Semaphore is fast becoming a popular summer beach destination in Adelaide. Each year it gets a little busier as locals and visitors alike look for a beach with easy parking and plenty of attractions and activities. It’s not just for day trips either, there are plenty of options to stay a few days to enjoy the beach. Here are all the best things to do in Semaphore during your visit.
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- 1 Getting to Semaphore
- 2 Things to do in Semaphore
- 2.1 Relax on Semaphore Beach
- 2.2 Step Back in Time with the Semaphore Carousel
- 2.3 Challenge your Friends to a Round of Mini Golf
- 2.4 Get your Thrills at the Summer Amusement Park
- 2.5 Ride the Semaphore Train
- 2.6 Sit on the Deck at the Semaphore Palais
- 2.7 Come to Semaphore Road for Food
- 2.8 Hire a Bike and Ride Along the Foreshore
- 2.9 Or Perhaps a Scooter Instead!
- 2.10 Visit Audrey the Alpaca
- 2.11 Drink some Craft Beer
- 2.12 Attend a Festival
- 2.13 Watch a Movie at the Semaphore Odeon
- 3 Where to Stay in Semaphore
Getting to Semaphore
Semaphore is located on the beach northwest of the Adelaide city centre. It takes about half an hour to drive there and there is plenty of car parking all along the foreshore.
Semaphore can also be accessed by train. Catch a train on the Outer Harbor line and get off at Glanville station. The nearby intersection is Semaphore Road, and that will take you directly to the foreshore area and jetty. It takes around 15-20 minutes to walk all the way to the beach from Glanville station, but there are lots of shops and cafes along the way.
Buses take a little longer to get to Semaphore from the city, but they do stop closer to the beach. The stop is on Military Road, not too far from the intersection with Semaphore Road. Catch bus 157 or 157X from Currie or Grenfell Street.
Things to do in Semaphore
Relax on Semaphore Beach
I’ll start with the obvious Semaphore attraction, the beach! The wide sandy beach is great for all beachgoers. The water around the jetty is calm and shallow so even young children can play in the waves (with supervision) without the fear of being dragged out to sea. The beach is never crowded, there is always room for everyone. Bring your shelter and picnic, take a swim, enjoy a game of beach cricket and experience what Australia is all about – a day at the beach.
Step Back in Time with the Semaphore Carousel
Built in 1928, the Semaphore Carousel has been creating memories for generations. It’s not unusual to hear of grandparents telling their grandchildren their carousel rides as a child. It is the largest carousel still operating in Australia today, with 40 wooden horses. Today it’s a popular venue for children’s parties and instagram photos. It’s usually open every weekend, but check on their Facebook page for updates as weather and private events can sometimes change the hours.
Challenge your Friends to a Round of Mini Golf
You can’t help but notice the waterslide that sits on the Semaphore foreshore. Unfortunately at the end of last summer the waterslide itself was deemed to no longer meet with the 2021 safety requirements. It is owned by the local council, who are deciding its ultimate fate. Hopefully it will be brought up to standards, because locals and visitors alike enjoyed it during the summer.
In the meantime, all of the activities in the complex are still up and running. Younger kids will love the jumping castle or the sideshow games (who remembers that game of putting the ball in the clown’s mouth?) and the older ones will like the mini golf and virtual reality
Get your Thrills at the Summer Amusement Park
During the long summer school holidays, and to a lesser extent the other school holidays throughout the year, the grassed area on the foreshore becomes home to all sorts of carnival rides. Think dodgem cars and the Cyclone, Ali Baba, trampolines, sideshows, carnival food and a whole lot more. It runs into the evening, especially on warm days, so is a fun day out.
Ride the Semaphore Train
This little train runs for 2km southwards along the coast, past Fort Glanville to a stop at Point Malcolm Reserve. It’s run by the National Railway Museum mostly on the weekends and during school holidays. This is a great ride for all the family, with everyone from Grandparents to young kids bound to have fun. The cute little steam engine “Bill” pulls along three little covered carriages, so even if there is a little rain about or the sun is strong, passengers are protected. See the NRM website for more details.
