Hot picks for kids: what’s on for summer

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With summer here and the school holidays in full swing, it’s a great time for some old-fashioned outdoor fun.

But with technology more accessible than ever, it can be tempting to let the kids spend summer indoors – especially when the ideas for outdoor activities start to run dry.

Not-for-profit organisation Nature Play SA is urging parents and carers to say no to screen time and take play outdoors this summer.

“Not only does the outside environment stimulate the children’s brain but when children are in nature, they learn to take risks, overcome fears, make new friends, regulate emotions and create imaginary worlds,” says Nature Play CEO Sarah Sutter.

“Childhood was never intended to be indoors or spent sitting hours at a time.”

To help everyone spend more time outdoors this summer, we’ve put together a list of kid (and cost) friendly activities for the school holidays!

Step into your childhood at Story Book Trail
Where: Carrick Hill, 46 Carrick Hill Dr, Springfield
Cost: free

The Hobbit House at Story Book Trail. Image: Instagram via @josiewanders

Built in 1986 to encourage children to explore the natural world through classic tales, the Story Book Trail is laden with structures inspired from classic tales including E. B. White’s, Charlotte’s Web, J. R. R. Tolkien’s, The Hobbit, and Rudyard Kipling’s, The Jungle Book.

Play under the trees at the Mt Lofty and Adelaide botanic gardens
Where: 16 Lampert Road, Crafers and North Terrace, Adelaide
Cost: free

Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens. Image: SATC/Adam Bruzzone

It doesn’t always need to be complicated; a picnic, a hat and some imagination are all you need for a day of fun. With plenty of room for little ones to play (and for you to relax), the Mt Lofty and Adelaide city botanic gardens are a great option for a day in the sun.

Hunt treasure with the Geocaching app 
Where: everywhere!
Cost: free

Simply put, geocaching is modern day treasure hunting.

Small items or ‘caches’ are hidden in public places throughout the world by people for other players to find using GPS-co-ordinates, these caches often contain trinkets and a small log book for you to sign.

Getting started is simple – you’ll just need a GPS-enabled device to download the official geocaching application. This free application will show you geocaches in your area and guide you to their location using GPS co-ordinates.

TIP: Some caches are hiding in trees and under rocks. Once you find a cache and explore its contents, be sure to put it back in the same spot for other players to find.

Take a trip to the national park
Where: All around!
Cost: Dependant on park

Whether your little ones are first time explorers or world-class navigators, a trip to a national park is never a bad idea. Need a little inspiration on where to travel? Walk along the Morialta Falls Plateau Hike and keep an eye out for stumpy lizards resting on the track, or take an early morning stroll and go bird spotting along the Onkaparinga River National and Recreation Park Wetland Loop.

Nature Play SA has put together a great list of parks to visit, as well as activities to do in each. Check it out here.

Play at Marshmallow Park
Where: Glen Osmond Road, Adelaide
Cost: free

This adorably named park underwent a major facelift in 2018 and now includes a natural play area for toddlers, tennis and basketball court for the older kids and two fully fenced dog exercise areas for the four-legged family members.

Go strawberry picking at Beerenberg Farm
Where: Hahndorf
Cost: $4 per person, children under 12 free

Spend the day picking the perfect, ripest strawberries from the farm’s strawberry patch during SA’s strawberry season, which runs from November to April at Beerenberg Farm.

Besides resulting in the freshest strawberries imaginable, this activity is a great way to teach the little ones about farming and the importance of fresh, local food.

Once you’re done in the strawberry patch, head to the Beerenberg farm shop and browse through delicious jams, sauces and adorable strawberry themed tote bags.

Get off the land and into the water 
Where: Port Adelaide, Murray River, Rapid Bay…
Cost: Varies

Caurnamont on the Murray River. Image: John Montesi

Whether you rent a kayak or take a tour, this easy to learn activity gives kids a great chance to see another side of SA wildlife and nature.

Not sure where to go? Tour the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary and the Ships Graveyard in Port Adelaide, paddle through the caves of Rapid Bay or rent a kayak and head downstream on the Murray River.

Climb the Big Rocking Horse 
Where: 452 Torrens Valley Road, Gumeracha
Cost: From $1

A climb to the top of the Big Rocking Horse in Gumeracha is a must do for kids, and at more than 18m tall – the structure is impressive for grown-ups too!

Your little climber will take home a certificate of completion once they’ve made their way to the top of the horse.

Want another souvenir? Stop in at the Toy Factory before heading to the wildlife park to visit resident kangaroos, peacocks, sheep and alpacas.

Watch the animals at Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Zoo
Where: Frome Road, Adelaide, and Old Princes Highway, Monarto South
Cost: From $19.80

Image: Sven Kovac.

If sleepy pandas aren’t enough to entice you, entry to Nature’s Playground is included in the Adelaide Zoo entry price. The playground features climbing structures, water play features, a natural creek bed and aerial walkways fit for tiny humans.

Want your little monkeys to spend a day exploring the zoo with a qualified conservation educator? The Adelaide Zoo’s new holiday care program, ZOOcation, is running till January 25 and is perfect for budding zoologists.

Have a risk taker? This one’s for you. Monarto Zoo’s Lions 360 experience puts you face to face with some of the world’s most awe-inspiring predators so you can walk safely through the lion’s den.

Examine fossils at Naracoorte Caves National Park
Where: Naracoorte, Limestone Coast
Cost: From $6

Up for a road trip? Hop in the car and head to the Naracoorte Caves National Park for an adventure like no other.

Fossils more than 60,000 years old can be found in some of the caves and the park is SA’s only World Heritage site, making it the perfect place for budding palaeontologists to explore on a scenic cave and fossil tour.

Go on a ride at Glen-Forest Tourist Park
Where: Port Lincoln, Eyre Peninsula
Cost: From $13.00

Segways at Glen-Forest. Image: Glen-Forest Tourist Park

Furry friends, mini-golf, Segway hire and a brand new adventure maze – Glen-Forest will keep even the most energised kids entertained.

Need another reason to visit? The park kiosk also houses a cellar door for Lincoln Estate Wines so you can relax on the decking while the little ones play with the resident kangaroos just metres away.

Read a little more about Glen-Forest and why you should visit here. (Hint: wombats and wine) 

Splash around in SA’s most scenic swimming spots
Where: The SA coastline
Cost: free

There’s no better time to dip your toes than summer, so spend a day splashing, diving and playing at one of the state’s most scenic swimming spots with your little one.

Take a weekend and escape to Kangaroo Island’s Second Valley Beach, this salty gem lies behind a cave and is perfect for junior explorers. On the Eyre Peninsula? Visit Elliston and spend a day building sandcastles and splashing around in pristine waters. Check out our list of the state’s most scenic swimming spots here.

Combine reality and technology at the Magical Park
Where: Port Macdonnell
Cost: free

Do you have a couch potato who won’t turn off the screen? Encourage outdoor play through augmented reality at the Magical Park.

Described as a digital playground, this park projects digital images onto real world environments using augmented reality and a compatible smartphone, the free application is updated with new games every six weeks and will be available until December 16, 2019.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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