Adelaide’s got it all right on the doorstep of the city centre: an incredible market, the impressive Adelaide Oval, and museums, galleries, and attractions to thrill and delight. Head a little further out though, and you’ll find heritage towns, adventure parks, excellent beaches, and abundant wildlife. Here are four places to take the family to create an unforgettable day out.
Adelaide is blessed with long stretches of excellent beaches where you could easily spend hours swimming, surfing, snorkelling, or wandering along the sand. But to keep the kiddos happy for hours on end, take the 20-minute drive to West Beach. There’s a lovely length of white sand for relaxing, but along the foreshore there are other adventure activities to keep them entertained.
During the summer months, the Big Wedgie Water Park gets blown up – the slides are all inflatable – so they can go up the stairs and down the slippery slope until they’re exhausted. There’s the Little Wedgie for the tiniest in your crowd and the slides grow to the Big Wedgie, at 18 metres tall with a 50-degree drop.
Even more impressive is West Beach Adventure, an enormous steel structure that includes a 70-obstacle MegaClimb, Giant Swing, Sky Walk and even a Kids Course for pint-sized players
Most people stop by this town, the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia, on their way to the Adelaide Hills and the region’s many cellar doors. But if you have the whole family with you, spending the day in Hahndorf , a half-hour’s drive in the rental car from Adelaide, might be more your scene. The main street is lined with sandstone buildings and shaded by elm trees.
If you’re visiting between November and April, head to Beerenberg Family Farm, where you can wander the rows and pick plump, juicy strawberries. Before you go, be sure to drop into the farm shop for an ice-cream made from fresh strawberries.
The younger members of the family will love getting up close to the friendly creatures at Hahndorf Farm Barn. There’s the chance to hand feed donkeys, go on a pony ride or try milking a cow. Otherwise, you can challenge them to a few holes at Hahndorf Mini Golf.
In those historical buildings there’s plenty more the kids will love. Stop for lunch at Hahndorf Hot Dogs & Hot Rods then get a scoop or two at Evercream Ye Olde Icecreamery, where the chilly treats are handmade from the finest, all-natural ingredients, including real fruit. You might want to hit one of the old-fashioned lolly stores too, to grab some snacks for the trip back to Adelaide.
While Adelaide Zoo is home to Wang Wang and Fu Ni, the only pair of giant pandas in Australia, if you head a little bit further out of the city, you can visit a sanctuary where most of the animals roam in their natural habitat. Cleland Wildlife Park, only 20 minutes’ drive out of the city, is spread out across 35 hectares with native animals and birds living in the bushland setting. Some of them are happy to interact and get a pat, others are shyer. Keep your eyes open for koalas, emus, kangaroos, wombats, bettongs, potoroos and even echidnas.
Throughout the day, the keepers host free feeding times for many animals, including the snakes and reptiles, and often answer questions about some of the popular inhabitants like dingoes and Tasmanian devils.
While you’re in the area, drive your rental car to Mount Lofty Summit. At 710 metres above sea level, it’s the highest point in the Adelaide Hills with stunning views all the way back to Adelaide.
If you want to give the rental car a real run, head north of Adelaide to the Clare Valley, about 150 kilometres away. This well-known wine region is one of Australia’s oldest, so it’s brimming with heritage towns, hiking, and cycling trails, museums and galleries, and other family-oriented fun. To make the most of everything it has to offer, you might even consider staying the night.
A definite stop on your itinerary should be Mintaro Maze, planted in 1995 and now confusing kids and their parents as they find their way to the middle and out again. Once you’ve mastered the hedge maze, there’s a lovely cafe serving coffee and homemade cakes, muffins, slices, and scones.
If they like to head into the great outdoors, hire a bike and hit the 35-kilometre Riesling Trail. With only walkers and cyclists to contend with, you’ll be able to take in all the sights as you pedal from one town to the next.
When you’re ready to explore Adelaide and beyond, hire a rental car to make getting around easy.