Off-Track Activites – Australian Grand Prix

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What to do away from the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne. The best off-track activities, including where to eat, drink, shop and go out. The 2017 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place on March 23-26.

Melbourne is world-renowned for the quality and choice of its dining experience. With such a multicultural local population, fans can sample most major cuisines of the world. Popular options include Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern and a myriad of Asian cuisines, including Indian, Chinese, Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese. There are also many ‘gastro pubs’ serving tasty ‘modern Australian’ cuisine and craft beers. For more information on the best places to eat in Melbourne, check out Urban Spoon.

From traditional pubs to modern bars and clubs, Melbourne has a great nightlife scene. Popular areas include the city centre (CBD), Southbank and St Kilda, but if you have time and are a little more adventurous, many inner suburban areas such as Carlton, Fitzroy and South Yarra are also worth a look. There is always a range of other events happening on any given weekend in Melbourne, from comedy to theatre or opera –  Time Out is a great source for find out what is happening in the city.

Central Business District (CBD)

The commercial and shopping hub of the city also boasts plenty of eating and drinking choices and a wide range of accommodation. Bars, pubs and clubs are are all over and the city is renowned for the alleyways which snake between the skyscrapers and other commercial buildings, where you will find some of the city’s best drinking and dining choices.

  • Bourke Street Mall is a pedestrianized street and the heart of Melbourne’s shopping area, where many large shopping arcades, department stores and flagship brand stores are located.
  • Melbourne has a vibrant Chinatown district in the heart of the city with a range of authentic eateries to suit all tastes and budgets.
  • The Queen Victoria Market, which is open 5 days a week (closed on Mondays and Wednesdays) is a popular local market. There are lots of cheap eats in the vicinity and you can also pick up well-priced Australian souvenirs.

Southbank

This popular entertainment precinct on the southern banks of the Yarra River in the city centre is dominated by the vast Crown Entertainment Complex, which comprises Crown Casino, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as shops, bars, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs and a large event space. Games offered at the casino include the staples of roulette, blackjack, craps and poker, as well as popular Asian games Baccarat and Pai Gow. There are also 2500 electronic gaming machines in the casino (known as ‘pokies’ in Australia). Also in the Southbank precinct, the distinctive Eureka residential tower is one of the largest residential buildings in the world, topping out at just under 300 metres. It boasts an observation deck on the 88th floor called Eureka 88.

Federation Square

Federation Square (or simply Fed Square) is a civic and arts precinct in the city centre, next to Flinders Street train station. Within the precinct you can find a variety of cultural attractions, including permanent and short-term art and mixed media exhibitions. It’s also home to cafes, restaurants and bars.

Docklands

A massive urban renewal project which has turned a former area of wharves and light industry into a new precinct boasting restaurants, shops and housing, the Docklands precinct is located adjacent to the CBD and is well worth a visit. More information on Docklands can be found here.

Close to the track

If you are peckish leaving the track, Andrew’s Hamburgers is a good bet. This highly rated burger bar can be found at 144 Bridport Street, Albert Park. The best trackside pub is the Middle Park hotel, located very close to Gate 1. Expect a friendly F1 atmosphere during the afternoons and evenings on Grand Prix weekend. Time Out has more intel on the best places to shop, eat and drink in Albert Park.

St Kilda

Close to the circuit, St Kilda is Melbourne’s best known suburban beach. It may not be beach weather on Grand Prix weekend, but it’s still worth heading to Acland Street in St Kilda’s for shopping, restaurants, bars and and cafes. The Esplanade Hotel ( ‘The Espy) is a historic pub in St Kilda which is well known for hosting live music, including lots of interstate and international bands.

Lygon Street, Carlton

To the inner North West of the city centre, Lygon Street in Carlton is a café strip popular with Melbourne’s large Italian community. If you are a Ferrari fan, no trip to Melbourne on Grand Prix weekend would be complete without a trip to Lygon Street. The street comes alive as local cafes and pizzerias fly the flag for Ferrari and welcome travelling ‘tifosi’. ‘Cruising’ is also popular on Lygon Street, a practice which sees locals  driving slowly up and down the street to show off their modified or luxury cars. Click here for a list of the best restaurants.

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Fitzroy is a trendy inner northern suburb of Melbourne, popular with hipsters and arty types. The main thoroughfare is Brunswick Street, where you can find loads of cool shops, many specializing in alternative fashion, as well as art galleries, cafes and restaurants. The street is also worth visiting for its nightlife, particularly live music taking in many different genres.

Chapel Street, South Yarra

Chapel Street is a popular shopping, café and dining street in South Yarra close to the Albert Park circuit. Being located so close to many of Melbourne’s most exclusive suburbs, Chapel Street is known for upmarket shopping and some of the best restaurants in the city. It is a hive of activity late on Friday and Saturday nights as many of the best clubs in the city are located on the street.

Local Tourist Attractions

Hopefully you will have some time to spend a day or two either side of race weekend to explore the city and surrounds. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Visit the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the home of the Australian Open tennis, both just a short stroll from the city centre. The National Sports Museum is within the grounds of the MCG and is also worth a look. More details here.
  • Spend a day on a tour of the famous Yarra Valley wine growing area, just outside the city.
  • Visit the Melbourne Aquarium, learn more here
  • Check out the Melbourne Zoo, located just north of the city centre. Click here for more details.

What are Melbourne’s must-sees and must-dos? Leave a comment below!

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What to do away from the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne. The best off-track activities, including where to eat, drink, shop and go out.

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