They say the best things in life are free – and these family-oriented Adelaide activities prove it.
Jump off the jetties
South Australia’s beach jetties are a surprisingly great way to keep youngsters entertained – they’ll be happy jumping and leaping into soft sand and shallow waters for hours. Henley, Grange, Glenelg, Semaphore and Brighton are all good for play.
Indulge the tastebuds
The young and young-at-heart will relish this behind-the-scenes look at how Adelaide’s most famous chocolatier, Haigh’s, makes its confections. Naturally, there’s sampling along the way. The tour is free but bookings are essential.
Chill out in the Hills
When the mercury spikes, head for the Hills – they’re generally a few degrees cooler than the plains. Try Mount Lofty Botanic Garden and Belair National Park for walking and picnicking in more pleasant temps.
Build a masterpiece
Every Sunday, the Rundle Place City Library hosts a Lego Club where the budding engineers and nascent builders can unleash their creative might (note: this is outside of school holidays only).
As the name suggests, Adelaide Free Bikes is a complimentary bike hire service, which operates from about 20 locations in town. Where to explore? The Linear Park Trail along the River Torrens is a largely uninterrupted track running 30 kilometres from Athelstone, at the base of the Adelaide Hills, all the way to Henley Beach.
Try the trails
The relatively flat Linear Park Trail may not prove challenging enough for mini mountain bikers. Those with serious off-road aspirations should hit the Eagle Mountain Bike Park in the Adelaide Hills.
Hit the museums
For a cultural and creative immersion, head to the institutions: Adelaide’s Migration Museum, the South Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia run school-holiday and term-time programs with a range of free events.
Walk beside the seaside
For tweens and teens with energy to spare, the Marion Coastal Walking Trail runs 7.2 kilometres along the coastline from Marino to Hallett Cove and features multiple boardwalks and picturesque views.
Explore outdoor art
Port Adelaide welcomed the street art and graffiti festival, Wonderwalls, in both 2015 and 2017. As a result, the streets now boasts some striking outdoor murals. Download the map to take a walking tour of these vibrant paintings.
Go on a family tour
Guided tours are great but they can be expensive. A DIY expedition can work just as well – and sometimes be even better, as it’s just you and your flock, rather than a group of strangers. Port Adelaide has an array of self-guided trails, many perfect for little legs. Collect tour brochures from the Visitor Information Centre or download the State Library’s self-guided city walks via a nifty app.
Swim with sea creatures
Encounter Marine Park is a protected cluster of reefs, water sanctuaries and ocean wilderness that stretches from Port Noarlunga all the way around to the Coorong and Kangaroo Island. It’s easy to access: simply climb down the Port Noarlunga jetty stairs and you’re in the midst of an aquatic playground. BYO goggles or snorkel.
Read, listen, sing
The Family Story Time program, held during school terms at the City Libraries (Rundle Place, Hutt Street, North Adelaide), features interactive stories and music for kids under five.
Play public transport hopscotch
Between the free city connector buses and the free city tram, you can do sightseeing tour of town, gratis. See more here.
Tour the playgrounds
Nothing beats a few hours mucking about on the swings: our favourites include Bonython Park playground with its new 25-metre zip-line, the Glover North playground in North Adelaide, Hart’s Mill playground, the Jubilee Adventure Playground and the ever-popular St Kilda Adventure Playground.
Keep it simple
For an uncomplicated excursion, pack a picnic and head to Rymill Park. The resident ducks will happily share your lunch.
Walk & play
Morialta Conservation Park features a network of bushwalking tracks of varying lengths, plus wildlife galore (koala-spotting even happens in the car park). Now, with the addition of a new playspace, this park on Adelaide’s eastern fringe makes a brilliant day out.