In a day and age of cheap products, fast fashion, and excess clutter, people’s desire for experiences is on the rise. We are tiring of ‘stuff’ and consumers are opting away from screen-based entertainment, instead choosing experiences and instagram-friendly moments.
With so many incredible things to do in South Australia, making a bucket list can be endless, but here’s a list of some of our favourite, unique South Australian experiences to get you started.
While most of us are across some of the amazing events and festivals that South Australia is famous for (Glam Adelaide covers all of these regularly), we thought we’d give them a quick shoutout before we launch into the bucket list. Adelaide is the UNESCO listed City of Music, so get out and experience the live music scene.
In addition to that, we have the Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Fringe, OzAsia Festival, SALA, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Cabaret Fringe, WOMADelaide, Samstag, The Art Gallery of South Australia, Tarnathi, Feast Festival, Umbrella City Sounds, and SO much more. Check out our events calendar to keep an eye on what’s coming.
1. Experience Southern Ocean Lodge
While this one will probably be on most people’s bucket list forever, we were lucky enough to experience it (for my 40th – thanks hubby!) and I can tell you first hand, it’s worth the hype. Southern Ocean Lodge is Australia’s most extraordinary luxury lodge, offering a unique and exclusive Kangaroo Island experience, and it’s like nothing else in the world.
Twenty-one suites cantilever along the curves of the wildly beautiful coastal cliffs, each offering views of the Southern Ocean and rolling wilderness. World-class dining showcases local ingredients and a help-yourself cellar (yes seriously!) of premium South Australian wines promise a decadent getaway. An itinerary of adventures offers a first-hand experience of Australia’s Galapagos, while first-name service and a generous at-home feel together make it your special place. It absolutely makes you feel like a celebrity – and completely pampered. It’s like nothing else. Visit their website here.
Brand new to Adelaide, this is something we’ve experienced and LOVED. After months of construction, Australia’s first inner-city aerial adventure park, built within the natural environment of the Adelaide City Park Lands, has opened. There are over 70 obstacles, incorporating everyone’s favourite – ZIPLINES – alongside with ladders, log-walks, Tarzan swings, rock climbing and much more. More details here.
3. The Wine Train
Another one of our favourites. Enjoy rail travel from yesteryear with a few wines from today, the South Coast Wine Train tour travels along the Steamranger Heritage Railway from Mount Barker to Strathalbyn and onward to the South Coast and Murray River Port of Goolwa on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Along the journey guests enjoy the opportunity to tour the nearby cellar doors and vineyards at Langhorne Creek, Currency Creek and the Southern Fleurieu wine regions. These regions are home to some award-winning family owned and boutique wineries, and vineyards dating back to the 1850s who are producing premium wines that are highly regarded in national and international wine circles. More details here.
4. Eat Oysters Straight From The Ocean In Coffin Bay
Head to one of the most beautiful parts of South Australia – Coffin Bay – and prepare yourself for an amazing experience. Oyster HQ is a brand new tourism centre, right over the water in the bay, and it’s where the Coffin Bay Oyster Farm Tours depart from. You’ll don waders and head out into the water, where you’ll sit partly-submerged on their salt water pavilion. Then you’ll be treated to a fascinating tour about oysters, the industry, farming techniques, the area, and all-importantly, an oyster-shucking lesson. Eat amazingly fresh oysters straight from the ocean, and down it with a glass of your favourite wine or beer. Be sure to book ahead as spots are limited.
5. Hot Air Balloon Across The Barossa Valley
Experience the breathtaking views and serenity of the beautiful Barossa Valley as you float high above the ground with Barossa Valley Ballooning. Peaceful, yet exhilarating, your sunrise hot air balloon adventure will give you a perspective like no other of this world-famous wine region. Followed with a champagne breakfast, it’s sure to be a gift to be remembered. Details here.
6. Feed A Lion At Monarto Zoo
Experience Australia’s only 360 degree lion encounter which gives you a prey’s eye view into the world of these awe-inspiring predators. You can even book one of six exclusive opportunities to hand feed the majestic lions. More details here.
