Family-Friendly Things to do in Cape Town
For anyone with kids, you will know that planning a family activity is a lot more difficult than it used to be! Making sure the young ‘uns are well looked…
For anyone with kids, you will know that planning a family activity is a lot more difficult than it used to be! Making sure the young ‘uns are well looked after is one thing, but keeping them occupied and happy is something else entirely. It’s with this in mind that we’ve these 50 things to keep the little ones – and you – grinning from ear to ear while in the Mother City.
NOORDHOEK FARM VILLAGE
There is so much on offer for families at Noordhoek Farm Village. It is made up of the Foodbarn, Café Roux, the Toad in the Village restaurants, two pubs and a children’s playground. There are large open spaces for the children to run around while the adults relax and enjoy a great meal or do some shopping at the funky shops.
This is great for both the young and the young-at-heart. Everyone gets to choose a blank canvas and they select their seat and get given their painting tools. How you paint and the colours you choose to use are all up to you. You can dab, swish, flick or brush on the paint – it doesn’t matter. It’s all about being creative in the most fun way possible. The kids will love it!
THE COMPANY’S GARDENS
Children love the Company’s Gardens and it’s easy to see why. There are so many open spaces for them to run around in and they get to feed the squirrels! Even as adults some of us still get a kick out of doing that. Buy a bag of peanuts for the squirrels from the vendors at the entrance, take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and end it off with something to eat and drink at the great Company’s Garden restaurant.
THE PALMS MARKET
Every Saturday, there’s another Woodstock market that unfolds (the other, more popular one, being the Neighbourgoods Market) and offers a variety of things to see, do and eat for the whole family. The idea is that it’s a Platteland atmosphere within the urban part of Cape Town. There is a great variety of food (think homemade pies, marmalades, gourmet mushrooms, gourmet sandwiches and much more) and often some live music taking to the stage. The kids will love the unpretentious, relaxed set-up of everything while the older ones will enjoy the variety on offer.
Kenilworth Karting has been around for quite some time and is the perfect spot for those who want some friendly petrolhead-related competition. The older kids in the family will enjoy this and can challenge their folks to see who can set the fastest lap time or who can complete the most amount of laps in a set amount of time. There is also a track at Century City.
THE CLAY CAFÉ
Get the whole family together for this one! At the Clay Café in Hout Bay children and parents get to spend the day painting some crockery that you can take home with you. The staff at the Clay Café will be on hand to help everyone with various techniques so that everyone creates their very own masterpiece. The restaurant serves up delicious meals throughout the day.
COLLEGE OF MAGIC
This fun school has been around since 1980 and is a great way for both kids and adults to tap into and unleash their imagination. This magical arts training organisation has a unique one-of-a-kind curriculum for all to enjoy. The junior courses are held on Saturday mornings while adult courses take place on Thursday evenings. The students of the college also put on amazing public shows. Or you could hire a performer for your event, children party, staff party or birthday.
Everyone loves a good adventure and what better way to be adventurous than to go cave exploring? Carried out by the Cape Peninsula Spelaeological Society, cave exploring meets happen on the first Sunday of each month where visitors and members get to learn more about the caves, caving techniques and possibly discover more caves!
Website: www.cpss.cav ing.org.za
The Atlantis Dunes, which are about a 40-minute drive from the Cape Town city centre, offer fine white sands for adventurers to test their balance and skills with sandboarding. The whole family will enjoy it.
This a fun and unique way for families with older children to bond and work as a team. The game is an exciting live escape game that is perfect for groups of three to five people. Basically, you’re in a room for 60 minutes and you have to solve mysteries and puzzles in order to get out. For those who are claustrophobic, the game developers assure players that it’s not so confined as to make it feel like it’s too cramped. The minimum age of HintHunt is 9 years if coming with parents or 15 in case no adults are around. Here’s an idea – if your kids are fighting as siblings do, sign then up for this and lock them all together in a room!