Sit on the Deck at the Semaphore Palais
The Semaphore Palais was built in 1922, and over the years it has served many different purposes, It has been a ballroom, tea rooms, a bath house, even the home of the Semaphore Surf Lifesaving Club for a while. Today it’s a beach bar, restaurant, cafe and pokies venue. Lunch on the deck on a sunny day is one of my favourite things to do in Semaphore. If it’s not time for lunch, grab a coffee or a cocktail, order from the snack menu and enjoy the sunshine.
Come to Semaphore Road for Food
There are dozens of cafes and restaurants along Semaphore Road, so this is a great location for dinner or meeting friends for coffee. Some of the favourites include Froot cafe for coffee and light meals, The Red Ass for curry and noodles, and the Semaphore Hotel for pub meals. There are lots of other options, with multiple cafes, Turkish, Greek, pizza, Mexican and vegetarian restaurants. There’s even Hades Hula House, a fun tiki bar. For takeaway, Sotos fish and chips are some of the best in the city (be prepared for queues during summer!), Barry’s Burgers do a pretty good burger, even for vegetarians, and Phat Head do delicious noodles, dumplings and bubble tea.
Hire a Bike and Ride Along the Foreshore
Pop into the Semaphore Library and hire a free bike. Head down to the beach path and enjoy a leisurely ride in either direction. The Adelaide foreshore pathway is a joint use path for walking and riding and runs almost the entire length of the Adelaide coastline.
Or Perhaps a Scooter Instead!
There are a few locations along the foreshore path where you will see groups of orange scooters. One of them is right at the end of the Semaphore jetty. These scooters can be hired for a short right in the area. Follow the instructions on each scooter to hire them.
Visit Audrey the Alpaca
There are a whole pile of interesting boutiques and shops along Semaphore Road to browse through, but one you just can’t miss is the Semaphore Pets & Garden shop. Wander out into the garden area, and in the back corner you will find Audrey the alpaca. She’s almost a local celebrity – occasionally she can be spotted walking along the street with her owners. Kids in particular will love to come in and say hello. While here, you will also see a macaw and other birds and possibly chickens wandering around too.
Drink some Craft Beer
Call into Sempahore’s very own beer and pizza place at Sweet Amber. Located on Semaphore Road near the Odeon Cinemas, this is the perfect place to stop to try their small batch beers, which are brewed not too far away in the brewery at Regency Park. The shop may look small from the front, but there is a great beer garden out the back too, making this the perfect place to enjoy with some friends. It’s pet-friendly too.
Attend a Festival
In non-covid times, there was a festival held on the Semaphore foreshore almost every weekend. Whether it was the Greek Festival, the Kite Festival, ANZAC dawn service, some sort of markets, there was always something going on. The popular Semaphore Street Fair, held towards the end of November each year, the whole street closes and becomes a carnival with markets.
New Years Eve is one of the most popular times at Semaphore. Many people descend on the area to ring in the new year. The foreshore carnival is in full swing, and often there will be live music to entertain the crowds. Fireworks are held at 9pm for families with young children, and again at midnight
Watch a Movie at the Semaphore Odeon
The Odeon movie theatre on Semaphore Road is one of the most affordable places in Adelaide to see the latest Hollywood hit or a loved classic. This smaller complex has that old time family feel to it but with all the latest technology to make watching the movies enjoyable. There’s plenty of movie essentials such as popcorn and choc tops available at the cafe too. The kids will love seeing all the movies put on just for them in school holidays. The best part though, is that all tickets for all sessions are only $10. So on a hot summers day when you need a little respite from the sun on the beach, wander down here to enjoy the air-conditioning.
Where to Stay in Semaphore
Here are a few options for accommodation if you would like to stay longer and really enjoy the beach:
- Semaphore Blue Apartments
- Nightcap @ Exeter Hotel
- Seabreeze at Semaphore on the Esplanade
- Semaphore Splash Apartments
- Discovery Parks – Adelaide Beachfront (not technically in Semaphore, but very close in Semaphore Park)
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Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred. She has lived in the state for almost her whole life, just one short stint away as a teenager with her family. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.