Adelaide is creative, chilled out and a culinary centre, says creator of the gorgeous Pure Poppet Natural Play Makeup, Georga Holdich. The mother of Millie (almost 8) and Evie (almost 6 – the “almosts” are important!) say South Australia’s capital makes the perfect kids holiday destination precisely because it’s not a huge city like Sydney or Melbourne. Here are her secrets for why you should choose Adelaide for your next Australian holiday with kids.
Why should parents plan a holiday with kids in Adelaide?
Adelaide is often considered a big country town rather than a city and maybe that's what makes it so great for families. It's easy to get around not just in the car but via foot or bike, everything's fairly close and people are quite relaxed in Adelaide. There's isn't the urgency you often find in larger cities, so it makes for a calming holiday where you can take everything in and stop for a minute to appreciate your family and enjoy your surroundings. Adelaide's often been voted as one of the top cities to live in globally, so there's obviously more than just country town charm that seduces us to live here.
Where is your favourite
place to take the kids in Adelaide?
We love going to the beaches – especially the ones down south like Port Willunga or Sellicks. It's usually Bondi [in Sydney] or St Kilda [in Melbourne] that we all hear about as the Aussie beaches to check out but I have photos of the girls, my husband and I enjoying South Australian beach time that could rival some of the most tropical island getaways.
The beaches here are quite flat which means they're great for the kids to have a swim in without you needing a full lifesaver's degree and the sand is so soft and clean. [For beach safety tips, read the suitcases&strollers interview with the team from Bondi Rescue here.]
The weather in Adelaide is pretty spot on too – beautiful and warm in the summer and then chilly in winter. If you head to the sea when the sun is shining, you're sure to have a great time. Port Willunga has a fantastic restaurant called The Star of Greece which is on top of a cliff overlooking the sea. You can sit up there and have a casual fish and chips meal or go into the dining room and enjoy a 5 star lunch with beautiful wine – kids included; they're very accommodating for mini people who enjoy fine dining too!
Where are your kids’ favourite place in Adelaide to hang out?
They love the South Australia Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia. I have been to the museum so many times – as a student at school and now as a parent – and you do learn to see things differently when you take younger children with you. The girls love all the things I used to love as a kid – the room filled with stuffed animals and the lion with a tail that moves or the giant squid display that you can see on each level of the museum and get to stand on a kind of scary glass ceiling at the top. [We also like] the research room with many drawers filled with butterflies and bugs and, of course, our favourite: the colour co-ordinated mineral display.
They also love the Art Gallery which is lucky since it's next door so we can do two outings in one. We know someone who works at the gallery so I think the girls feel pretty special when they get to say “Hi” to our friend and learn about some of the interesting exhibitions that are on. There are also always great child-focused activities at the gallery and they do a mean coffee and cake in the cafe!
What is the best free activity to do in Adelaide with kids?
Go for a bike ride along the linear park track – you can ride from the Adelaide Hills to Henley Beach along one cyclist-friendly path. If the kids (or you) get tired along the way there are some great parks to stop at for a break or head into the city and have a gelato in the East End of Rundle Street.
Where is the best place in Adelaide with kids when the weather is bad?
Any of the Bracegirdles stores – they have a few all around the place and they make fantastic coffee, delicious hot chocolates and amazing desserts that any chocaholic would love. A great place to visit when you need to feel warm and cosy.
A visit to the Haigh's chocolate factory is also a fun treat for the kids when the weather is bad. I sometimes just take my girls into any of the Haigh's stores when we are passing by as they are always offering a sample to try and we can never say no to Haigh's choccies! If you haven't tried them then this is a must-do when in Adelaide.
What are some of the city secrets that tourists shouldn’t miss when traveling with kids in Adelaide?
There are some amazing parks in Adelaide that make for great outings. The playground at Bonython Park is lots of fun equipped with mouse trap, water activities and a bike track that has lights and stop signs so children can learn the rules of the road. There is a kiosk here plus lots of barbeque and picnic areas so you can bring your lunch.
Another fun park is at Hazelwood Park, near the Burnside Pool. This park has a cool flying fox, long slides and a fossil hunting sand pit. Again, loads of picnic areas plus, if the weather is warm, you could head into the pool for a quick dip.
A visit to the Hahndorf Farm Barn is also a good one with a family. You can feed the animals – it’s so cute watching your little ones give the lambs a bottle of milk or learn about local reptiles. If it's the right season we love heading to the Beerenberg Strawberry Farm after visiting the animals (just next door) and you can pick as many strawberries as you like from the fields and then purchase some of their yummy chutneys and jams.
Adelaide has a number of delicious dessert restaurants too – visit Eggless on Goodwood Road after a meal in the city for a special treat. Don't get there too late as there are always queues out the door no matter what night of the week you go!
What’s the best way for children to have an authentic Adelaide experience?
