Booking a vacation is highly personal. Are you seeking some R&R on a white sandy beach? Looking for a spiritual journey to connect with nature? Maybe the current lull in your life has awakened a newfound appetite for adventure. Or maybe you just want to get as far away as possible from…wherever you are. While most destinations are famous for fulfilling one experience, there’s one place that ticks all the boxes: Australia. Simultaneously one of the largest countries and the smallest continents on the map, Oz is a broad landscape rich with culture and diversity. Wherever you go, you’ll discover some of nature’s finest work: the Great Barrier Reef, the Uluru Rock, and, of course, the Hemsworth brothers (if you’re very, very lucky).
While most people fly straight to Sydney and back, if you really want to take a trip Down Under, South Australia is the place to go, specifically Adelaide. For the unfamiliar, the coastal city is a veritable homage to the easy Aussie lifestyle. Famously known as the 20-minute city, Adelaide offers everything at your fingertips. Head to the beach with a bestseller in the morning, then dine at a swanky Chef’s Hat restaurant at sunset. Sip some of the country’s finest wine harvested right in the Barossa Valley, or throw back a pint (or jug) at a music festival. Hug a koala! Hike in the hills! Board a ferry to Kangaroo Island! You can do it all here, and make a few friends along the way.
The kindness that permeates this destination is palpable. It shows in Adelaide’s sustainably sourced foods, the preservation of its proud Aboriginal heritage, and the extensive conservation efforts after the devastating 2020 wildfires. Adelaide’s Carbon Neutral Action and Green City Program also rank the city as the most eco-friendly in all of Australia. Visit here if you’re seeking connection, to purpose or yourself. Long after you’ve left, Adelaide will stay with you, in the best way possible. Considering it’s such a long flight, you better make it count. Here’s where to eat, drink, shop, etc.
Cleland Wildlife Park
Australia is home to hundreds of unique species that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, but you’ll get the chance to meet some of them IRL at Cleland Wildlife Park. A quick walk from the city center, you are transported right into the bush. Imagine taking a path lined with Eucalyptus trees and hearing a cacophony of magpies, parrots, and honeyeaters. Take a stroll with the wallabies and gaze into the precious eyes of a potoroo. Cleland also offers unforgettable up-close interactions with its animals; here, you can hand-feed a kangaroo or melt into the warm embrace of a koala, if you so desire. As a part of the Bushfire Recovery Program, Cleland rescued 28 of the marsupials from Kangaroo Island and relocated them to a private enclosure.
You can’t visit Adelaide without taking a day trip to Kangaroo Island. Whether you arrive via plane or ferry, in less than an hour, you’ll arrive in paradise. There’s something otherworldly about standing on the edge of the Remarkable Rocks, looking out into the expansive ocean and realizing that the next closest landmass is Antarctica. The locals are quick to share their wild backyard with echidnas, kangaroos, goannas, and seals, but you can also find protected luxury resorts, fine dining, and wine tours. Kate Sumner, chef and owner of Kangaroo Island Source, will even provide a private dining experience right in the comfort of your own home.
If you have a little too much fun on the vineyard, book a room at Hamilton House right on Emu Bay, which will have you inquiring about local real estate listings and contemplating never leaving. For an interactive nature tour, hop on an e-bike with the family-owned Exceptional Kangaroo Island tour group. Your local guide will take you along private trails through scenic forests, paddocks, and farmland, stopping along the way to point out the local wildlife, both exotic and familiar (think: sheep and cows).
Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute
Situated on Kaurna land is Tandanya, the oldest Aboriginal-owned arts center in Adelaide. Fun fact: its name originates from the Kaurna word meaning “Land of the Red Kangaroo,” and it functions as a space support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through visual and performing arts. Make sure to pay a visit to the gift shop before you leave for authentic goods like handwoven baskets, paintings, carved boomerangs, and luxurious textiles.
