Things to Do in Adelaide
One of the world’s most scenic arenas, the Adelaide Oval dates back to 1871. Best known for cricket, the defining sport of British colonies, it also hosts concerts, rugby, Australian rules football, and more. Besides a cafe, fine dining restaurant, and corporate events spaces, it offers a museum devoted to cricket legend Donald Bradman.
McLaren Vale is second only to Barossa Valley as South Australia’s top wine region. The region's wineries are spread out around the town of McLaren Vale, about 25 miles (41 kilometers) south of Adelaide. Soft, luscious Shiraz is the signature style, and more than 70 wineries offer tastings. Don't miss the vibrant local food scene.
Tucked away in the Adelaide Hills, the tree-lined lanes and historic taverns of Hahndorf have a distinctly Bavarian feel; so much so that the village has dubbed itself “Australia’s oldest German town.” Founded by German settlers in the early 19th century, Hahndorf displays its heritage in its culture, architecture, and cuisine.
Despite its name, Mt. Lofty is far from lofty, standing just 2,385 feet (727 meters) high in the Mt. Lofty Ranges, part of the Adelaide Hills. The summit offers views across Adelaide and the ocean, with a café, an information center and shop, and hiking trail access. Mt. Lofty Botanic Garden and Cleland Wildlife Park are on its slopes.
Adelaide Zoo is home to almost 2,500 animals, with around 250 different species from all around the world. Along with Aussie favorites like kangaroos, koalas, and Tasmanian devils, the zoo is famous for its pair of Giant Pandas, Wang Wang and Funi, the only animals of their kind in Australia.
With a history dating back more than 150 years, Adelaide Central Market has long been at the center of Adelaide’s foodie scene. It remains one of Australia’s largest covered food markets, with about 80 stalls stacked with fresh, seasonal produce.
One of the oldest buildings in South Australia, Adelaide Gaol is remarkable for its architecture, its history, and—allegedly—its ghosts. During its years of operation, 1841–1988, the jail housed over 300,000 prisoners, 45 of whom were executed on-site. Today it offers an interactive exhibition, a range of food options, and a shop.
For a taste of new-world Adelaide, travelers make a stop at Rundle Mall. But for a look at the city’s historic past and contemporary culture there is no place better than North Terrace. The mile-long avenue passes by the art center, parliament house, national library, university and Botanical Gardens, as well as an iconic church from 1838 and a restored 1920s railway station. Large grassy fields and tall shade trees provide the perfect resting place for an afternoon picnic, while a number of pubs mean travelers are always within reach of a cold, refreshing drink.
Central Adelaide’s most important square, Victoria Square is known to the Kaurna people as “tarntanyangga” (red kangaroo dreaming). A special-events space and popular lunch spot for local workers, it’s home to statues, lawns, gum trees, and the 1960s Three Rivers Fountain. Nearby landmarks include St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.
Occasionally overshadowed by neighboring Adelaide Oval, the Gothic Revival spires of St. Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide are an architectural landmark. The leading place of worship for the city’s Anglican community, it was built between 1869 and 1911 from local sandstone. English craftsmen contributed much of the stained glass.
More Things to Do in Adelaide
Established in 1844, Penfolds is perhaps Australia’s defining wine brand, and these Adelaide Hills vineyards are where it all began. Besides cellars, wine-making operations, and tasting rooms, the site is home to the original Grange cottage where the founders lived, an award-winning fine-dining restaurant, and an informal eatery.
Covering more than 124 acres (50 hectares) between the North Terrace and Botanic Park, the Adelaide Botanic Garden are among the city’s most stunning green spaces. With tree-lined walkways, water lily and lotus ponds, and flower gardens blooming with roses and dahlias, this is an idyllic place for a walking tour.
This pleasant trail can be reached from city center, but its waterfront views, open fields and quiet surroundings lend a country feel that’s hard to find in most urban settings. Linear Park offers visitors an ideal setting for afternoon sunbathing, relaxing picnics, or even a dip in the River Torrens. The trail, which wraps past the Adelaide Festival Center, Convention Center and the local zoo, is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a recreational bike ride.
