In terms of Australia’s capital cities, Adelaide stands as one of the more predictable destinations as far as weather goes, which makes planning travel or activities a more reliable prospect. South Australia’s capital has a relatively moderate, Mediterranean-style climate, with a relatively mild winter season and summers that can border from warm to incredibly hot on individual “spike” periods that occasionally pop up.
Regardless of what the statistics say, however, the law of averages always seems to balance things out with rainy days popping up at the most inopportune times (particularly for first-time visitors). If the sky turns sour during your trip to Adelaide, or you’re simply a local brainstorming for what to do during a bout of rainy weather, we take a look at 10 of the best things to do on rainy days in Adelaide and surrounds in detail below.
10. Go Go-Karting or play Laser Skirmish
Location: Gepps Cross, Adelaide, SA
A dreary, rainy Adelaide day doesn’t mean the atmosphere of your own day has to follow suit; those in search of some upbeat fun while staying try can book in for a dose of adrenaline and family entertainment at Gepps Cross’ Kart Mania entertainment centre. Sitting just a short drive north of the Adelaide CBD, the attraction provides multiple forms of entertainment in one spot, with go-karting being the star of the show.
While it’s a hybrid indoor/outdoor track, on rainy days racers can stick to the indoor portion for safety reasons and still enjoy the fun of driving their own zippy vehicle. The karts themselves are quite quick relative to the size of the track, and the track is quite long, too; expect lap times of between 35 and 40 seconds depending on your personal ability level.
While it’s a hybrid indoor/outdoor track, on rainy days racers can stick to the indoor portion for safety reasons and still enjoy the fun.
While go-karting is typically the domain of teenagers or 20-somethings, Kart Mania also offers “tandem” karts in which smaller children can ride alongside their parents, and are no less speedy than their single-passenger counterparts. For those with a competitive streak, lap times are recorded during races for the sake of comparison as well.
The complex also offers a laser skirmish maze spread out over 2 floors, with plenty of flamboyant lighting effects following a sci-fi theme (appropriate for blasting your mates with laser beams). Kart Mania also offers arcade video games for those not wanting to race a real kart, as well as a kiosk selling food and drink; add them all up and you’ve got a solid multiple-hours worth of potential entertainment for rainy days depending on your level of interest and your wallet.
9. Swim & play at the Adelaide Aquatic Centre
Location: North Adelaide, SA
Just because water’s tumbling down from above doesn’t mean you can’t find joy in getting wet from all other angles, and those with kids in particular will want to keep the excellent and expansive Adelaide Aquatic Centre in mind for some viable indoor entertainment. The council-run centre has been a recent source of financial contention, which is a shame considering how comprehensive its swimming offerings and facilities are; the more locals (and visitors) take the plunge and make use of its excellent array of pools and slides, the longer it will continue to exist and entertain.
Situated in North Adelaide, the Aquatic Centre was revamped and reopened in 2011 and has everything one could want in terms of swimming facilities for young and old alike; there’s a variety of pools to choose from (including a main pool for lap swimmers that clocks in at 50 metres), there are spas, saunas and steam rooms for those looking for a dose of therapy, and its large leisure pool is shallow enough at one end for kids to splash around in as well. Bringing some built-in exercise along with it, it’s a much more pleasant proposition for families than sticking the children in front of the TV all day as they’ll burn off some calories while enjoying the water.
The Aquatic Centre was revamped and reopened in 2011 and has everything one could want in terms of swimming facilities for young and old alike.
The centre’s pools are also heated to a comfortable temperature so that going for a dip even during winter remains a comfortable proposition, while its redesigned roof is luxuriant and allows plenty of natural light to filter in. Kids will love the centre’s water playground, which comes complete with waterslides, mushroom sculptures and various other children’s activities to take part in before winding down with a snack of hot chips or ice cream from the centre’s hybrid kiosk-cafe.
In terms of value for money for multiple hours of entertainment for families in Adelaide on rainy days, the Aquatic Centre is hard to beat; few other paid attractions can provide extended amusement for children for under $10 per person, and those bringing toddlers under 3 along can bring them in for free too. If you’re after some enjoyable exercise or simply looking for a healthy way to keep your little ones entertained, then the Aquatic Centre ticks all the boxes and locals would be highly recommended to make use of its offerings.
