Named after a schooner that ran aground in 1841, St Kilda has gone through various stages of popularity and infamy in it’s short history. Once the playground for Melbourne’s elite, comparisons were drawn between St Kilda and Cooney Island of New York due in no small part to the attraction of Luna Park.
Post World War Two and the suburb fell into a state of disrepute and subsequently turned into the red light district of Melbourne.
Increasing rent prices dispersed the majority of these undesirable elements from the area to end up with an eclectic blend of modernity, artistic character and history.
So what is there to do in St Kilda?
The beach at St Kilda is probably the biggest attraction and has been the playground for Melbournians ever since the suburb was populated.
It’s the perfect place for a whole range of water sports or to simply walk along the promenade or pier and enjoy the array of sea baths, marine clubs and restaurants that populate the area.
Coming in a close second, the world famous Luna Park has been operating for 100 years and is as popular today as it ever has been. It’s a traditional amusement park with many of the rides are of an older design, made of wood and are mixed in with more modern rides such as the Cooney Island Top Drop.
Several rides in the park have been given preservation status due to their historical significance. These include the Scenic Railway built in 1911 and the Magic Carousel built in 1913.
Fitzroy Street is very popular due to its numerous restaurants and cafes. Its proximity to the entertainment areas of St Kilda Beach are partly responsible for this as is Melbourne’s gay community who have adopted the street as their own and made it the focal point for their annual Pride March.
Acland Street is another place tourists must visit when in St Kilda. Here you will find a whole range of fashion and book stores as well as several restaurants.
Historic or iconic buildings are located all throughout St Kilda, the majority of which are centred around the St Kilda Esplanade. If you’re after a cold drink then the St Kilda Hotel built in 1878 is a must for any visitor to the suburb. The impressive St Kilda Town Hall and its Victorian public gardens are also well worth a look as is the Prince of Wales Hotel.
If you’re after a touch of class then why not visit one of the many theatres in the area? The Palais Theatre is a former cinema that has been transformed into the largest seated concert venue in Australia. A great example of Art Deco architecture, the theatre was originally opened in 1928 and has gone on to achieve heritage status. Other notable venues are the National Theatre and the Astor Theatre.
If the timing is right then why not join in the fun at the St Kilda Festival? Held every year on the second Sunday in February, the festival showcases children’s entertainment, beach activities plus Australian live music in a family friendly, carnival like atmosphere.
Dining options in St Kilda range from the extravagant: there are three Two Hat restaurants in the area, through to the quick and easy: grabbing a bite to eat down on the Foreshore. Most of St Kilda’s cafes and restaurants are located on Fitzroy and Acland Streets while the remainder can be found around the St Kilda Foreshore.
Accommodation in St Kilda ranges from backpacker options to serviced apartments, motels to four and a half star hotels. Luxury bed and breakfasts are available as well as holiday houses and short term rentals.