Are you and your family headed to Cape Town (or surrounds) during the Easter break, or are you simply looking for fun activities and outings to keep you children busy during their school holidays? Look no further – I’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite things to do with kids in Cape Town… enjoy!
It’s officially school holidays and I’m already racking my brain for fun things to keep Beanie occupied during the Easter break. We love exploring Cape Town and surrounds for fun, new things to do with our toddler, but there are a few favourite activities that we’ll definitely be doing again these holidays. Read on for some ideas of things to do with kids in Cape Town… and please leave a comment below if you have any other suggestions for us!
Beanie is at the age where he loves learning about new things, whether it’s dinosaurs, sea mammals, aeroplanes or robots. As such, we’ve been exploring loads of museums and even the aquarium to help satiate his curiosity.
South African Museum
We had every intention of popping in for a couple of hours before settling down for lunch in Company’s Gardens afterwards, but we ended up spending a solid five hours in the museum. There’s just so much to see and explore, from the African dinosaur display (Beanie’s favourite by far!) to the fascinating whale well (which includes a 20.5 metre blue whale skeleton – but keep in mind that the whale well is currently undergoing renovations, so although it’s still impressive to say the least, it isn’t the full display). Open daily from 10am to 5pm. 25 Queen Victoria Street, Gardens, Cape Town. Entrance fees: Children under 5 – free; Children 6 to 18 years – R15; Adults – R30; Family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) – R75.
The Two Oceans Aquarium
A firm favourite amongst families across South Africa, a trip to The Two Oceans Aquarium never goes amiss! We recently signed up for an annual membership, which is such a great idea for families based in Cape Town – it gives you the opportunity to pop into the aquarium for a couple of hours at a time; just enough to active busy toddlers busy for a short while. They have a great kiddies play area with craft sessions and puppet shows on offer, and feeding times are always a hit with Beanie. The African Penguins are fed daily at 11:45am and again at 2:30pm, while shark feeds happen at 3pm on Sundays. Open daily from 9:30am to 6pm. Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Entrance fees: Children under 4 – free; Children 4 to 13 years – R60; Children 14 to 17 years – R96; Adults – R124; Students and Pensioners – R96.
Cape Town Science Centre
We took Beanie to the Cape Town Science Centre a good couple of years ago, but I think it’s about time we paid the centre a visit again. With over 250 interactive exhibits and activities, including the human gyroscope and the super-informative ‘Energy For All’ exhibition, there’s bound to be something to keep your littlie entertained for hours. The Inflatable Planetarium is another highlight, and the privately-run iCafe provides great coffee, snacks and light lunches. Open Mondays to Saturdays from 9am to 4:30pm, and Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 4:30pm. 370B Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town. Entrance fees: Children 3 to 18 years – R45; Adults – R45; Pensioners – R25; Family package (4 people) – R160.
Butterfly World Tropical Garden, Klapmuts
We haven’t been to Butterfly World in a while, but it was one of our favourite weekend haunts when Beanie was a bit younger – round about the 18 month mark. There’s so much for little ones to see – and Beanie loved it when the butterflies would sit on his little arms and head. It’s super-humid in here, so we enjoy going in winter – keeps us nice and toasty and it’s indoors, so it’s great for drizzly days. On days when the sun is shining, we like to spread a picnic blanket out on the lawns outside the centre. They have a little outdoor cafe that offers an assortment of refreshments, and Beanie loved playing in the gardens. Inside, as you enter Butterfly World, you’ll find the Jungle Leaf Cafe, which offers an array of light meals served on compostable plates and cups. They also have a great gift shop. The all-new Skeleton Park opened in September 2015, so we’re bound to head to Butterfly World these holidays – especially since Beanie is currently obsessed with skeletons and fossils! Open daily from 9am to 5pm. Route 44, Klapmuts, Cape Winelands. Entrance fees: Children under 3 – free; Children over 3 years – R41; Adults – R72; Students and Pensioners – R65; Family package (2 adults and 2 children) – R185.
