Do a modern version of "the block", a century-old form of cruising Melbourne's arcades that to this day takes in cutting-edge artwork, independent fashion, imported music and stunning design.

Block Arcade and Royal Arcade

These days you're not walking endlessly around Block and Royal arcades, unlike your forebears who were trying to escape the prying eyes of their elders. You may still start at Block Arcade, which links Collins Street and Little Collins streets via a glass canopied, mosaic floored laneway. Slaver over the cake displays at Hopetoun Tea Rooms, then continue into Block Place for al fresco eating options, and rollicking tunes at Basement Discs.

Cross over to Royal Arcade, nodding to the giant statues of Gog and Magog and set yourself up with babushkas, board games, bling and super style from Marais and Somedays.

Manchester Unity Arcade and Cathedral Arcade

Your new-fangled "block" doesn't end there. Cover your tracks back over to Collins Street and head for Manchester Unity Arcade. Marvel at the bespoke tile work, black-marble friezes and tablets, and ornate elevators of the ground-floor arcade, a grand entrance to the art deco, neo-gothic Manchester Unity building.

From here, meander one block along Swanston Street to Cathedral Arcade, with the dome, stained glass and leadlighting that the name suggests. Browse the wares at Kuwaii and Obus, and ride the lifts up to the Nicholas Building ateliers, studios and galleries.

Campbell Arcade

Slip beneath Degraves Street to Campbell Arcade and be surprised by The Dirty Dozen, a glass-cabinet exhibition space that lines the walls and gives commuters something to smile about. Also proffering reasons to smile is Cup of Truth and its seriously excellent coffee; indie fashion at Cats Meow and Corky Saint Clair; big beats at Wax Museum Records; and Sticky zine world, which almost defies description.

With all the cafes, bars and restaurants scattered around "the block", you can maintain your energy levels, and do it all again.

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