7. Make Your Own Wine
Treat someone to an experience they’ll never forget. The opportunity to play winemaker for the day, to blend and bottle their own wine. The Blending Bench at d’Arenberg is where the craft of winemaking becomes an art form. Three distinctive barrel samples of single vineyard wine are blended to create a personalised Shiraz, something truely unique. The final blend is then bottled and given a quirky name, in true d’Arenberg fashion. $90 per person, approx 90 minutes. While you’re there, why not check out the new d’Arenberg Cube – it’s beyond amazing. More details here.
8. Street Art Tour
Presented by Adelaide’s renowned miniature sculpture, stencil and street artist, Joshua Smith, this tour showcases the incredible artwork brought to Port Adelaide through the Wonderwalls Festivals and the amazingly talented local, national and international artists behind them. Tickets are $49pp. More info here.
9. Learn To Cook
Across SA there’s a stack of great cooking schools, which are not only great for team building and Christmas parties, but also fantastic to do solo or with your partner. From Sticky Rice Cooking School in the Adelaide Hills, where you can take Spanish, Thai, Moroccan, Asian and other cooking classes, to the Port Lincoln Seafood Cooking School, which is brilliant for mastering seafood dishes, you’re spoilt for choice. The inclusive Scoffed Cooking School is perfect for burgeoning foodies and kids with their entertaining and social cooking classes and parties.
The Cooks Pantry in Grange is not only a gorgeous little cafe, but the chef there also teaches some amazing cooking classes. Some past classes have included Fabulously French, Moroccan Spice and Vietnamese & Cambodian Cooking Delights.
You also can’t go past Adelaide’s most renowned cooking school, Sprout. Headed up by Themis and Callum, there are kids classes, adults classes and private group bookings available. Classes include things like ‘Gin, Tonic & Tapas’, ‘Summer Seafood’, ‘Summer Grills’ and ‘Quick, Easy & Healthy’.
10. Drink & Paint
What better to bring our your creative side, than a couple glasses of South Australia’s best? There’s plenty of art and wine classes popping up, including regular ‘Studio Vino’ ones at d’Arenberg (they sell out almost instantly though so keep an eye on the d’Arenberg Facebook page for updates). The Studio Vino paint and sip experience is a fun and unique way to uncork your creativity. Enjoy a glass of wine while re-creating the featured painting of the night. Paint, canvas and brushes are provided as well an experienced local artist who leads the group step by step through the process. Visit the Studio Vino Facebook page here.
11. Gin Cruise On The Popeye
Here’s one for the gin lovers! Grab some mates and head out on one of Adelaide’s iconic Popeye boats, and chug down the Torrens while you enjoy a gin flight. Prohibition Liquor Company has joined with The Popeye to offer monthly gin masterclasses and signature Prohibition Gin cocktails while cruising the scenic River Torrens. These are always sold out, but if you plan ahead you should be fine. Read more about it here.
12. Adventure Room
Adventure Rooms challenges you and your friends or work mates to complete each adventure by solving puzzles, cracking codes & escaping in under 60 minutes. A fun little escape in the city that’s a great gift for someone who likes a challenge! Click here more information.
13. Holey Moley Mini Golf
They had me at cocktail bar. Yep, located in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD, you can mini golf with cocktails and DJs. There’s a whopping 18 themed holes over two courses. You can play the standard nine holes or make a night of it and play all 18. You don’t have to leave once you’re done golfing. They have DJs spinning tunes (just like your basic bar, you can grab a post-golf themed cocktail (think Teeyoncé Holes) at the bar or sit down for a bite to eat. More info here.
14. Adelaide Oval Roof Climb
Whether you choose a day climb, or the recently launched night climb, seeing Adelaide from the rooftop of Adelaide Oval is a unique gift to give. Complete with a 90 minute climb experience, post-climb beverage (hello, Espresso Martini), a souvenir RoofClimb hat, achievement certificate, digital photo pack, and a seriously great mix of party tunes, there is no denying that this is an experience like no other. Find more details here.
