EATING, SHOPPING & EXPLORING IN MELBOURNE

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I feel a bit guilty about what I'm about to write because people from Brisbane are meant to love Melbourne.

We're supposed to be impressed by how much more cultured, stylish, and cosmopolitan it is.

We're obliged to nod in agreement that the coffee is universally better.

When Brisbane folks come in to my shop and exclaim 'Oh it's sooooooo like Melbs in here!' I now understand it's meant as a genuine compliment. When I told our customers that I was going down for my first visit almost every one of the responded with some version of "Ohmygoodness.... you're going to love it sooooooo much! You're never going to want to come back to Brissy."

The thing is, though, I can't say I loved Melbourne as much as all that. If I'm being really honest, I didn't even think it was the best city I'd visited in Australia. (To me, Sydney is just as vibrant and so much more beautiful.)

Don't get me wrong. We had a fantastic time exploring, eating, and shopping... And I'm getting ready to share my picks for the best places to do all three below...  I suppose I just wonder why the place gets so much hype up here in Brisbane... Because as wonderful as it is, I doubt if any one place could live up the reputation Melbourne enjoys here in the Sunshine State.

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// EATING//

Proud Mary - 172 Oxford St Regularly voted best breakfast and coffee in Melbs. The insanely fluffy ricotta pancakes sure got our vote.

Stagger Lees - 276 Brunswick St Americana done right. This is where beautiful people eat tacos for breakfast to classic rock tunes.

Huxtaburger - 106 Smith St Cheap and awesome with a simple menu and very few frills.

Gelato Messina - 237 Smith St The best gelato with the most exciting flavours. Try to catch the shop in a lull or you could find yourself waiting an eternity for your cone.

Vegie Bar - 380 Brunswick St A very big and busy place. Good for wine and vegetarian meals. Lots of pretty people go here.

European Cake Shops - Acland St, St. Kilda Pick one, any one, and sit outside. Order the strudel.

 Sonido - 69 Gertrude St A super great South American cafe, perfect for between meals snacking.

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// SHOPPING //

The Lab Organics - 360 Rathdowne Street The place to find premium and cult organic beauty products, natural skin care, and fragrances.

Happy Valley - 294 Smith Street A playful gallery of eclectic gifts, designer homewares, books, rare mags, and art prints.

The Fitzroy Nursery - 390 Brunswick St Melbourne is mad for succulents, and this urban oasis boasts an impressive collection, as well as water features and sculptures.

COS - 240 Elizabeth St Recently opened, it's the only one in Australia and ideal if you love a bit of clean, modern European fashion.

CBD Laneways Sprinkled in among the tourist traps, the Laneways are still home to an impressive array of really interesting specialty shops, and worth a poke around.

Cottage Industry - 67 Gertrude St Craftopia of Penelope Durston : Cushions made from vintage teatowels and crocheted afghans, knitting needles and yarn, hand made accessories and more!

Kiosk at Third Drawer Down - 93 George St Excellent place to buy gifts and see the clever things clever people design.

Incub8r - 321 Smith St A little emporium of handmade and crafty! Crafters and artists hire a cube and display their wares. Go see!

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// Exploring //

The State Library of Victoria - 328 Swanston St The most beautiful indoor space in Melbourne, according to me. Fabulous collection of rare books on display.

The Royal Botanic Gardens - Birdwood Ave, South Yarra The arid and grey gardens are the most spectacular, with wonderful views of the CBD throughout the trees.

Fairy penguins St. Kilda's Pier They nest among the rocks. You'll smell them and hear the chirping before you spot them.

Grand old homes on the leafy streets of East Melbourne

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