8. The National Wine Centre
Location: Botanic Road, Adelaide, SA
Wine is always going to play a central role for those looking for things to do in and around Adelaide, and there are few better ways to sample a cross-section of some of the region’s highest-quality drops when it’s raining than by paying a visit to the National Wine Centre. Part architectural marvel, part wonderfully-presented dedication to all-things-wine, the National Wine Centre is located next to the Adelaide Botanic Garden (well worth a stroll through once the rain eases off, incidentally) just to north-east of the city centre.
The “attraction” opened in 2001 and is quite a striking building in and of itself, with a wonderful architectural style that mimics elements of a wine barrel and makes elegant, liberal use of wood throughout. It’s a wonderfully modern and chic atmosphere from which to absorb an in-depth documentation of the history of the Australian wine industry, the process of wine production, and the role that wine plays in modern (and past) society.
It’s quite a striking building in and of itself, with a wonderful architectural style that mimics elements of a wine barrel and makes elegant, liberal use of wood throughout.
This history of winemaking is documented in a number of innovative ways, with plenty of interactivity for extra engagement and its “make-a-wine” feature is a particular standout. Visitors to the Wine Centre can enjoy tastings from a range of 120 different wine varieties that are dispensed in modern fashion via machine technology, with use of an innovative “card” system that allows you to choose your preferred quantity (a taste, half or full glass) and wine type and pay accordingly.
Individual wine areas of Australia are also highlighted in detail along with their individual specialties, and the centre serves as a great starting point for further adventures into the Barossa Valley and beyond; it allows you to get a sense of which cellar doors to visit further down the track. After you’re done exploring, those looking for a keepsake can shop for plenty of high-quality wines which are available for purchase at a slightly discounted price, and it also serves as an excellent dining venue.
The centre provides plenty of indoor seating for rainy days, and it makes for an idyllic spot for enjoying lunch and a coffee, or perhaps sampling a delectable tasting platter while overlooking views of the surrounding green gardens.
7. The Adelaide Arcade
Location: Eastern end of Rundle Mall, Adelaide, SA
For a double-hit of Adelaide history and enjoyable retail therapy in a single location, the city’s iconic Adelaide Arcade serves as a delightful contrast to some of the modernisation efforts that have recently taken place around the Adelaide CBD. The building has operated as a focal point for shoppers in the South Australian capital for over 130 years, with its constituent 100 individual boutique and specialty stores providing some wonderful diversity in which to while away the hours on rainy days.
Accessed right off the city’s main shopping district at the eastern end of Rundle Mall, the 2-story arcade is a beautiful example of old-time architectural styles, with tiling, cast iron and Euro-centric lighting elements all intertwined. There’s a definite aura of class that permeates the mall, and many of its boutique stores are elegant to match, specialising in a variety of unexpected goods ranging from wig stores to high-end pottery, artworks and more. Everything in the Adelaide Arcade is generally polished and pleasant, which makes the simple act of window shopping here feel like an attraction in itself.
Climate may be the main reason most mainland Aussies cite against not wanting to call Tasmania their home, however January and the summer months take this supposed negative almost completely out of the equation.
The arcade houses a number of long-running Adelaide retail icons (including a specific highlight mentioned directly below), while it’s also home to a museum which documents its extensive history. A wide array of newspaper articles, photographs and other era-specific artefacts are contained here that reach back to the period of the arcade’s construction – it’s interesting both to newcomers to Adelaide to get a sense of how far the city’s come, and for locals to reflect on the days of yesteryear.
While many of its high-end stores also carry with them accordingly high-end prices, it’s enjoyable to simply grab a quality coffee at one of its cafes and bask in the unique surrounds. It’s seldom crowded, too, which makes getting in out of the rain less of a chore that you’ll have to share with too many other people and their dripping umbrellas. The arcade was recently refurbished, yet still retains its own historic personality; if “ambience” could be counted as an attraction, then the Adelaide Arcade would rank tops in the city.
