Weekend Getaways - Our top day trips from Adelaide

Weekend Getaways - Our top day trips from Adelaide

Image courtesy Tourism Australia / Jampal Dawa


Boasting one of Australia's most famous wine regions (and more churches per capita than any other state), South Australia is often overlooked as one of the most picture-perfect destinations in this country. SA's southern coast and neighbouring Kangaroo Island boast breathtaking beaches and wildlife sanctuaries and are well worth exploring - many just a short distance from Adelaide.

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McLaren Vale

Okay, so McLaren Vale probably doesn't have the stature that it should because of its Barossa Valley counterpart, but it is rife with spectacular things to do and see just 45-minutes south of the capital.

Throw your helmet on and pedal your way around McLaren Vale by cycling along the flat asphalt path that is the 'coast to vines rail trail'. The track stretches for almost 40-kilometres along the old rail line from Marino to Willunga. The best part of the trail is the family friendly 9-kilometre stretch through the grape-filled vineyards known as the Shiraz Trail. Enjoy some wine tasting at a cellar door, lunch at any of the local restaurants or just enjoy riding through the rolling hills of the region.

Jump in the kayak and go for a paddle in the smooth waters of the Onkaparinga River. Start from Perrys Bend where a new launch spot was built in 2017 enabling kayakers and canoeists to enter the water easily without having to trudge through the mud first. The river passes though the Onkaparinga River National Park where there are plenty of hiking trails, picnic spots, scenic lookouts and native animal and plant life to observe

The seemingly never-ending coastline also has breathtaking beaches nestled against the towering clifftops of the region, perfect for a picturesque drive or day on the sand with the family.

Don't forget: Seak Swift Kayak

Sellicks Beach

Image Courtesy: South Australian Tourism Commision/Kane Overall

Sellicks Beach

A little over 50-kilometres south of Adelaide are the rocky hills overlooking the sandy seashore of Sellicks Beach. The quirky thing about this southern jewel is that you can drive your car directly onto the sand and a little way up the coast to Aldinga Beach whilst admiring the views across Gulf St Vincent.

At the top of the dunes is a short 1km stretch of track that forms part of the broader Coast Park Trail. The path traces the shoreline providing magnificent views of the water whilst it also comes across a small barbecue area should you wish to have a BYO lunch.

Sellicks Beach is more secluded compared to some of the nearby hotspots making it a great place for families to enjoy some fun beach activities as well as a relaxing afternoon on the sand.

Don't forget: Dune 4WD Recovery Tracks


Coorong National Park

Coorong National Park is a unique parkland and lagoon that stretches 150-kilometres along the south Australian coastline. There are a plethora of land and water activities to partake in amongst the roaming landscape all of which can be done in an enjoyable there-and-back day trip from Adelaide.

Kayak the wetlands along the Young Husband Peninsula and bask in the beauty that is the crystal-clear waters of the Coorong. Set amongst the backdrop of the rolling sand dunes of the foreshore the waterway is home to an abundance of marine life to observe in their natural habitat. Kayaking the channel at dusk will provide you a prime location for an unforgettable sunset.

Birdwatchers can rejoice at this avian mecca as it is the home of over 200 species of native and migratory birds. Take a stroll along the shore and search for the unique characteristics that separate one species of bird from another. It's not uncommon to spot pelicans and sandpipers wading on the water, but you may even catch a glimpse of grebes, herons and terns to name a few.

Home to several walking trails, you can amble your way over sand dunes and through shrubby bushland to arrive at magnificent viewpoints out over the water. Specific sections of the park are accessible by 4WD only for those wanting a more rigorous tour of the coastline.

If it's fishing you're interested in, head to Ocean Beach and enjoy an afternoon of salmon and snapper fishing from the shore.

Don't forget: Tasco 8 x 25 Offshore Waterproof Binoculars

Mount Lofty Summit

Image Courtesy: South Australian Tourism Commission / Sven Kovac

Mount Lofty Summit

Head for the hills - the Adelaide Hills that is, for an amazing day trip amongst the vibrant colours and undulating landscape of this stunning bushland region. Venture just 25 minutes from the CBD and you can enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the valleys as well as a gorgeous view of the Adelaide cityscape.

Mount Lofty Summit is a popular weekend destination given its proximity to the city. You can park nearby the summit for a small fee and enjoy the views effortlessly, or you can challenge yourself to a number of hiking trails that lead to the peak. The near 8km round-trip Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit Hike is by far the most popular hiking trail as it follows a well-preserved path up through the hills until you reach the inevitable crowning point. While there are numerous resting spots along the path, the climb is quite strenuous and is not suited to those without a relatively strong residual fitness level. For a less physical climb take the Hartford Track through the Cleland Wildlife Park.

Once you've trekked up through the towering greenery of the forest to the bellowing sounds of the cockatoos and kookaburras and reach the summit, make sure you have a rest and take in the unforgettable vistas afforded to you.

Don't forget: Mountain Designs Escape Lite 20L Day Pack


Cobbler Creek Recreation Park

If you're after a day trip consisting of hiking or biking, then the Cobbler Creek Recreation Park is the place to go. Travel 20-kilometres north of Adelaide to find the interconnected walking and riding trails winding through the verdant grasslands.

Mountain biking fanatics regularly carve up the hilly terrain of this two-wheeling sanctuary. The tailor-made bike paths are perfect for novice and mid-level mountain bikers eager to explore the rocky plains of the park. There are also advanced tracks for experienced bikers keen to take on sharper corners and challenging jumps. Check out the maps and signage on arrival as they will outline where each track is as well as their difficulty level.

