Stift (Abbey) Melk dates back about 1,000 years and is easily reachable from Vienna along the A1 highway (exit 80, Melk, follow the signs). The Abbey is a world cultural site located in a beautiful setting; aside from the cathedral, there are gardens, cafes, and beautiful views of the Wachau Valley.
During the summer months, visitors can explore the Abbey and gardens alone without a guided tour but during the winter months (November-March), visitors must participate in a guided tour to enter the Abbey. Regular admission without the guided tour is also part of the Niederösterreich Card. The Abbey is also very accommodating to younger visitors; upon purchasing our tickets, my kids received post cards and treats from the ticket vendors and the employees went out of their way to open doors to allow our stroller entry.
There are a few cafes serving lunch and snacks but we opted to drive a bit further to the small city of Dürnstein to enjoy a nice meal in the beautiful garden of a local Heuriger, Loibnerhof (a bit more pricey but delicious food and wine!).