1. Adelaide is playing possum
The city is at peace with its sleepy reputation, safe in the knowledge that it's quietly getting on with some really cool stuff. As well as the huge Riverbank redevelopment and burgeoning Laneway café/bar precinct, Adelaide is producing one of the world's fastest road cars (the blistering Brabham BT62R), its film studios have never been busier, Succession actor Sarah Snook came whisker-close to an Emmy and old North Terrace is now home to the new Space Agency (in Lot 14).
2. Adelaide is still good value
3. Adelaide has one of the most accessible wine regions in the world
Photo: Jess Clark/SATC
From the CBD it's just 20 minutes to reach the Adelaide Hills, home to primo cool climate Pinots, Chards and Sparkles. Stellar cellar doors include Shaw+Smith, Bird in Hand and Somerled; for elevated vine-and-view restaurants, try The Lane, Hardy's Verandah Restaurant and Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard.
4. You can look over the hallowed Adelaide Oval for the price of a beer
Opened in September 2020, The Oval is Australia's only stadium hotel and a chance for devotees of Bradman and the Biff to properly immerse. While the boutique rooms look out to the Parklands, the hotel's public bar and bistro, Bespoke, looks down on the fabled turf.
5. Adelaide has a mountain within its metropolitan area
Waterfall Gully Photo: Ben Goode/SATC
It's only 727 metres, but Mount Lofty is right on the city's doorstep, providing spectacular views, wild forests and great recreation. For a proper appreciation, hike the steep, forested trail from Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit (mercifully equipped with a café).
6. … and a mountain bike park, too
Eagle on the Hill Mountain Bike Park is 15 minutes from the CBD. The vertiginous descent is through forest and scrub on Lofty's east-facing slopes; DIY it for free or join an Escape Goat tour.
7. Adelaide has more than 50km of beaches
Aldinga Beach Photo: Adam Bruzzone/SATC
Glenelg, Henley and Brighton are the closest city beaches, backed by pubs, cafes and sand-side distractions. They're rarely if ever crowded by eastern state standards. For seemingly endless open sands, head to Semaphore or Aldinga.
8. You can tour South Australia's entire food scene in one place
Fresh fruit and vegetables at Adelaide Central Market. Photo: SATC
A food tour of the 1869 Adelaide Central Market is a trip across the state's broad platter of goodies – from the seafood of Eyre Peninsula to the fruit of the Riverland to the beef of the Coorong.
9. Adelaide has wild wetlands
The lush waterways behind Port Adelaide are rich with birdlife, wrecked ships and bottlenose dolphins. A number of companies run kayak tours of this beguiling urban wilderness.
10. Adelaide Airport is home to a little-seen but once famous treasure
Sir Ross Smith's Vickers Vimy plane at Mascot, Sydney, circa 1920. Photo: Fairfax Glass Plate Collection
Turn left out of Arrivals and walk 400 metres to a hangar. Within is a huge Vickers Vimy WWI bomber, registration G-EAOU. In 1919 she flew from London to Darwin to achieve the first ever trans-planet crossing, one of the most significant aviation endeavours you've never heard of.
11. Adelaide is looking up
Photo: Andre Castellucci/SATC
Although late to the rooftop bar thing, Adelaide is embracing its skyline. Drink in the CBD views from 2KW, glam Hennessy cocktail bar in the Mayfair Hotel or Adelaide Casino's new SkyCity bar (late 2020).
12. Adelaide's city grid is easy to navigate – just don't expect to understand it
In 1837, Adelaide was designed with a New York-style road grid. The key to it is the North-South main drag, King William Street, crossed by East-West streets named for various colonial founders. So far so simple. It gets tricky because all the E-W streets change their names on reaching King William. The reason? A commoner should never cross a king.
13. You'll party with the Buoys
BBQ Buoys on the River Torrens in Adelaide. Photo: BBQ Buoys
The BBQ Buoys are big rubber rings equipped with a motor on the side and a barbecue in the middle. Secure your BBQ pack, install up to 10 friends and sizzle sweetly while you putter up and down Torrens Lake admiring the Oval, Festival Centre and new Casino.
14. Adelaide loves its public artwork
A giant pigeon statue in Rundle Mall, Adelaide. Photo: Kelly Barnes
There's heaps of it. Look for the gorgeous "Aussie" nation-builders by Peter Drew, big wall work by Vans The Omega, and the new (and very large) stainless steel pigeon in Rundle Mall.
15. Adelaide's Laneways are small but perfectly formed
In Adelaide, you write Laneways with a capital L. Photo: SATC
Adelaide's Laneway scene is smaller than Melbourne's but no less energetic and inventive. It's invigorated by art, big love-vibes and a coterie of 50+ bars/cafés that constantly surprise. Heroes include Shobosho Japanese restaurant, Maybe Mae speakeasy and Pink Moon Saloon.
16. Panda paws have six digits
Panda-monium at Adelaide Zoo Photo: Greg Snell
While at Adelaide Zoo, look closely at how Fu Ni and Wang Wang grip their bamboo with a sixth digit. Keepers of the southern hemisphere's only pandas will be happy to elaborate on "opposable pseudo-thumbs".
17. You can play tennis in the sky
MegaClimb is a bonkers 26-metre (six-storey) climbing frame on West Beach. It features 70 obstacles and challenges including aerial tennis, a BMX bike on a parapet and a "MegaJump".
18. Magnificent St Peter's Cathedral has a very quiet neighbour
After being dazzled by the interior of St Peter's Cathedral in North Adelaide, slip next door to the Quaker's meeting house. In 1840, this humble structure came from England in 69 packing crates. The Quakers still gather each Sunday to sit in silence – their contemplations disturbed only by the rumbling of St Peter's organ with its10-metre Double Open Diapason pipes.
19. Adelaide is home to two especially creepy ghost tours
Take your pick: the decidedly grim 1841 Adelaide Gaol; or Z Ward in Glenside, home to the criminally insane from 1885 to 1973. After dark you'll enjoy plenty of ghoulish history, though beware, paranormal investigators rate both as highly active.
20. North Terrace is a 2.5km strip of cultural indulgence that costs nothing
From East to West you'll encounter: National Wine Centre; Botanic Gardens; Art Gallery; the beautiful Mortlock Wing of the State Library; Migration Museum; SA Museum; Centre of Democracy museum; Jam Factory (sublime designs); and new Museum of Discovery. All free, all served by a free tram service.