If you'd prefer to explore the park on foot, there are a multitude of walking trails scattered through the woodlands. The 4-kilometre shared use Valley Circuit is one of the harder hikes in the park with prolonged climbs and steep descents while the Babbler Loop is a shorter, intermediate track leading to views as far as the Gulf St Vincent.

There is a large adventure playground for kids to enjoy with plenty of room for a picnic in the neighbouring grassed areas.

Don't forget: Fluid Mountain Bike

Morialta Conservation Park

Image Courtesy: South Australian Tourism Commission / Joel Durbridge

Morialta Conservation Park

A stone's throw east of the Adelaide CBD is the stunning Morialta Conservation Park. The inner-city nature escape is a great day trip for those wanting to experience the natural beauty of lush forests and cascading waterfalls without venturing too far from the city centre.

The most popular of the park's hiking trails is the Morialta Falls Plateau Hike. Measuring a tick over four kilometres, the moderately challenging circuit takes you up through the bushland to a breathtaking view of the First Falls tumbling down the bronzed rockface. The First Falls are one of three waterfalls in the park. To hike past all three, you can take on the Three Falls Grand Circuit which is a trek covering a little over seven kilometres and will provide you with gorgeous views of the neighbouring clifftops whilst adoring at the native birdlife nestled in the trees on your way to the beautiful cascades.

For the kids, enjoy the three kilometre there-and-back walk from the First Falls carpark to the amazing Giants Cave. The hollowed-out cliff face provides a brilliant vantage point of the cliffs across the way and has enough room to sit and take a quick rest before heading back down.

The 'Mukanthi', Adelaide's biggest playground is also part of the park within the Stradbroke picnic area. With separate activity stations there's plenty of climbing, sliding and swinging to be had for kids of all ages.

Don't forget: CamelBak Chute Magnetic Water Bottle


Encounter Marine Park

Encounter Marine Park is one of the most unique experiences you can have on a day trip away from Adelaide. Extending from the Fleurieu Peninsula up to Kangaroo Island and the Coorong the natural beauty of the oceanic wilderness is truly something to be admired and not to be missed.

Explore what's below the surface by snorkelling amongst the many reefs available to you throughout the park. There are hundreds of different species of fish and invertebrates that populate the south-eastern waters of Australia, including Rainbow Cale, Magpie Perch, gropers, anemones, starfish and much more.

Some of the popular snorkelling locations are the Port Noarlunga Reef, Second Valley beach and the Rapid Bay Jetty.

Most of the beaches allow fishing or you can also try from one of the numerous jetties scattered throughout the park area. There are a number of protected "sanctuary zones" where fishing is not permitted so find out where they are prior to visiting.

There are several beaches, playgrounds and picnic areas that make for a great day with family and friends outside of the water.

Don't forget: Rapeedo Adult's Snorkel Set


Brownhill Creek Recreation Park

Just 20-minutes south of Adelaide is the Brownhill Creek Recreation Park. Native trees line the creek's edge while koala's perch themselves high up in the eucalypts spread throughout the valley. The park is great for bushwalking and trail hiking with several popular hiking tracks for adventure lovers.

The Wirraparinga Circuit is a moderate 5-kilometre walk that ambles through the bushland alongside the narrow creek. Amaze at the centuries old river red gums that adorn the water's edge as you make your way around the flat, looping trail. Dogs are allowed on leads so the whole family can come along.

It is also a shared path so you can take the mountain bike if you'd prefer to traverse the creek on two wheels.

For the experienced hikers, the Brownhill Creek and Belair Hike Loop is a more significant challenge to take on. Stretching almost 14-kilometres from Brownhill Creek and up through the Belair National Park, the undulating terrain climbs through the dense vegetation leading to some fantastic views over the parklands.

Don't forget: Merrell 'Moab' Low Hikers


Victor Harbor

Head an hour south of Adelaide to arrive at the amazing natural wonderland that is Victor Harbor. Positioned on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula it's a destination that has plenty of activities and attractions for every member of the family.

Take the kids for a ride along the Encounter Bikeway that stretches from Victor Harbor up to Goolwa. The 30-kilometre sealed pathway wraps around the coastline from Encounter Bay, through the Basham Beach Conservation Park and finishes at the Goolwa Wharf. There are several towns, inlets and playgrounds to stop and explore along the way, or just enjoy the stunning views of the turquoise water afforded to you.

Cross the 600-metre causeway by foot, or more spectacularly via a horse-drawn carriage to Granite Island and meet the more adorable residents of the area, the penguins. In an effort to protect the local colony this can only be done through a guided tour, but it's well worth it.

Try your hand at hooking some Australian herring, salmon trout or even a little whiting from the Screwpile Jetty jutting out of the granite rock formations of the island. The popular fishing spot is usually very busy on the weekends so get there early to establish your ideal angling setup.

If fishing from a jetty isn't your preferred method, there are a multitude of alternate fishing spots on the mainland along the shoreline providing a more isolated fishing experience.

Victor Harbor also boasts an impressive range of hiking trails to discover taking in the expansive coastline as well as the historic townships of the region. The Kings Head Hike, also known as the Heysen Spur Trail, is an almost 6-kilometre coastal trek looping around Rosetta Head providing uninterrupted views along the Coorong and out to the Southern Ocean. You can also explore the Kaiki Trail on Granite Island or the historic Victor Harbor town centre via the Town Centre Heritage Trail.

Don't forget: Shimano Quickfire 702 2-4kg 7ft Spinning Rod

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