Many of the state's attractions are an easy drive from Adelaide. However, for a taste of the real South Australia a trip to a national park or to the Outback is definitely worth the extra travel time. Short flights between destinations make any journey possible within a day or overnight, but the more time you leave yourself to explore the virtues of this underrated state, the better.
If You Have 3 Days
Spend a leisurely day in Adelaide enjoying the museums and historic sights, as well as the bustling Central Market. Take a sunset stroll along the Torrens, then have dinner and drinks at one of the city's vibrant restaurants or wine bars. Spend the night, then on Day 2 tour the Adelaide Hills, strolling the streets of 19th-century villages and taking in the panorama from atop Mt. Lofty. Stay the night in a charming bed-and-breakfast in one of the region's small towns, or come back down to North Adelaide and rest among the beautiful sandstone homes. Save Day 3 for wine tasting in the Barossa Region.
If You Have 5 Days
After exploring Adelaide for a day, expand your horizons beyond the city and take a tram-car ride to the beach at touristy Glenelg or its neighbors at laid back Brighton or posher Henley Beach, where you can laze on the white sands and dine at tasty outposts. Spend the night here or at a B&B on the Fleurieu Peninsula, then take Day 3 to explore the vineyards and catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island. After a night here, use Day 4 to explore and appreciate the island's wildlife and untamed beauty. Return to Adelaide in the afternoon on Day 5 and drive up to the Adelaide Hills for sunset at Mt. Lofty.
If You Have 7 Days
Spend Day 1 in Adelaide nosing through museums and picnicking in the parklands or on the bank of the River Torrens. After a night in the city, head into the leafy Adelaide Hills to meet nocturnal Australian wildlife at Cleland Wildlife Sanctuary. Stay the night in a local B&B, then on Day 3 travel to the Barossa Region, where German and English influences are strong and the dozens of wineries offer tempting free tastings. Spend the evening at a country house, then on Day 4 cross to Kangaroo Island. Stay two nights, giving you Day 5 to fully explore the island's remote corners and unwind. On Day 6, plunge into the Outback at extraordinary Coober Pedy (consider flying to maximize your time). There you can eat, shop, and stay the night underground as the locals do and "noodle" (rummage) for opal gemstones.
If you're a hiker, consider heading for Flinders Ranges National Park on Day 7 to explore one of the country's finest Outback parks.