Accommodation

Unlock the Best Secret Spots of South Australia: A Local’s Guide to Finding Our State’s Extraordinary Side

Forget weekends spent in the city – it’s time to ditch the ordinary for the extraordinary. In this guide, we’re uncovering the places, faces, and experiences that every South Aussie should do at least once while exploring our great state.

Forget weekends spent in the city – it’s time to ditch the ordinary for the extraordinary. In this guide, we’re uncovering the places, faces, and experiences that every South Aussie should do at least once while exploring our great state. Get out and about and don’t be afraid to get your feet (and hands) dirty.

So, no more excuses! Whether you have an afternoon, or a month, you can swap your usual city hangouts for the surprise and delight that awaits you beyond city limits.

KANGAROO ISLAND

Recently voted the 2nd best travel destination in the world in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2024, you can’t get much more raw than Kangaroo Island.

WHERE TO EAT
Sheltered beneath a century-old fig tree, The Enchanted Fig Tree is as much about storytelling as it is about food. Their Gastronomo dining experience brings the magic of outdoor dining to you! Each dish served under its sprawling branches carries the legacy of Kangaroo Island’s early settlers. 

Image Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

WHAT TO DO
For an adrenaline kick, head to Little Sahara where towering sand dunes beckon. With dunes reaching up to 70 metres, you can rent a sandboard or a toboggan for an exhilarating challenge. It’s an invigorating way to connect with the island’s natural wonders.

WHAT TO SEE
A visit to Kangaroo Island is not complete without seeing the Little Penguins at Penneshaw. Joining a guided night tour offers a rare and memorable sighting of these delightful birds in an ambience you won’t soon forget.

WHERE TO STAY
After a day of exploration, relax in the new, luxurious WanderPods. Perched over stunning views of Snelling Beach and the vastness of the Great Australian Bight, these pods can be pretty powerful. They’re all about immersing yourself in your surroundings, and reconnecting with nature. Sit quietly in your outdoor bath and listen deeply to the songs and sounds of South Australia.

Image Credit: Wander/ Remy Brand Creative

HIDDEN GEM
Raptor Domain
is South Australia’s only free-flight Birds of Prey presentation. There are different ways you can get up close and personal with the rescued animals and insects, including an interactive experience with its friendly Barn Owls, Kookaburras, Wedge-tailed Eagles and other birds and reptiles like snakes and lizards. 

FLEURIEU PENINSULA

Just an hour down the expressway is the Fleurieu Peninsula – there are so many cool things to see and do that promise to take you off the beaten track. 

WHERE TO EAT
Kick off your journey at Kuti Shack! This isn’t some high-end venue with all the trimmings. It’s a seaside shack. Adorned with indigenous artwork and weavings, this unpretentious venue serves by-catch fish. Most fishers would just throw these species back into the water, but Kuti, as part of their sustainability drive, instead turns the by-catch into must-try food!

WHAT TO DO
You can’t get this level of exhilaration in the city! Quad biking at Waitpinga is a fast-flying way to cross 400 acres of sunburnt countryside with views of the ocean. You’ll encounter local farm animals and spot native wildlife as these quad bike guides provide a unique perspective of the area’s raw beauty.

WHAT TO SEE
Bear witness to Southern Right Whales and Humpback Whales as they migrate from the Antarctic to the warmer Australian waters. Get up close and personal with them on a Big Duck Boat Tour. You’ll travel around the epic coastline between Wirrina Cove and Granite Island, spotting seals, sea lions, and dolphins, too. 

WHERE TO STAY
How about some luxury? Nestled on the coastline, the Naiko Retreat is an eco-luxe destination that offers panoramic views of hilltops and the ocean. Situated within a 2000-acre sheep farm, the remote retreat offers guests a private beach (yes, you read that right!) 

HIDDEN GEM
There’s a really unique way of enjoying South Australian wine… and that’s deep underground, beneath Maxwell Wines! This magical subterranean experience will have you exploring the 100-year-old lime cave that they mature their wine in. Don your archeologist’s hat and you might just uncover some real, South Australian treasure… the label’s award-winning wine and canapés!

YORKE PENINSULA

Only one hour from the city and 700 kilometres of coastline to trek!

WHERE TO EAT
Start your adventure at North Beach Kitchen in Wallaroo. Known as NBK, this spot is famous with the locals for its indulgent blue swimmer crab dishes. The standout Blue Swimmer Crab Scramble with Chilli is a must-try, as well as the Local Blue Swimmer Crab Roll – a delicious mix of fresh crab, kewpie, and iceberg lettuce on a baguette. Oh – and you can enjoy it beachside with your toes in the sand.

WHAT TO DO
From October to April, immerse yourself in the lively Stansbury Seaside Markets. Set along the quiet foreshore, the market is a treasure trove of local produce, arts, and crafts. Sample fresh oysters, stock up on homemade treats, and explore an array of stalls offering everything from jewellery to fishing gear.

