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8 Top Picnic Spots in and around Adelaide

Home > Adelaide > Beaches | Fun Things To Do | Gardens | Outdoor | Picnic Spots | Lists
by Graeme Fanning (subscribe)
I'm a tour guide who is passionate about South Australia and love to showcase to locals and visitors. Visit my facebook page at www.facebook.com/Down-to-Earth-Tours-1491827191071798/
Published February 5th 2022
Picnics with panoramas
There are many places in and around Adelaide which are great locations for a picnic with the opportunity to pack up a mix of local South Australian produce together with your favourite beverage.

Together with some fine company, the picnic locations range from beachside to Adelaide Hills as well as in amongst suburbia.

Picnic Basket
Picnic Basket


Here are 8 locations I have chosen out of many that are worth a mention.

1. Botanic Gardens

Located on the north-eastern fringe of the CBD of Adelaide, the Botanic Gardens offers a convenient and beautiful place to unpack your picnic basket and take in the lush surrounds of the gardens, as well as the fresh air.

Many spaces within the gardens will make you feel as though you are the only people there, with the sound of birdlife around you, and particularly on a warm day, the shady arbors will cool you down.

Whilst you are at the gardens, some great walking paths take you past iconic must-sees including the historic Palm House dating from 1877, the Bicentennial Conservatory as well as the Museum of Economic Botany.

The Botanic Gardens is always a great place to forget about the daily grind of life and take time to "smell the roses".

If you would like to find out more about the gardens, you might like to go along on a guided tour of the site. These free guided tours are run daily at 10.30 am departing from the Schomburgk Pavilion. (Except for Christmas Day and Good Friday).

There is also an option of self-guided tours available from the Visitor Information Centre or downloaded via the Friends of the Botanic Gardens website. You can also participate in audio tours which can be accessed via your iPhone or Android phone, downloading the MyParx app.

You will need to remember if you are bringing a picnic into the gardens, alcohol is not permitted.

Dependent on the time of year for your visit, the gardens opening and closing times can vary. During Summer - ie December to March the opening hours are between 7.15 am and 7 pm (Mon to Wed) and 9 pm (Thurs to Sun and Public Holidays).

From April until September the closing time is 5.30 pm and for October and November 6.30 pm (Mon to Wed) and 7 pm (Thurs to Sun and Public Holidays).

For opening times, it is 7.15 am all year round, apart from weekends and public holidays between April and November when the gardens open at 9 am. The great news is admission is free.

Botanic Gardens Adelaide
Botanic Gardens Adelaide


2. Carrick Hill

Have you thought about combining a picnic with an opportunity to visit one of Adelaide's historic homes and gardens? Carrick Hill is nestled on fine acreage up at Springfield (around 40 hectares including 26 hectares of native bushland), only just under 8 kms from the CBD of Adelaide, in the foothills.

The outer gardens particularly make an ideal spot for picnics, under the shade of large Pistachio trees. If you fancy a game of petanque, a set of bowls can be borrowed from reception for no cost.

Due to COVID guided tours of the house are not currently available but you can wander around the beautiful gardens, including the formal gardens designed in part by one-time owner, Ursula Hayward. These gardens contain a wonderful blend of roses, elm trees, lawns, flower gardens as well as herbs.

If you are bringing along children for your picnic, they will want to explore the Story Book Trail - a trail that utilises children's storybook characters and tales to encourage the imagination.

Books covered along the trail include the Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit, Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Jungle Book and Animalia, amongst many others.

Remember there are designated areas for picnics around the grounds including the Stable Lawns, the Story Book Trail and the grounds around the house, excluding the wedding ceremony areas at the back and side of the house.

FYI, alcohol can only be purchased on-site, so unfortunately no BYO is allowed. If you do not have your own picnic hamper, there is catering on the grounds, which sell pre-ordered picnic platters in a box. Details on how to pre-order are featured on Carrick Hill's website - www.carrickhill.sa.gov.au/house-gardens/picnic-areas.

The house itself built of Basket Range stone originates from 1939, built for Ursula and Bill Hayward. Bill was part of a family who owned the well-renowned department store John Martin's for over 100 years. Ursula was part of one of the wealthy and influential families of Adelaide, Barr-Smith.

