12 Free Things to do in Adelaide with Kids

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Trees beside a river in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Travel with kids is good for them in so many different ways, but those extra little people can also blow out the cost. Including some free activities the kids will love will stretch the budget a little further.

Take a look at these free things to do in Adelaide with kids to give you some ideas for your South Australian holiday.

12 Free Things to do in Adelaide with Kids

1. Visit a Museum

Museum display showing animals in glass cases
Image credit: Josie Kelsh

I know, kids (especially young kids) and museums don’t always work.

While there are a wide range of Adelaide museums you can take your kids for free, many of them may not hold the interest of younger kids.

But there is one I do recommend – and that’s the South Australian Museum.

It’s located centrally on North Terrace in the city centre, so it is easy to pop in for just a short time.

Even really young kids will love seeing the animal gallery on the ground floor. It is filled with a whole range of stuffed animals and has not changed in decades because it is so well loved.

Also make sure you spend a minute watching the lion enclosed in his own glass case in the middle of the room – his tail will move, which kids will love.

2. Take the Kids to Glenelg

The seaside suburb of Glenelg is a great mini day trip to do with kids, even if you don’t have a car.

Jump on the tram from the city centre and you will soon be deposited right near the beach at Glenelg.

Take a walk on the beach, go for a swim (if it’s warm) or play on the fantastic free playground right there on the foreshore.

There are plenty of paid things to do here too if you would like to extend your visit, including the Beachouse, a large amusement centre with all sorts of activities for kids.

3. Search for Koalas at Belair National Park

Koalas in a tree at Belair National Park
There are some great wildlife parks around Adelaide, but there are also some good free options where you are likely to find some native wildlife too.

Belair National Park is right on the edge of the city and has many great open spaces for all sorts of activities from an adventure playground to sports field, walking trails and historical buildings.

Not only are you likely to see kangaroos and emus, if you keep your eyes on the treetops, you will likely spot a koala or two as well.

Belair National Park is easy to access from the city centre by train. If you choose to drive, you will need to pick up a National Parks Pass online first.

4. Explore the Animals in Rundle Mall

Pig statues in an urban walking mall
Image credit: Josie Kelsh

Adelaide seems to have a penchant for unusual artwork in Rundle Mall, the main shopping strip in the city centre.

First it was the “Mall’s Balls”, two shiny stacked spheres, then came the four pigs, and most recently, a giant pigeon. 

Kids will love all of these, but the pigs will be their favourites.

They are all posed slightly differently, and are just the right size for young kids to climb all over and sit on. They also provide a unique place for parents to get a holiday photo to remember.

5. Get Active at the St Kilda Adventure Playground

This huge playground has been a firm favourite of local kids for generations.

This large scale playground includes a castle with a drawbridge (with slides), a pirate ship, flying fox and plenty of swings and other equipment. 

You will need a car to get to St Kilda, but there is plenty of room here to have a picnic or use one of the BBQs available.

6. Picnic in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

If the weather is nice, take the kids to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens to let off some steam. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy sitting on one of the many grassed areas.

After lunch, explore some of the different garden areas, where you will likely spot plenty of ducks and other birds.

Kids love racing leaves down the long narrow water features, seeing the huge lily pads, and there is another small museum here with all sorts of weird plants they might enjoy.

7. Taste Something New at the Adelaide Central Market

The Adelaide Central Market is full of colour and action at any time. Take the kids along to see some of the different foods available.

You may be lucky to receive some free tastings too. I recommend trying fritz with your kids, a uniquely South Australian luncheon meat. 

During school holidays the Adelaide Central Market often has free kids activities available too – from colouring in to treasure hunts.

Take a look at their website to see if there is anything on during your visit.

8. Walk the Story Book Trail

Image credit: Josie Kelsh

Carrick Hill is a significant historic house in Adelaide’s south. You can do a guided tour through the house to learn about the history, but for kids that will likely not be so much fun.

What they will love though are the gardens. In particular the Story Book Trail.

This short walk meanders through some of our favourite childhood books, such as Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit, Charlotte’s Web and many more.

9. Enjoy some Water Play

We all know what kids are like with water, especially if it’s a little warm (and often when it isn’t!) so letting them enjoy one of the water play areas in Adelaide will be a fun way to spend some time.

If it’s really hot, you may enjoy it too! 

In the city centre you can find water play areas in the Festival Plaza and Victoria Square. In the suburbs, look out for them at Glenelg and Henley Beach. There is also a wading pool at Tusmore Park that kids love.

10. Haighs Chocolate Factory Tour

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Haighs Chocolates are well known as a South Australian favourite, and their factory just south of the city centre offers free tours to see the chocolates being made.

You can opt for a self-guided tour or do one with a guide. You may also be given samples of the chocolate along the way.

While the tours are recommended for children over five, younger children can also be accommodated.

11. Explore Port Adelaide

Image credit: Josie Kelsh

Take the train from the city centre to the historical maritime precinct of Port Adelaide.

Take a walk along the wharves to the playground near Hart’s Mill. Keep an eye out as you walk for the Port River dolphins, who love to play right here. 

You might also like to spot some of the street art, as Port Adelaide has been part of the Wonderwalls festivals and now has more than 50 large murals dotted throughout the area.

Port Adelaide has many other paid attractions that your kids will like too, such as Maritime, Rail and Plane museums.

12. Have Some Downtime in a Library

Sometimes when travelling with kids everything gets a bit hectic and you just need a little calm.

You can do this by popping into one of the many libraries across the city and reading the kids a favourite story or two. 

Many of the libraries have free programs for kids too, particularly during the school holidays.

Look out for things like Story time, Lego Club or I even just saw a “3D Modelling for Kids” workshop coming up.

In the city centre there is a great library right in Rundle Mall, with the entrance tucked away down Francis Street, great for when shopping gets too much.

Bio: Josie Kelsh is a South Australian native who has lived in Adelaide her entire adult life. She loves exploring all SA has to offer and sharing the details on her blog, Exploring South Australia.


About Emma Healey

Emma is a recognised family finance and budgeting expert and founder of Mum's Money. Her advice has been featured in Readers Digest, Yahoo Finance, Lifehacker, The Simple Dollar, MSN Money and more.