30 Free Activities for Families in South Australia

Spending extra time with your family has been one of the small silver linings to emerge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world. More than ever, parents are enjoying quality time with their children, both indoors and outdoors. 

If you’re looking for family friendly activities in South Australia, look no further! We’ve gathered a selection of activities that are not only great for all the family to enjoy but also have the added benefit of being completely free

1.Go to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Moments away from Adelaide’s CBD lies the beautiful Botanic Gardens. The gardens are divided into different areas so you can explore everything from the Garden of Health to the International Rose Garden. There’s so much to see! You might even want to divide it up and make multiple visits here – and why not bring a picnic so you can spend the whole day and enjoy everything on offer? 

2. Visit Glenelg

If you’re looking to get out of the city, take a trip to Glenelg just 20 minutes away from the bustling CBD. It’s great fun to ride the tram here and kids love looking out of the window as the beach begins to appear. There are fantastic outdoor playgrounds to enjoy as well as all the fun of the beach. You could even just pack some snacks and sit on a bench to people watch. The options are endless!  

3. Take a Tour Around Haigh’s Chocolate Factory

This one is a real treat – for the whole family. Haigh’s Chocolates is a family owned and operated business that has been operating since 1915. You can see the space where the delicious chocolate is made and watch confectioners hand finish the chocolates as well as of course, getting to taste some for yourself! The tour is free during the set times so check for availability before you visit. 

4. Discover the South Australian Museum

There will be something for everyone across the five floors of the much loved and visited South Australian Museum. Whether you and your kids enjoy fossils and mammals or learning about other cultures within Australia, you’ll want to make sure you also visit the Discovery Centre where there are lots of family friendly activities. 

5. Explore Adelaide Central Markets

Let your children experience the sights, sounds and smells of the Adelaide Central Markets which is also great for introducing the idea of healthy eating with fruits and vegetables. It’s free to go into the market and you can walk around for hours, although you may not be able to resist buying one or two pieces with all the delicious treats on offer. 

Perfect for the little ones is the free ‘Market Minis’ program designed to help our youngest Market goers understand more about the food they eat. Check the What’s On page for the latest dates.

6. Stimulate Young Artists

If you’ve got a budding young artist, they’ll love all the visual stimulation on offer at the Art Gallery of SA. There’s a great line up of different exhibitions and programs that run throughout the year here so even reluctant painters can get inspired with a hands on activity space and a child friendly studio. Best of all, it’s completely free. 

7. Learn at Little Sprouts Kitchen

Situated within the Botanic Gardens, you’ll find the Little Sprouts Kitchen which is the perfect place for kids to start to understand where their food originates from. There’s a garden area with fresh fruit and vegetables growing, herbs to explore and smell, and compost to examine. The work benches are all child friendly and the whole experience is ideal for little minds. 

8. Play Through Nature

If you haven’t yet visited the Wilfred Taylor Reserve, your kids are in for a treat. The $2.2 million nature play space is located in Morphett Vale and aims to encourage everyone to get outdoors and engage with nature. It’s interesting to know that the site was actually a working farm until the 1960s. Parents of toddlers will also appreciate the separate area designated for the smallest ones. 

9. Visit the Migration Museum

Yet another fascinating museum with brilliant activities for kids, completely free of charge. The Migration Museum is a wonderful place for children (and their parents) to learn more about the people who have come to settle in South Australia since 1836. Little ones will love the hands on approach the museum has taken and the various discovery trails to enjoy. 

10. Take in Adelaide’s Best Street Art

Get outside, get your daily exercise and enjoy Adelaide Fringe’s Street Art Explosion program. The stunning public murals and street art installations add to Adelaide’s impressive public art scene and little ones will love spotting new pieces up and around the city. You can download a walking tour or simply wonder about. 

11. Enjoy Beautiful Butterflies in the Suburbs

Wittunga Botanic and Butterfly Garden is a little hidden gem. Covering over 13 hectares, it’s a popular spot for family visits and if you want to take a picnic you can enjoy it by the beautiful lake. Children will enjoy the informative signs that teach them about the different plants and butterflies they’re likely to see. 

12. Climb (part of!) Mount Lofty

OK, so little legs may not quite be ready to get to the summit of Mount Lofty – but this is an ideal spot for a family day out, just 20 minutes from the centre of Adelaide. The visitor centre has interactive screens for learning and the views from the summit are truly breathtaking. The botanic gardens here have artwork and sculptures which children are often attracted to.

13. Spend the Day at Bonython Park/Tulya Wodli

Covering 17 hectares, the largest of the named city parks provides lots of space for families to enjoy. With two playgrounds, a boating lake and barbeque areas, you can choose from a whole range of activities here. There’s also the option to simply go for a quiet walk and soak up the wildlife. 

14. Explore the National Motor Museum

Under 5’s can enjoy free access to the National Motor Museum based in Birdwood, South Australia. Big kids will love it here too, and that includes parents! There’s a special Kids Space with lots of toy and model cars – or you can browse the Sidney Crawford Gallery’s collection of fire engines, a street sweeper and a road train. 

