Family-friendly Holiday in Middleton, South Australia | Review

Just 81km from Adelaide, this thriving hamlet on the Fleurieu Peninsula is brill for beachcombing, surfing, whale-spotting and much more. 

by Carla Caruso

Ah, Middleton … If you’re looking for a sleepy seaside town, which comes alive during the holiday period, you can’t do much better.

Just one hour’s drive from the city, it’s the ‘middle town’ on the old railway line between Goolwa and Victor Harbor. And, as we discovered, it’s an idyllic spot to be active, get amongst nature, and recharge your batteries.

Also cool – during winter, Southern Right Whales come to the sheltered coves near Middleton to mate and calve. You can spot the mammals from Middleton Point or Basham’s Beach.

But onto our recent summer holiday…

Where to Stay

We stayed at a friend’s holiday house, however, there are plenty of accommodation options in town. Holiday rental properties are up for grabs through businesses like Dodd & Page. Just remember to book early as the Fleurieu Peninsula gets ultra-busy during peak times such as summer, Easter, and whale-spotting season. 

Where to Eat

You definitely won’t go hungry in Middleton. The Middleton Tavern is great for old-fashioned pub fare – and to play pool. They have ‘specials’ nights like ‘parmy and pint night’ and ‘seafood night’. Plus, all main meals come with access to its extensive salad and hot vegetable bar. I would’ve been quite happy just eating from the latter, with everything from potato bake to pickled fare and gravy included. (You can do this too for just $16 as at Jan 2023.)

Big Surf Coffee Co is a hip place to grab coffees, smoothies, pastries, and protein balls, from 8am to 1pm. The coffee van’s parked outside surf shop Big Surf Australia.

And if you want to end things with something sweet, Middleton Chocolates and Ice-Cream is just the ticket.

The town, Port Elliot, is also just a four-minute drive away. There, we liked dining at Hotel Elliot with its upscale pub meals and leafy beer garden. Next door is the chic Salt at the Elliot, which boasts a wine and tapas bar and bespoke menu.

Or for something more casual while in town, you can’t go past Port Elliot Bakery with its famed ‘donut of the month’. (‘Top Deck cheesecake’, as below, was the drool-worthy flavour when we visited.) Just get in early as, during popular times, the queue can stretch out the door for metres. Coffee hole Yeo Haus also does burgers.

Photo Credit: Port Elliot Bakery Instagram

What to Do

Middleton is known for its surf beach, so hitting the sand is a must. While the water was a tad murky when we were there due to the 2023 floodwaters, we enjoyed going for a wander, plus playing soccer with the amazingly round seaweed balls on its shore. Apparently, with particular weather conditions, these free-living seaweeds are rolled around by the currents and grow into balls.

The Encounter Bikeway also passes through Middleton, which is beaut for a walk or a cycle. You can hire bikes from Surf & Sun. The latter is the place to do surfing lessons, as well. (Kombi Surf is another such school.)

Still have energy to burn? Abbotts Reserve has a skate park, basketball hoop, tennis court facilities, and a BBQ.

Nearby, another ‘touristy’ must is catching the heritage Cockle Train at Goolwa and travelling to Victor Harbor and back. You’ll feel like you’re jumping aboard the Hogwarts Express a la Harry Potter.

While in Victor, we enjoyed playing a round at The Dunes Mini Golf Park and trying our luck at the games arcade adjacent to The Causeway Cafe.

Keen for a swim? Horseshoe Bay in Port Elliot is a picturesque setting and only a short drive from Middleton. Next time I want to try its 1.9km Harbourmasters Walking Trail too.

Then there’s the souvenir shopping you can do … The Strand and North Terrace at Port Elliot (including its antique stores) and Goolwa Road at Middleton are fab places for a browse.

Middleton, we will be back!

What we like about Middleton

  • The idyllic Round the Twist vibe.
  • Its vicinity to other popular beach towns like Port Elliot, Goolwa, and Victor Harbor.

Things to consider

  • The Fleurieu Peninsula is ever-popular with travellers. So, if you want to head down during peak times, make sure to book well in advance.



Review by Carla Caruso


things to do in Adelaide for families

For more information, please visit the Middleton Town & Foreshore Association’s website.

All photos by James Elsby and Carla Caruso for Play & Go Adelaide 

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

As per all our Play & Go reviews, this is not a sponsored post and our review is done completely independently. 


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