Things to do in South Australia in Summer

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It’s that time of the year, things are heating up, and summer is the most popular time to take a holiday. The kids are out of school, Christmas holidays are in full swing and the days are long. It’s time to get out and enjoy the pristine beaches, the sunshine and the balmy evenings. But what are you going to do? Here are some ideas for things to do in South Australia in summer.

Note: Feature image courtesy of Katey Wehrman/South Australian Tourism Commission.

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Things to do in South Australia in Summer

It would be way too easy for me to just tell you to go to the beach. Or the river. Or one of our lakes. SA has incredible natural swimming locations and they arguably are the best places in South Australia in summer!

But I’m going to try to be a little more inventive and come up with some other ideas too – although I will include some water in case you need specific suggestions.

Before I make those suggestions, there are some places I do not necessarily recommend in summer, and those places are generally in the north of South Australia.

While it is still possible to visit, summer is not the best time to visit the Flinders Ranges, or Coober Pedy, or to drive the Oodnadatta Track (for example).

It is simply too hot. With temperatures regularly in the 40’s, and potentially getting up to the 50’s, it’s really too hot to be out sightseeing.

In these temperatures, if something goes wrong in the remote areas it could be life-threatening. In areas like the Flinders Ranges, bushfires can be a concern too.

It’s not just too hot for tourists, it’s too hot for many of the locals too, who pack up their businesses and head south for the summer, opening up again in March once the worst of the heat has passed.

This means you will miss some of the experiences you might have enjoyed at other times of the year.

For example, the longer hikes at Wilpena Pound are closed, the Prairie Hotel is closed, and Blinman Mine Tours is closed for some of the summer and has reduced tours for the rest.

So, instead of heading north, try one of these suggestions instead.

Watch the Sunset at Moseley Beach Club

Photo Credit: Hayley Hays Photography

The Moseley Beach Club is a temporary bar and kitchen that sits on the beach at Glenelg each summer (usually from late November until March). It will remind you of beach clubs on the Mediterranean Sea or in Bali.

Think day beds and umbrellas on the sand, chilled vibes, cocktails and sunsets. Get a group together or make it a romantic date.

Entry is free, but you can also reserve a sun lounge or day bed in advance, which will require a deposit that goes towards food and drinks later.

Swim with Great White Sharks

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to shark cage diving off the coast of Port Lincoln, I am way more scared of the cold water in winter than I am of being in the water with the sharks.

That means the best time of year to go is in summer!

It’s still going to be kind of cold, because the place where the sharks are, the Neptune Islands, is out in the middle of the Southern Ocean, but at least you can get out of the water and enjoy sunshine, not freezing wind and rain!

Adelaide Oval Roof Climb Yoga

This one is a bit of fun! Over the summer, you can combine an early morning climb with a yoga session while on top of the Adelaide Oval roof. Every Sunday morning you can sign up for this unique activity.

Get those feel-good vibes going for the day. A healthy light breakfast is served once you are back down on solid ground.

Summer is also a generally good time to do the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb even without the yoga. The nicer weather tends to mean better views and less chance of wind and rain.

The evening climbs will have some of the best South Australian sunsets, or better yet, an evening cricket game to enjoy from the top of the southern stand.

Click here to book and see more details

Get out on the Water in a Kayak

Photo Credit: John Montesi

Kayaking in winter can be a little iffy – the waves get big and all of a sudden it’s hard to manoeuvre and the kayak is filling up with water. Who really wants to be cold and wet when it’s cold outside?

In summer though, it’s a different story. Enjoy better weather and see parts of our state in a way you can’t see it from shore. Here are some of my suggestions for kayaking around South Australia

Visit Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is an amazing destination in summer. Have you seen all those stunning photos of beaches with pure white sand and clear blue water?

I can just imagine myself relaxing there and sharing those amazing pictures on Instagram!

Kangaroo Island can be a little cooler than the mainland, so it’s a great place for those people trying to escape the worst of the heat but still enjoying summer.

Read all the things to do on Kangaroo Island here

Attend a Festival

Photo Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

South Australia is not called the Festival State for nothing – there really is a festival going on somewhere all the time. There are too many for me to start listing them all but I do have to mention the Adelaide Fringe.

This runs from mid-February to mid-March (18th February to 20th March 2022) and is the second-largest fringe festival in the world after Edinburgh. During this time there are events all over the state.

The types of events vary wildly, as anyone can put one on – yes, you could demonstrate cooking scones in your mum’s kitchen and sell tickets and it would qualify!