CAPE TOWN SCIENCE CENTRE
Children are naturally inquisitive, so a trip to the Science Centre will prove very enlightening for them. There are interactive displays, a fun building site where kids can build houses, puzzles to solve, insights into gravity, brainwaves and so much more!
Everyone enjoys a game of putt-putt. At the Waterfront you can enjoy this activity in a cave-like setting! It’s fun for the whole family and it’s right next door to the Scratch Patch.
Did you know that almost half of the world’s gemstones can be found in South Africa? Did you know that you could scratch for these gems yourself right here in Cape Town? The Scratch Patch and Mineral World at both the V&A Waterfront and in Simonstown is a cool way to dig for your own beautiful gems. You get to emerge yourself in all the stones that quite literally cover the floor, then visit the gem exhibitions and shops afterwards.
SATURDAY VOLUNTEERING AT SPCA
If you love animals and you want to make a difference in the lives of rescues, then this one is for you. The SPCA is always on the lookout for dedicated volunteers to help out. There are various ways to get involved from socialising and walking the dogs, cleaning them and cleaning cages to cleaning litter trays and grooming cats and kittens. For those who love horses, the horse care unit is a great place to volunteer at.
BUGZ FAMILY PLAYPARK
This huge play park has both indoor and outdoor play areas suitable for children between the ages of 2 and 10 years. There is a wide variety of play areas and rides such as a choo-choo train, swing horses, water slide, horse rides, quad bikes, free play areas, a tree house and even castle. There is also a regular magic show and Bugz characters who often pay the park a visit. No shortage of fun here! Another popular spot for kiddies parties.
IZIKO MUSEUM PLANETARIUM
The stars are fascinating. Inside the planetarium, visitors get to study the night sky, all the stars and the planets of our universe. There are often different shows on the go that makes learning about stars fun and exciting. They have a fantastic winter school holidays program.
There is so much to do in Simon’s Town. There is always something on for everyone, no matter what age. There’s the SA Navy Museum, Just Nuisance statue at Jubilee Square, visit to the Warrior Toy Museum, the Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach, movie shows at the Lord Nelson Hotel and so much more!
ZIPZAP CIRCUS SCHOOL
This is great for those who dream to be in circus arts of any sorts. There are various programs available for a range of ages and it really is a fantastic space for children and adults alike to be creative in the performing arts. Programmes are FREE and is funded by various individuals and organisations. For those who prefer to watch, the ZipZap Circus School puts on various shows throughout the year and is lots of fun for all.
THE VINEYARD HOTEL
Start the day off early with a scrumptious breakfast at this Newlands-based hotel and then wander into the award-winning gardens for a walk around. You can walk on your own with the family and check out the ginormous tortoises or you can sign up for a guided walk the hotel’s horticulturist and environmentalist.
ORANJEZICHT CITY FARM
The farm is a non-profit project, connecting the community through food, culture and urban farming. The farm is open to the public every day (except Sunday) from 08h00 to 16h00. There is a weekly market day where families can shop for fresh produce together and enjoy some of the cooked foods at the communal tables.
THE BLUE TRAIN
A miniature train with a sea view! The Blue Train is operated by the Sea Point Rotary Club and has been around for 50 years and has been enjoyed by many over the years. Children and adults alike can enjoy this fun train trip for only R15 per ride.
This indoor play and activity centre is located in Muizenberg and is open Wednesdays to Sundays, as well as during school holidays and on public holidays. There are jumping castles, fun slides, great work rooms and so much more!
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is reputed to be the most beautiful in the world. The experience of rolling greens, splashes of floral colour, shaded streams and the multitude of paths can only really be done justice with a visit. Take a walk along the treetop “Boomslang” (Tree Snake) walkway, picnic under a shady tree and definitely pay a visit to the exquisite Sculpture Garden.
TINKA TONKA TOY STORE
This city-based toy store has friendly staff and is filled with fun and educational toys. It also has a really cool playzone in the upstairs section for kids to enjoy.
