Big day out in 'Fabelaide'
Once dismissed as Australia's most somnolent state capital, a recent eruption of small, groovy city bars has helped Adelaide finally kick that image firmly into touch.
Spend an intense 24-hours in Adelaide in 2014 and you'll emerge sated, engaged and a tad bleary-eyed from the happening metropolis formerly known as "the City of Churches".
Adelaide is one of the few cities to have dolphins in its suburbs.
With an early start you can swim with them, off the city's seaside resort, Glenelg, a 20-minute taxi ride away. Out in the Gulf of St Vincent, bottlenose dolphins soon approach Temptation Sailing's boat, allowing snorkellers to have playful interactions with several pods, protected by a reassuring electronic shark shield.
Costs A$98 (NZ$109.7) adults and A$88 (NZ$98.5) children (eight to 15), see dolphinboat.com.au.
Back on dry land again, take a Philippe Starck-designed seat for brunch at Eden dining room (phone 08 8376 7688) on Glenelg's marina pier, at the Patawalonga river mouth. With "everything possible made in-house", the croque monsieur, on beer bread with zesty homemade bechamel, is as fresh as the sea breeze wafting over the marina.
After trundling back into Adelaide by tram, pull up a stool at a long communal table for lunch downstairs at Press* food and wine, on Waymouth Street. Press*, which champions local produce and does its smoking, curing, baking, churning and pickling in-house, is all the rage with Adelaide foodies.
Dishes from the wood grill, including blackened quail, with daikon and bean salad and sesame dressing, are particularly popular.
Tour the Adelaide Oval, steeped in cricketing and Aussie rules heritage and an integral part of the cityscape since it was built in 1871.
Now, after a A$535 million redevelopment, the Oval has been transformed into Australia's most of-the-moment stadium, retaining its leafy setting but with an increased capacity of 50,000 and all the latest technology. The facelift is part of plans to redevelop the Torrens riverside along the lines of Melbourne's Southbank, with cafes and restaurants, a city pool and walking and cycling paths.
The Oval will be partly unveiled, on December 5, for the second Ashes test, and tours will be available from early in 2014. See adelaideoval.com.au.
Visit the excellent South Australian Museum on North Terrace to spend an hour delving into the world's largest collection of Aboriginal artifacts. Free entry. See samuseum.sa.gov.au.
Adelaide's small bar scene is currently on fire, thanks to the relaxing of its licensing laws, with a rash of pop-up venues appearing all over town. One of the best is Cantina Sociale, on Sturt Street, melding Spain and Italy in a convivial, chatty environment.
If you want to get close to the beating social heart of Adelaide then spend time at its Central Market with one of its most passionate advocates, Mark Gleeson, a stallholder for 20 years.
On Gleeson's Champagne market tour on Friday evenings, you are led through a feast of aromas, colours and tastes and introduced to providores from backgrounds as far afield as Sicily and Kazakhstan.
After a welcome fizz, visitors can sample everything from three-hour smoked turkey leg to piroshki and Korean bindaeduk pancakes.
In 2014, a table at the Magill Estate restaurant, overlooking the Penfolds vineyard that makes Grange in the Adelaide foothills, will be the most sought-after reservation in town.
Its reopening, after two years of turbulent change, under executive chef Scott Huggins, has been such a triumph that dinner here could alone provide motivation for visiting the city. Everything here is exceptional, from the views of the sun setting over Adelaide to the constellation-like lighting design to the delectable tasting menu and faultlessly matched wines.
Whether you opt for the eight-course degustation with wine for A$435 (NZ$487), or a mere five courses for A$225 (NZ$252) (including wine) you won't forget one dish. Especially not the wagyu beef fillet with accompanying 2005 Grange.
Back in town, it's time to sample the vibe of the West End's revitalised laneways, Peel and Leigh streets.
At Clever Little Tailor (19 Peel Street), another new pop-up bar funkily located in a former department store loading dock, it's standing room only.
Sipping a cleverly tailored Negroni cocktail here, among around 70 crammed-in locals, is the perfect way to end your day in Fabelaide.
The writer was a guest of the South Australian Tourism Commission.
FIVE MORE REASONS TO VISIT ADELAIDE IN 2014
No Australian city embraces arts festivals as does the South Australian capital, with its compact centre abuzz for a month of summer evenings.
The Fringe Festival gets it all under way on February 14 with an opening parade (adelaidefringe. com.au) and, on February 28, the official festival (adelaidefestival.com.au) begins, featuring Isabella Rossellini, John Waters and avant-garde musician John Zorn's Australian debut, among many other acts. Both festivals run until March 16.
THE SANTOS TOUR DOWN UNDER
The first event on the world cycling calendar runs through Adelaide's neighbouring regions between January 21-25, before climaxing in the city on Australia Day, see tourdownunder.com.au.
Leave the Tour Down Under to the speedsters and spend a leisurely morning in the Adelaide Hills on a Mount Lofty descent with escapegoat.com.au.
Visit the nearby Barossa Valley in a vintage car. Settle into the 1962 Daimler that once transported Prince Philip and Princess Margaret on a day tour of this premium wine-producing region. See Barossadaimlertours.com.au.
THE FLEURIEU PENINSULA
Get among the rolling coastal hills, Mclaren Vale wineries and empty beaches, an hour from Adelaide, on a four-wheel-drive adventure with offpistetours.com.