WHAT TO SEE
For a dose of local art, head to Kadina to see some seriously stunning silo art. Located near the former Railway Station, this artwork by Resio is a vibrant addition to the landscape. Easily viewed from the Copper Coast Highway, it adds a splash of creativity and history to the area. The contrast between rusted silo and bright colour is perfect for an Instagram picture. 

WHERE TO STAY
Why stay at a hotel when you could check out Bayside Glamping in Marion Bay. Offering a Glamping Tent and a Tiny House, this spot is perfect for a romantic getaway or a tranquil retreat. Fall asleep to the sound of the waves and enjoy amenities like an outdoor kitchen and a private bathroom. 

HIDDEN GEM
A visit to the Yorke Peninsula isn’t complete without the historical train ride around the Moonta Mines. Operated by volunteers, this guided tour takes you through the mining area’s rich history, including landmarks like the reservoir and ore sorting floors. After the ride, step into the past at the old-fashioned Lolly Shop. 

MCLAREN VALE

Wine yes, but have you really ever stopped to view the countryside?!

WHERE TO EAT
Kick off in style with Pizzateca’s famous pizza. This isn’t just any pizza; it’s been awarded the best in South Australia. The Diablo pizza packs a punch, with spicy homemade sauce and salami, topped with asiago cheese and old family-recipe chilli sauce. 

WHAT TO DO
Here’s a bit of a twist. Head to Woodstock Winery’s Wildlife Sanctuary to bottle-feed rescued kangaroos and hang out with Maverick the Emu. It’s a real, hands-on experience with some of Australia’s coolest wildlife. Spot koalas lounging in the gums, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see them right above you. This isn’t your typical animal encounter; it’s an up-close, personal experience.

WHAT TO SEE
For those who love a good trek, the Punchbowl Lookout is your spot. The trail might be accessible to all, but the views are anything but ordinary. Gaze out over the Onkaparinga Gorge and soak in the rugged beauty of McLaren Vale from this incredible vantage point. It’s the perfect mix of adventure and awe-inspiring scenery.

WHERE TO STAY
See, when you’re exploring McLaren Vale, you want to really be immersed and at The Vineyard Retreat, you’ll be staying, literally, amongst the vines. With private decks overlooking vineyards and the ocean, wood-burning fireplaces, and a Jacuzzi under the stars, it’s a chill-out spot hidden amongst the raw landscape.

HIDDEN GEM
The Coast to Vines Wine Tour is a must. Start with an electric bike ride along the stunning Moana coastline, then test your balance with stand-up paddle boarding. After satiating your appetite for adventure, enjoy a well-deserved lunch and local wine and beer tastings.

CLARE VALLEY

Where history comes alive… and your spirit will too. 

WHERE TO EAT
It’s the world’s best hotel restaurant and it’s hiding in plain sight on our doorstep. Far from your typical pub grub, The Watervale Hotel offers a feast for the senses. Guests will help pick their dinner from the incredible kitchen garden during the Penobscot Farm interactive tour, before returning to the Watervale Hotel for a six course degustation at the Chef’s Table. You can even stay at the adjacent accommodation and fully immerse yourself in the whole Watervale experience.

WHAT TO DO
Discover the world beyond the vineyards at the Clare Valley Wine & Wilderness Trail. This 5-day guided walking tour combines luxury accommodation, exceptional hiking, and exclusive wine tasting experiences. Each day unfolds with a moderate hike through stunning landscapes, punctuated by meals at top local eateries and private tastings with renowned winemakers. 

WHAT TO SEE
Just a 20-minute drive from Clare, Lake Bumbunga offers a surreal experience. This pink lake, changing colours throughout the year, is the perfect backdrop for your Instagram grid. The bubble gum shores against the backdrop of the sky make for a stunning sight, drawing everyone from casual visitors to professional photographers. It’s real, but you’ll have to see it to believe it.

WHERE TO STAY
We couldn’t do a guide to South Australia without mentioning CABN. Nestled amidst rolling hills and vineyards, CABN Lily is an ideal spot for a nature retreat. You’re greeted by a warm, rustic interior that instantly feels like home. 

Image Credit: CABN

HIDDEN GEM
For a quirky and fun experience, visit the Mintaro Maze. Lose yourself in this living hedge maze, featuring over 800 conifers, fountains, and giant games. It’s a water-wise garden, having not been watered since 2000, and offers more than just a maze – there’s a gift shop with unique finds, locally made aromatherapy products, and a cafe. 

EYRE PENINSULA

Named after explorer Edward John Eyre, The Eyre Peninsula is waiting for its next explorer…you! 

WHERE TO EAT
Begin at L’Anse French Cafe, known as one of Eyre Peninsula’s most-loved dining destinations. Eat, drink and relax at this stylish venue while watching the magic happen as pastries come alive in the kitchen. The brunch is straight-up delicious. 

