The obvious day trips around South Australia revolve around vino, with a string of world-class wine regions and hundreds of cellar doors located just a short drive from Adelaide. But there’s so much more to explore around the state outside of its wineries, including these five fantastic getaways.
Australia’s third largest island sits right on Adelaide’s doorstep, but it feels like it’s a world away. The rugged coastal scenery is some of Australia’s best—don’t miss the aptly named Remarkable Rocks and Seal Bay. As you’d expect from a place named after Australia’s national animal, there are heaps of kangaroos hopping all over the place, as well as an abundance of echidnas, sea lions, possums, bandicoots, unique marine life and bird species. And foodies will love KI’s burgeoning gourmet scene. You can squeeze most of the island’s highlights into a day trip from Adelaide—it only takes a 30-minute flight, a short drive then a ferry, or a spot on an organised tour to get there.
Located just 45 minutes south of Adelaide, this serene corner of South Australia offers something for everyone. Kids will love the horse-drawn tram and the chance to swim with tuna at Victor Harbor, while adults can kick back at the series of cellar doors in wine-making regions like McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and the Southern Fleurieu. Road trippers have a string of charming coastal villages to pop into—in winter, head to Horseshoe Bay in Port Elliot to see southern right whales frolicking in the calm water. The Coorong wildlife sanctuary is a treasure trove of seaside activities like fishing and canoeing. And that only covers a fraction of what you can see and do on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Perched above the dynamic state capital, the Adelaide Hills moves at a slower pace. The Cleland Wildlife Park is one of the few places in Australia where you can cuddle with a koala then pose for a selfie with your furry new friend, and also hand-feed kangaroos and emus. Mount Lofty is a gentle bush walk rewarded with panoramic views from the summit. And the highlight of the Adelaide Hills is its quaint villages, most famously Hahndorf, which looks like a little slice of Bavaria transported Down Under—its leafy streets and stone cottage house restaurants, cafes, pubs, galleries and boutiques that are well worth the day trip from Adelaide.
The mighty Murray River, the longest in Australia, is only an hour’s drive from Adelaide, trickling through the historic town of Mannum. Tuck into a meal or a tipple on the banks of the Murray at the scenic Pretoria Hotel, jump on a cruise with the PS Murray Princess inland paddle-wheeler, hire a boat for some wakeboarding, rev up a jet-ski for a high-octane experience, or take the family to the open-range Monarto Zoo, with more than 500 animals crawling all over the place. If you’re staying for a little longer, you can also rent a houseboat and see even more of this epic waterway that spans more than 2,500 kilometres.
Adelaide is surrounded by hundreds of cellar doors in grape-growing areas like the Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley and Coonawarra, but South Australia’s most iconic wine region is undoubtedly the Barossa Valley. Sitting just 60 kilometres from the city centre, the Barossa is home to more than 200 wineries and about 100 cellar doors peppered throughout the valley’s network of winding roads and picturesque towns. And the area offers more than just wine, with a long list of artisanal food and drink experiences to take in outside the vineyards—check out the Barossa Farmers Market, Barossa Valley Cheese Company and Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop for some cheese, chocolate and chutney to go with your vino.