6. Haigh’s Chocolates
Location: Store: Rundle Mall, Adelaide; Visitor’s Centre/Factory: Parkside, SA
Those looking for a souvenir distinct to Adelaide other than the expected Barossa bottle of wine would be hard-pressed to find a tastier option than a selection of chocolates from Haigh’s Chocolates, which serves as a must-do on the recommended itinerary of any Adelaide local. Those with a sweet tooth will be in their element with a trip to the long-running chocolatier, which has a retail store in the city that reflects its containing area’s old-time theme with appropriately old-world service, and a Visitors Centre outside the CBD for witnessing some amazing craftsmanship / attention to detail.
While the company now has multiple outlets in bigger cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide is where the brand all began over 100 years ago, and the base from which its high-end reputation sprouted. As may be expected, the Haigh’s line is pricier than your standard supermarket chocolate, however the quality is simply incomparable; their range is a delectably rich and creamy mixture of truffles and chocolate bars, scorched almonds and nougat that put some other, bigger-name chocolate manufacturers to shame.
Adelaide is where the brand all began over 100 years ago, and the base from which its high-end reputation sprouted.
One of the first things that strikes with a visit to Haigh’s is the smell; there’s an amazing aroma that permeates throughout, and the taste soon follows suit, as the texture of their chocolates is impeccably smooth and creamy. The visual presentation is also quite striking, particularly within their retail outlet on the corner of Rundle Mall and King William Street, with the cavalcade of chocolate varieties all presented within visually appealing display cases and sectioned by variety.
Visitors here can put together a custom mix of their favourites from a diverse range of flavours, too, to ensure you’re only paying for what you get. Gift wrapping is also available, and serves as an ideal way to accurately convey the high-end value of the chocolate – making for an ideal keepsake to bring back home for friends and family (or yourself, of course!).
Those looking to extend their chocolate-oriented experience on rainy days can also pay a visit to Haigh’s factory-slash-Visitor’s Centre at Parkside which can be explored via pre-booked tour beforehand. It’s a relatively small-sized factory to tour yet offers plenty of chances to see the expert hand-crafting of Haigh’s chocolate up close. The Visitor’s Centre is also reachable via public transport on a bus from the Adelaide CBD for those visiting from afar.
5. Tour the Adelaide Gaol
Location: West Torrens, Adelaide, SA
One of the greater Adelaide region’s most interesting cultural attractions, the Adelaide Gaol lies a little off the typical main tourist trail yet offers such an intimate look into Adelaide’s sometimes not-so-pleasant-past that it’s well worth the diversion. As a longstanding architectural feature dating back to the dawn of Adelaide as a true city, Adelaide Gaol has stood for over 170 years and housed over 300,000 inmates of various ages, backgrounds and sexes, and visitors in the present day are welcomed to soak all this historic weight in.
While it ceased operation as a gaol back in 1988 (and it’s in many ways hard to believe such a facility was in use until so recently), the gaol still stands as a living window into Adelaide’s criminal past and carries with it a haunting and somewhat spine-tingling atmosphere to this day. The gaol acts as a combined museum and history lesson, with numerous informative and well-curated displays detailing factoids such as where the guilty were executed, where their remains were buried, and what crimes they committed to deserve such punishments.
The gaol still stands as a living window into Adelaide’s criminal past and carries with it a haunting and somewhat spine-tingling atmosphere to this day.
Much of Adelaide remains largely untouched and unaltered from its original condition, and individual plaques document the background of notable inhabitants and insight into how each of its sections functioned while in use. The dark, damp and cool interior of the gaol emits an eerie vibe, with its thick walls leading to temperatures several degrees below those outside, and as a result it’s easy to picture the harshness of the conditions that life would have been like for those imprisoned here.
Visitors to the gaol can take part in self-guided tours through the innards of the facility, following a predetermined route that has been laid out to encapsulate all of its major features, including cells where actual prisoners were incarcerated, and the tower at which a number of unfortunate souls were hanged. There’s a definite somber quality here, yet it’s no less interesting for the fact.
Those with stronger stomachs or a particular interest in the paranormal can instead book a guided ghost tour conducted through the Adelaide Gaol Preservation Society for some spookier insight into the various hangings, burials and spooky activity that has taken place throughout the building’s storied history. Creepy!
