It came as no surprise to me that my home town of Adelaide is included in Lonely Planet’s Top Ten Cities to visit in 2014. Adelaide is changing and I can’t remember a time when I have enjoyed living here quite as much as I have in the last couple of years (so much so that I wrote a love note to my city earlier this year).

I assumed Lonely Planet had picked up on Adelaide’s amelioration and this was why we had made the list. Sadly, their recently published list of ‘Top Things to do in Adelaide’  just trots out the same, tired, old touristy things that only serve to merge us into the frame of a hundred other cities and mask what makes this place unique. As my friend Kat commented on Lonely Planet’s article when I posted it on Facebook, “It’s like they came here in 1998 and have just got round to writing the article”.

There is much on the Lonely Planet list I do agree with – things like our Botanic Gardens, The Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, McLaren Vale and the Central Market. But there is so much they have missed. Here are my picks – I’d love to know yours.

Peel St

Peel St

Hang out in Peel and Leigh Streets

Great food and small bars – what more could you want? Peel St is hands down my favourite restaurant at the moment and offers a relaxed vibe and amazing, reasonably priced food. Other restaurants nearby include Rigoni’s, Bollywood Indian, Cos and the Corner Bistrot. Start at one of these and then head to one of a number of bars including Clever Little Tailor, Udaberri, the new Bar Bushka or old favourite Casablabla.

Take a self-guided tour of Adelaide’s street art

I did this myself earlier this year and wrote about it for Adelaide City Council’s Already Home project. The walking tour is an easy stroll through Adelaide’s hidden laneways and is a lovely way to discover the CBD. Checkout the Adelaide Street Art Facebook page for new pieces as they go up.

Low & Slow

Low & Slow

Buy your lunch from a truck

Adelaide has a really strong food truck culture – on any weekday you will usually find one or more parked in the CBD squares (check social media for daily locations) or if you want the full monty, go to one of the Fork in the Road events held regularly in parks around town. My truck picks?  Sneaky Pickle, Low & Slow, Archie the Pastizzi Bus and Delectaballs.

Explore the city by bike

It is no coincidence Adelaide hosts Australia’s Tour Down Under as part of the UCI WorldTour. It’s the perfect city for riding in with it’s mostly flat terrain, lots of bike paths and reasonable traffic. If you don’t have a bike of your own, Adelaide City Council provides bikes for free. Linear Park (along the banks of the Torrens) offers an easy, ride to the beach without any traffic hassles.

Startup something

So you’ll probably need to be on an extended visit but did you know Adelaide has a thriving startup scene? If you’re entrepreneurially inclined check out what’s happening at Majoran Distillery or Hub Adelaide or follow the #startupADL hashtag on twitter and go innovate.

Visit a farmer’s market

Yes you’ll have to battle the hipsters and inner-city types if you want dibs on that organic sour-dough loaf but Adelaide’s farmer’s markets are the best way to sample local produce and spend some time people watching. City markets include Goodwood (Royal Show grounds and an easy tram ride from the city) and Prospect. Outside the metropolitan area try Willunga or Barossa.

Watch a show

Adelaide hosts some amazing events including Womadelaide, Adelaide Festival, The Cabaret Festival, Adelaide Film Festival, as well as the second biggest Fringe Festival in the world (after Edinburgh). There is always something on – get out there.

Eat and then eat some more

Every time I go away I am reminded how good we have it here food wise. I’ve already mentioned Peel and Leigh Street precincts and Adelaide’s food trucks above, but there is so much more. Try the Central Market’s two food courts for amazing, cheap Asian food; Yum Cha on Gouger Street at Ding Hao or Star House; Press and Melt on Waymouth; Parwana for Afghan on Henley Beach Road; Bliss Organic for vegan wonderfulness (to name just a few). Please, whatever you do, do not listen to Lonely Planet and go to Good Life pizza – it is just an overpriced pizza place and far from the best we offer (soooo 1998).

Brighton Beach, Adelaide

Brighton Beach, Adelaide

.Spend the day at a beach

We have utterly beautiful beaches. I know because they are the first thing I check in every country I visit. Our beaches are mostly safe, wide, sandy and usually (bizarrely) empty. Spend a day there (even in the rain). Any beach near Adelaide’s metropolitan area will do – they are all great and often come with bonus dolphins and/ or seals. If you have a car try Aldinga, Pt Willunga or Pt Noarlunga for a snorkel on the reef. If you like waves like me, Moana is an easy drive south of the city.