Catch a tram from the city to Glenelg. Visit the Beachouse (an activity centre with rides and games) and then enjoy some fish and chips on the beach. Or head to the Torrens River for a ride on Popeye [a touring boat] or for some paddle boat action, followed by watching a performance at the Festival Centre. There are always plenty of theatre shows on for children especially during the Fringe Festival season as well as over winter when the “Something on A Saturday” program runs.
Which is the best place to stay if you are on family vacation in Adelaide?
Finding an inexpensive apartment isn't too hard in the city so the kids have their own space and the adults can get some time out too. The city is great as you can walk to so many activities, restaurants and shops. It's also close to suburbs like Unley and Goodwood where there are some lovely streets to wander down, do some window shopping and then enjoy a great meal at cafes like Ginger's on Goodwood Road or A Mothers Milk on Unley Road. Staying around the city suburbs allows you to take advantage of the key activities.
What is the ideal time frame for a holiday to Adelaide with kids?
I think a week would give you enough time to explore the sights and allow everyone to feel relaxed before you head home.
When is the best time of year to visit Adelaide?
Summer time is great – you can enjoy the beaches, the great weather and the city atmosphere is wonderful. From mid February until mid March things really liven up when the Adelaide Festival and Fringe programs start and then the place is filled with performers on the streets, venues like the Garden of Unearthly Delights (which is a carnival of activities and performances) and pop up shops and restaurants appear for the duration of these festivals. You don't need to spend a lot of money to see a show either, most of the Fringe events are around AU$50 to AU$60 for a family of four and there are many free events too.
To find out about Adelaide’s major music festival, WOMADelaide, read the suitcases&strollers story here.
If you're into cycling then January is also a good time to visit as the Tour Down Under is on and you can follow the cyclists around town and see the sights along the way. Many of the legs of the tour go to the winery areas like McLaren Vale so you could take a day trip to try some of South Australia's great wine then head to Victor Harbour or Port Elliott so the kids can have a swim.
To read about the horse-drawn tram at Granite Island in Victor Harbour, see the suitcases&strollers story here.
Where are your top places for family-friendly meals in Adelaide?
My family and I love eating out at restaurants and take the girls to most places and find they are always accommodating to little tummies taste requirements. For special occasions we take the girls to Assaggio on King William Road which is a very nice Italian restaurant. The girls love it as they serve apple sorbet in between the courses and they can't believe that you get dessert before you've even finished your dinner!
We have a lot of bakeries in Adelaide so these make for good family friendly lunches. Red Door Bakery on King William Road in Goodwood as well as Elizabeth Street in Croydon does amazingly fluffy pastry goods – sausage rolls, pies and delicious sandwiches that are all a bit different to the usual repertoire. Save room for their unbelievable desserts though – their creme brulee tart is my favourite!
Elizabeth Street, Croydon actually has a number of places you can try for great meals with the kids. Let Them Eat has yummy salads and corn fritters that even my children love regardless of how many veggies are in them.
The food trucks around the city are also great for the family - burgers, tacos, hot dogs etc but all made from the highest quality local produce. Every month there is usually a "Fork on the Road" event where all the food trucks meet at one outdoor venue and then you can try a number of Adelaide's specialities.
The Farmers’ Market in Wayville that are on every Sunday morning at the Showgrounds make for an interesting place to take the kids for breakfast. Sample the local produce from Adelaide's farmers and then head inside the hall for some freshly prepared goodies.
What are your tips for kids' shops in Adelaide?
The city and main shopping centres have all the major players – Cotton On, Seed, Witchery for Kids, Target and Zara. There are a few interesting boutique shops in various suburbs but I find to get the most interesting items for children the best thing to do is head to a market such as the Lollipop Markets, Flinders Street or Gilles Street Markets. These are held at various times and showcase some great local producers of children's clothing and accessories. You can always find something a bit different at these places (and usually some great things for you too).
What is the best way to move around Adelaide with kids?
If you're in the city then I'd go with walking (if you have younger children, use a pram). If you're all keen cyclists then it is easy to ride most places. The tram in the city heads down to Glenelg also stops at some interesting suburbs along the way or you can head the other way and go towards Port Adelaide.
Taxis and buses are all fairly easy to use and you can find out the best bus routes to take by looking at the Adelaide Metro website. When we visit any new city I usually find walking is the best as you get to take in more but if you were heading to a winery, the Adelaide Hills or one of the southern beaches for a day, then hiring a car would be the way to go.
What are your top 3 tips for families travelling to Adelaide with kids?
· Keep it simple. Enjoy some time at a market, a beach or park rather than expecting to see grand tourist sites like the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Eiffel Tower.
· Try the local produce. There are so many delicious things to eat – chocolate, wine (obviously not for the kids!) and tasty meals freshly prepared at many cafes and restaurants.
· Do something theatrical. Whether it's seeing a show or watching a street performer or just walking past the Rundle Lantern [a huge digital “canvas”] on the corner of Pulteney and Rundle Streets at night, get amongst the creativity that is everywhere in Adelaide.
To read more about things to do in Adelaide with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.