Your go-to guide to Adelaide’s best places to eat, sleep and top things to do with kids.
Where to eat in Adelaide with kids
Tweens will especially love these cosy dining domes that pop up in winter at The Moseley Bar & Kitchen, which is located a stone’s throw from Glenelg Beach. The artfully curated igloos feature groovy chairs, blankets and throws arranged around a cosy fireplace that would look great on the ’gram. Invite the extended family to hibernate in a hired igloo (available for 2.5-hour-long sessions for up to eight people), which includes kiddie-friendly menu options such as ham and pineapple pizza.
Address: 11 Moseley Square, Glenelg SA 5045
Africola is a vibe. And it’s one that gastronomically inclined families will love. Dining in this loud and chaotic East End Adelaide restaurant, which was modelled on a South African shebeen (read: a once disreputable unlicensed drinking establishment), is as heart-warming as it is hectic. Keep the entire clan happy at the hatted restaurant with rounds of crisp chicken skin ‘tea sandwiches’, peri peri chicken, whole roasted cauliflower, house-made hummus and flatbreads.
Address: 4 East TCE Adelaide, SA 5000
Parents who declare dinner tables to be a device-free zone will love the double-sided kids’ menu at Bob & Olive’s Garden at the Parkside Hotel, which includes a colouring sheet and is delivered with a set of pencils. The renovated hotel, originally built in 1858, has indoor and outdoor areas and includes an enclosed all-weather kids’ play area replete with a cubby house. All kids’ meals are $15 and include a colossal ice-cream sundae.
Address: 142 Glen Osmond Rd, Parkside SA 5063
Change down a few gears and into holiday mode at this quirky spaghetti temple that caters to families with young children particularly well. Kiddies are welcome to make a racket in the butter-yellow dining room at Spaghetti Island, especially when the pasta arrives in spectacular fashion atop a three-tiered party platter. Choose between 12 different pastas including spaghetti crab, ham, cheese and peas, and bikini Bolognese (made with lean chicken and turkey).
Address: 138 Gouger St, Adelaide SA 5006
Hop on the train to Hove bound for Beach Bum where you will find a menu that offers an amalgam of Japanese, Hawaiian and Mexican cuisines. Choose between pork belly tacos with Tabasco mayo, chicken katsu, Mexican beach balls, pineapple pork ribs and poke bowls. Adults will appreciate the shaved-ice cocktails and the fact kids under 12 eat free on Sundays at the beachside restaurant, which is near to an Insta-famous 200-metre-long jetty.
Address: 406 Brighton Rd, Hove SA 5048
In the northern suburb of Holden Hill, a quick 20 minutes from the CBD, Tex-Mex favourite Cancun Cowboys has the kind of menu that kids love to love, with piled high nachos, tacos, loaded fries, sloppy joes and mac and cheese all making an appearance. You will love the relaxed vibe of it all, the frozen margaritas and the pièce de résistance fact that kids eat for free on Sundays at lunch and dinner.
Address: 550 North East Rd, Holden Hill SA 5088
This former tram barn in the inner-city suburb of Thebarton has been transformed into an airy and bright cafe with a sprawling green lawn that is perfect for little ones to run themselves to a standstill on. The all-day menu is filled with perfect breakfast-brunch-lunch options, with an extra column of share plates, and a dedicated kids’ menu. Dishes utilise fresh local produce, with lots of gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options.
Address: 38 Winwood St, Thebarton SA 5031
Lauro Siliquini and Enzo Verdino are the duo behind Spaghetti Island. And their cult following also extends to Italian eateries Ruby Red Flamingo, Coccobello, L’Italy and Tony Tomatoes. Pizza devotees will love Tony Tomatoes, which wows little people and their parents with options such as the Tony Pepperoni and the classic Margherita.
Address: 155-157 O’Connell Street, North Adelaide SA 5006
It pays to have a hot pancake spot in your list of commendable eateries. And now that The Original Pancake Kitchen has four outlets around Adelaide, the call for pancakes at this institution should probably be considered compulsory when visiting the SA capital. Prime your palate for a good time with rounds of pillowy Hedgehog pancakes smothered in chocolate fudge or Mozzarella pancakes with fried eggs and ham.
Adelaide Central Market, established in 1869, consistently rates as one of the Top Things to Do in Adelaide. Roll up to Stall 12 at the colourful market to find Decadent Donuts where drool-worthy options include the Berry Sinful, topped with fresh raspberries, or the Dusty Queen with cinnamon and fresh orange. Parents should order the Coffee Coffee Yum Yum doughnuts to go with that cappuccino.
Address: 44-60 Gouger St, Adelaide SA 5000
Where to stay in Adelaide with kids
With a heated lap pool with access to barbecues and lounges, a gym, steam room and sauna, a private cinema, a library and even a golf simulator, there’s nothing you won’t love about this centrally located property. When booking a two-bedroom suite make sure you tell them you have little ones in tow and they will arrive to free colouring books, kids’ movies and TV channels.
The luxe Pullman brand’s flagship Adelaide property has plenty to entice including its central location, a 13.5-metre indoor lap pool, Salt Restaurant serving up the best SA produce (you’ll love the local wine list at dinner, the kids will love the five-stack pancakes at breakfast), and handy interconnecting rooms ensuring plenty of space.
The Holiday Inn brand is always a popular choice for families and this centrally located property confirms why with its interconnecting rooms, complimentary daily Express Start breakfast in its on-site restaurant, free wi-fi, a 24-hour gym and handy laundry facilities. The rooms are light and practical with cribs available for tiny travellers.
