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If you’re like me, and lucky enough to have parents who are hands-on and involved in their grandchildren’s lives, you (and they) will likely find this information helpful.

My incredible parents are so dedicated to taking their five grandchildren out all together that they went and bought a 7-seater car just for this purpose! Excessive? Perhaps. Appreciated? You bloomin’ bet!

Finding activities that are both wholesome and cost-effective can sometimes take some creative thinking… so I’ve done the work for you. Oh, and to my parents if you’re reading… school holidays are fast approaching, so you may want to take some notes (wink wink).

Botanic Gardens (Mount Lofty or City)

I’m going to mention this first because if there’s any time to visit the Mount Lofty Botanical Gardens, it’s in Autumn. You’ll be utterly mesmerised by the panoramic views of red, orange and yellow, the rolling green grass and the tranquil sound of gently flowing water. If you’re the active type there’s the option to walk along one of the many trails, or if that’s not your thing, just pack a picnic and set yourselves up for a few hours of play and exploring in what feels like an enchanted wonderland.

If you want to stay closer to the city, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens has always been a hit with my kids. It’s so easy to spend a spontaneous afternoon there… just throw a few snacks and drink bottles in a backpack and off you go. There are a few favourite areas within the gardens that my kids always want to visit — the giant lily pad, the bamboo trail, the bridge over the pond that has turtles in it and the giant greenhouse, just to name a few. It’s a great place to just wander and explore. The best thing is, there’s a cafe, so you can grab yourself a coffee and sip it guilt free while your grandkids soak up their healthy dose of nature!

Image Credit :: Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

Belair National Park

At Belair National Park, your options are endless. For a completely free experience, you can park your car in the lower car park and simply walk into the grounds and follow one of the many walking trails. Being such a large park, you may want to bring your car in and drive to a particular spot (for example, the epic adventure playground that your grandchildren could spend hours at)! To bring a vehicle inside Belair National Park costs $12.50, and this would provide you with access to walking trails, picnic grounds and the playground. There are tennis courts and BBQ facilities available for use at an extra cost if you wanted to make a day of it. So much fun to be had!

Image Credit :: Belair National Park


Morialta Conservation Park / Nature Playground 

Morialta Conservation Park is another National Park which offers you walking trails, wildlife spotting, spectacular views and waterfalls. There’s also one of the biggest and most impressive nature playgrounds in Australia at Morialta, as well as BBQ facilities, shelter and toilets. The playground is aimed at children between 5 – 15 years (it’s nice to have some options for the older kids). The nature play possibilities are endless here, but keep in mind that there is unrestricted access to a flowing creek… so tell Gran and Pa to prepare for some wet grandkids (because we all know how that ends)! 

Image Credit :: Visit Adelaide Hills

Thorndon Park

Thorndon Park in the suburb of Paradise, is, in fact, paradise for your grandkids! Not only can you take a leisurely walk around the reservoir and explore the natural wetlands, but you’ll also have access to a newly completed, fantastic playground which is suited to all ages and abilities. There are shaded picnic areas, BBQ facilities, basketball courts, a giant chessboard and fitness equipment. 

What is even more wonderful about this park is that it’s the most wheelchair accessible and inclusive park in our city. Some of the playground’s accessible features include a wheelchair swing, a vision impaired table tennis table, wheelchair accessible trampolines, raised sand and water play area, and Auslan signage. The majority of Thorndon Park’s pathways are sealed and wheelchair accessible (which is also handy to know for people using prams too).

Image Credit ::

Hallett Cove Boardwalk 

If you’re not opposed to stairs (hundreds of them, to be frank), then this is a wonderful way to wear out the kiddies whilst absorbing the spectacular rugged coastline of Hallett Cove.

A well maintained boardwalk of stairs runs up and down the cliff edge (and then back up, and then back down… repeat, repeat, repeat). You get the idea?! The total return distance of the hike between Marino and Hallett Cove is 14.6km, but the beauty is, you can decide your turnaround time and make it as long or as short as it suits you. There are plenty of spots to take a break from the stairs and enjoy the stunning outlook from the dedicated viewing platforms, and also educate your grandies on the rock formations and ancient geology of the area with information boards placed periodically along the trail. If you’re lucky enough, at the right time of year you may even get to spot a Southern Right Whale! 

If stairs just really aren’t your thing (no judgment here, friends), head down one of the paths to the beach and explore the rock pools. I know myself how much fun my kids have lifting rocks and looking for crabs and starfish. That’s an outing in itself!

Image Credit :: @_da_n_i_

Jubilee Park Adventure Playground – Port Noarlunga

The first thing that will stand out as you arrive at Jubilee Park is how unique the colossal, wooden, castle-like structure is. It is visually so different from any other playground, and the kids are automatically drawn in just from its appearance alone. Your grandies will be straight off to play amongst the fortes, tunnels, bridges, slides and lookouts. It’s literally an imaginary play wonderland! There’s also a newer more modern playground within the space and between the two areas, there is almost everything on offer. We’re talking swings, tunnels, rock climbing, monkey bars, water and sand play. There’s something for all ages. Needless to say, weekends can get busy here with birthday parties etc, but there is plenty of parking and facilities (like bathrooms and BBQ’s) to cater for large crowds.

Image Credit :: kids in adelaide

Princess Elizabeth Playground – South Terrace 

This playground is affectionately known by my kids as ‘The Castle Park’ because the drawcard here is the multi storey giant twisty slide which is designed to look like a castle. This playground has so much to offer… but I honestly think they could spend half the day just going up and down this slide alone. What an easy way to wear them out! There is such a variety of play equipment here — different types of swings, rope climbing structures, seesaws and mini trampolines built into the ground (I double dare you not to try them for yourselves — you won’t be able to resist)!

For the ball mad children — this playground opens up to the grassed parklands which is great if they want to kick a ball around. On the flip side however, for those bringing younger children — be mindful that this playground is not completely fenced off so certain ages will need monitoring, (ie perhaps leave your book / crossword puzzle at home).

Image Credit :: kids in adelaide

Japanese (Himeji) Garden – South Terrace

For those looking for a more ‘tranquil’ activity to do with the grandies (if such a thing exists?!), the Japanese Garden on South Terrace makes it almost impossible to not feel relaxed. Honestly, from the moment you walk inside, you will be transported to the most beautiful Japanese oasis in the middle of the city. The sound of running water melts away the sound of the traffic and kids bickering, and despite being a relatively small area, there is so much beauty to explore. The pond is full of curious turtles that pop their little heads up to say hello and if you’re lucky you might see a mummy duck waddling along with her ducklings. Everything is so green, lush and manicured. You really have to see it to believe it.

A little disclaimer… this setting (although children are very welcome), is not designed for loud games of chasey or ball sports. (I like to drum this into my ‘spirited’ children before we arrive so they are somewhat prepared). If your grandies are in the zone to experience something a little more low tempo (let’s face it, there are some days when you just know this is NOT going to happen), then I highly recommend you experience the beauty of this garden.

My advice — pack a thermos of tea or a picnic (take-away sushi if you really want to immerse yourself), and even a pack of Uno cards. Lay a picnic rug out and just feel your body zen. Hopefully it will rub off on the kids!

Image Credit :: Sarah Ashleigh Photography


Happy adventuring,

Carrie x

Carrie Raymond

Carrie Raymond

Carrie’s aim is to provide you with helpful content for all things ‘Adelaide’ — so no matter what info you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it on our website.

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