Melbourne, Australia, in the state of Victoria, sits on the northern banks of the Yarra River, about three miles from Port Phillip Bay. This lively cosmopolitan city offers everything you crave in a city destination -- great shopping, nightlife, entertainment and culture all in a fairly condensed package.

Melbourneis laid out in a large rectangle, filled with a maze of hidden laneways where you can discover bars, restaurants and cool boutiques. It is made up of precincts, distinct enclaves with their own flavor. Part of the fun is just wandering around to see what you happen upon.

Federation Square is the city’s landmark cultural and entertainment center and a must at some point during your visit, if only to enjoy its bold design. More than 2,000 events take place here each year, including cultural festivals, exhibitions, performances, films, concerts and fashion shows. It is home to a slew of art galleries, the Australian Centre of the Moving Image and great places to eat and drink.

Melbourne’s culture abounds throughout the city as home to the Australian Ballet, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Princess Theatre. Discover more on Aboriginal culture on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens. And when culture for you means great sporting events, this is the city to enjoy those. Head for the Melbourne Cricket Ground for an Australian Rules Football game in winter, watch cricket in summer, or the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne Park.

Shopping is not just something to do in Melbourne, it is a part of the vibe of the city wherever you stroll. Designer labels can be found on Chapel Street in Prahan or in the historic Melbourne General Post Office, which covers an entire city block. Go funky on Brunswick Street and grab a real bargain at the Rose Street Artist’s Market. Just find a hidden laneway or European style piazza and make sure your credit card is in hand.

When hunger gives in, Melbourne is a gourmet haven. From its famed coffee and old-world cafés, to top restaurants, such as Nobu, Botanical and Becco, the city is full of choice for food and drink. There are varied international menus to taste, including Italian, Spanish tapas and Vietnamese. Stroll through Southbank or Federation Square to find what you crave. And if you want to do it yourself, Queen Victoria Market on Saturday is known for its fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood. There are also plenty of bars to try, whether on Brunswick Street, Little Collins Street or St. Kilda.

Non-stop flights to Melbourne from the U.S. are via Los Angeles. And once in the city, getting around is easy. Hoofing it gets you upclose to it all, but when you want to go from one area to the next you can hop on a tram -- both a fun and easy way to travel. There are also trains and buses. The City Circle tram offers a free way to get around to sights and attractions, with commentary along the way.

Melbourne is a year-round destination, though winter from June to August can get cold.