15. Adelaide Gondola
You may not be exploring the streets and canals of Italy right now, but there is a chance to experience Italian charm right here in Adelaide with Adelaide Gondola. This unique business has gifted locals and tourists of the state the perfect way to wind down and relax in true Venetian style for decades. Operating seven days a week (day and night) for your convenience, you can enjoy a ride along the picturesque River Torrens.
16. Ghost Tours
Know someone who loves the paranormal? Or just being scared witless? Why not get them a ticket on a ghost tour! Adelaide Haunted Horizons Ghost Tours claim to be the real deal, with no gimmicks, no dress-ups, and no dramatics – just personal experiences and real-life ghostly encounters. Check out their tours to Adelaide Gaol, Adelaide Arcade, the National Railway Museum, Old Tailem Town or the Z Ward Asylum. They also host ghost hunts for those who want a little more action. Find out more details here.
17. Winery Tours
We all have at least one friend who is an absolute wine fiend, so why not give them a unique winery tour. Seppeltsfield offer a variety of tours suitable for the adventurous or the relaxers – from segway tours around the winery to heritage tours, there’s something for everyone. Check out Seppeltsfield tours here.
Or if you’re after the whole shabang, get a group of family or friends together and book a bus for the day to take you on a discovery trip of one of SA’s wine regions. Whether it’s the Barossa, McLaren Vale or the Adelaide Hills, you can’t really go wrong with a day drinking wine under the sun. You can find a list of different wine tours here.
18. Learn To Paddleboard or Surf
Located at West Lakes, this is the perfect gift for someone who loves summer and the outdoors. If someone wants more action though, you could give them a voucher to learn how to surf! More details here.
19. Go Glamping
South Australia offers so many beautiful camping destinations, however not all of us enjoy sleeping bags and a sore back. That’s where glamping comes in handy for all your nature lovers out there. From local Adelaide glamping experiences to outback adventures, you can now enjoy the best of our state while tucking up at night in high thread count linen.
Wilpena Pound Ikara Glamping Safari Tents
Five hours from Adelaide, you’ll discover the beautiful Flinders Ranges, and Wilpena Pound – a fantastic camping destination which forms a base for many bushwalkers, and bush tours. In a secluded spot away from the main campground, 15 roomy tents with king-size beds, tiled bathrooms and timber decks are set among majestic red river gums and native pines.
Eco Tent, Adelaide Shores
If you’re looking for something closer to home, all while feeling those camping vibes, Adelaide Shores Big4 Caravan Park in West Beach has got you covered. Offering double bed and bunks, this 4-person tent does the important things like keeping the bugs out, while keeping you cool with a fan above the beds. With WiFi on hand, it’s also quite a convenient way to experience glamping for a first timer.
For more glamping options, head to our comprehensive glamping guide.
Take the kids (and adults) to new heights with the Mega Adventure aerial park located in West Beach. Mega Adventure is a climbing course which has more than 80 aerial crossings, a free fall jump and near vertical climb. Great for any fitness level, the courses get your heart pumping and is great fun figuring out your way through the obstacles. From up there you can see the beautiful views on the ocean, city and hills – a great gift for your adrenaline junkie/view fiends friends and family. Find out more about MegaAdventure here.
21. Enjoy A Movie Under The Stars
The season is upon us for some great outdoor films, all around SA, and boy is the lineup spectacular. The weather has well and truly warmed up, with some leeway for snuggle weather of course, whether it’s with a friend or romantic date, there’s a perfect outdoor cinema for a mate-date or date-date for you out there somewhere.
One of the many open-air cinemas around Adelaide is Moonlight Cinema in Botanic Park, from December to February. Showing advance screenings, new release, and cult films with bean beds available, ‘Gold Grass’ tickets, there are many reasons to pop on by!
