Adelaide is Australia’s most underrated city. Usually thought of as the poor cousin to Melbourne and Sydney, tourists forsake it because they think it is too quiet and too small. Actually, for families this means it is safer, easier to move around and far more accessible. You can park anywhere, everyone is small town friendly and that makes all the city’s highlights – from its proximity to the hinterlands to its beach neighbourhoods and quaint German heritage township – that much more enjoyable. If you are thinking of travelling with children in Australia, Adelaide with kids is so great, it actually should be considered one of the country's best family holiday destinations.
South Australia is the country’s food bowl so a trip to Adelaide is like a gourmet tour. That means plenty of farms, wineries and markets to explore. There are several beaches, the gorgeous Adelaide Hills and all the best bits of Melbourne and Sydney – the (mainstream high street) shops, the restaurants and the café lifestyle – without the crowds, the bustle and the hassle you’d expect from a big city. For a taste of Australia for parents traveling with kids, Adelaide is perfect.
Like any smaller Australian town most of the central business district is generally Adelaide’s dead zone. But just on the outskirts are some vibrant café and restaurant districts such as the top end of Rundle Street and Melbourne Street. The Adelaide Central Market – in the midst of Chinatown on Gouger Street – is a treasure trove of foodie finds for parents and interesting sights for young kids.
Hahndorf is the quaint Bavarian township just past the Adelaide Hills full of tree-lined streets, small shops and German eateries. It’s a delightful place to visit, even if it is a little kitsch.
If the children tire of shopping, nearby Hanhndorf is the Beerenberg farm where you can picks your own strawberries in season. Around the corner is Hahndorf Farm Barn where you can pet the farm animals, milk a cow and get close to natives like kangaroos and emus.
There are several beaches around Adelaide too, the most famous being Glenelg. The neighbourhood is full of restaurants and activities such as wild dolphin spotting and swimming, pony rides and the curiously intriguing Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions shop. While you obviously won’t be able to take the kids diving with sharks, you may meet Rodney Fox himself at the store, where he recounts the story of his shark attack survival.
Adelaide is a small town and it’s extremely easy to navigate so it’s worth hiring a car, rather than relying on public transport, as you can park almost anywhere.
While the tap water is safe and drinkable, it has a very strong chlorine taste, so it may be better to use bottled water for kids’ drinks and infant formula mixes.
Since moving around in Adelaide is so easy there is really no advantage to staying in the CBD. Opt instead for the pretty North Adelaide or divide the trip up with a couple of nights closer to town and a couple of nights right on the beach in Glenelg. Booking your own house or apartment gives the flexibility of having your own kitchen – North Adelaide Heritage Group has many options available including the Fire Engine Inn which has a suite with a real fire engine inside.
For more travel tips on things to do in Adelaide with kids, see our interview with a suitcases&strollers mum here.
For more on Adelaide's family-friendly music festival WOMADelaide, see the suitcases&strollers story here.