Over to you….

Andrew Coulson suggested to me on Twitter we should crowd source a list from locals. It’s a great idea.

@PaulyGoo got the ball rolling and suggested activities including:

–       Hike in Morialta in Winter

–       Driving in the Adelaide Hills

–       Cycling and tasting the Riesling Trail in the Clare Valley

What else Adelaide? Comment below or tweet me @spokenly and I’ll update your suggestions (with credits) here.

Update – this is what happens when you crowdsource a city guide!

Following a call out on Twitter, the Adelaide community came out in force with a fantastic list of more alternative ways to explore this city. I have captured the complete list on Storify for your reading pleasure. If you are on Twitter follow these tweeps – they are a lovely bunch and will be happy to give you more ideas.


Some final links…

Of course I’m not the only one who loves this city – here’s what other locals say:

  • Already Home – Adelaide City Council project that showcases the stories of people who live in the CBD and why they love it
  • Dave Walsh’s Weekend Notes – Dave has extensively catalogued Adelaide’s happenings and provides a great blog on things to do which is well worth a look.
  • Adelaidetweet – follow them on Twitter @AdelaideTweet or check out their comprehensive list of other Adelaide Bloggers – who knows what you may discover?
  • What’s On The List – a great little foodie focussed blog by Joanne Ferguson

14 thoughts on “Top things to do in Adelaide – an alternative view

  1. Just took the family on a drive in the hills, through cuddly creek and to the Melba chocolate factory. A surprise treat for parents is the cheese shop next door.


  2. One of my favourites is to catch a Lunch Time Concert at the Elder Hall in the Adelaide Uni. I also enjoy taking some fish and chips down to Elder park on a nice day, or having a quite snooze on the grass in the Botanic Gardens. If you’re really adventurous, you can combine all three and have a really great afternoon…and then stroll over to Rundle street for your pick of a wide selection of places to dine before capping off the day with a few beers while watching some live entertainment at the Exeter, Austral or Crown & Anchor. 🙂


  3. G’day Anika!

    Really enjoyed and shared your alternative view post!

    There is SO much more undiscovered gems in Adelaide and I’d LOVE to add the Flavours of Campbelltown Food Trail; an initiative of the Campbelltown Council run via Tour Barossa!

    “A fun-filled foodies day of local food tastings interacting with PASSIONATE Campbelltown food producers.”

    I would also like to add the Chocolate Walking Tour via Open City. (sister website to Weekend Notes)

    Feel free to check out my blog posts for both on What’s The List

    Cheers! Joanne


  4. the 4 Terrace walk. Start on any of the terraces and do a loop round the city you see loads. West Terrace Cemetery, South Terrace gardens, Hutt Street cafes and North Terrace has loads to do. Plenty of pubs and cafes on route so plenty of places to rest weary feet.

    Following the walk you will need sugar so may I suggest… Chocolate Adelaide… Menz Fru Chocs, Haighs, Cocolat, Bracegirdles, Chocolate Bean, Chocolatree, Chocolate Taperia, Steven Ter Horst


  5. Talking of pizza, on Sundays, the best wood fired pizza at the fantastic new organic Market on Holland tucked in behind he IGA on Gilbert St in the wonderful South West City 🙂


  6. it wasn’t mentioned in the Lonely Planet article either – but a look at the Indigenous Gallery at the SA museum is something to get visitors to do. Best collection of indigenous artefacts in the world. Often gets overlooked. People can make a day of it and also stop in at the migration museum, the art gallery and the mortlock wing in the state library. All free.


  7. With a little bias toward Port Adelaide, here are my suggestions:
    Kayaking among the wrecks at North Arm in the Port River, (and don’t forget the North Arm vegetable market on Sundays); a stroll along Semaphore road with a break for fish & Chips/coffee/ice cream; pedestrian foreshore walk from Tennyson to North Haven; exploring the old buildings and quirky shops in Port Adelaide + Railway museum.


  8. Pingback: Adelaide is cute and I would like to keep her (please) | Spokenly

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