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Things to Do in Adelaide

Adelaide, the laid-back capital of South Australia, is a world away from the urban powerhouses of Melbourne and Sydney. The only one of Australia’s state capitals to be founded by free settlers, Adelaide retains its independent spirit to this day, and it feels more like an oversized village than the country’s fifth most populated city. Guided tours are an ideal way to get the lay of the land—and, as a bonus, you're likely to end up seeing far more of Adelaide and her environs than you’d manage on your own. With its proud Victorian architecture, picturesque waterfront, and burgeoning art scene, effortlessly cultured Adelaide (the annual Adelaide Festival of Arts draws huge crowds) can be easily explored on a walking tour. Stroll the beachside promenade of Glenelg, soak up the atmosphere of the Adelaide Central Markets, or tour the famous Adelaide Oval stadium. The area’s real highlights lie just beyond the city borders. Food-lovers can venture into the Adelaide Hills, then indulge in wine tasting amid the vineyards of the Barossa Valley or the McLaren Vale wine regions; while nature lovers can discover Australia’s longest river on a Murray River cruise. Those who venture a little farther afield can swap the city for the tranquil resort of Victor Harbor along the Fleurieu Peninsula, or spot loads of wildlife on the most quintessentially Aussie of all islands—Kangaroo Island.
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Wirra Wirra Vineyards
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In the world of wine, the Adelaide region is known for producing some of Australia’s best vintages. Such is the case at Wirra Wirra Vineyards, where talented winemakers have mastered the craft since 1894, enticing visitors from around the globe to sip on the fruits of their labor. One of South Australia's most iconic wineries, Wirra Wirra Vineyards is known for quirky, eccentric environment and affable, fun-loving staff, as well as for its fine Shiraz wines and array of reds and whites.

Take a part in a Wirra Wirra wines master class to learn the technique behind the award-winning wines of the world-renowned McClaren Vale region, and to explore the vineyard, tour the winery, and sample some of Wirra Wirra winery's best. To get in the celebratory spirit without imbibing, visitors can ring the winery's nearly one-ton church bell, the Angelus Bell, which is used during special occasions and also completely at random.

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Kangaroo Island
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With its unmistakably Aussie name, it’s little surprise that Kangaroo Island is one of the best places to spot native Australian wildlife. Australia's third-largest island, this unspoiled haven is a trove of natural wonders, from red rock cliffs to sandy beaches, sweeping dunes, and wild bushlands.

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Adelaide Oval
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One of the world’s most scenic arenas, the Adelaide Oval dates back to 1871. Best known for cricket, the defining sport of British colonies, it also hosts concerts, rugby, Australian rules football, and more. Besides a cafe, fine dining restaurant, and corporate events spaces, it offers a museum devoted to cricket legend Donald Bradman.

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Adelaide Zoo
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Adelaide Zoo is home to almost 2,500 animals, with around 250 different species from all around the world. Along with Aussie favorites like kangaroos, koalas, and Tasmanian devils, the zoo is famous for its pair of Giant Pandas, Wang Wang and Funi, the only animals of their kind in Australia.

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McLaren Vale
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McLaren Vale is second only to Barossa Valley as South Australia’s top wine region. The region's wineries are spread out around the town of McLaren Vale, about 25 miles (41 kilometers) south of Adelaide. Soft, luscious Shiraz is the signature style, and more than 70 wineries offer tastings. Don't miss the vibrant local food scene.

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Mt. Lofty
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Despite its name, Mt. Lofty is far from lofty, standing just 2,385 feet (727 meters) high in the Mt. Lofty Ranges, part of the Adelaide Hills. The summit offers views across Adelaide and the ocean, with a café, an information center and shop, and hiking trail access. Mt. Lofty Botanic Garden and Cleland Wildlife Park are on its slopes.

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Mengler Hill Lookout
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One of the most popular scenic overlooks in the Barossa Valley, visitors to Mengler Hill Lookout can take in bird's-eye views of the region’s expansive vineyards and rolling hills. The nearby sculpture park, which sits at the foot of Mengler Hill (formerly known as Mengler's Hill), offers travelers a whimsical, playful look at the works of nine artists who visited the area in 1988. Visitors say this picturesque peak is the perfect place for snapping scenic photos or escaping into the quiet and quaint rural countryside on a trip to Barossa.

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Penfolds Barossa Valley Cellar Door
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Since 1844, Penfolds Barossa Valley winery has been offering travelers access to a wide variety of wines, luscious tastings and idyllic vineyard views. And while strong pours of favorite vintages are a treat for visitors, it’s the Make Your Own Blend Tour that gives Penfolds Barossa Valley Cellar Door the air of something new. After touring the grounds and exploring the Cellar Door, travelers enter the winemakers’ laboratory and use popular grapes, like Grenache and Shiraz, to blend their own wines to bottle and take home.

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Hahndorf
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Tucked away in the Adelaide Hills, the tree-lined lanes and historic taverns of Hahndorf have a distinctly Bavarian feel; so much so that the village has dubbed itself “Australia’s oldest German town.” Founded by German settlers in the early 19th century, Hahndorf displays its heritage in its culture, architecture, and cuisine.

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Peter Lehmann Wines
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This favorite mid-size South Australian vineyard was built in just five months back in 1980. Since then, Peter Lehmann Wines' luscious red and white wines have been celebrated both locally and internationally, and its true family farm feel has been welcoming visitors for generations.

After touring the grounds and learning about the practice of wine making, travelers can saddle up to the Weighbridge—now known affectionately as Peter’s Bar—for a taste of Peter Lehmann’s bold Shiraz. Growers have been gathering at the Weighbridge after a long day’s work since the vineyard first opened. Today visitors can join them in the same age-old tradition, too.