4. Explore the Adelaide Central Market
Location: Gouger Street, Adelaide, SA
An ever-popular spot for dining and grocery shopping in Adelaide for well over a century, the Adelaide Central Market is a colourful, vibrant and bustling display of foodstuffs of all kinds at which “variety” is the calling card. As with the ever-changing face of Adelaide as a whole, there’s an inherently multicultural range of things to see, touch and taste here, to the point that what would otherwise be merely a collection of intermixed stands and stalls becomes a must-visit attraction in and of itself.
In terms of good-value rainy day activities in Adelaide, the market is hard to beat – as the largest undercover market in our half of the globe, it’s possible to while away several hours here while the rain is pouring down outside, and only spend as much (or as little) as you’d like.
From raw fruits and vegetables themselves to steaming-fresh breads and rich cheeses, to the many tasty goods and dishes which utilise each of them, there’s a superb selection of both local and international cuisine on offer here. Ever wanted to try a slice of crocodile? Or perhaps you’re more of a rabbit fan? Or maybe you prefer to play things safe and stick to ridiculously fresh seafood? You’ll find something to satisfy here.
It’s possible to while away several hours here while the rain is pouring down outside, and only spend as much (or as little) as you’d like.
One does not typically visit the Adelaide Central Market in order to garner a cheaper price on their fruit and veg; rather, people visit for far better quality of goods that will actually stay fresh for several days as opposed to those bought within your average supermarket.
Regardless of your preference, if you’re a foodie visiting Adelaide then be sure to pay the Adelaide Central Market a visit – it’s a buzzing hub that comes with the added bonus of ample good (and relatively cheap) parking available as the cherry on top. Located on Gouger Street in the city CBD, even those visiting will easily be able to stop by and grab a delight for the tastebuds; it’s open from Tuesday to Saturday each week.
Those looking for some added context or guidance while exploring the markets can also opt for guided Adelaide Central Markets tours that take you directly to some of its most popular (and delicious) stalls. Providing extra insight into the South Australian agricultural industry as a whole, they’re an excellent way to further enhance one of Adelaide’s most iconic shopping experiences, too.
3. Culture at the South Australian Museum
Location: North Terrace, Adelaide, SA
South Australia’s most in-depth chronicle of the history of its geography and peoples makes for another excellent rainy day activity, with the South Australian Museum on North Terrace in Adelaide’s cultural precinct doubling as one of the most popular museums in the country for a reason. Spread out over five comprehensive floors worth of curation that runs the gamut from natural to indigenous Australian history, the museum is an appropriately historic building in its own right that sits on well-manicured lawns quite close to the #1 attraction further down this list.
The museum stands out for a number of reasons, with its in-depth documentation of the indigenous South Australian Ngarrindjeri peoples, as well as those of Papua New Guinea a particular highlight, while its taxidermic offerings are likewise quite visually stunning. The museum is brimming with stuffed examples of the animal kingdom, including an impressive number of dinosaur skeletons which are fascinating to behold.
Perhaps its crowning glory, however, is the museum’s enormous giant squid that is so enormous that it stretches across several floors. The Sir Douglas Mawson’s hut replica likewise serves as a fitting dedication to the icon’s historic Antarctic expeditions, and brings to life just the kind of living conditions explorers of his era faced.
The majority of the South Australian Museum’s exhibits are well presented and extensively curated, with its volunteer staff both helpful and well-versed in the museum’s contents.
The majority of the South Australian Museum’s exhibits are well presented and extensively curated, with its volunteer staff both helpful and well-versed in the museum’s contents so that any additional questions seldom go unanswered for too long. Free guided tours are also available on both weekdays and weekends that go into further detail on some of the background behind key artefacts of the museum.
One of the standout aspects of the museum is its degree of interactivity in its displays, particularly those oriented towards children; there’s always something new to physically examine, dig, or otherwise explore. In general, the museum does an excellent job of keeping kids entertained, with the exhibits themselves as well as the daily Young Explorers event for toddlers and preschoolers. Little ones participating can get involved in a wonderful mixture of historic storytelling, singing and more that help make learning actually enjoyable rather than a chore.
Entry to the museum is entirely free of charge, with only temporary special exhibitions incurring a fee, although donations are of course always welcome. Even if you’re not much of a history buff, the South Australian Museum’s cafe alone is a lovely little spot in which to pop in out of the rain and enjoy a quality coffee.
