Adelaide’s secret bars and hidden gems

Secret, hidden bars, treasure-filled markets and even an incredible ship graveyard. Known for its lush wine country and rich heritage, Adelaide also pockets some outstanding local surprises for the deserving traveller. So, if you’re in the mood to get off the beaten track then jump aboard. Order a cocktail or two, sample some local delicacies and join us on a trail of delight and wonder – it doesn’t take long to immerse yourself in Adelaide’s local charms and hidden gems.

Maybe Mae

Fresh cocktails at Maybe Mae, Adelaide. Image credit: Josh Geelen
Fresh cocktails at Maybe Mae, Adelaide. Image credit: Josh Geelen

Tucked away in a tunnel between Peel and Leigh Streets, behind a concealed entrance, you’ll find the 1950s-inspired Maybe Mae, an award-winning cocktail bar serving exquisitely handcrafted drinks from locally-grown seasonal produce. Slide into a curved green leather booth and take your pick from an ever-changing cocktail list, inspired by the sights, sounds and stories of key South Australian landscapes. Open from 5pm till late with full table service, bookings here are essential.

The Bibliotheca Bar & Book Exchange

Bring your favourite book and curl up in a corner of this quaint laneway bar slash library where you can exchange books while you sip. The Bibliotheca Bar & Book Exchange, a European-style small bar and cosy book nook, serves classic cocktails and spirits from around the world including literary-inspired drinks such as the ‘Harry Potter Butter Beer’ and the ‘Lolita’. Try a spicy dram with a wedge of cheese and watch the world go by to the backdrop tunes of Sinatra or Fitzgerald.

Cry Baby

Sample an eclectic mix of beers at Cry Baby, Adelaide. Image credit: Josh Geelen
Sample an eclectic mix of beers at Cry Baby, Adelaide. Image credit: Josh Geelen

Let the good times roll at Cry Baby, a pink neon-lit rock and roll dive bar with a pool table, booths and an original ‘72 jukebox pumping out old school hits from the 60s through to the 80s. With Aussie craft beers on tap, a classic cocktail list and no-fuss bar food, Cry Baby is open 7 days with DJs live and loud on weekends. They even have their own line of clothing merch, including the Cry Baby tallboy tinnie ‘Dive Beer’ that you can take away. 

Folklore Cafe

Taking waterfront dining to a whole new level, Folklore Cafe is literally suspended above the Port Adelaide River, in a unique location next door to the historic Hart’s Mill. Boasting stunning riverside views and regular dolphin sightings through floor to ceiling windows, Folklore is a cafe with a community focus, serving local organic coffee and a seasonal menu that supports local growers and producers. Open for breakfast and lunch from Tuesday to Sunday.

Gilles at the Grounds

Step through the large open barn doors into Gilles at the Grounds, Adelaide’s premier food, design and fashion marketplace for emerging and established designers to show their wares. Housed in the Old Brick Dairy Pavilion at the Adelaide Showground, it’s home to over 100 exciting local traders and delicious foodies, as well as artisan creatives and pre-loved and vintage sellers. Held on weekends throughout the year, with live music and children’s zones – check the website for dates.

Port Adelaide Ships Graveyard

For a fascinating glimpse into Adelaide’s maritime history, check out Port Adelaide Ship’s Graveyard. Explore the shallow waters by kayak and discover the spooky remains of 40 ships buried in the backwaters and mangroves of the Port Adelaide River in Adelaide’s north west. There are five ship graveyards and abandonment sites in total, with the largest the Garden Islands graveyard, where 25 ships were abandoned between 1909 to 1945.

Adelaide Himeji Garden

Explore the Himeji Gardens. Image credit: Tom Stuart
Explore the Himeji Gardens. Image credit: Tom Stuart

Behind the grandeur of the ornate gates, you’ll find the Adelaide Himeji Garden, a traditional-styled Japanese garden retreat, hidden inside Adelaide’s southern Park Lands. A gift from Adelaide’s sister city Himeji in 1982, the exquisite gardens were designed by Japanese landscape designer Yoshitaka Kumada. Explore the Tobiishi stepping stones that lead you around the perfectly manicured gardens and serene lake gilded with water lilies and goldfish.

Where to stay in Adelaide

Comfort Inn Regal Park offers quiet, convenient accommodation, only minutes away from trendy O’Connell Street, lively restaurants and an art deco cinema. Comfort Inn Adelaide Meridien is also surrounded by a dynamic atmosphere and offers a range of convenient amenities. Quality Inn O’Connell is close to the Adelaide Festival Centre and Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

Econo Lodge North Adelaide is also surrounded by Adelaide’s finest. Offering apartment-style one and two bedroom rooms in the heart of Adelaide, this space has everything you need to feel right at home.

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