you want to extend the date you can probably stretch for a drink afterwards.

The Shrine of Remembrance

For the extremely budget conscience aka stingy, this is the spot for you as it is absolutely free. The shrine is just south of Flinders St and at night delivers stunning views of the city. It can often feel like you have been treated to a private viewing platform. Although watch out because the cops can appear as if from nowhere and do not approve of drinking on the premises. So if you do take supplies with you, keep them under wraps. Take a blanket, sit, chat, look on in wonder and feel alone in a city of millions! If you find yourself at the shrine on a chilly night warm up by the eternal flame that burns in the forecourt, lit by Her Majesty the Queen in 1954 the flame only adds to the idyllic and historical setting.
Shrine Image Library

The Shrine of Remembrance at night

Queen Victoria Market

What's more romantic than copious amounts of dead meat and fish?! Walking quickly through the butcher and fishmonger sections, make your way to the fruit and veggie market and beyond. Everything is available at Queen Vic Market, from handmade leather belts to soy candles to cheap socks. Wander the stalls and soak in the market aromas. You might even find a bargain deal while you're at it. The winter night market runs through, you guessed it, winter and takes place every Wednesday; food stands galore, mulled wine a plenty and live music make the night market a particularly inspired date location. Wrap up warm and make sure to have cash on you as ATM's are few and far between.

Healesville Animal Sanctuary

A little further afield but definitely worth the trip lies Healesville animal sanctuary, it takes just over an hour to drive to Healesville from the city. Here you will find kangaroos, emus, koala bears, wombats and so many more creatures sure to put a smile on both your faces. Entry costs $32.50 which isn't too bad as you can spend all day walking around catching various animal shows, I highly recommend the bird show – one of them talks! For a more intimate experience, a magic moment is highly recommended and for only $12 a head you can't go wrong. Choose from feeding a kangaroo, petting a dingoe or wearing a python. There is a lot to do at Healesville so you could easily spend the best part of the day there but if you want to really splash out there are some excellent restaurants nearby, checkout the innocent bystander winery round the corner for a pizza and glass of wine that will go down smooth after a day with the animals.
An adorable emu at Healsville

An adorable emu at Healsville

If all else fails, Melbourne is a very easy city in which to spend a day people-watching. Stroll through the city and soak in the sights, from Federation Square to the Yarra river and beyond; there's enough going on to keep you occupied for a while. Grab a coffee in Brunswick and mock the hipsters or head to Toorak and mock the posho's. If the city doesn't float your boat, there is plenty to do further afield as well; Discover Victoria has some great ideas for adventures throughout the region. Whatever takes your fancy!      

Dani Goldberg

Dani is a born and raised Londoner currently living in Melbourne, Australia. A classically trained marine biologist, practically trained PADI divemaster and cutting social commentator. Find out more wherethewhalesare.com.