If the sleek and bright interiors complete with original works by local artists like graffiti practitioner Ghostpatrol, the interconnecting rooms, the spot-on location backing onto Rundle Mall and the handily casual ibis Kitchen restaurant don’t win you over the value for money will. Rooms here start at $185 per night.
The stylish Crowne Plaza Adelaide begins on level 10 of the sleek building it is housed in, so impressive views come free of charge. There’s a heated infinity pool, its restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and, most intriguingly, dessert, and its bright and colourful twin deluxe and premium rooms can accommodate a family of four.
The neighbourhood-focused Hotel Indigo’s first Aussie hotel is set close to the city’s historic food markets, so you will never go hungry (plus a rooftop raw food bar serves up fresh produce). As well as fun nods to Adelaide in the interior design, you’ll find interconnecting rooms, free wi-fi and an outdoor pool.
Each of iStay Precinct Adelaide’s one- and two-bedroom inner-city apartments offers full kitchen and laundry facilities, open-plan living, private balconies with sweeping city views, free wi-fi and Foxtel, with access to facilities including a heated pool (with pretty great views), spa and steam room.
What to do in Adelaide with kids
Festivals and events
16 July – 1 August
SA’s new major winter festival takes over Adelaide’s city streets, laneways and architecture in a blend of innovation, music, art, light and tech. It offers a range of family-friendly and free events including City Lights, a light trail of over 40 projections, installations and immersive experiences. And don’t miss your chance to see Van Gogh Alive or step into Adelaide Zoo, where Light Creatures presents animal-inspired illuminations and large-scale lanterns – from giant pandas to towering giraffes.
16 July – 1 August
Part of Illuminate Adelaide’s program of free events, Being Different Together at the Migration Museum is an Interfaith Childhoods exhibition led by artist Anna Hickey-Moody. It presents artwork by children, many of whom are first-generation migrants and refugees, that explores their family history and stories, and invites visitors to engage with activities including an animation workshop.
Until 8 August
Beyond the five floors of the South Australian Museum lies a vast collection of more than four million objects, many of which have never been on public display before. This landmark exhibition cracks the lid by bringing together 165 of these objects to commemorate its 165th birthday in June, including a fragment of Mars that fell to Earth in Egypt in 1911 and giant sloth bones that were found in Argentina in 1787. It’s like taking a step into a giant encyclopaedia.
It’s Complicated is an exhibition on complexity staged at UniSA’s futuristic MOD. museum that explores the dynamic interconnectedness of all things using fun and engaging case studies. Learn about Operation Cat Drop, for example: the bizarre episode in history that saw the World Health Organization parachute live cats into Borneo in the 1950s after its bid to combat a malaria outbreak had unintended outcomes. Satisfy your own curiosity by heading along.
Dates for the diary:
- 24-26 June, Bluey’s Big Play – The Stage Show, Her Majesty’s Theatre
- 24-25 July, Willunga Almond Blossom Festival, Willunga
- 21 October – 7 November, Ozasia Festival, Various venues
- Plan ahead: Adelaide’s serious festival credentials mean kids are well and truly covered with Dreambig Children’s Festival, held every two years in May; mark your calendars for 2023.
Take a day trip
Find vintage paddle steamers, woolly Alpacas and breathtaking wilderness an arm’s reach from Adelaide.
1. Port Willunga
Just under an hour from Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, the beach at Port Willunga is one of the most beloved stretches of sand on this part of the coast. It’s easy to see why, with its wide girth, golden cliffs and the sort of powder-soft sand that squeaks when you walk on it. Plan to spend the morning in the water before heading to the Star of Greece for lunch (make a booking before you leave the city as it’s very popular) to take in the amazing views and eat delicious food (there’s a children’s menu). And if you have time, make sure to visit the historic village of Aldinga nearby.
McLaren Vale’s lush green landscape, bordered with pristine beaches and coastline, is famed for the quality of the grapes that have made it one of the most celebrated wine regions in the world. You’ll find a host of family-friendly wineries to eat, drink and be merry at, but the coolest is definitely Down the Rabbit Hole, with a vintage double-decker bus for a cellar door and wandering alpacas.
An easy 75-minute drive from the city, the town of Mannum sits on the banks of the lower Murray River, the most celebrated waterway in the country. The first paddle steamer was launched in these parts in 1853, and you can learn all about it along with the history of the town from that point on at the Mannum Dock Museum. The highlight of your visit will be taking a trip down the Murray River on the historic paddle steamer, PW Mayflower.
The tree-lined main street of this historic town, settled by German migrants back in the 1800s, is literally lined with a butcher, a baker and a candlestick-maker, enhancing its charming quality. Spend your day here browsing the shops (special mention goes to the enchanting Fairy Garden), picking strawberries (November to April) at Beerenberg Family Farm and petting the animals at Hahndorf Farm Barn.
Even after the fires that ravaged it during our Black Summer, a visit to Kangaroo Island still offers up an experience so unique and breathtaking that you are going to want to invest the time it takes to get here – just under three hours from Adelaide including the ferry ride across. Once on the island, head to Flinders Chase National Park, and keep your eyes peeled along the way for koalas and kangaroos, of course.
A few ticks under an hour from the CBD and you can be communing with lions, giraffes and chimpanzees at Monarto Safari Park , one of the largest open-range zoos in the world. With more than 500 animals and over 1500 hectares to cover, you definitely need to allow for a full day of fun here.