Anyone who has a toddler at home knows the appeal of wide open spaces with plenty of space for littlies to run, jump, play… and generally exhaust themselves. Here are a couple of our favourite picks:
Helderberg Nature Reserve
Even though we’ve lived in the Helderberg area for going on three years now, we’ve only recently discovered the wonders of the Helderberg Natura Reserve. Situated on the slopes of the beautiful Helderberg Mountain, there’s no better picnic spot in the area. We love visiting the Helderberg Nature Reserve when The Husband and I are keen for some downtime, but Beanie is desperate for some exercise. He can run around and explore to his little heart’s content, while we read and laze under the trees, watching from a close distance. On Saturday morning, we like packing Beanie’s bike and going for a gentle hike around the reserve – we haven’t explored the trails properly just yet, but we’re dying to go on a longer hike when Bean’s a bit older and his little legs can handle it! After we’ve done a mini-hike (a tired Beanie in tow), we like to stop at the Oak Cafe for coffee and a light breakfast – they have the BEST toasted sarmies! Opening hours vary according to the seasons, so visit the Helderbeg Nature Reserve website here for more info. Verster Avenue, Somerset West. Entrance fees: Children under 3 – free; Children 3 to 18 years – R10; Adults – R20; Students and Pensioners – R10; Vehicles – R10; Buses – R300.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Confession: the last time I took Beanie to Kirstenbosch (before our visit last week, that is) was when he was 3 months old. Yep. Bad mama! But Kirstenbosch, like the beach and Table Mountain, is one of those things that’s easy to take for granted if you live in Cape Town. It’s always been there (I have fond memories of playing in the streams with my younger brothers when I was 10!), always will be (fingers crossed!) and there’s plenty of time to visit… but before you know, it’s been two and a half years and you barely recognise the gardens yourself! Beanie had a ball running around the gardens and finding the dinosaur sculptures hidden among the plants, and we finally went on the much hyped about ‘Boomslang’, before settling down on a picnic blanket on the lawn while Beanie got rid of any excess energy by running through streams, climbing trees, and finding hidden pathways. Opening hours vary according to the seasons, so visit their website here for more info. Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town. Entrance fees: Children under 6 – free; Children 6 to 17 years – R15; Adults – R55; Students – R30; Senior citizens – free on Tuesdays (except public holidays).
TO PLAY (AND EAT)
Noordhoek Farm Village
We used to live in Noordhoek so went to the Farm Village every weekend (even before we had kids!), and I still love nothing more than taking a little Peninsula drive culminating in a coffee stop at the Farm Village while Beanie rids himself of any pent-up energy from being stuck in a car for an hour or two. They have a fantastic play area for the kiddies, with plenty of dining options to choose from – Cafe Roux offers great food (including a kiddies menu) and often has live music on the go, while The Barn has the best coffee and the adjoining deli is great for stocking up on fresh breads, cakes, and beautiful bunches of flowers. Open daily from 9am to 5pm. Village Lane, Noordhoek.
Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West
Vergelegen is quite possibly my favourite thing to do with my little family – they just have so much on offer! They have the BEST playground I’ve come across, and the Stables at Vergelegen Bistro Restaurant boasts a scrummy menu (and really good coffee). We usually get takeaway coffees that we sip while seated under the trees as Beanie plays on the playground, before heading off for a stroll on the grounds. And there is so much to explore! From the residential homestead that dates back to the 1700s to the historical library, which was originally a winery that was built in 1816, Vergelegen is a history buff’s dream! It’s also home to the most beautiful rose garden and what is thought to be the oldest oak tree in Africa, which was planted around 1700. Open daily from 9:30am to 5pm (last entry at 4pm) – except on Good Friday (25 March 2016), Worker’s Day (2 May 2016), and Christmas Day. Vergelegen Avenue, Somerset West. Entrance fees: Children and Pensioners – R5 (Pensioners free on Mondays); Adults – R10.
Deer Park Cafe, Vredehoek
We don’t go to Deer Park Cafe very often, but it’s always a huge hit when we do. Beanie loves giving me grey hairs by insisting on going down the massive slide at the bottom of the park (if you’ve been there, you know the one) and I love that he’s able to run free and play on all the jungle gyms while we top up on some coffee in the shadow of Table Mountain. Deer Park Cafe is also the perfect spot for kiddies parties – we’ve been to a couple of parties here in recent months, and the kids loved it. The food is super-tasty, too – I’m a big fan of their soups and the penne arrabiata (and yay for being vegan-friendly), while Beanie can’t get enough of their kiddie’s pasta pesto. 2 Deer Park Drive, Vredehoek, Cape Town.