To really get into the spirit, head to the Garden of Unearthly Delights, or Gluttony, and just soak up the atmosphere.

Eat Adelaide’s Best Ice Cream

I realise I probably don’t need to tell you twice to eat some ice cream over the summer – but do you know the best places to go and find it? I’m going to make a big call here and pick a favourite.

My vote for best ice cream is actually not ice cream, but gelato. To me, they are kind of the same thing, but I know to the purists (and the Italians!) they are definitely different. T

o taste the best in Adelaide, head down to Bottega Gelateria in Glenelg or Henley Beach, where all their gelato is hand-crafted the traditional way using only natural products.

There is an ever-changing array of awesome flavours and even something for those of us who are plant-based too.

Drink Cocktails at a Roof Top Bar

Photo Credit: Jonathon Van de Knapp, Adelaide

Rooftop bars are made for summer! There’s nothing better than spending a warm evening sipping cocktails with friends and watching the sun go down over the city skyline. Or the beach. Or the vineyards.

The best part is that these bars are starting to offer really good non-alcoholic cocktails too – so it’s easy to enjoy an adult drink even if you are driving. Here are some of the best rooftop bars for you to check out

  • 2KW (corner King William and North Terrace)
  • Merrymaker (Hotel Indigo Adelaide Markets)
  • Sol Bar & Restaurant (Eos at SkyCity)
  • Hennessy (Mayfair Hotel)
  • West (Henley Beach)
  • Seed (Clare Valley)

Moonlight Cinema

After a summer off, the Moonlight Cinema is back! This is a great thing to do on a summer evening, either with friends, family or even on a date!

Over the summer months, there are a variety of movies shown, from the latest Hollywood blockbusters to family favourites.

Located in Rymill Park just off East Terrace, it’s an easy stroll from the city centre.

There are plenty of general seating areas available, but if you want something special, there are the VIP sections, AAMI Gold Grass and Connoisseur Lounge areas too.

General admission customers bring their own chairs or hire a beanbag to get comfortable.

Click here to see what is playing and buy tickets

Attend a Sporting Event

Photo Credit: Russel Millard

South Australia sometimes seems like once the AFL is over in September, there’s nothing on until it starts up again in March. But don’t let that fool you, there is still plenty of sport happening in Adelaide.

If you are any kind of cricket fan you will know that Adelaide Oval is one of the best cricket venues anywhere in the world.

There are various games held here all summer long, from a test match in early December to a Big Bash game on New Year’s Eve. And don’t forget the girls here either – look out for their games too.

Right now Memorial Drive is undergoing a multi-million dollar facelift but it will be ready by mid-January to host two world-class tennis events.

The Adelaide International often attracts world-class players as they warm up to the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Cycling is also popular in Adelaide in summer with the Tour Down Under happening from 13th to 22nd January. This is a chance to see all the big names compete as they race around South Australia for a week.

Go Snorkelling

You may imagine snorkelling in warm blue waters while watching tropical fish dart in and out of coral, but that is not what I am suggesting here.

Sure, there are some great places to snorkel along the coast, but I have another idea for you.

Summer is the perfect time to head south to the sinkholes of Mount Gambier and do some snorkelling in the pristine fresh waters that have seeped up through the volcanic landscape in this area.

The water here stays at a regular temperature of around 15 degrees so it will be a welcome contrast on those really hot days.

Some suggestions are a snorkelling tour at Kilsby Sinkhole, or do your own thing at Ewens Ponds or Piccaninnie Ponds (although both require permits).

Get Underground

South Australia has only one UNESCO World Heritage site, and summer is a great time to visit. Get relief from the heat by heading underground and exploring the Naracoorte Caves.

There are at least four caves and the Wonambi Fossil Centre open for visitors in this complex of twenty-eight caves.

You will learn all about Australia’s unique megafauna while admiring the beautiful rock formations created over the centuries.

Do Some Wine Tasting

I wasn’t going to include this one – I mean, wine tasting in South Australia is great any time of year, but I particularly enjoy it in summer.

Instead of rushing into a cellar door, all huddling around one small heater while you blitz through your tasting hoping that red wine will hit the spot soon and warm you up, why not relax outside in the sun with your wine?

On the warner days escape to the relatively cooler Adelaide Hills and enjoy their ice-cold white wines and of course the beautiful scenery.

There’s some pretty good food available at most of the wineries too, so take some friends, order a tasting platter and relax….aahhhhhhh!

Swimming with the Local Wildlife

Photo Credit: Tourism Australia

I talked about shark cage diving with the great white sharks above, but that may not be for everyone. We do have some other activities in South Australia where you can swim without and cage and the animals won’t eat you!

