First published on 18 May 2011. Updated on 20 Jun 2012.
Adelaide gets a bum rap as a travel destination. Sure, everyone raves about the wine districts and the starkly beautiful landscapes of ecotourist hotspots like Kangaroo Island or the Flinders Ranges, but Adelaide itself is often thought of as just the place your plane lands before you head off to the Barossa or Clare Valleys. And it's so much more than that.
Summer is the perfect time to check the place out since A-town employs an efficient system of putting most of its key international events around the same time period. While the biannual Adelaide Festival only happens on even years, the annual Adelaide Fringe Festival runs for three weeks over February and March. This is when Adelaide comes alive with literally hundreds of shows with comedy, music, art, theatre, cabaret and damn near everything else. And if you're spoilt for choice, you can simply head for the Garden of Unearthly Delights in the east parklands and let the entertainment come to you.
It's followed by WOMADedlaide, the world music extravaganza that draws artists - and, for that matter, punters – from all over the planet for four days.
If you're after something a little less artsy and more cartsy, the Clipsal 500 is is happening around the same time for four days. It's a V8 supercars race that actually runs through the city streets and is a weekend-long celebration of the revving arts, with concerts every night.
Lovers of vintage clothes should squirrel some time away to browse through Push Pin Boutique (8 Compton St, Adelaide 5000, 08 8410 9707). They use vintage fabrics sewn to authentic 40s and 50s designs, as well as pieces from local designers at remarkably affordable prices. Or if you fancy a read, Mary Martins Bookshop (249 Rundle St, East Adelaide 5000, 08 8359 3525) has a superb range and knowledgable staff – and is open conveniently late opposite the Exeter Hotel, making it a great place to pick up that all-important drinking read.
If you only visit one pub in Adelaide, it needs to be the Grace Emily Hotel (232 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000, 08 8231 5500). With walls adorned with eye-catching kitsch, live music six nights a week, a 40 cent pool table and a sign out the front proudly declaring "No Pokies, No TAB", this is one of Adelaide's real homes of live music - and it also boasts the city's finest beer garden. You'll get beer, basic spirits and a handful of wine choices, but the atmosphere is intoxicating in itself.
For something a little more upmarket, Dragonfly (193 Victoria Sq, Adelaide 5000, 08 8212 5661) has become the new hangout of choice for the city's hip, with a well chosen selection of wines and beers and a hefty cocktail list. They also do lunches and tapas-style dinners, with live entertainment and DJs on various nights.
Celsius Restaurant and Bar (95 Gouger St, Adelaide 5000, 08 8231 6023) is the new Modern Australian restaurant helmed by former Manse chef Ayhan Erkoc and has been getting rave reviews since its late-2010 opening. Any local will tell you that Ying Chow (114 Gouger St, Adelaide 5000, 08 8211 7998) is Adelaide's home of top-notch Chinese food, with unpretentious décor, great service and a great menu. Or if you've got a hankering for Greek food, Kefi's in Glenelg (3/61 Tapleys Hill Rd, Glenelg North 5045, 08 8350 9199) offers jaw-stretchingly enormous portions at entrée prices.
The Austral Hotel (205 Rundle St, Adelaide 5000, 08 8223 4660) is one of Adelaide's legendary pubs and while it's better known now for its bistro than its former life as one of the city's best live venues, it still rents rooms for those keen to stay right in the heart of the city, located right in the middle of the Rundle Street entertainment strip. Or if you'd rather something a little more swanky, the Rockford (164 Hindley St, Adelaide 5000, 08 8211 8255) is in the heart of the West End on Hindley Street, and boasts a very fine in-house restaurant named Spice Market.