A great place all round to lose yourself in for a few hours!

Carrick Hill House and Gardens
Carrick Hill House and Gardens


3. Port Willunga

Just over 45 kms from the CBD of Adelaide lies Port Willunga, which is a stunning location for a picnic, especially towards the end of day when the sunset puts on its nightly show.

The soft sandy beach is overlooked by cliffs dotted with caves, once carved out by fishermen to store their boats and nets and the "sticks" jutting out of the water represent the once-thriving jetty when Port Willunga served as a grain port.

The tragic shipwreck of the "Star of Greece" in 1888 is also evident at low tide when some rotting timbers are exposed. This shipwreck was one of many along South Australia's coastal areas and it is believed that over a 20 year period during the 1800s there were something like a total of 800 shipwrecks around South Australian waters.

For obvious reasons, Port Willunga beach is one of the most photographed in South Australia. If you happen to forget to bring the picnic basket, you can hopefully book into the well renowned Star of Greece restaurant perched up high on the cliffs overlooking the breath-taking coastal scenery.

When the beach ramps are operational during summer, for non-residents there is an $8 charge to drive your car onto the beach, one of the few in South Australia where you can do so. For residents of the area, permits are free.

Port Willunga Sunset
Port Willunga Sunset


4. Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens

Not far into the Adelaide Hills lies Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens, set on 97 hectares of gardens, gullies, trails, sculptures as well as seasonal splendour. At just over 16 kms or 20 minutes drive from the city of Adelaide, as soon as you leave the car, you have the feeling you have well and truly escaped from the trappings of everyday life.

There are many beautiful spaces within the gardens to enjoy a picnic and during their opening season, if you fancy a quality hot chocolate or coffee. Well-known local chocolatier, Bracegirdles, park their bus in the gardens on weekends and public holidays.

If you like the idea of simply turning up to the gardens with a picnic rug at the times Bracegirdles are on site, then they can supply you with a yummy range of goods to enjoy, including almond croissants, vegan raspberry croissants, brownies, sausage rolls, toasted sandwiches and more.

Please note that the gardens have re-opened on Wed 26 January and then every weekend and public holiday from March - June 2022. Normal operating hours are between 9 am and 4 pm. (subject to weather conditions).

Numerous walks to exercise after your picnic are available within the Botanic Gardens, including one that goes through Fern Gully, a shady spot during the warmer summer days and another through the South American Gully, planted with a Gondwana theme.

There is also a great duck pond and a woodland garden to immerse yourself in (not literally).

The two main walking trails are the Lakeside Trail, which skirts around the main lake, and then there is the Nature Trail, which gives you a chance to really view and admire the native flora of the area.

Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens
Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens


5. Stangate House, Aldgate

Another great spot to enjoy some local SA produce in a picnic basket is within the gardens of Stangate House, located at 3 Edgware Road, Aldgate in the Adelaide Hills.

The property is managed by National Trust SA and is surrounded by 4 acres of beautiful gardens, with several great spots to throw down your picnic rug.

One of the spots you might want to enjoy your picnic is under one of Australia's largest oak trees, which will provide you with wonderful shade away from the harsher rays of the hot sun during the summer months.

The adjacent gardens, dependent upon the time of year of your visit abound in blooms of Camellias during spring season with a hue of stand-out reds, pinks and paler shades. In fact, the gardens were recognised in 2012 by the International Camellia Society as an International Camellia Garden of Excellence.

Currently, costs for entry are $8 per adult, $6 for a National Trust member and children under 15, free. Tickets can be purchased at the gate when the house and gardens are open.

The house itself dates back to the late-1930s/early-1940s and was built by Adelaide architect, Eric McMichael. The garden was originally designed by Elsie Cornish, a renowned garden designer who was well-known for landscaping with a unique sense of colour and composition.

You will need to check re-opening times with National Trust SA and their phone number is 08 8202 9200.

Camellias at Stangate House
Camellias at Stangate House


6. Belair National Park

If you like the thought of natural bushland settings only 25 minutes drive from Adelaide CBD, then Belair National Park may be your preferred choice for a picnic setting.

