Adelaide

Ultimate guide to things to do in Adelaide with kids

The South Australian capital, often referred to as the “city of churches,” is famous for its grandeur, history and European charm. But Adelaide’s diverse activities and relaxed vibes also cement its place in the family-friendly category.  

With impressive architecture, wide boulevards, expansive parklands, colourful year-round festivals and al fresco dining options, there are loads of things to do in Adelaide with kids!

Adelaide South Australia from the Torrens River

Start your exploration at Port Adelaide, which is jam-packed with family distractions. This includes the National Railway Museum as well as the wonderful Maritime Museum. There’s also impossibly cheap Port River Cruises to spot dolphins.

Read more: What to do in the Adelaide Hills with kids

Catch a cricket or AFL football match at Adelaide Oval, hailed as the world’s prettiest cricket ground. Or visit one of the city’s many cultural institutions such as the excellent Art Gallery of South Australia, which boats a free activity space for children. The South Australian Museum is another great indoor attraction. A flourishing arts scene sees the city play host to renowned events such as the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Fringe Festival and WOMADelaide.

Join the crowds for the weird and wacky at the Adelaide Fringe! Credit: Shutterstock

Families will love exploring the city’s vast green spaces and gardens too. Get on your bikes for a ride along the River Torrens Linear Park Trail. The track travels from the Mount Lofty Ranges to the coastal suburb of Henley Beach. Pack your towels and head to one of the fantastic city beaches, such as the popular Glenelg Beach. Here, visitors can swim with dolphins or, if they dare, take a dive tour with Great White Sharks.

If you prefer your animal interactions to be from a distance, a visit to Adelaide Zoo is a must. So is a safari at open range Monarto Zoo, about 50 minutes from the city.

Top things to do in Adelaide

  1. Sample Fresh Produce at Adelaide’s Central Market
  2. Take a stroll through Historic Port Adelaide
  3. Peruse the incredible collection of artworks at the Art Gallery of South Australia.
  4. Tackle RoofClimb at pretty Adelaide Oval.
  5. Swim with the dolphins at Glenelg. 
  6. Ride a camel at Victor Harbour.
  7. Cuddle a koala at Cleland Conservation Park.
  8. Meet giant pandas, Funi and Wang Wang at Adelaide Zoo.
  9. Hire a bike and cycle along the River Torrens.
  10. Get your thrills at West Beach Adventure aerial park.

Things to do in Adelaide with…

Adelaide is entirely encircled by parks. Dotted with playgrounds big and small, this makes it absolutely perfect for adventurous tots.

The Adelaide Park Lands offers gardens, ovals, great green spaces as well as a variety of sporting and play areas.  Civic Park has three shady play zones with a tower, climbing frame, rope swing and auditory play equipment. Castle-themed Jubilee Playground is one of the biggest and best playgrounds in Adelaide. It has with wooden equipment the kids will love to clamber on.

Bonython Park is an epic play space with a flying fox, water play, sand pit and a wheelchair accessible merry-go-round. The very cool Bush Magic, located alongside the Adelaide Aquatic Centre, is packed with accessible, interactive play elements. And, along with handball courts, a basketball court and a petanque piste, Tidlangga Park 9 even boasts a small fruit orchard so little ones can learn about food production.

For younger primary schoolers, Adelaide is all about the animals. Zoos and wildlife parks abound, so get busy creature-spotting!

Adelaide Zoo is home to more than 2500 animals and 250 exotic and native species. But its most beloved residents are its gorgeous giant pandas. Visit Wang Wang and Fu Ni, Australia’s only breeding pair of giant pandas.

Or head on a Safari at the incredible Monarto Zoo, about a 50-minute drive from the city. The enormous open range wildlife park is home to animals from all over the world including lions, cheetahs, giraffe and more. Take the walking trails to wander around or the hop-on hop-off Zu-Loop shuttle.

Bring it back home at Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills. Here, kids can get up-close with free-roaming kangaroos, as well as koalas and reptiles.

See more Australian animals and birds again at Gorge Wildlife Park. Located in Cudlee Creek, the park is about a 45-minute drive from Adelaide. When you visit Victor Harbor, take a penguin tour at the Granite Island Recreation and Nature Park. Watch the little penguins make their way to the burrows at dusk, after a day’s fishing.

To ‘zoo’ with a difference, get yourself kitted up with a torch and join a ranger on a 90-minute nocturnal walk. This is hosted at either Cleland or Warrawong wildlife parks. It’s all about spotting pairs of eyes glinting in the trees and undergrowth.

Adelaide’s pretty city beaches are some of the most family friendly in Australia.

Family-friendly Glenelg is perhaps the most famous of Adelaide’s beaches. The patrolled surf beach is accessible by tram from the city. Take a dip in the ocean, play in the sand and enjoy the cafes. Then, why not take a catamaran tour or swim with the colony of wild bottlenose dolphins that live nearby? Temptation Sailing operates dolphin-watching and dolphin swimming cruises from Marina Pier. Finish it off with an icecream and window shop from Moseley Square and Jetty Road.

At Brighton Beach, eat fish and chips on the beach, take a walk along the jetty and try stand-up paddle boarding in the calm waters. Dog-friendly Aldinga Beach is popular with families because of its safe swimming and gentle waves. There is also excellent snorkelling in the nearby marine park. 

