One of my favourite places in Melbourne, and its totally free, is the Royal Botanic Gardens. I was the unfashionable school kid who would chose going here over bowling or ice skating or roller skating. One can wander for hours, moving from micro climate to micro climate, manicured expanses of lawn, winding pathways strode upon by all manner of well behaved dog, glorious flower beds to the dark fern gullys that were always a personal favourite of my children.
The Royal Botanic Gardens sit on the edge of the CBD, on the Yarra River, bordering the old suburb of South Yarra. There is car parking available (some meter, some free, one just needs a bit of patience sometimes). The Tan surrounds the Garden, a favourite for joggers and do walkers. The gardens are a beautiful retreat for all manner of city workers and apartment dwellers, who must be gasping in the tree scented air like there is no tomorrow!
There are tea rooms in a few locations, the probable favourite sitting on the lake. What better way to have a coffee than to the background noise of the honking of ducks and swans.
If you have the time, there are some amazing places to explore. Old rock paths take you to points with a wonderful view of surrounding sporting facilities, something Melbourne is quite famous for.
As one walks through the gardens, its quite momentous to think that this paradise of trees, shrubs and garden beds have been designed, constructed, and constantly enhanced, knowing that the result would be most appreciated in the lifetimes of people beyond your own, forever to be appreciated by the generations after you.