With its woodlands, lakes, walking and mountain biking trails as well as tennis courts and cricket pitches for hire - there is obviously a wide choice of activities awaiting you.

There are many free facilities available such as picnic tables set in amongst bushland and also free barbeques next to the Adventure Playground at Playford Lake and in between Willows and the Karka Pavillion.

Apart from your own picnic provisions, the Park offers several options for purchasing additional food, such as Old Government House offering afternoon tea (tea, coffee and scones) for $10 during opening hours (open the first and third Sundays in the month and Public Holidays from 1 pm to 4 pm - apart from Christmas Day and Good Friday).

The Kiosk at the Adventure Playground is open on weekends, public holidays as well as school holidays. Also at the Goat Shed, you can pick up a bike, cake and coffee to go!

There are at least 10 open space picnic areas around Belair National Park, many of them with ample shelters, picnic tables, BBQs and toilets close by.

Whilst you are in the area, you may wish to take a tour of Old Government House, the former summer residence of South Australian Governors between 1860 and 1880. The Friends of Old Government House run the tours on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month between 1 pm and 4 pm and entry is $5 per adult, with children under 12 years free of charge.

The Park itself is open between 8 am and 9 pm during the summer months and during the colder months, between 8 am and 7 pm.

Be aware that there are no rubbish bins in Belair National Park, so be prepared to take all of your own rubbish home or out of the park.

Old Government House Belair
Old Government House Belair


7. Myponga Beach

For that more "out of the way" place to experience a picnic, then the secluded Myponga Beach offers much in the way of a sheltered beach hemmed in by rolling hills, which change colour over the varying seasons from vivid green to light brown.

The drive down to the beach offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and coastline along the Fleurieu Peninsula and you get the feeling that you are a long way from suburbia, even though you are only 67 kms or approximately 1 hour drive from Adelaide.

Towards the end of the day, when the sun is reaching towards the crystal clear blue sea, the colours of the surrounding landscape really put on a great show.

Remember you will need to bring all of your own picnic supplies, as there are no shops or outlets to buy anything close by.

A nice walk along the beach is a great way to walk off all of the yummy produce you have just eaten, and you will notice there are old remains of jetty pylons sticking out of the water at low tide. This area makes for wonderful photography opportunities.

Myponga Beach
Myponga Beach


8. Normanville Beach


If you prefer a longer stretch of beach with plenty of space around you for a picnic, then Normanville Beach is the place for you, just over 1 hour drive from Adelaide.

The beach itself stretches some 7.3 kilometres along the fringe of the Fleurieu Peninsula and Normanville is known as being the largest coastal settlement on the Fleurieu coast and incorporates Carrickalinga.

Apart from the glorious white sand on the beach itself, there are picnic tables and facilities up near the carpark in a grassy area overlooking the beach.

For the extra top-up of food or drink, you can't go past the Normanville Kiosk and Cafe which offers a great range of items that will complement your picnic, including traditional fish and chips for $25 (two pieces).

By the way, also a great place to have breakfast overlooking the sea on a Sunday morning. (or any other day for that matter!)

The Kiosk and Cafe is open Monday to Saturday 8 am to 8 pm and Sundays 8 am to 4 pm.

Inhaling all of that fresh sea air will guarantee to make you hungry and you'll relish your picnic even more so at a seaside location such as Normanville Beach.

Normanville Beach
Normanville Beach


So what's stopping you - gather all of your goodies into a picnic basket, jump in the car and enjoy some of the many picnic spots on offer in and around Adelaide!
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Why? An opportunity to get out and enjoy the great outdoors whilst digesting some great SA produce
When: Any time of the year
Phone: 0427 566 676
Where: Adelaide, South Australia
Cost: Picnic provisions and entry fees to some locations
Your Comment
Such a variety of locations Graeme. One could spend a week visiting them all, but what an experience.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4054) 108 days ago
Beautiful locations, Graeme, congrats on the Silver, well-deserved!
by Elaine (score: 3|8838) 108 days ago
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