And at historic Semaphore, with its beautifully preserved Art Deco buildings, you’ll find more than just a vast expanse of beautiful beach. There is a whole waterslide complex for the kids as well, plus a small fun fair with a Ferris wheel and historic carousel.

Had enough of a splash? Venture out to the Adelaide Hills for a day trip or weekender jam-packed with furry animals, horse rides and family-friendly wineries. Milk a cow, bottle-feed lambs or ride a tractor at Hahndorf Farm Barn. Then, climb the 710 metres to the top of Mount Lofty from Waterfall Gully, for some great views. The return trip takes about two hours, with a café at either end to refuel.

Read more: Top 9 Adelaide Beaches for families

In search of a few thrills? They don’t call it Radelaide for nothing! At Eagle Mountain Bike Park, just 25 minutes from Adelaide, you’ll find 21 kilometres of epic mountain bike trails, a jumps park and extreme challenges.

If you’re seeking loftier thrills, take to the skies at the West Beach Adventure Aerial Park. This one-of-a-kind playground is 26 metres in the sky, with a series of 70 aerial challenges to get the heart pumping. Scramble across aerial crossings, teeter on rope bridges, swing through the sky, and balance on an aerial surfboard. You can also play tennis, ride a bike or row a boat in mid-air.

If you’re seeking even more aerial feats, take on the RoofClimb at Adelaide Oval. This will see you clambering over the spectacular grandstands, 50 metres above the grounds. Or instead you can head to TreeClimb Adelaide, the first CBD aerial adventure park, to climb over 70 unique tree-top obstacles.

If you’d rather get your thrills at ground-level, head for Paintball Park which has a range of courses including tournament and themed bush scenarios.

The wide sand of Glenelg is perfect for a hit of cricket. Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/ Andre Castelluci

Best time to visit Adelaide as a family

Adelaide enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate and in fact has the lowest rainfall of all the Australian capitals. The city enjoys mild winters and warm, dry summers. February is typically the hottest month of the year, and June the rainiest.

The best times for families to visit are Autumn, from March to May, and also Spring, from September through November. In spring, the city is awash with colour as flowers bloom in the city’s extensive parklands. March is festival season with Adelaide Festival of Arts and WOMADelaide setting the city abuzz. This, along with Australian school holiday periods, is also the busiest time to visit. You’ll need to book well ahead to secure the best family friendly accommodation.

If you’re looking for a bargain, visit during the cooler winter months of June to August when you’ll find great accommodation deals and cheaper flights.

Take baskets and bags to carry your booty home from the Central Market. Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

Family-friendly places to eat in Adelaide

If its been around for more than 40 years and is loved by celebrities and football teams alike, you can guarantee it is going to be good. La Trattoria is a family owned and run restaurant that was opened by the Parisi brothers in 1975. In fact, it is one of the oldest restaurants in Adelaide. They have perfected their pizza, pasta, veal, salads and also their gelati from old family recipes. La Trattoria has even been praised by names such as Jon Bon Jovi and Mick Jagger.

During your visit, be sure to eat your way through the incredible Adelaide Central Market. This is undoubtedly the best spot to taste and see Adelaide’s bounty of fine produce, from farm-fresh fruit and vegetables to organic meats, artisan cheeses and seafood. During the school holidays the kids can even take one of the organised Big Market Adventures for Little Foodies Tours to learn more about where their food comes from.

For a feast of food trucks head to Victoria Square, or explore the best of Adelaide’s modern Australian cuisine on Peel Street.

South Australia’s Adelaide Hills Food Trail for Kids is another must for foodie families. This educational adventure introduces kids to producers to learn about where their food comes from and the processes involved in food production. Kids will also love the summer Cherry Trail that links the region’s orchards where they can pick plump ripe cherries straight from the tree.

Go fruit picking on orchards in the Adelaide Hills. Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/ Adam Bruzzone

Things to do for free in Adelaide

  • Keith Urban got his start in this country town as did many other music legends, and the music festival that gave them their path to fame has plenty of free events to get the family singing and scooting along. Even if you visit outside the event, the Golden Guitar, standing 12 metres tall is worthy of a snap for the family photo album.
  • With your dancing boots cast aside, Tamworth is also known as the National Equine Capital of Australia and there are a number of scenic drives to explore the region’s stunning landscape. 
  • The Tamworth Regional Playground could take up a full day with its endless family fun environment. There’s slides, a giant hop scotch, sky walk, towers and picnic and BBQ areas.
  • And for a small donation only, you can get up and close with Australian wildlife at the Tamworth Marsupial Park, which is run by a dedicated band of volunteers.

What’s on?

The best annual events for families in Adelaide

Feb/March – Adelaide Fringe

You’ll find family and kid friendly shows at Adelaide’s wild and wonderful Fringe festival.

March – Adelaide Festival

Australia’s premier Arts festival showcases theatre, world-class musicians, dance, writers and visual art.

March – WOMADelaide

Enjoy family friendly performances and workshops by the world’s best traditional and contemporary musicians, dancers and DJs.

May – DreamBig Children’s Festival

This arts festival for schools and families is the largest of its kind in the world.

May – South Australia History Festival

Enjoy hundreds of events such as talks to workshops exploring the local history.

June – Cabaret Festival

The largest festival of its kind in the world with major events at the Dunstan Playhouse, Festival Theatre, Her Majesty’s Theatre and Artspace.

September – Royal Adelaide Show

Experience animals, rides, food and entertainment as the country comes to the city.

October – OzAsia Festival

Australia’s biggest Asian arts festival.

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