22. Indulge In A Degustation
With so many incredible restaurants around SA offering degustations, you’re spoilt for choice. Here’s a guide to some of the best ones that are always on offer.
23. Gift a Staycation
Got a fantastic event to go to in the city? Want to make a weekend of it? There’s plenty of great accommodation options here, so why not give the gift of a short holiday! Enjoy a night on the city at a show, or have a gorgeous dinner, and then kick back in an amazing bed for some well-deserved R&R. Adelaide’s Mayfair Hotel has been awarded the Best Hotel Bed in Australia, and is the perfect location if you’re keen on a Tour Down Under event, or Tasting Australia experience. InterContinental Adelaide is right on the riverbank if you want to be in the thick of the action this time of year.
24. Cycle The Riesling Trail in Clare
Not far from Riverton is the Riesling Trail, which runs along the old Riesling railway line through the township of Clare to Auburn, and reaching a total length of 32kms.
This is another ride steeped in history, with the old towns in between start points hosting colleges, churches and homes from the 1800s. The area is also perfect for those looking for a food and wine experience with a number of wineries and cellar doors along the journey. Sign us up.
Check out our guide of where to cycle in SA.
25. Try A Comedy Cruise
For a mini escape, you can buy tickets on a three day cruise, which leaves from Port Adelaide and returns there too, right before the Fringe kicks off. Get a group of friends together a bask on the decks of P&O, sipping cocktails next to the pool, all while enjoy some of the best Fringe Shows.
The boat doesn’t actually go anywhere (literally goes out a few kilometres to sea and circles around for three days), but it really does feel like you’ve escaped the worry of solid ground.
This really is a quirky and unique gift – for someone who needs an escape, loves a cracking time, or just for the heck of it.
26. 4WD In The Flinders Ranges
The Flinders Ranges boast some of the most spectacular scenery in South Australia. And what better way to experience the views and the rugged landscape that cruising over dusty, red hills and into technicolour sunsets than in a 4WD? Flinders Experience 4WD Tours offers half and full day tours departing daily from Quorn, Hawker, Rawnsley Park and Wilpena Resort. Tours start from $155 per person. More details here.
Located a short 45 minutes drive from Adelaide, Adelaide Tandem Skydiving is South Australia’s most experienced skydiving centre. Their world-class skydiving instructors are dedicated to ensure all of their guests have the best skydiving experience. Their specialty is first time skydivers wishing to make a tandem skydive and those wishing to become skydivers themselves. More details here.
The Murray River has copious amounts of beauty to offer, and going out there on just a day trip can be a hard ask. Luckily Murray River Houseboats invite you to stay and fully indulge all that the river has to offer, and at your own pace – or your gift recipient’s pace. No schedule, just taking it as it comes. South Australia has much to offer and what mate wouldn’t be stoked with this gift?
There’s even a new super-sized, dream houseboat that you can hire on the Murray (it even has a spa on board) – check it out here.
29. Sunset on Temptation Sailing
While the Temptation Sailing cruises have been around for years, the experiences they offer are still unique, every time you head out on the water. Give someone the gift of sitting on a sailing catamaran sipping sparkling wine while watching the sun set over the water. They’ll view the picturesque sights of Adelaide and the beautiful lights along the foreshore of Glenelg whilst they relax and enjoy a quiet beverage with friends or make new friends. They’ll then return to Marina Pier, which is one of Adelaide’s best outdoor dining destinations. For more info visit http://dolphinboat.com.au/tours/public-twilight-cruise/. Temptation Sailing also offer a pretty incredible swim with the dolphins experience which comes with a money back guarantee. Details here.
30. Go on a Dolphin Cruise in Port Adelaide
While Temptation Sailing (above) offer dolphin watching, and even swimming experiences, it’s all about being outdoors. If you’re after a more air conditioned, comfortable experience with a fully stocked bar, and dining options however, why not gift someone some tickets on the Dolphin Explorer in Port Adelaide. Book here.