WHAT TO DO
Roll up your sleeves for an authentic experience with Coffin HQ Oyster Tours. Wade out to the oyster leases, learn the art of shucking, and enjoy a rustic seafood feast right in the water. It’s a hands-on, messy, and utterly real experience. 

Image Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

WHERE TO STAY
For a night or two, check out The Greenly Carriage or Eco Eyre. Eco Eyre is a luxury eco-pod, giving you an intimate accommodation that opens out wide onto the long beaches of the Eyre Peninsula. For something more adventurous, go off-grid at Greenly Carriage, a rugged escape hidden on South Australia’s untouched West Coast. This repurposed train carriage is completely private, besides a mob of kangaroos that share the land!

HIDDEN GEM
For an unpolished and exciting day at sea, hop onto EP Cruises. It’s an all-in adventure where you catch your seafood and eat it too, cooked right on board. The vibe is laid-back, the seafood is fresh, and the ocean is your playground. Dress for the wind, pack a few snacks, and dive into this invigorating experience.

FLINDERS RANGES & OUTBACK

Pack your boots and a strong will. Trust us, the grit is worth it. 

WHERE TO EAT
At the Prairie Hotel, prepare for a legendary meal in the vast remoteness of Parachilna. This understated icon offers a truly outback dining experience. Listed as one of the top 100 gourmet experiences in Australia, they boast creative menus of feral, native and regional produce, along with non-feral options! This really is a place to experience the unique taste of Australia

WHAT TO DO
The Arkaba Walk is a trekker’s dream. It’s a journey through ancient landscapes, where every step takes you deeper into the wild heart of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges. You’ll encounter wildlife, learn about the land’s deep history, and see conservation in action. It’s challenging, raw, and completely immersive.

WHAT TO SEE
Nothing. And that’s the point. Hit the rugged trails of the Flinders Ranges with a 4WD tour. This isn’t a leisurely drive; it’s a full-on exploration of the region’s untamed beauty. Expect to see wildlife in their natural setting and learn about the land’s rich history, all while navigating through some seriously wild terrain. Mazda 3’s need not apply. But seriously. Make sure you’re prepared.

WHERE TO STAY
For a true outback experience, camp at Wilpena Pound Resort. Whether you’re in a tent or a caravan, it’s all about being close to nature. You’ll sleep under a blanket of stars and wake up to the sounds of the wild, right in the heart of the rugged Australian landscape.

HIDDEN GEM
For an adrenaline kick, try the helicopter camping experience. Fly over the ranges, camp on a remote ridge, cook over a fire, and sleep under a sky full of stars. It’s an adventure that’s as real and raw as it gets.

COOBER PEDY + FAR NORTH

Bask in the serenity of silence at Coober Pedy and get back in touch with yourself along the way.

WHERE TO EAT
Start your outback journey with expansive 360° views atop Coober Pedy. Perched over the ‘opal capital of the world’ sits the Big Winch Café. With the aesthetic of a wild old saloon, you’ll look out over the expansive rocky landscape while enjoying gourmet pub grub. 

WHAT TO DO
Dive into the world of opals at Coober Pedy’s only award-winning attraction, the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum. This isn’t a diamond factory. You’ll go into the mines and visit an underground home, experiencing what it’s like to dig for opals. Once you see the rough and tough side of opal mining, you’ll get to choose a stone and watch their in-house jeweller refine this gem into a gorgeous piece of jewellery, just for you!

WHAT TO SEE
Visit Josephine’s Gallery and Kangaroo Orphanage for a rare chance to see and learn about orphaned kangaroos and other Australian wildlife. Established in 2008, this orphanage covers an area as large as Germany and cares for a variety of animals. Apart from wildlife, the gallery also offers insight into Aboriginal art and culture. Remember, attending the wildlife talk and gallery is by appointment, so plan ahead.

WHERE TO STAY
You’ve seen the way the miners lived underground… now live it! The Dug Out B&B combines the characteristics of an old mine, with the comforts of a modern home. You’ll be cosy and safe under the exposed limestone, but natural light and ventilation shafts ensure a comfortable stay. 

HIDDEN GEM
You don’t have to be down amongst the diesel and dust for an exceptional outback adventure. Embark on an aerial adventure and take a joy flight with Wrightsair Tour. Based out of a uniquely remote location, this air tour service offers unrivalled access to secluded pastors, Indigenous sites and distant landscapes.

Image Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

Travelling the South Australian way means stepping into the unfamiliar and being rewarded with raw, authentic experiences. So no excuses! Pick a destination and get out of the city! Whether you’re looking for adventure or looking for comfort, these 9 destinations aren’t just extraordinary, they’re also profoundly South Australian. 

Plan your travel the South Australian way now. 

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