15. Enjoy Playtime Next to West Beach

Head to Apex Park at West Beach and you’ll find a large area with tonnes of fun equipment for kids to enjoy. The bark chip surface is ideal for those not yet fully confident and creates a safe environment for your little ones climbing around. There’s also a mini rock climbing wall, normal and nest swings and a great variety of slides. 

16. Have Lunch Outdoors at the Ardrossan Clifftop Picnic Area

Walk to the end of the main street on the cliff top with your picnic and you’ll find the perfect spot to enjoy your lunch outdoors. A real treat for children who can also explore the playground here with lots of climbing options, swings, rope bridges and slides. The views are fantastic and if the adults are also feeling active there’s an outdoor gym here too!

17. Adventure at The Jubilee Park Adventure Playground

For adventurous children this playground will provide hours of entertainment located in Port Noarlunga. You won’t fail to be impressed with the large, multi level wooden fort which also has an area specifically designed for toddlers with small swings and slides to play on. There’s even a model fire truck, musical games and speaking tubes to be enjoyed by all (including a wheelchair friendly carousel). 

18. Bird Watch from the American River Playground

Children love learning about new animals and wildlife. From the American River Playground on Kangaroo Island, you can enjoy the perfect viewing spot to overlook the harbour of American River. You’ll see everything from busy fishing boats, to a multitude of shore birds and even pelicans. Take a picnic and enjoy the playground too in this truly relaxing setting. 

19. See the Wild Side at Adelaide Zoo

For children under 4, entry is free to the Adelaide Zoo and you can enjoy seeing animals as diverse as a Sumatran Tiger or a Giant Panda. The zoo is designed with 3 different experiences on offer to cater to different budgets. Set over 8 hectares you can take your little one and view over 2500 animals on an entry fee only. You’ll also be able to enjoy the free playground situated right next to the café. 

20. Chase Waterfalls at Morialta Conservation Park

Just 20 minutes from the CBD, the Morialta Conservation Park will wow the children and adults alike with the stunning scenery – from dramatic gullys to cascading seasonal waterfalls. You can choose from a variety of hiking trails with flatter ones available for small legs! Children will love searching for reptiles and frogs in the numerous rock pools and enjoy the fantastic playground too! 

21. Interact with all things STEM at MOD

Located in the UniSA Cancer Research Institute, MOD is yet another hidden gem that’s totally free for children to enjoy. You’ll find seven different gallery spaces where children can get inspired and learn about all things science and technology. The sensory activities appeal to younger ones even though the website implies that this is primarily for older children. 

22. Visit the Bradman Collection at Adelaide Oval

Sports fans young and old will take an interest in the Bradman Collection, which is free to view at Adelaide Oval. The collection is all set up in a purpose built museum which you can find in the Riverbank Stand. Sir Donald Bradman was an Australian legend who had such a passion for South Australia that he made Adelaide his home. 

23. Himeji Garden

If the kids have been running wild inside, get out and calm things down with the tranquil space at Himeji Garden. This spiritual sanctuary has a profound sense of peace and kids will love exploring all the different areas designed to showcase the beauty of nature.

24. Adelaide Metro Free City Connector Bus and Tram

Kids love to ride different modes of transport so take advantage of the free offerings in and around Adelaide. The connector bus runs on two loops so you can choose whether to do an inner city loop or take an extended trip around North Adelaide visiting popular attractions as you travel. 

25. State Library of South Australia

This is a great space for kids to explore and the library has made every effort to accommodate children and engage their interest in the stunning building. Get the most out of a visit by using a Children’s Library Trail Map and unlock all 12 of the Mortlock Treasures.

26. The Rundle Mall Pigs

It’s an unusual sight! A busy shopping mall with four life size bronze pigs snouting for rubbish and sitting on the pavement. Children love seeing the pigs in Rundle Mall so take a trip and get some great family photos with the life-like statues. In residence since 1999, these pigs have become famous in their own right!

27. St Peter’s Cathedral

This is one of Adelaide’s most impressive landmarks, a cathedral steeped in history which is still very much within the city’s community and worship today. Children will be in awe of the grand windows and high ceilings of St Peter’s Cathedral, and there’s always lots going on here with choirs and bell ringing to name a few of the activities that will appeal. 

28. China Town

This is a real treat for the senses and little ones will enjoy all the hustle, bustle and bright colours in China Town. You don’t have to be eating out in the restaurants or cafes to enjoy this space – simply wondering the streets you’ll find all sorts to look at and it’s a great way to introduce discussion about different cultures. 

29. The Mall’s Ball Statues

This huge steel sculpture was donated in 1977 to mark Adelaide’s centenary. As a public artwork, the ‘Spheres’ have become totally integrated with Rundle Mall and it provides entertainment for children and adults, tourists and locals on a daily basis. 

30. Adelaide Showground Farmers Market

Farmer’s Markets are a brilliant place to take children. Not only will they enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of new foods and cuisines, it’s also an ideal chance to encourage healthy eating and to introduce them to food and its origins. There’s no pressure to buy anything, although you’re more than likely to get tempted into some of the delicious treats on offer from popular local vendors at the Adelaide Farmers’ Market!