For more information: 021 461 1441
DEER PARK CAFÉ
With an idyllic setting, located just above the city bowl, Deer Park Café is perfect for a lazy lunch even if you come complete with rowdy little hooligans in tow. With a playground, complete with swings, slides, jungle gyms and a rolling lawn situated just outside the café, the youngsters have plenty to keep them busy! The play park is fenced in, meaning you can enjoy your meal without having to chase after them, all the while being able to keep a close eye on their whereabouts.
Welcome to Imhoff Farm a place that is not just a playground for the kids, but the adults as well. Open seven days a week, the picturesque farm in Kommetjie has loads to keep you busy. A free-range farm and coffee shop, the Blue Water Café, Old Cape Wine Shop, the Higgledy Piggeldy petting zoo and the Imhoff Equestrian Centre that offers outrides on Noordhoek Beach and it is also the only place in and around Cape Town that gives you the opportunity to ride a camel! Kids parties can also be held at the farmyard.
The City of Cape Town is home to 72 beaches, eight of which are Blue Flag beaches and, with the exception of Boulders Beach, all eight are free to use. Each of them has something different to offer and you are guaranteed to find one that suits all your needs. Muizenberg is a great option this time of the year with warmer water and activities, including surfing and SUP lessons available.
If you and the kids are looking for a day of adventure, then look no further, because you will find it at the Blue Rock in Somerset West ! The paintball course is epic and you can spend the whole day out at the centre, which also offers water skiing, a foefi slide and more!
The Springbok Experience is not your traditional museum and will appeal to more than just rugby nuts. The best part is the interactivity of the experience with the first level home to a wide range of skills tests. Designed to simulate what the players go through with tests for fitness, hand-offs, passing and kicking, it is popular with the kids and the adults who visit. The top floor is more traditional, but still hugely interactive and you are bound to be lost in the information for hours. A must visit for tourists and locals.
Cape Town may not have snow, but that didn’t stop us building Africa’s first toboggan track. Located in Durbanville, just a hop, skip and a jump from the Willowbridge and Tygervalley Shopping Centres, the Cool Runnings Tobogan Family Park is a hugely popular spot for family outings. The best part is you are in full control of the sled. So whether you want to cut loose or ride the brake, well, it’s all up to you! Be warned, it can get busy, so plan accordingly and with wet weather making the ride dangerous, it is more of a summer outing.
WORLD OF BIRDS
The largest bird park in Africa, the World of Birds is home to more than 3000 birds and small animals belonging to more than 400 species. The layout of the walk-through aviaries allows you to get closer than ever to a wonderful array of birds, including the always popular birds of prey aviary. The Monkey Jungle is always a big hit with the kids and you are sure to spend hours wandering through the four-hectare sanctuary.
Boulders – located just outside of Simon’s Town (another great spot for families) – is a firm favourite, with locals and visitors. It’s not often you get the chance to swim with penguins, but that’s exactly what you will get at Boulders. Just remember, they are wild animals, so no petting!
TABLE MOUNTAIN CABLE WAY
Table Mountain is iconic and one of the best known attractions in the country. Winter is even better if you have kids, because they ride free this time of year. There is loads more with kids receiving a voucher for the Table Mountain Café and Shop at the Top and a treasure map at the top to provide some adventure!
The southern-most tip of Africa, Cape Point is an awesome spot to spend the day with the family. Take the Flying Dutchman Funicular to the top for insane views, grab a bite to eat at the Two Ocean’s Restaurant and then walk it off along the Olifantsbos shipwreck trail. The kids will love it.
What kid doesn’t want to be a pirate? The Jolly Roger pirate boat at the V&A Waterfront is the perfect port of call for the youngsters to play out the ultimate adventure on the high seas. Operating seven days a week, the Jolly Roger offers morning, afternoon and sunset cruises. Private charters are also available.
CITYROCK INDOOR CLIMBING
Every kid loves to climb and CityRock is open to all the little ones older than five. There are three climbing options available to kids – Bouldering, Automatic belay wall and High Wall Top Roping. The centre is also available for birthday parties with entertainment, climbing and revelry included. CityRock also offers a number of climbing courses to kids and adults.