Some 400,000 customers flock to this shopping Mecca every week—including 85% of Adelaide’s international travelers. With 700 retailers it’s no surprise. Make a stop at the Adelaide Visitors Information Center, where friendly staff and a library of brochures offer up advice on what to do, where to go and what not to miss in the area. Next walk through Adelaide and Gays Arcade, where beautiful skylights line the ceiling. Retailers here were the first in the country to have electric lights, and locals believe six ghosts live in the arcade, including a caretaker who fell to his death repairing the generator that powered the lights.
Browse the shelves at one of the mall’s dozens of books stores before heading to Haighs for a famous chocolate frog. The fourth generation family owned business is an Australian staple, and has been whipping up its famous cocoa treats since 1915.
Enjoy local shopping at Raw Space and It’s a Gift (two of the mall’s most-visited stores) before heading taking some final photo ops with the Silver Balls (also known as the Malls Balls) and the bronze pigs. These two quirky works of public art have become Rundle Mall institutions.
One of the principal attractions of Adelaide’s Cultural Precinct, the South Australian Museum is devoted to the region’s natural and cultural history. The museum is best known for its impressive collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural items: the largest collection of its kind in the world.
When most people think of chocolate they think European. Belgium, Switzerland—these are nations known for creating smooth and creamy pure cocoa treats. But Aussies know some of the most decadent chocolate pleasures are made at their very own Haigh’s Chocolates. Since 1915 this fourth generation, family owned company has been churning out candies that are worth the trip. From classic dark chocolates to new salted caramels, travelers can find a taste of Australia at one of the company’s retail stores—or watch production in action at the Haigh's Chocolates Visitor Centre.
The Art Gallery of South Australia showcases around 45,000 works of art spanning 2,000 years. Expect to see works by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and a diverse array of art from around the world, including Rodin bronzes and contemporary pieces. The museum occupies a landmark neoclassical building in the heart of Adelaide.
Set in the Cleland Conservation Park, just 20 minutes outside Adelaide, Cleland Wildlife Park is home to a wealth of Australian animals, most of them roaming free. It’s possible to hand-feed native fauna, including kangaroos, wallabies, and emus, while the park offers up-close experiences with koalas, wombats, and more.
Covering more than 3,700 acres (1,500 hectares) and featuring more than 500 free-roaming animals, Monarto Zoo is Australia’s largest open-range zoo. Along with Aussie favorites such as wallabies and Tasmanian Devils, the zoo is home to Australia’s largest herd of giraffes, as well as lions, rhinos, cheetah, and meerkats.
Home to the Parliament of the state of South Australia, Parliament House is a landmark of downtown Adelaide. Behind grand columns it houses the state’s two legislative chambers: the House of Assembly (lower house) and the Legislative Council (upper house). Designed as early as 1872, it wasn’t completed until 1939.
Set on North Terrace, the grand boulevard that forms Adelaide’s cultural heart, the State Library of South Australia (SLSA) occupies three spectacular buildings from different eras. Besides the architectural splendor of the Mortlock Wing, the library offers the full range of reference library resources, as well as exhibitions, free Wi-Fi, and a café.
The National Wine Centre of Australia introduces visitors to Australian wine, with a focus on South Australia. The outer shell of the building resembles wine barrels. Inside, visitors can take a wine discovery journey or an educational class, or indulge in food, a wealth of tastings, and one of the southern hemisphere’s best cellars.
Telling the stories of the migrants who came from all over the world to make South Australia their home, the Migration Museum provides fascinating insight into Adelaide’s rich history and cultural heritage. With respect for the indigenous people of this region, the museum also illustrates the impact of immigration on native Australians.
This small island, just a short walk from Victor Harbor, gets its name from the huge granite boulders that dot its landscape. Granite Island (Nulcoowarra) may be of significance to geologists, but the island is perhaps most important to the indigenous Ramindjeri people, who believe it was formed by spears thrown into the water.
Today, visitors come to Granite Island to ride the horse-drawn tram and wander the hills in search of the tiny penguins that call this place home. An informative Penguin Center is open from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with twice-daily public feedings. The well-marked Kaiki Walk lets visitors loop around the island’s edge in an easy 40 minutes, and a handful of ocean lookouts prove also ideal for whale watching.
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