31. Fig Picking at Glen Ewin Estate
Strawberry picking, cherry picking, we all love collecting our own fruit direct from the source – right? Spend a day in the gorgeous Adelaide Hills under the sweet summery sun, making wholesome memories with family and/or friends. Willabrand Australia is an award winning family owned business specializing in fig products with 12,000 tree orchards at Glen Ewin Estate. While you’re up there, you can do a bit of Christmas shopping too – their handpicked fig gin would excite any one of your gin loving mates. Find out more information here.
32. Strawberry Picking at Beerenberg
This could very well be one of the cutest Christmas outings to do with either friends or family. And if you think you/they have done it all before, Beerenberg opened their brand new factory and headquarters recently! Check out the whole shabang here. Nutrition, delicious, and heart-warming.
33. Cherry Picking at Stella Creek
Not only is this another wholesome way to spend a day with friends or family – cherries work beautifully well to liven up your Christmas spread or gift to someone as a vibrant and thoughtful gift. Stella Creek is located in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, and poses are a refreshing get away from city life. Check out their website here.
34. Flower Crown Workshop
Whoever said that flower crowns are yesterdays news have got to check themselves because flower crown workshops are as popular as ever. There’s heaps of different Adelaide businesses that provide workshops like The Queens Quarters and AdelaideUp. Perfect pre-wedding idea!
35. Macrame Workshop
Macrame is real hot at the moment with loads of people decorating their houses and plants with the intricately knotted designs. Looks super difficult but a workshop will help you master it! Bianca Barbaro offers macrame workshops on the regular! There’s a lot that pop up too so a cursory google will supply you with options.
36. Gin Blending Masterclass
Here’s one for your gin-fiend friends – a gin blending Masterclass with Settlers Spirits. For $70, you can learn about the different taste flavours and combinations of 12 different botanicals used in their gin making process, then create your own gin recipes and bottle the best one in a 200ml bottle to take home. It’s never too early for a gin – your gift-recipient will be raGINg with joy. Check out their website for more details.
37. Segway Around The Torrens Or Seppeltsfield
Join the Segway Sensation SA Team and experience all the iconic sights of Adelaide’s Riverbank Precinct and The Barossa Valley’s Seppeltsfield Winery on a Segway. Hour long tours depart from the par three golf course North of the River Torrens weir in the City and the picnic grounds at Seppeltsfield Winery in the Barossa Valley. More details here.
38. Restaurant & Cafe Walking Tours
Feast On Foot walking food tours are one of the best way to experience the sights, smells and flavours of Adelaide, offering tours with a twist. Winding your way around the Adelaide CBD you will feast on scrumptious delights while being shown some of the quirkier sights and art and you’ll experience everything from savoury snacks to gourmet sweets. Feast On Foot supports the small local cafes and restaurants that are off the beaten track, featuring utterly sumptuous food made with local ingredients. You will learn more about Adelaide’s street art, history and lots of interesting facts and remember, on walking food tours, calories come guilt free. More details here.
39. The HandleBar
That’s right – Adelaide has its very own pedal pub. Take a two hour peddle trip around the streets of Adelaide CBD all while sipping on beers, bases, bubbly, wines, or soft drink. The contraption is a 16 seater – so it’s perfect for big groups of mates. Perhaps even a great ‘venue’ to celebrate your Christmas party. Novelty gifts are all the rage and this is ought to give everyone a laugh and a half. Get the full details here.
40. Quad Biking At Waitpinga Farm
Enjoy the stunning views of the Southern Ocean and Waitpinga Beach from the paddocks of Waitpinga Farm while riding your quad bike through natural farmland, spotting the local farm and native animals. Full details here.
41. Helicopter Over McLaren Vale
With the option for pick up from a selection of B&B’s and wineries around the McLaren Vale region, this is a lovely experience for two people to see the stunning beauty of the McLaren Vale wine region. The tour will also include a fly out over the Fleurieu Peninsula coastline with views of the colourful cliffs, white sandy beaches and pristine waters of Gulf St Vincent. Option for drop off at a local winery for lunch. More details here.