Nestled inside the scenic Adelaide Botanic Garden is Restaurant Botanic, where you can sit down for an ultra-extravagant four-hour, 20-course gourmet tasting menu curated with ingredients plucked on the premises by chef Justin James. Each dish is museum-worthy; wattleseeds and native thyme mix with Coffin Bay oysters, kangaroo tails, and smoked boab, garnished with the perfect-looking bunya bunya branch. A feast for the eyes and the stomach.
Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant
There are countless reasons to head to the Adelaide Hills: the jaw-dropping view from Mount Lofty, the pinot noir, the hiking trails, and Hardy’s. Once you try the roasted pumpkin agnolotti, which will have you wiping your plate clean with warm bread sopping in sauce, you will know why chef Jin Choi has earned Hardy’s a remarkable three hats. The hardest decision will be choosing which dish to eat for each course. From the marron to the aged duck and wagyu brisket to the salted coconut sorbet, you really can’t lose. And you can always come back.
Fugazzi Bar & Dining Room
Looking for a local spot in Adelaide’s West End? Venture no further than Fugazzi, a New York-inspired Italian bar and dining room. Newly opened by MasterChef’s Laura Sharrad, the swanky modern restaurant oozes charm and sophistication, and earned a stamp of approval from this New York writer. Fugazzi is where you go to indulge in a girls’ night out, celebrate a promotion, or get lost in the dreamy accent of your hot Aussie date. Will you fall in love? Yes, at least with the whipped ricotta and honey.
Penfolds Magill Estate
As one of the world’s few urban vineyards, Penfolds Magill Estate has an impressive 175-year history of winemaking, thanks in large part to its founder, Mary Penfold. By the time she retired in 1884, Penfold’s was already producing one-third of South Australia’s wines. Today, the property has a heritage listing in Australia. Take a historical tour through the original vintage cellars and sample its award-winning grange, or sip a shiraz while soaking in a sunset view of the vineyard. It doesn’t get much better than this.
There’s no doubt that Aussies love a good beer. For that and more, pay a visit to Grunthal Brew, a microbrewery specializing in craft beer and cider. This local gem is the perfect spot to grab a pint and a pizza. If you can’t decide which ale perfectly pairs with a slice of calabrese honey chili salami, go for the beer paddle and try them all. Just make sure you have a ride home first.
True to its name, Arkhé is a primal experience. The open fire concept helmed by Michelin-starred chef Jake Kellie boasts incredible food, from grilled octopus to smoked tartare and some of the best sirloin you’ve ever tasted. Grab a cocktail to get your inner hearth glowing. And if you don’t drink, the mocktails also deliver on deliciousness.
The latest addition to the Mount Lofty Estate, Sequoia Lodge is the height of luxury. Each suite features a private terrace with breathtaking views of the Piccadilly Valley, a glamorous sunken lounge with a fireplace, and a spa-worthy bathroom. I dare you not to spend your entire stay in the tub with the complimentary gourmet cheese plate. Frankly, if it wasn’t for the artesian hot springs, the Heysen hiking trail, and the Champagne Bar, I’d never leave the room. You can even start your day with sunrise yoga and end it with stargazing. Treat yourself, you deserve it all.
Eos by SkyCity
Right in the heart of the city sits the cosmopolitan Eos by SkyCity hotel, making it the perfect place to stay if you want to be within walking distance of literally all the landmarks. Walk along the River Torrens, or climb atop the Adelaide Oval Stadium. You can spend an art-filled afternoon at the numerous museums, take an eco caddy tour through the local parks, or shop for souvenirs at Rundle Mall. After a long day of sightseeing, retreat back to your opulent suite with a spectacular backdrop of charming Adelaide.
Combining French elegance with Australian charm, Sofitel is Adelaide’s first internationally recognized five-star hotel. From the moment you are greeted in the lobby to the spacious rooms and fine dining at Garçon Bleu, the Sofitel is a master class in exceptional hospitality.
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