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Our 10 Favorite Outdoor Destinations in Adelaide

Our 10 Favorite Outdoor Destinations in Adelaide

Adelaide is the perfect city for the restless explorer! Within 15 minutes of the CBD, you can catch a bus to stunning beaches, breathtaking gardens, and scenic zoos.

I’m glad to be your guide for a quick view of Adelaide’s best outdoor offerings. My list blends nature, history, and romance, so everyone is welcome!

Whether you’re a tourist deciding whether to visit the city or a local who wants to be reminded of the city’s beauty, we’ve got you covered!

1. Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Adelaide Botanic Gardens offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of the CBD. The garden spans 50 hectares—plenty of space for frolicking and learning!

My friends and I agree: it’s one of the dreamiest places in Adelaide! Walking past the lotus flowers and dahlias while listening to gentle music is always a great pastime.

It’s not all just rows and hedges of plants; there are also buildings to visit like the Palm House, First Creek Wetland, and the Amazon Waterlily Pavilion. 

It’s a stunning blend of refined architecture and well-maintained greens that’s exceptionally breathtaking during spring.

The best part—it’s free 365 days a year! It’s a testament to our city’s historical ambition of being a garden city.

Pro tip: It’s hard to find parking spaces inside the gardens. It’s better to catch a bus or walk if you visit.

2. Adelaide Zoo

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Just 5 minutes from the gardens is the Adelaide Zoo! Home to the only pandas in Australia, the zoo has many fascinating animals to see.

There are over 2,500 of them inside the zoo, which definitely awakened my inner child. Coloring-book favorites like giraffes and lions are housed here, along with Australia-natives kangaroos and koalas.

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The fluffy bears in the zoo are affectionately named Wang Wang and Fu Ni. I happened to catch them when they were in a playful mood!

I had great fun talking with their friendly and knowledgeable zookeepers. 

I also find it remarkable that the zoo was awarded a ZAA accreditation, meaning they follow ethical standards when handling animals.

Pro tip: When visiting during a hot day, expect some animals to go into hiding. Make the most out of the experience by booking the animal shows so you’re sure you can see one in action!

3. Clipper Ship City of Adelaide

Nautical and historical enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the Clipper Ship City of Adelaide. It’s one of the city’s only surviving clipper ships, which were commercial ships made for the fast transportation of goods.

Equal parts spooky and majestic, the ship made me feel Adelaide’s long history upon first seeing it. Its height reminded me of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, and it had a beauty that can only be brought by age.

One of the most surprising facts I discovered is that over 250,000 Australians can trace their ancestry to settlers from the ship. Its historical roots are simply undeniable.

Tours here start at 10 AM and end by 3 PM, so arrive early! It’s windy up here, too, so bring a coat so you won’t get chilly.

Pro tip: They don’t charge for guests below the age of 16, so complete your experience by taking the whole family with you.

4. Popeye Sightseeing River Cruise

Popeye Sightseeing River Cruise is, no question, one of the best ways to see the best of Adelaide City. We cruised along River Torrens as our guide gave a live commentary of Adelaide University, the SAHMRI building, the Festival Center, and more.

Endless snaps of cameras and laughs from families accompanied us on our trip. Of course, there were food and drinks on board, too, so we were refreshed throughout the 45-minute cruise.

Trying some of Adelaide’s finest beers also made our trip more entertaining. Popeyes’ licensed bar had the best bottles from local breweries.

And if you still need convincing, a fun trivia is that former Queen Elizabeth II also had a river cruise back in 1977! 

While you won’t have your singing choir and Royal Barge to accompany your trip (unless a member of the royal family is reading this), the river cruise is not one to miss when in Adelaide!

Pro tip: The tea and scones they serve are heavenly! Be sure to pre-order before booking to secure your share. 

5. Adelaide Gaol

Those looking for something more spooky are in for a treat at the Adelaide Gaol. It used to house prisoners from 1841 until 1987.