GREEN POINT URBAN PARK
A unique space in the middle of an urban environment, the Green Point Urban Park is a fantastic, family-friendly place for a picnic, walk, run or for simply lazing around. There is an outdoor gym, a play park, adventure park and outdoor labyrinth. There are different plant species within the area as well as information about them. Access to the park is via Bill Peters drive, Bay Road or Helen Suzman Boulevard.
NOORDHOEK HORSE RIDES
Enjoy an outride on Noordhoek Beach. Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding has been operating in the Noordhoek Valley since 1975 and offers a wide range of riding activities. Beach rides are limited to six people, but it’s perfect for family outings and riders of all experience levels.
The ultimate family adventure. The kids will love it and the adults can channel their inner child on everything from The Cobra to Monkey Falls. Spend the day at Ratanga Junction and go on as many rides together as possible. It’s sure to be a day of excitement.
TWO OCEANS AQUARIUM
With more than 3000 marine creatures on view – including sharks, turtles and penguins – the Two Oceans Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the world. Situated in Portswood Square at the V&A Waterfront, the aquarium showcases the unique marine life of the Atlantic and Indian oceans which lie on either side of the Cape of Good Hope. Make sure you check out the Predator Exhibit with the resident ragged tooth sharks fed daily at 3pm!
Meet a regal cat-thlete at the Cheetah Outreach Centre. Tours are free. Cuddles from cheetah cubs are R160 and you may even get the chance to pet a fully grown adult cheetah!
Polkadraai Strawberry Farm is open to the public; enjoy an afternoon at this Stellenbosch-based strawberry farm with your entire family. The look on your little one’s face when they pick their first strawberry from the field is worth capturing for your family photo album. The farm is open from around 9am in the morning to 4pm in the afternoon every day during the strawberry season. There is ample space for kids to play with colourful scarecrows dotted along the lush greenery. Go and pick your own fresh, juicy strawberries before the season is over.
SCHOOL OF ROCK CAPE TOWN
The international music school was founded in the United State in 1998 and opened its doors in Claremont earlier this year. Designed to build confidence in budding rockers, the school offers a number of programmes, including one for adults – it’s never too late to rock out! The School of Rock is also open for themed events, including birthday parties, where your youngsters can be the star in their own rock concert.
SPIER WINE FARM
If you’re looking for a break with the youngsters and don’t want to lose out on quality and experience, Spier Wine Farm should be one of your first stops. The farm has really geared itself towards a full family experience with everything from grape juice tasting to the Eagle Encounters facility on offer. Exceptional service abounds across the farm and Spier doesn’t just welcome family, they embrace them.
Located just outside of Cape Town, Butterfly World is home to free flying exotic butterflies, which will be a hit with kids and adults. There are also a number of other animal displays, including reptiles, tarantulas, birds, marmoset monkeys, meerkats and lots more. Children under three are free, while discounts can be arranged for large groups.
THE ICE STATION
Whether you’re a novice or professional figure skater, gliding on ice at The Ice Station is an activity that the entire family can enjoy. For just R45 you get entry to the ice rink and a pair of rental skates to enjoy hours of gliding on a bed of ice. There is also a mini-arena that allows for younger kids to skate peacefully without the fear of the older kids bumping into them. Remember to take along gloves and an extra pair of socks.
THE GIRAFFE HOUSE
Located about 35km outside of Cape Town, the Giraffe House is open daily and offers animal encounters at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Take along your own picnic and settle in. Apart from giraffes, the wildlife awareness centre is also home to buck, birds and reptiles.
BATTLEFIELD LIVE SA CAPE TOWN
Experience a new breed of military simulation with the infra-red laser tag war games of Battlefield Live SA. It’s like paintball without the pain! Available for birthday parties, you will officially be named Parents of the Year (in your kids’ eyes anyway) when you hook them up with this!
Wave at a whale while it waves its tail at you! Get close enough for a spray from the blowhole or watch these majestic creatures leisurely from the coast during whale watching’s best season. Kids will love this and so will you!