The state of South Australia has a population of 1.7 million people, 1.3 million of whom live in the Greater Adelaide area. In creating our itinerary, we had to pick between Adelaide or Melbourne, and we were nervous about our decision. It only took a day in this city for us to realize we made the right choice! Here’s the summary of our three nights in Glenelg, a popular coastal town 30 minutes from the city center.
We Explored Downtown Adelaide
As soon as we arrived at the beautiful Stamford Grand Adelaide hotel on Friday, our very knowledgeable concierge thankfully let us know that Friday was the best night to head to downtown Adelaide because stores stay open until 9 p.m. instead of the usual 5 p.m. We rode the light rail to Rundle Mall, which was reminiscent of the Champs Elysees in Paris – lots of shops and street vendors lining the main promenade. We saw several familiar brands, including Target (so different than our version), Lulu Lemon, K-Mart and Foot Locker.
Next we checked out Adelaide’s China Town, near the Central Market. The streets were brightly colored and bustling with Friday night activity. We had every intention of walking around for a bit, but we were promptly distracted by a sushi train restaurant (our first sighting since Japan earlier this year) and of course “a few plates” turned into a delicious, sashimi-filled dinner!
It took a while to catch the light rail back to Glenelg, and then a 30 minute ride back, but we would definitely recommend staying in Glenelg with a quick stop in downtown Adelaide on a Friday night if you’re in the area.
We Toured McLaren Vale Wine Country
Adelaide is known for its main wine districts: Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. We weren’t in town long enough to do both, so we researched and found that the dynamic between the two districts are similar to Napa vs. Sonoma. Barossa Valley is where the big name, high volume distributors can be found; whereas McLaren Vale boasts family owned, lesser known wineries. We went with McLaren Vale, and we didn’t regret it. This is thanks in part to Greg from Wine Diva Tours, who was our knowledgeable guide for the day. Greg knows most of the wine makers in the area and tailored a full day tour for us based on our interests. The best part (aside from the name) was that the Wine Diva van has a max capacity of seven passengers. There were only four of us on our tour, and we really enjoyed meeting our fellow wine lovers, Corey and Christy from Melbourne.
We visited Molly Dooker (per Justin and Alyse’s rec), Kay Brothers, Doc Adams and Wirra Wirra wineries. Being accustomed to Napa prices, we were pleasantly surprised by the affordable tasting fees (only $5 or $10 per person!) and the number of vintages provided to taste (sometimes up to 12 at one place! 😻).
We Stopped at Penfolds Magill Estate
Since we chose to do a full day tour of McLaren Vale, we wanted to do at least one stop in Barossa. We knew we wanted to visit Penfolds and we discovered their Magill Estate, located just 30 minutes from Glenelg, is the best stop to see where the Penfolds empire began. It did not disappoint. Our host for the “Ultimate Penfolds Experience,” Joe, was exceptionally knowledgeable about the history, methods and characteristics of the Penfolds vintages. We got to taste Grange, Penfolds’ signature Shiraz/Cab blend. We even got to see the Penfolds’ cottage from the 1800s! We’ll definitely be back. In the meantime, we’ll cellar the bottles we purchased and look forward to enjoying them together in 10+ years while we reminisce about this great city. (Pro tip: it’s incredibly difficult to ship wine to the U.S. from Australia, so if you’re planning to bring it home in your checked bag, make sure you have enough space.)
And of Course We Stopped at Costco
No explanation needed…
We were very happy with our decision to travel to Adelaide, and we would highly recommend it to anyone considering a stop in South Australia.
Onward to Tasmania!