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Adelaide's Top Family Attractions - From a Tourist's Perspective

Home > Adelaide > Day Trips | Family | Historic Houses | Kids | Outdoor | Lists
by Jeni Wilson (subscribe)
Teacher educator and author of many teacher reference books. Amused by random ideas and loves random acts of kindness. Enjoys writing humour...seriously!Please see my Instagram: wilsonjeni
Published February 2nd 2015
Must See Places
Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
Carrick Hill House


My mum, two children (10 and 12 yrs) and I were in Adelaide for five days of work and leisure. We planned our trip to get around some major attractions. The locals might see things a bit differently so I preface this by saying this is a tourist's review with a rating for suitability for three generations. A top rating is a 3 gens satisfaction.

CARRICK HILL HOUSE

This was our first stop from the airport enroute to our apartment. Warning: They are not open Mondays or Tuesdays. For the rest of the week they are open from 10-4.30 but you can get into the garden earlier. The garden is expansive (100 acres) and beautiful. Some people were picnicking in the gardens and a cafe with a lovely view provides a range of homemade cakes and overly large biscuits (including gluten free).

Since we missed it the first time we returned later in the week and were very glad that we did. This is a unique English style manor with 17th century paneling, staircase and doors as well as surprisingly modern fittings and daring artwork. The old bloke on the door was pretty patient with our endless questions about the family and their furniture choices.

Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
You'd be doing handstands too if you owned this mansion!


Note that they cater for children with their children's storybook trail. This is like an outdoor literary treasure hunt. It focuses on classic British tales particularly from the era of the owners of the Carrick Hill mansion. For example, a ring of seats and a door are at the base of the Magic Faraway tree.

Family Rating: 3 gens very happy –older gens particularly pleased

SEMAPHORE BEACH

Henley Beach is often promoted as the beach to go in Adelaide but we enjoyed Semaphore beach enough to go back twice in three days. This is a popular spot for fishing and jumping off the pier. It didn't look deep enough for the latter to me.

Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
A very quiet beach


At this time of year Semaphore beach has a carnival with all the rides (and prices) you would expect from a show. There is only one eatery on the beach near the carnival but it has a fabulous playground. This is lucky because there is nowhere shady to sit on the beach except under the pier. The wraps were surprisingly good (but large enough for two) and the children were very happy with the chips.

Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
Shaded park and cafe


On the day we went we came across something you don't see everyday… or maybe never in a lifetime. The kids were thrilled to see an old man walking lizards on a leash! He stopped to give them a shower on the beach and the kids gave them a pat.

This area is full of characters. We also saw a man with a broad smile who popped his teeth out for us and then laughed hysterically.

Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
I wish they'd had rides like this when I was a kid


When we found Semaphore we discovered that the miniature train runs through this area which enabled us to get back to our car more quickly. The old train enthusiast volunteers happily answered our questions and dropped us off near the car at a spot not an official train station.

Family Rating: 3 generations happy – younger gen very happy, nana seeking shade

ADELAIDE GAOL

I must say I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would have. The hanging tower captivated the children and led to many questions. I was interested in the artwork (dating back over 150 years) that had been created by inmates. The other display of big interest included the contraband hidden in the pack of cards and in books. There is a children's trail available from the front desk. Allow at least and hour and a half for the self-guided tour.

Family Rating: 3 generations happy (mum wishing a lesson for young hoolagans might be learnt)

Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
I hope this is the only time I am on the 'inside'


WATERFALL GULLY

Do not rely on the GPS; check directions first because it took us an hour and a half via Mt Lofty and very narrow winding roads but only half an hour to get home.

If you want to do the hour and a half walk up and down steep terrain you start up the top of the mountain but if you are happy to walk just a few hundred meters to view the waterfall, then the bottom of the mountain is your best bet. There are other waterfalls in the area but not much water at this time of year. There is a viewing platform that is a short but steep walk up the hill. The kids sprinted up and back but we watched from below.

Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
Imagine this in winter!


This was unfortunately a long trip at dinnertime with hungry kids (ugh) but it did lead us to a beautiful accommodation called Manor House with a stunning view of the mountains. I had to take a peek inside and I legitimately needed directions. The reception staff was incredibly helpful, calling locals and printing out Google directions.

