10 Best Things to Do with Kids in Adelaide

A twilight view of adelaide south australia

Introducing guest blogger Shannon from happylife Safari

The South Australian capital of Adelaide is the perfect blend of city, beach, and country. In fact, you can experience all of these things in one day.

Well connected by road or rail from other states, or arrive at Adelaide International Airport, check out some of the best things to experience with kids.

This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents

Best Family-Friendly Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia

1. Adelaide Zoo

As the only zoo that is part of a Royal Botanical Garden, the Adelaide Zoo has been open since.1883, the second oldest zoo in Australia. This stunning zoo houses five state heritage listed buildings and is a showcase of the amazing flora and fauna of South Australia and a wonderful day out for families.

Not only are there over 2500 animals but there is a large nature play and wooden playground. With plenty of lawns as well as tables to sit around the zoo, you are more than welcome to bring your own picnic and enjoy in one of the many open spaces. There is also a cafe and a restaurant within Adelaide Zoo if you prefer.

Adelaide Zoo Giraffe

On arrival, make sure you check the schedule for the day, as there are plenty of zoo keeper talks and feedings with a variety of animals.

For an additional cost, the zoo also offers animal interactions. A zoo run by volunteers, Adelaide Zoo, is a not-for-profit conservation charity; some of the cost of these experiences goes towards animal conservation.

2. Central Market

Another SA icon, The Adelaide Central Market, opened in 1869, and has over 70 traders under one roof. This unique, fully enclosed market shows the best of Adelaide produce and is a melting pot of cuisines.

Get to the market early for some of the best coffee in town, paired with a fresh pastry, before taking in all the sounds, smells, and sometimes tastes! The Adelaide Central Market is a great start to the day with kids.

On Saturdays and during school holidays, there are fun activities for the little ones, like face painting and learning about healthy foods. The market also is part of Gouger Street, one of Adelaide’s restaurant hubs, so why not stay for lunch too?

3. Cleland Wildlife Park

Cleland Wildlife Park is the perfect way to start exploring the lush Adelaide Hills.

Located within the Cleland Conservation Park, only 20 minutes from the Adelaide CBD, you will see some unique wildlife that is only found in South Australia and can get up close to kangaroos and emus. You may even get the chance to cuddle a koala!

Surrounded by gum trees and showing off stunning views over the city and out to the ocean, bring a picnic and relax in nature in between learning about Australia’s wonderful creatures.

4. Adelaide Fringe Festival

While it may only happen for 31 nights every year, The Adelaide Fringe Festival is a must-do for anyone planning a trip to South Australia.

As the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest arts festival, artists, performers, and musicians from around the world showcase their talents in this end-of-summer festival.

With something for everyone, even special kids’ entertainment programs, the Adelaide Fringe Festival is the state’s highlight of the events calendar.

5. South Australian Whale Centre

This fun-filled interactive museum is located in Victor Harbour, an idyllic seaside town just over an hour’s drive from the Adelaide CBD.

With whale watching a popular activity on the Fleurieu Peninsula, the South Australian Whale Centre was opened in 1994 to educate the public about whale migration and ocean protection.

Check out a replica of the MY Steve Irwin; Sea Shepards flagship vessel. Visitors can see how the crew members lived and the equipment they use and learn about the work they did on the Steve Irwin and the projects currently underway.

(At the time of writing this (August 2022) the South Australian Whale Centre is undergoing major renovations and is closed to the public).

6. Glenelg

While not a specific activity, the small town of Glenelg is a full day or two in itself. There is so much to do in this famous beachside location all year round.

Glenelg Sunset
Summer sunset at Glenelg

Relax on the beach, or check out Jetty Road; the main street full of chain and boutique stores and all the cuisines you can think of! Grab some takeaway, relax on the foreshore lawns, or enjoy mini golf, dodgem cars, and arcade games at The Beachhouse.

If you are feeling more adventurous, you may even want to head out on the water in search of dolphins in one of the many cruising options available.

Glenelg is well connected to the Adelaide CBD by tram so you can go straight from the city to the beach within 40 minutes. Visitors to South Australia should even consider staying in this area – even if it is just for the number of dessert bars on offer!

7. The Big Rocking Horse and Toy Factory

Those who are from Australia or have visited before know that Australia loves its “big” things. The Big Rocking Horse is one of South Australia’s finest and a must-do to anyone visiting Adelaide and its surrounds.

Along with the Wooden Toy Factory, the Big Rocking Horse is more than just seeing another “big” thing.

Check out the wildlife park with wallabies, kangaroos, and peacocks, among others, or browse the wooden toys that are made on-site. But the coolest thing about visiting The Big Rocking Horse is that you can climb to the top! For just $2, you can see marvellous views from the top and receive a certificate for the climb.

8. Monarto Safari Park

The sister site to Adelaide Zoo, Monarto Safari Park, is an open-range zoo, only an hour’s drive from the CBD.

Spanning more than 1500 hectares, see over 500 animals in the volunteer-driven bus. Feel like you are on an African Safari as you safely get up close to lion, giraffe, and rhino. Monarto Safari park also offers safe walks to see some more of the tamer wildlife.

Like Adelaide Zoo, feel free to bring a picnic and set up at one of the tables near the playground or enjoy the on-site restaurant. While you are there, check out the Lion 360 experience (book ahead, and additional costs apply).

9. The Tour Down Under

The Tour Down Under is another major event that attracts visitors to Adelaide from all around the world.

Attending this event is the perfect way to see this amazing city and its surroundings. With a full family-friendly program covering six Adelaide regions, this major sporting event is not just about watching the race.

From street parties where the cyclists pass through to a major Tour Village set up in the middle of the CBD, this 9-day event is the perfect complement to an Adelaide summer family vacation.

10. Hahndorf

Another town to be added to the list, instead of just one experience, is Hahndorf. This German-settled town is located in the Adelaide Hills and offers great food, stunning scenery, and something for everyone, no matter what time of the year you visit.

Kids picking strawberries at Beerenberg Farm
Strawberry picking at Beerenberg farm, Hahndorf

Check out small galleries and old-fashioned stores, indulge in hearty and yummy German food or go strawberry picking at the famous Beerenberg farm. Adults will love trying local wines, while the kids will love locally made chocolate, sweets, and ice cream.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Adelaide With Kids

The great thing about the Top 10 things to do in Adelaide is that you can pair a couple of these experiences together for a great day out. So make sure you set aside a few days to visit the South Australian capital when you come to Australia.

About the Blogger

I am Shannon. Aussie mum of 2, writer, traveller, coffee addict, and market enthusiast. As a family, we often get told, “we love following your travel adventures.” Or we get asked for recommendations about travelling. Since living in The Netherlands, I have finally found the time to start writing about those adventures and places we have been. That is how ‘happylife Safari’ was born.


With thanks to Shannon for her contribution to our guest series. 

You may also like to read about the best of Melbourne with kids, or how about exploring between SA and Victoria? See this brilliant guide to the best of the Great Ocean Road With Kids.

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