2. Visit the Wineries
Location: Various locations, Adelaide outskirts, SA
Adelaide’s surrounding regions and various rolling valleys have largely built their reputation on the back of quality wines, with names such as the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale all having become synonymous with Aussie wine over the course of the past century or so. A few rain clouds don’t have to mean the end of any plans to explore the countless excellent cellar doors of each of these regions; on the contrary, there’s a certain lush charm and outright “fresh smell” that comes with the verdant fields drinking a helping of rainfall.
You yourself can enjoy a drink or three of your own as well, with over 200 individual cellar doors from which to choose in Adelaide’s outskirts. Each of the regions can be reached within relatively close distance from the South Australian capital on any potential road trip or tour, and each offers something a little different in terms of both its topography and wine varietal focus.
The Barossa Valley is likely the most renowned of these sub-regions while doubling as the biggest, and lies a smidgeon over an hour away from Adelaide proper by car or tour bus; Shiraz is its calling card, yet all the major varieties are represented in fine form at vineyards both large and small – the Barossa alone serves as home to over 150 of these. Familiar names such as Grant Burge, Penfolds, Peter Lehmann, Wolf Blass and countless others all have their homes here.
A few rain clouds don’t have to mean the end of any plans to explore the countless excellent cellar doors of each of these regions (surrounding Adelaide).
The Clare Valley sits around 2 hours away from the capital and its renowned both for its pretty and quaint, flower-dotted scenery as well as the quality of its Riesling, and is home to a helping of charming B&B’s and other unique attractions, while those wanting to stick closer to home can opt for the shorter trip to McLaren Vale down towards the coast under an hour away.
Much of the joy of visiting Adelaide’s wineries comes in the form of the people who run them, with behind-the-scenes looks at all aspects of wine production and the passion which goes into it both fascinating and largely dry.
Whether it’s via a controlled self-drive experience in which you’re willing to monitor you wine intake, or aboard a wine tour departing from Adelaide in which you’re free to indulge at will, getting out and indulging in South Australia’s excellent produce of the vine is an essential itinerary item – rain or shine.
1. Peruse the Art Gallery of SA
Location: North Terrace, Adelaide, SA
Almost as much of a drawcard for its structure as it is its contents, the Art Gallery of South Australia boasts one of the country’s best displays of visual culture all housed in a gorgeous building replete with a cosy, intimate feel. It’s not enormous, but it is comprehensive, and its layout is excellent; the gallery consists of a number of large rooms with high ceilings and good lighting which helps to illuminate its numerous array of impressive art pieces.
There’s an eclectic mix of art types and eras on display at the Art Gallery of SA, ranging from regional legends such as Heysen and Roberts, to an expansive collection of Aboriginal art, and a surprisingly substantial array of international European works as well. The art on display is well-organised and has been logically hung in order to maximise the somewhat-limited space the gallery has to work with, and the end result is an accurate reflection of the South Australian peoples’ strong artistic heritage.
The state has produced some of Australia’s most renowned artists, and the care and variety put into this particular attraction exemplifies that to the fullest. The layout of the Art Gallery of SA is also quite unconventional, with rooms that tend to meander in to one another rather than sticking to a strict path, which leads to a more organic and somehow relaxed feel to the proceedings.
The state has produced some of Australia’s most renowned artists, and the care and variety put into this particular attraction exemplifies that to the fullest.
Guided tours take place at 2pm that highlight the individual “theme” of each room in the gallery, or more independent visitors can choose an electronic audio to tour explore at their own pace with some additional background on standout works added in.
While the gallery features frequent specialist exhibitions throughout the year which you’ll have to pay for, general admission is free and provides you with the chance to encounter enough variety that you can easily avoid paying for the periodic exhibits yet still come away with a satisfying half-day or so worth of artistic entertainment.
Bus and train access is close by, so reaching the gallery can be done with a minimum exposure to rain, and as with several other listings above it’s yet another quality venue in which to enjoy a coffee and some cake while staying dry. It’s a quiet, civilised and altogether peaceful attraction that blends together the contemporary and the historic into a single highly enjoyable package; combine it with the South Australian Museum nearby and that’s your rainy day in Adelaide taken care of with a minimal monetary investment spent.
In addition, if you’re looking for all the top things to see and do in and around Adelaide including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main Adelaide Experiences section to browse and book online!