42. Adelaide Central Market Food Tours
Food Tours Australia offer a variety of local tours of the Adelaide Central Market, Chinatown, the Adelaide Farmers Market, and a few more. They all have one thing in common—food. Whether you’re an early riser into breakfast foods, want to learn more about coffee, or like the sound of biking around the city streets and learning about architecture (with a picnic awaiting you at the end, of course), there’s a little something for everyone. Tours start at $35 per person and majority require a minimum of two people involved. Check out the Food Tours Australia website for more details.
43. Visit Cat Heaven At #Meow Cafe
If you’re shopping for a cat lover, you can’t go past tickets into Adelaide’s only dedicated cat cafe. Enjoy cuddles and the company of 24 cats, which are lounging around, ready to receive some love. The cafe has some simple drinks and slices, but it’s not a place for lunch. More details here.
44. Become A Race Car Driver For A Day
Driving one of the Adrenaline V8 Race Cars is the closest thing in Australia to driving a V8 Supercar and is sure to raise your pulse. This is your chance to give someone the chance to strap into the driver’s seat of a V8 Race Car and feel for themselves, what it’s like to drive and be in control of some serious horsepower. Adrenaline offers a range of V8 Supercar themed experiences at Mallala and Tailem Bend. More details here.
45. Explore Kangaroo Island For A Day
Give the gift of travel! See the highlights of South Australia’s premier nature-based tourism destination, Kangaroo Island. From Remarkable Rocks to playful fur seals, SeaLink guides will take you to the Kangaroo Island’s natural highlights.
Take a guided walk on the beach among a colony of rare and wild Australian sea lions with a National Parks Ranger. Head to Vivonne Bay Bistro for a two-course lunch, followed by a visit to the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary where you will see koalas relaxing in the trees. Spend the afternoon at Flinders Chase National Park, renowned as a sanctuary for native Australian animals including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and echidnas.
The tour of the park will take you to the rugged southern coastline for a walk on Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. Remarkable Rocks provides great photographic opportunities and stunning sea views. Admirals Arch boardwalk takes you down a rugged cliff face to reveal this spectacular rock archway, a natural nursery and safe haven for playful Long-nosed Fur Seals that can be seen resting, swimming and playing in the waves or on the rocks. More details here.
46. Shark Cage Diving with Great White Sharks
If there is one thing you must add to your bucket list, it has to be shark cage diving with great whites! As the creators of Australia’s first Advanced eco-certified shark cage diving experience, Adventure Bay Charters offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the legendary great white shark in its natural habitat. The use of music to attract the sharks to their vessel allows you the unique opportunity to rock out to the great white sharks’ preference of AC/DC or your most loved tunes whilst in the cage. For more info or to book visit adventurebaycharters.com.au/marine-adventure-tours/shark-cage-diving/.
47. Guided Sea Lion Dives
If you’re buying a gift for someone who loves marine life, why not get them an experience with Seals and Sea Lions? Often they are intrigued by divers and like to come up and check you out. While there are some experiences closer to Adelaide, for a bucket list trip, head to Baird Bay on the Eyre Peninsula, and check out Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience – where you can either stay on the board and watch, or go for a swim with seal lions and dolphins. Click here for more info.
48. The Enchanted Fig Tree Lunch
While this amazing attraction was closed due to fire, we had to include it on the list, just in case it opens again. It truly was one of South Australia’s great bucket list things to do. The Enchanted Fig Tree allowed guests to step into a childhood fairy tale on Kangaroo Island, where you dined beneath the boughs and leaves of an ancient fig tree planted by the early settlers. Over the years, the gnarled branches have touched the ground to grow again, forming enchanting rooms with ceilings of swaying leaves and dappled light. It was here that a private dining table was set up for you. Let’s hope we see it on the list, as something people can do again before we kick the bucket.
There you go, a comprehensive list of the best experiences to gift this season. Know any more? Email us at [email protected]
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