Written by Miki

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Continuing with the Kidstylefile ‘Best Things To Do With Kids’ series, today I’m covering my hometown: Adelaide. I was born and bred in Adelaide, and although I don’t live there anymore, my parents still live in the house I grew up in and I always love going home with the kids to visit. There’s so much to do, and unlike other capital cities in Australia you will never need to factor traffic into account – rush hour lasts about 10 minutes and nearly everywhere is within half an hour’s drive of the CBD (most places are even closer than this). As a bonus the weather is generally pretty good (other than the odd heatwave in summer).

Below are a few of my family’s favourite activities and places to visit – some are things I loved as a kid and now take my own kids to whenever I can – but feel free to leave a comment here or on our Facebook Page if you think we should add some further ideas.

Don’t forget to also check out the other destinations we have recently covered: for the US check out Los Angeles, New York Part 1 and Part 2, & San Francisco; or for adventures closer to home, check out Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin.

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The first item on my agenda whenever I travel with the kids is to identify the best playgrounds in the area, and the St Kilda Adventure Playground would have to be one of the very best in South Australia (in 2002 South Australian children voted it the best in the state). Located in the seaside suburb of St Kilda, about a 45 minute drive from the Adelaide CBD, the playground is full of specially designed play equipment for all ages. For toddlers there’s a set of playground equipment shaped like a submarine – as a bonus it’s covered by shade sails.  For slightly older kids there’s the castle and pirate ship accessed by a drawbridge and gangway respectively and for older kids again there’s a flying fox, a spiral slide, a giant wave slide, a monorail and maze. Entry to the playground is FREE, and nearby is a mangrove trail and interpretive centre (currently closed but planning to re-open soon), and a tram museum.

More information on the playground and other St Kilda attractions is available here.

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We talked about a tram museum above, so now let’s do the real thing: time to jump on a tram and go for a ride.  Although Adelaide’s iconic 1929 trams were retired in 2006 and replaced with a modern fleet, it’s still great fun for kids to catch the tram from Victoria Square in the Adelaide CBD and travel out to Glenelg, our most famous seaside suburb.  Glenelg is full of attractions aimed at families, including an amusement park called The Beachouse which features arcade games, waterslides, a ferris wheel, a 120 year old carousel, bumper boats and so on. There’s also Moseley Square, one of the hubs of Glenelg which really comes to life during summer with pony, camel and go-kart rides and trampolines. The biggest attraction in Glenelg is naturally the beach and jetty, both of which can keep kids amused for hours.

More information on Glenelg can be found here. Daytrip tram tickets cost $8.80 for adults, $4.40 for primary and secondary students, and under-fives travel free.

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Next let’s drive out to Port Adelaide, about 20 mins drive from the Adelaide CBD. Port Adelaide is absolutely full of fantastic activities for kids, but a strong family favourite of ours is going dolphin spotting. Adelaide’s population of wild bottlenose dolphins have made international headlines in recent months for their remarkable and unique habit of ‘tail walking’, virtually unheard of in wild dolphins, which they do several times a day. You might be lucky enough to spot the dolphins from land, but a more certain way is to take a ride on one of the dolphin spotting boats such as the Dolphin Explorer or the Port Princess. Tickets for adults generally cost $10 or less depending on the type of cruise and day.

While you’re at Port Adelaide, I also recommend visiting the Maritime Museum and the National Rail Museum, both firm favourites of mine when I was a kid and they’re still going strong.

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Right, time for another playground because in my kids’ opinion no holiday can ever involve too many visits to playgrounds.  This one is adjacent to the Burnside Swimming Centre, itself a great spot to take the kids, in leafy Hazelwood Park located in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs, less than 10 minutes drive from the CBD. The Hazelwood Park playground is my kids’ hands-down favourite in Adelaide, I think this is because it has been so perfectly designed for pre-schoolers and younger primary students. The large area is full of well thought out play equipment for kids all set in pleasantly natural surrounds, and when the pool complex is open (October to April) its kiosk has a window open to the park for snacks and drinks. Better yet, bring a picnic and enjoy the surrounds! Obviously there is no charge to visit the park or playground.

The swimming centre mentioned above is great fun for kids too, with a specialist kids’ pool with underwater viewing windows and a shallow, shaded toddler pool in addition to the big 50m pool. If you’re there in hot weather I definitely recommend paying a visit – current admission costs are $5.80 per adult and $4.80 per child for entry to the pools.

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I grew up in the Adelaide Hills and it’s still my favourite part of Adelaide to explore. There’s so much to do in the Hills when you have kids with you. Visit Cleland Wildlife Park for an up close and personal experience with Australian native animals, or perhaps the Hahndorf Farm Barn for a cuddle with some friendly farm animals. But when I asked my Master A, age 4, what his favourite activity was from our last visit, he didn’t hesitate to name the Big Rocking Horse at Gumeracha, around 45 minutes drive from the Adelaide CBD. Although the Big Rocking Horse has become an attraction in its own right (it stands 60ft high and you can climb inside it right to the top), it’s actually the signpost for The Toy Factory which is located on the same site. The largest wooden toy factory in Australia, it is owned and operated by one family and draws its staff from the local community making it a great business to support.  Kids love going through The Toy Factory outlet shop and naturally everyone wants to climb the Big Rocking Horse – although anyone particularly claustrophobic or not too keen on heights might want to stay below and have a coffee at the on-site cafe.

Not far from the Big Rocking Horse is the National Motor Museum in Birdwood which is also worth visiting, having a huge range of every kind of motor vehicle imaginable. It’s also pretty kid-friendly with lots of interactive displays.

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This is just a small snapshot of what Adelaide has to offer with loads more places to explore and enjoy. I’d also recommend checking out the South Australian Museum in the CBD (we all know Australia has bigger and fancier natural history museums, but this one is fabulously kid-friendly, particularly the hands-on Discovery Centre – plus entry is free), Belair National Park Adventure Playground, the beautiful Adelaide Botanic Gardens, go for a Torrens River cruise on the Popeye river boats or hire a paddle boat and explore the river under your own steam, and visit the Adelaide Gaol.  Help me out though – what else do you think should be included in the list?