Nomad Restaurant, Stellenbosch
Oh. My. Word. I am so excited to be telling you about Nomad, not only because one of my most favourite people in the whole world (I’m looking at you, Keri) co-owns it along with her husband, but because they serve the most incredible vegan food. You know that feeling of utter joy and peace after a full night of uninterrupted sleep (I’m talking to all the mamas here)? That’s how a vegan feels when they go to a restaurant and they actually have options (delicious options!) to choose from. Just writing this has awakened a mean craving for their incredible asparagus, artichokes, smoked olives, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted peppers pizza – WITH VEGAN CHEESE! Heaven! Nomad offers a selection of scrummy meals for both vegans and omnivores alike, and they have a wonderful kids menu, too – Beanie is a fan of the vegan margherita pizza, though I’l admit that their chickpea burger with vegan cheese sounds like a winner to me! They also have a jungle gym and play area to keep littlies busy while you tuck into your meal and appreciate the view. Open Tuesdays from 5pm to 9pm, Wednesday to Saturday from 11am to 9pm, and Sundays from 11am to 4pm. Closed on Mondays. Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch. Visit their website for more info and a full menu.
Vredenhof Organic Estate, Somerset West
If you live in Somerset West, you would’ve spotted Vredenhof’s packets of organic produce at your local Spar (their baby spinach is my best) – but did you know that they have a restaurant that serves the most delicious fresh meals, too? And Vredenhof Organic Estate is the perfect spot when you have kiddies in tow, as they have the most incredible play area with a massive pirate ship, a little gypsy-style caravan, a castle and turrets to climb… endless hours of fun, basically. In fact, I wondered whether I should add Vredenhof to this list, as the last couple of times I’ve taken Bean here have resulted in epic tantrums once we had to leave! Vredenhof is also a great party venue – they organise fun activities for the kids (kids even have the opportunity to hold and pet the local guinea pigs), and take care of all the food and snacks. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 8am to 4pm. Closed on Sundays and Mondays. Bredell Road, Firgrove, Somerset West.
Confession: sometimes I feel lazy and all I want to do is sit around and drink copious amounts of coffee while reading my book. Sadly, this is no longer an option once you have a toddler in the house! For days like these (or on those days when it’s pouring outside), I like to take Beanie to places that allow him to put his creativity to good use – from crafting and painting to gluing and sticking. This is something that we’ve only started doing recently (he was too young for crafty activities before), so I’ll be updating this list as and when I stumble upon exciting new crafting spots. Watch this space!
The Clay Cafe, Hout Bay
To be honest, I think that I might love The Clay Cafe a whole lot more than Beanie does! At The Clay Cafe, you’re able to paint ceramic pieces in every imaginable shape and size (last time we went, I painted a big serving bowl and a mug, while Beanie painted a little ceramic car for his bedroom, but there are plenty more options to choose from) while you tuck into delicious pizzas, sandwiches, tea, coffee and cool drinks. You then leave your creations at The Clay Cafe for a couple of weeks so that they can ‘fire’ your pieces, and they’ll sms you when your pieces are ready. This is a great outing for the whole family, and I love that your child’s masterpieces double up as great Christmas or birthday gifts for grannies and grandpas! (They also have a great play area – better suited to older kids, though – for when your kiddie can no longer sit still). They also offer kids parties and other functions (think kitchen teas, baby showers, corporate team building, etc). The Clay Cafe is open 7 days a week – click here for more info. Old Oakhurst Dairy Farm, Main Road, Hout Bay, Cape Town.
SPECIAL HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES
Every holiday season, there are wonderful holiday programmes that pop up for kiddies in and around Cape Town – from fun theatre shows and craft mornings to Easter egg hunts and more! Watch this space for updated details.
Hamleys, V&A Waterfront
We never need an excuse to go to Hamleys – we could spend hours browsing the store, looking at all the fun toys, and Beanie often asks to go to Hamleys when I ask him what he’d like to do that day. The fact that Hamleys goes to great lengths to organise fun activities for kiddies during the holidays helps, too. A little while ago, they had a play doh event where you could take your kiddie to create their own play doh masterpieces that they could take home, and this Easter is no different. From 11 to 28 March 2016, Hamleys will be hosting a number of fun activities and compeititions, including the Bouncing Bunny competition, which will be held every weekend during the Easter period and lets children show off their best bunny hops – and the chance to win a prize! With every Hamleys purchase, kids will have the opportunity to take part in a fun Lucky Easter Dip, where they can ‘draw’ a colourful egg from the Lucky Dip box to win a prize (think stickers, balloons and yummy Easter eggs). Those lucky enough to pick the Hamleys Golden Egg will be entered into a draw to win a Hamleys Easter Hamper filed with yummy chocolates and toys. Then there’s always the famous Hamleys Express, of course – I literally have to walk wide circles around the little train when I hear it coming, because Beanie demands to go on a train ride literally every time we step foot into the Waterfront!
(Oh, and if you – like me – are looking for fun treats that aren’t chocolate for your kiddies’ Easter egg hunt, Hamleys has the most adorable little bunny plush toys… just so you know!)