The Gaol might not sound ideal for family-friendly fun, but I still recommend it because of the Wail at the Gaol event. Equal parts Halloween fun and history class, this is an annual event when the historic building is filled with music, food, and activities.

I also recommend trying it as part of a tour so that you can share the chills with a group!

It’s not only during the ghastly season when the building is a great visit. It’s also recommendable for thrill-seeking adventurers who want to see a more rugged side of Adelaide.

I felt a balance of eeriness and marvel at the site of the city’s grisly history. Almost every bit of the building is still untouched from its establishment in 1841, which adds to its impressiveness.

Pro tip: I highly recommend you brush up on some of Adelaide’s colonial history before visiting to make the experience more immersive!

6. Belair National Park

In the mood for walking and strolling? Belair National Park is the perfect spot for you!

I had a rewarding experience trekking the well-beaten path of Belair, which is 30 minutes away from the CBD. It’s straight out of a National Discovery show, from its diverse flora and quiet streams to its towering trees.

It’s home to 15 biodiversity spots, which makes it a great glimpse of Australia in its wild and untouched form.

If you prefer sitting and lounging, wait by the nearby picnic areas and tennis courts! I took the well-maintained facilities as an excuse to part from my giddy fellow adventurers who wanted to see more of the national park.

Pro tip: There aren’t any bins inside the park, so take your trash with you! That includes dog-poop bags if you take your fluffy woofer for a walk!

7. Captain Jolley’s Paddle Boats

Captain Jolley’s Paddle Boats

Get those feet into full gear and travel the River Torrens in Captain Jolley’s Paddle Boats! It’s a perfect spot for viewing Adelaide with your family and friends.

You can take it either slow or fast. Personally, I found it a fantastic experience to paddle slowly while listening to some slow music.

The breeze here was amazing, and I even passed by some ducks while paddling. I treated it as a fun obstacle course, steering clear of their bread-hungry flock.

Pro tip: Adelaide’s sunny rays have no mercy for non-sunscreen-wearing folks. Be sure to apply some and bring water before paddling!

8. Para Wirra Conservation Park

The ultimate place for adventures and picnics is the Para Wirra Conservation Park. It’s home to many camping grounds and adventure courses for the family to enjoy!

It’s also an excellent spot for bird spotting, as there are over 100 species that visit it! Along with these are the different kangaroos and bearded dragons I stumbled upon during dawn.

There are 19 campsites available here, tucked in between pink gum and grass trees. It’s wheelchair accessible and friendly for trailers too!

My favorite part about the park is that it’s a perfect blend between being in nature and having a place for recuperating if it gets too intense for you. Plenty of facilities like toilets, camp kitchens, and barbecues are here.

Pro tip: The park is a 1-hour from the Adelaide CBD. Make the most of the trip by preparing music or maybe a podcast for your drive.

9. Glenelg Beach

So far, we’ve covered primarily outdoor destinations on land. If you’re looking for a taste of Adelaide’s aquatic wildlife, the Dolphin Watching Cruise at Glenelg Beach is a great choice.

I found the experience magical. With the sparkling splash of water, the playful and intelligent dolphins, and the crowd’s laughs, it was very enjoyable!

We rode a 58-foot catamaran led by a friendly crew. I found their commentary highly informative regarding the wild animals that swim underneath.

We saw about 50 dolphins in the waters, although some have had trips where they saw up to 200! Counting them and watching them do tricks was fun.

Pro tip: For safety reasons, cruises get delayed when the weather isn’t ideal. Keep track of weather forecasts in advance before booking.

10. Laratinga Wetlands

Laratinga Wetlands is the perfect spot for birdwatchers. It’s home to crowd favorites, like the Wedge-tailed Eagle, Black Kite, Silver Gull, and Purple-Crowned Lorikeet.

There are many bird-watching spots available here. It also has plenty of space for sitting and lounging around, which I thoroughly enjoyed while sipping coffee.

The breeze here is fresh and just right. Walking around while viewing the different spots is fun because there’s also something new to see.

Pro tip: The bins here are limited. It’s better to carry your waste with you as you leave. 

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