Family Rating: 3 generations happy but too steep for nana to walk

Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
A room with a magnificent view


Incidentally there are family suitable cafes at the bottom of the hill. We stopped at Fasta Pasta which had a kid's meal deal for $8.90 which included a mains, soft drink and ice cream. One of the kids got a four-piece pizza, which was a very generous serve for a child.

Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
Sunny Glenelg


GLENELG BEACH

This is surely an essential visit while in Adelaide and there's no excuse not to go, as it's only 5 minutes from the airport. There are many fish and chip shops for those who think that fish 'n' chips on the beach is like meat pies at the footy finals. There's a volunteer at the museum who will give you advise on which shop to get the freshest fish and the crispest chips. I'm not kidding when I say they have dozens of ice-cream shops.

As the beach was beckoning I didn't get much of a chance to shop in the many busy and inviting shops but I did manage to acquire a couple of dresses for a steal.

Family Rating: 3 generations happy

Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
Why do kids get all the fun?


BEACH HOUSE WATER PLAYCENTRE

The last time we were in Adelaide I promised to take the kids here. This is a kid's paradise featuring arcade games, huge water slides, carousel, train, mini golf, ferris wheel, jumping castle, dodgem cars and bumper water gun boats. Once you pay and get your pass card (for a 2hr visit) you are free to have unlimited rides and games (queues permitting). The kids ran off happily and emerged again after two hours. The receptionist told us to go into the mini golf area just before the two hours was up and you could stay as long as you like but you can see the crystal clear water and pristine sand from the Beach House so the Glenelg beach was more appealing by that stage.

The prices vary; for example, Sat 9-11am is $30 for unlimited rides and game machines. After 11 am the price is more expensive. The Beach House Water Playcentre
is open everyday (except Christmas day).

Family Rating: 2 generations happy, the children particularly loved this.

ADELAIDE ZOO

The private Adelaide zoo is just on the edge of the city near the well kept botanical gardens. The parking can be tricky but the two pandas irresistible. This zoo has many
animals we have never seen or heard of before. It's not too big to get around in a couple of hours and fairly flat.
The zoo has a nice little trendy café but we didn't visit it.

Family Rating: 3 generations happy - this really is for all ages

Carrick Hill House, children's storybook trail, Semaphore beach, Adelaide Gaol, Waterfall Gully, Glenelg Beach, Beach House Water Playcentre, Haigh's Chocolate factory tour, top tourist attractions in Adelaide,
Can you ever get enough?


HAIGH'S CHOCOLATE FACTORY TOUR


Pardon the pun but Haigh's satisfies every palette. I loved the tour because I love to learn new things, my mum enjoyed the history and the kids (you guessed it), it was all about the eating. Many free samples are offered (and happily accepted!).

They might have a small share of the Australian market, but they are very competitive with other premium chocolates. The creamy chocolate is divine and the truffles to die for (save up first). I also personally recommend the honeycomb chocolate.

Tours run every half hour all day until 3 during the week and Saturday mornings. It's a good idea to book in especially on Saturdays as they have many bus tours.

Family Rating: 3 generations happily licking their lips

So that's the pot pourri style review of some major family attractions by and for tourists. Each rated highly in our books. My top pick? It's too hard to call. You might want to do your own research. Weekend Notes has many great review of top sites, free events and quirky ideas for families. Just enter a search and click return and off you go. I hope you enjoy Adelaide as much as we did.
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Why? Because there's so much to choose from in Adelaide
Where: In and about the capital
Cost: Cheap or free
Your Comment
What a fantastic article Jeni! I thoroughly enjoyed it. :)
by Paula McManus (score: 3|3097) 1407 days ago
Great article with a wonderful cross section of places to visit - well done, Jeni, I enjoyed it too!
by Nattacia (score: 1|19) 1406 days ago
You must talk to the block on the desk. He knows everything about the fsmily
by Jeni Wilson (score: 3|1839) 1403 days ago
Thanks for the correction
by Jeni Wilson (score: 3|1839) 1399 days ago
Great reminder to get back to Carrick Hill again. Thanks!
by Jenny Rossiter (score: 3|4057) 1403 days ago
Great article, Jeni - even Adelaideans can benefit from taking note! But just a heads-up - the lovely accommodation you visited is "Mt Lofty House" not "Manor House"
by helen (score: 0|2) 1400 days ago
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