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More Things to Do in Adelaide

Adelaide Central Market

Adelaide Central Market

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With a history dating back more than 150 years, Adelaide Central Market has long been at the center of Adelaide’s foodie scene. It remains one of Australia’s largest covered food markets, with about 80 stalls stacked with fresh, seasonal produce.

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Adelaide Gaol

Adelaide Gaol

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One of the oldest buildings in South Australia, Adelaide Gaol is remarkable for its architecture, its history, and—allegedly—its ghosts. During its years of operation, 1841–1988, the jail housed over 300,000 prisoners, 45 of whom were executed on-site. Today it offers an interactive exhibition, a range of food options, and a shop.

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North Terrace

North Terrace

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For a taste of new-world Adelaide, travelers make a stop at Rundle Mall. But for a look at the city’s historic past and contemporary culture there is no place better than North Terrace. The mile-long avenue passes by the art center, parliament house, national library, university and Botanical Gardens, as well as an iconic church from 1838 and a restored 1920s railway station. Large grassy fields and tall shade trees provide the perfect resting place for an afternoon picnic, while a number of pubs mean travelers are always within reach of a cold, refreshing drink.

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Haigh’s Chocolates Visitor Centre

Haigh’s Chocolates Visitor Centre

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When most people think of chocolate they think European. Belgium, Switzerland—these are nations known for creating smooth and creamy pure cocoa treats. But Aussies know some of the most decadent chocolate pleasures are made at their very own Haigh’s Chocolates. Since 1915 this fourth generation, family owned company has been churning out candies that are worth the trip. From classic dark chocolates to new salted caramels, travelers can find a taste of Australia at one of the company’s retail stores—or watch production in action at the Haigh's Chocolates Visitor Centre.

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Victoria Square

Victoria Square

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Central Adelaide’s most important square, Victoria Square is known to the Kaurna people as “tarntanyangga” (red kangaroo dreaming). A special-events space and popular lunch spot for local workers, it’s home to statues, lawns, gum trees, and the 1960s Three Rivers Fountain. Nearby landmarks include St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.

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Adelaide Botanic Garden

Adelaide Botanic Garden

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Covering more than 124 acres (50 hectares) between the North Terrace and Botanic Park, the Adelaide Botanic Garden are among the city’s most stunning green spaces. With tree-lined walkways, water lily and lotus ponds, and flower gardens blooming with roses and dahlias, this is an idyllic place for a walking tour.

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St. Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide

St. Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide

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Occasionally overshadowed by neighboring Adelaide Oval, the Gothic Revival spires of St. Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide are an architectural landmark. The leading place of worship for the city’s Anglican community, it was built between 1869 and 1911 from local sandstone. English craftsmen contributed much of the stained glass.

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Rundle Mall

Rundle Mall

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Some 400,000 customers flock to this shopping Mecca every week—including 85% of Adelaide’s international travelers. With 700 retailers it’s no surprise. Make a stop at the Adelaide Visitors Information Center, where friendly staff and a library of brochures offer up advice on what to do, where to go and what not to miss in the area. Next walk through Adelaide and Gays Arcade, where beautiful skylights line the ceiling. Retailers here were the first in the country to have electric lights, and locals believe six ghosts live in the arcade, including a caretaker who fell to his death repairing the generator that powered the lights.

Browse the shelves at one of the mall’s dozens of books stores before heading to Haighs for a famous chocolate frog. The fourth generation family owned business is an Australian staple, and has been whipping up its famous cocoa treats since 1915.

Enjoy local shopping at Raw Space and It’s a Gift (two of the mall’s most-visited stores) before heading taking some final photo ops with the Silver Balls (also known as the Malls Balls) and the bronze pigs. These two quirky works of public art have become Rundle Mall institutions.

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South Australian Museum

South Australian Museum

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One of the principal attractions of Adelaide’s Cultural Precinct, the South Australian Museum is devoted to the region’s natural and cultural history. The museum is best known for its impressive collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural items: the largest collection of its kind in the world.

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Art Gallery of South Australia

Art Gallery of South Australia

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The Art Gallery of South Australia showcases around 45,000 works of art spanning 2,000 years. Expect to see works by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and a diverse array of art from around the world, including Rodin bronzes and contemporary pieces. The museum occupies a landmark neoclassical building in the heart of Adelaide.

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Penfolds Magill Estate

Penfolds Magill Estate

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Established in 1844, Penfolds is perhaps Australia’s defining wine brand, and these Adelaide Hills vineyards are where it all began. Besides cellars, wine-making operations, and tasting rooms, the site is home to the original Grange cottage where the founders lived, an award-winning fine-dining restaurant, and an informal eatery.

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Cleland Wildlife Park

Cleland Wildlife Park

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Set in the Cleland Conservation Park, just 20 minutes outside Adelaide, Cleland Wildlife Park is home to a wealth of Australian animals, most of them roaming free. It’s possible to hand-feed native fauna, including kangaroos, wallabies, and emus, while the park offers up-close experiences with koalas, wombats, and more.

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Parliament House

Parliament House

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Home to the Parliament of the state of South Australia, Parliament House is a landmark of downtown Adelaide. Behind grand columns it houses the state’s two legislative chambers: the House of Assembly (lower house) and the Legislative Council (upper house). Designed as early as 1872, it wasn’t completed until 1939.

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State Library of South Australia (SLSA)

State Library of South Australia (SLSA)

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Set on North Terrace, the grand boulevard that forms Adelaide’s cultural heart, the State Library of South Australia (SLSA) occupies three spectacular buildings from different eras. Besides the architectural splendor of the Mortlock Wing, the library offers the full range of reference library resources, as well as exhibitions, free Wi-Fi, and a café.

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