For the uninitiated and/or uninformed, Adelaide shed its City of Churches moniker decades ago. But this year an SA Tourism Commission ad featuring a weepy octogenarian touring picturesque cityscapes with glass in hand may have given you the opposite impression.
The ad was disparaged on social media – and with good reason – but it’s greatest drawback was that it neglects the very places and institutions that make Adelaide a destination well worth visiting, with a flourishing cultural scene and natural beauty.
Sure, with its sensible city plan, (relatively) low housing costs and little traffic when compared to its eastern counterparts Adelaide is a great place to live. But it’s also a great place to visit.
Home to an eclectic network of unique restaurants, dive bars, fashion studios and cellar doors, young people are leading the charge to transform Adelaide into a global arts capital.
Lisa King gave Jive a face lift with a fantastically kitsch 80s-esque mural and artist Dave Court transformed a tired old wall in the west end to a colourful and historical mural celebrating Adelaide’s status as a UNESCO City of Music, the only city in Australia to achieve this.
Five Four Entertainment’s indie and emo club nights have been so enormously successful in Adelaide that they’ve spread across the country, with Adelaide-bred DJs filling clubs to the brim across state lines. The city’s dingiest laneways have been transformed into a network of grungy dive bars, late-night pizzerias and underground art-deco bars.
So, without further ado, here’s a long weekend Adelaide itinerary for anyone under the age of 65.
Support small business in and shop Adelaide’s laneways for unique gems. Thanks to Renew Adelaide*, the city’s heritage arcades are brimming with SA-owned businesses and studios. Start with Have You Met Charlie? for gifting, accessories and fashion before heading to Leatherworks for bespoke, hand-crafted leather goods.
For culture on a budget, head to North Terrace for The Centre of Democracy, SA Museum, and Art Gallery, all with free entry. The museum’s rainbow-coordinated mineral collection is asking to be Insta-storied, and the Islamic art collection is a cultural centrepiece.
There’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than sipping $10 mimosas at Peter Rabbit on Hindley St – recently visited by actor Hugh Jackman – complete with resident bunny.
The Crown and Anchor – lovingly referred to as simply the Cranka – is the pub for cheap booze and incredible live music in the band room – where so many local bands have cut their teeth. Get a beer, take in the crazily stickered back bar, and check out the next big Aussie band at one of the city’s greatest heritage pubs. Afterwards, head upstairs to Midnight Spaghetti for a cheap bowl of pasta on the balcony.
Round out the night weaving through the West End’s laneways dotted with dozens of unique bars hidden through secret doors (Red October) or down a tunnel and underground (Maybe Mae). Check out Solomon Street’s new line-up of Crybaby, Sunny’s Pizza and the newly opened 1000 Island.
Day two is all about the east. Drive out to Mt Lofty Botanical Gardens to walk around the beautiful grounds. This is best during autumn time, when the leaves are at their brightest. After your stroll, drive to nearby Piccadilly Kitchen, a quaint café with the best cheese and ham toastie you’ll ever have the pleasure of eating.
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You can feel it in the air, and see it on the streets… Up here in @visitadelaidehills, Mother Nature’s been busy weaving her technicolour dreamcoat again, with some serious late #autumn colours starting to pop all over the neighbourhood! Our mate @jeff_chen216 copped a pretty good seasonal serenade here in Mount Lofty @botanicgardenssa when he dropped in, with the red carpet well and truly rolled out for his arrival… With a labyrinth of walking trails stitching a tapestry of dappled light, lakes and tall timber it’s also the perfect spot for a picnic on a stunning Autumn afternoon. Snuggle up at @mountloftyhouse when you’re town! 🍁🍂 [📍Location: just a 2 hr flight from Sydney to #Adelaide in #SouthAustralia, and a 30 minute drive to #MountLofty in the #AdelaideHills ]
Spend the afternoon in the foothills or choose from a long list of hikes in the area. Locals love the Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty trek, Chamber’s Gully and the Three Fall’s Grand Hike in Morialta Conservation Park.
Grab late lunch at Black Dog Gallery, a tiny hole-in-the-wall spot on Greenhill Road with modern Japanese cuisine and a build your own ramen menu.
Then, watch the sunset at the west-facing Mt Osmond. Picnic blanket and snacks recommended.
As the night falls, head into the city and explore the East End around Rundle Street. Tiny upstairs bar BRKLYN emulates the best watering hole in New York – you’ll want to give the gin and cold pressed apple juice a whirl.
Every Friday and Saturday night Mary’s Poppin – Adelaide’s premier LGBTQI+ friendly venue – opens its doors to two levels of pop blaring across the dance floor, gender neutral bathrooms, and intermittent drag shows from Mary’s Divas.
Head out to McLaren Vale to the d’Arenburg Cube, South Australia’s most eclectic winery. For $15, you’ll get a wine tasting in the architecturally bizarre glass cube and entry into the art gallery – a collection of interactive rooms with sensory art that play on your sense of sound, touch, sight and smell.
Head down the road to Pizzateca, the Italian pizza haven with the most Instagrammed pastel wall in South Australia. Then, finish the afternoon with a short drive to Port Willunga and catch the sunset.
If all of that still isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, visit the wine state for one of the city’s famed festivals. The annual Fringe Festival takes over the city every Mad March, but there’s also Umbrella Winter City Sounds, A Day of Clarity, Adelaide Festival, Cabaret Festival and heaps more.
*Editor’s note: postup is a Renew Adelaide project
Image by Ben Neale