With its palm tree lined foreshore and iconic Luna Park, St Kilda is one of Melbourne’s best-loved suburbs – a fun-filled beachside playground for kids of all ages. But it’s not just a great place to play, as the many rusted on locals will attest. Trams and a lightrail shuttle residents efficiently into the CBD, but with an abundance of activities and diverse eateries at your doorstep, you’ll have few reasons to leave.
The cosmopolitan culture and vibrant arts scene have been a magnet for an array of people, creating a marvellous melting pot of a community. While gentrification is progressing rapidly, the area’s bohemian vibe lives on. Many locals start their day by making the most of their proximity to beautiful natural surrounds by jogging or walking along the beach before coffee and brunch with friends at one of the plethora of quality cafes.
Couples and families stroll up St Kilda Pier, some poking around the breakwater hoping for a glimpse of a fairy penguin. Those looking to up the ante head to the beachside gym – complete with handily distracting water views – and pool at South Pacific Health Club in the old St Kilda Sea Baths building. There, locals rotate between Victoria’s only indoor heated seawater pool, the hydrotherapy spa and steam room – those adventurous enough then make a quick dash across the sand for a life-affirming dip in the bay.
Entertainment wise, there are eclectic shops, bars and pubs galore, plus plenty of live music at venues such as the heritage-listed art deco Palais Theatre, which recently underwent a facelift.
It’s a youthful suburb that is all about renewal. Perched right on the foreshore, the Stokehouse restaurant emerged as a phoenix from the flames after it burnt down. Now with a beach luxe vibe and with three separate dining options to suit all budgets, on weekends it heaves with locals and visitors indulging in a cocktail while watching the sun slip beneath the horizon.
But don’t be fooled – there’s plenty to StKilda besides the beach. Towering above the foreshore on a majestic, sweeping esplanade, the lovingly remodelled Esplanade Hotel attracts a diverse following – with live music on offer, various bars and restaurants, there’s plenty for everyone.
Keep meandering along the esplanade and past the grinning facade of Luna Park, and you’ll stumble across Acland Street and its famous cake shops. Shelves heaving with decadent delights, Monarch Cakes has been indulging the sweet tooth of many a local for more than eight decades. Their Polish cheesecake is a classic, while their chocolate kooglhoupf has developed cult status.
Year round, the great outdoors beckon. Just one of many green spaces, tucked away behind busy Barkly Street, the charming St Kilda Botanic Gardens offer the perfect respite. Take a break and laze about on a picnic rug with a book. Kids can burn off some energy on the play equipment and you may even witness a couple tying the knot in the exquisite rose garden.
The laidback character of St Kilda woos people who take lifestyle seriously – and there are yoga and pilates studios, spas and plenty of other wellness offerings to satisfy the locals. For families, there are primary schools and nearby St Michael’s Grammar School.
Whether you want to be in the thick of the action in a modern apartment block with all the trimmings, or hidden away in a quiet backstreet in an Edwardian family home, you won’t regret moving into Melbourne’s beating heart of St Kilda.