Victor Harbor is an iconic seaside town less than an hour out of Adelaide. The weather is always a little cooler in Victor, which makes it the IDEAL place to visit with the kids during the searing heat of Adelaide summers. The beaches are great, with Middleton, Carrikalinga, Goolwa and Port Elliot minutes away. The beaches are good for body boarding, surfing or just floating (floating was my specialty before kids, but now with my extra 5 bums and inbuilt floatation tyre, I would say I “wallow” more than float). Then there is the chance of spotting Whales between May and October – plus the super cool SA Whale Centre open all year.
Anyway, personally, I actually really love visiting Victor Harbor for a weekend in the winter time when there are less people around and it’s just calling for long walks to The Bluff, snuggles and puzzles with the kids and red wine with the hubby.
Here are some of the features that I think make Victor a great family friendly place to visit.
Victor Harbor Playgrounds
Victor Harbor Beaches
The beaches along the coast at Victor are beautiful. Make sure you’re aware of the tidal movement if you’re out in a kayak as there can be some rips that pull you out. There are very few waves as Granite Island tends to block these, which makes it a lovely place for children to play in the water, fly kites and build castles and forts.
Middleton and Port Elliot are close by if you have kids who are interested in body-boarding or surfing. The waves here are great for those learning to surf as the waves aren’t too large and the water is shallow quite a long way out. Please be aware that the tidal pull here is extremely strong. Even though the water looks very shallow it can drag children out very, very quickly and sweep their feet from under them. It is very important you keep a close eye on your children.
Family Friendly Eats in Victor Harbor
Port Elliot Bakery
I don’t even know where to start with the Port Elliott Bakery. Basically, it’s a South Australian icon and you can’t go to Victor without getting a pie, pasty or sausage roll from there! There are often line ups so that pretty much explains just how awesome this place is. I’ve always figured that the energy and kilojoules it takes lining up balances it all out!
A brilliant kid-friendly cafe in Victor Harbor. Located along the foreshore, nestled between the tennis club, beach volleyball courts and tennis courts, the cafe is right next to the foreshore bike/walking path and beach.
Family Friendly Things to do in Victor Harbor
The South Australian Whale Centre is South Australia’s largest marine focused interpretative centre.
Visitors can experience the natural wonders of the deep, explore the world heritage listed railway building, and gain further knowledge about Victor Harbor and South Australia’s marine treasures. The centre provides whale sighting information, education and research support services through a range of mediums. The centre brings together a unique collection of historic treasures, marine, cultural, and aboriginal heritage to deliver an inspiring and enjoyable experience for every visitor.
The Steam Ranger, or Cockle Train, is a beautifully restored, fully working, steam train. It chugs along the coast between Victor Harbor and Goolwa with literally everyone you see waving up at you! It’s a beautiful way to spend a morning and the kids love sitting in the old-style carriages and listening to the train ‘toot toot’!
The Bluff is a long bike ride, walk or scoot along the coast, with a steep track to the top for awesome views. Or you can take the car and enjoy it too! It’s a great spot to look back towards Victor Harbor and examine further down the coast.
Granite Island is a short walk (or horsedrawn tram ride!) across the bridge from the main part of Victor Harbor. There are steep stairs and dusty walking paths that kids love exploring as they wander around the island. Be aware that prams can go across to the island but the walk around it is not suitable for young children (unless carried) or prams. Older children love it though and it’s not a long hike. Sensible shoes are recommended.
Granite island is also home to a small colony of rare, wild Little Penguins. Visiting the island at dusk is ONLY available on a guided tour to ensure protection of the wild penguin colony. There are guided tours nightly that can be booked through the Victor Harbor Visitor Information Centre or online through Oceanic Victor. Tours start just before dusk and last 1.5 – 2hrs
Swim with HUGE tuna at Oceanic Victor! What a thrill!
We recently had the chance to visit this truly unique experience and it was such an exciting day.
After a very short boat ride (5 mins max) from Granite Island you’re fitted out with a nice thick warm wetsuit, snorkel gear and gloves and straight into the water to swim with the “Ferraris of the ocean” the Southern Bluefin Tuna!
The guides are marine biologists and I was really impressed with their knowledge and willingness to answer EVERY question my daughter threw at them
“What’s the biggest tuna?”
“How do seastars swim?”
“How many bones does a tuna have?” ????
If you don’t want to swim there are other opportunities to stay aboard and feed the fish, venture below the water in the under water viewing platform. You’ll even get chance to hold a shark!
I took my 6 year old and she LOVED it! (Mum and Dad did too) It’s a really great family memory and a chance to do something you won’t find anywhere else in Australia.
Read more about our day at Oceanic Victor here
The horsedrawn tram is an iconic feature of Victor Harbor! The clydesdale horses pull the swaying tram across the bridge to Granite Island and back again. Kids LOVE going on the tram, or even just watching the horses being fed and groomed. The beautiful horses are magnificent, and the olden-days tram is a nice change of pace for kids.A
The Urimbirra Wildlife Park is around 5 minutes drive out of Victor Harbor. There is lots the kids will love, and it’s a great place to go if you have had enough of the beach! There are koalas, birds, lizards, snakes (gah!), wombats and also farm yard animals. It’s worth packing a picnic and spending the day in the park. Guaranteed winner with the kids!
Girdlers Family Amusements
Located at the end of the causeway in Victor Harbor, Girdlers Family Amusements in on-site throughout the School Holidays,
and most long weekends and public holidays. Ride the ferris wheel and other thrill rides, dodgem cars, inflatable balls and play sideshow games. There are food trucks where you can grab a good fish and chips and delicious strawberries and cream!
Where to stay in Victor Harbor
If you’re after a truly family friendly accommodation option we cannot recommend Victor Harbor Cabin and Holiday Park more. We’ve stayed a few times now and our kids L-O-V-E it! You almost don’t need to organise any other activities because it’s ALL right there at the park.
Swimming pool, jumping pillow, playground, onsite food truck, bike hire, pedal karts, games room. School holidays are a special treat when they’ll also bring our the giant inflatable waterslide, giant inflatable maze, FREE holiday activities, movie nights and more.
There plenty of cabins available at a range of prices as well as powered and unpowered sites, and even ensuite sites!
Take a look at their website and book online at www.victorharborholiday.com.au
or read more below
Shopping in Victor Harbor
There are some great new shops popping up in and around Victor Harbor. Check out Port Elliott for some cool homewares and interior design stores (while eating your pie from the bakery!). The Encounter Centre Wooden Toy Store is a great place to go for a special gift for the kids too. Don’t forget the Farmer’s Markets, where you will always find some goodies.
There are also many other things to do, such as: the movies, dining out, playing golf, tennis, skate boarding, bike riding and whale watching (during the winter months). If you’re anything like my family, you’ll probably end up going walking, swimming, having naps and playing board games! Luckily it’s so close to Adelaide, that you don’t have to worry if you miss out on doing something as you can always drive down there for the day and experience something new each time. We hope you enjoy visiting Victor Harbor.