Here are some of the experiences you can have in the water with our wildlife

Go Fruit Picking

No, I don’t mean move to the Riverland and take fruit picking up as a summer job, I mean enjoying a fun afternoon out and bringing home the freshest fruit available!

There are all sorts of places available for fruit picking, but one of the best known is Beerenberg in Hahndorf which offers strawberry picking.

Kids will love getting out amongst the strawberry plants and picking their own huge punnet to take home. It’s also okay to eat one or two as you go along too. If you are down south, then pick strawberries at Harvest the Fleurieu instead.

If you are not a fan of strawberries, you could go picking cherries. There are many places to go cherry-picking.

You could try Fleurieu Cherries at Pages Flat or Cherries at Verdun in the Adelaide Hills. (There’s a handy app to help with finding a place to go cherry-picking in SA – look up “Fresh Cherries” in the App Store).

Blueberries are also ready to pick in summer. Head to The Blueberry Patch in Mount Compass to pick your own.

Towards the end of summer, there is fig picking available at Glen Ewin Estate in Houghton, and apple picking at @Lenswood.

Spend an Evening Under the Milky Way

Photo Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

Get out and do some stargazing. Yes, you can also do this in winter, but summer promises a much nicer night to be outside and less chance of weather interrupting the views.

It’s easy to get out of the city and find a nice dark area in South Australia to see the stars, but there is one area that has been formally recognised as the best in Australia.

The River Murray area is the only recognised International Dark Sky Reserve in the country. This means that it is a great place to do some star gazing.

There are locations and activities all over the region to help with seeing the incredible night skies. Here are just a couple of options

  • Shell Hill – there are two telescope pads set up in the Shell Hill Reserve for visitors to set up their own equipment for star gazing.
  • Big Bend by Night – there are two different dark sky experiences available, including an option to stay overnight.
  • Juggle House – offer a dark sky river cruise with dinner from Mannum on the nights the sky is darkest

Have a BBQ with a Difference

Sure, you could just have a normal BBQ on land, with a few friends, great food and some relaxing beverages, but why not have it on the water instead?

There are two places in Adelaide to hire a BBQ boat and float around while eating and catching up with friends.

The BBQ Bouys are kind of like a floating picnic table with an umbrella over the top of them. You can find them on the River Torrens, where they have options for two people, six people or ten people.

They are also available at Port Adelaide where you could be having lunch with the dolphins.

Christmas in Adelaide

In the lead-up to Christmas, there is plenty to do in and around Adelaide to get into the festive spirit. The season officially begins on the second Saturday in November when Santa comes to town with the annual Christmas Pageant.

Look out then for the giant Christmas tree in Victoria Square, the Christmas windows in Rundle Mall and the riverbank decorations.

There will be other pageants, markets and Christmas carol events all over the city, and Christmas isn’t complete without seeing the Christmas lights, especially those in Lobethal. Read more about Christmas in Adelaide here.

Hit the Beaches

You didn’t really think I would not mention beaches did you? South Australia has stunning beaches all along the coastline. The beaches in Adelaide are long and sandy, and the water is generally calm.

If you are not a strong swimmer, there are many beaches that are patrolled by surf lifesavers in the warmer months to ensure everyone stays safe.

I recommend Semaphore, Henley Beach, Glenelg and Brighton for ease of access, amenities and just all-around great beaches.

If it’s surfing you are after, unfortunately, there are not a lot of amazing surf beaches in Adelaide. The best you are likely to find close to the city are the Fleurieu beaches, such as Middleton. If you want to learn to surf, do so there.

Further away on Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula, there are many great surf beaches, but these tend to be isolated and not for beginners. Try the beaches in Innes-Dhilba Guranda National Park or Cactus Beach on the far west coast.

For a beach holiday, Robe on the Limestone Coast is one of the most popular places to go. Nearby Beachport is a close second.

Other favourites include Stansbury on the Yorke Peninsula and Streaky Bay on the Eyre Peninsula. South Australia is so blessed though, whichever coastal town you choose, there will be a great beach not too far away.

So there you have it, enough suggestions to keep everyone busy in South Australia in summer. Is there something you love to do in summer that I have missed? Let me know in the comments below.

Visiting more great South Australian locations? These posts might help
Things to do in Hahndorf
Things to do in Victor Harbor
Visiting the d’Arenberg Cube

Don’t forget to come on over and join the Facebook group for more South Australian inspiration and to get all your questions answered. Click here to join now.

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About the author

Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred, living here for her whole life. 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.

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