What to do with children during the holidays-Part 1
Here are some brilliant ideas for exciting outings, to keep you kids entertained during the summer holidays.
In Cape Town, you could spend a day at the V&A Waterfront. There's the Scratch Patch with its caves of tumble-polished gemstones in a variety of colours. Children can take a cup or a plastic bag and fill it with their selections, while sitting on a shifting floor of stones in vibrant colours in a cave-like setting. It's open from Monday to Friday, and on Sundays and public holidays. There's also mini golfing in a cave setting with an interesting twisting layout. Both are indoors. (There's also one in Simonstown).
The Two Oceans Aquarium has kelp forests, penguins, beautifully lit tanks with schools of fascinating fish darting around. There's also a shark exhibit. The I&J Children's Play Centre schedules educational puppet shows and gets children involved in arts and crafts, which involve a marine theme. There are large puzzles and a reading nook. Here, there is a place where children can sit and watch the comical looking rockhopper penguins swimming by.
There's a diversity gallery with colourful specimens from the Indian and Atlantic oceans. For curious little questers, there's also a touch pool and microscope exhibits. In the touch pool, you can experience textures by feeling shells, plants and animals.
Bootlegger Coffee Company, within the aquarium, also has a soft play area for children with tables near the play area. There's a climbing wall for older children.
Outside, in Dock Road, is The Cape Wheel. It's an observational wheel with enclosed cabins. At the top, you'll have a bird's eye view of the city, Atlantic coast, Robben Island, Table Mountain, the Hottentots range of mountains and the waterfront and its harbour. You can enjoy a panoramic view from a height of 40 metres. The wheel operates from Wednesday to Sunday. Cabins are air conditioned, so you don't have to deal with overheated, unhappy little ones.
There's also the Jolly Roger pirate boat which offers morning, afternoon and sunset cruises and the Hamley's express train circuits around the Waterfront.
Superpark Play Date is an indoor activity park at the Waterfront (in the Jubilee Hall)
The park has a children's mini maze, two submarine escape rooms, a 450m2 three-dimensional maze. Food and coffee is available for parents who want to perch. There's a dedicated toddler area called Little City for children between 0 and 6 years old and an area for 4 years old and older. Little City has the mini-maze, large lego blocks, life-sized groceries and little houses. If children want to explore outside those specific zones, it is better they are accompanied by an adult as some of the other areas are more adventurous. Be aware this venue is popular and busy.
Sanccob Seabird Rehabilitation Centre (Tableview)
This rescue centre in Tableview offers interesting lessons for adults and children. There are tours of the facilities, presentations and you can meet the Ambassador penguins (a penguin on a podium!) You can also get a guided, behind-the-scenes tour. Tours vary in terms of age and interests.
On the kids' tour, which lasts between 30 and 45 minutes, there are activities such as colouring-in, dressing up in a penguin suit and learning how to waddle like a penguin, touching a taxidermy. Children can look at slides and preserved organs (this is optional). Bookings are essential. Under level one restrictions, there are four tour groups a day, from 10am to 2pm during the week and three tours during the weekend at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. No more than six people can be permitted per family group.
The Western Cape has an abundance of options for this :
Mooiberge Farm (Stellenbosch)
Strawberries ripen between October and December. Carved scarecrows guard the strawberries. You can fill up a box and opt to have lunch at the restaurant and farm stall.
Hoogwater Farm (Wolseley)
A fig orchard is open to the public. Figs ripen between January and February and the farm is open on Saturdays and Sundays. During harvest time, the farm also offers a pop-up deli with croissants, cakes, coffee and a farm fridge packed with varieties of cheeses, cured meats, olives and preserves. The farm also has a playground for children. You're welcome to eat figs while you're in the orchards.
De Krans Wines (Calitzdorp)
At this wine cellar, you can pick Hanepoot grapes in February, apricots between the end of November and the first week in December, and peaches during the last two weeks of December. You can make jams and preserves while at the farm. There's a playground for young children and two boules courses.
Klondyke Cherry Farm (Ceres)
This venue is pet friendly, but ask for permission to bring your dog along. Picnickers are welcome. The braai facilities are currently unavailable. Cherries are available for picking from the end of November.
Wildebraam Berry Estate (Swellendam)
At this estate you can pick youngberries and blackberries. There's a farm kitchen and frozen berries are also available. Berry picking takes place between November and December. A berry festival is usually held near the beginning of December.
Lentelus Farm (Tradouw Valley)
Options at this fruit farm include picking peaches, plums, pears and apples when they're in season (so, spring or autumn). Visits are by appointment only.
Mountain Breeze (Stellenbosch)
From early October to early January, you can fill containers with strawberries. There's a restaurant and coffee shop as well.
Redberry Farm (George)
Strawberry picking season is between October and December. There's also a large hedge maze, a miniature train ride on the "Redberry Express", an extensive outdoor playground, go-karts with pedals and pony rides. There are also bumper boats and bubble balls on the dam. Bookings are required for groups of more than 10. No eating is allowed while you're in the fields. The farm is open all year, though the strawberry picking is seasonal.
Polkadraai Strawberry Farm (Stellenbosch)
The farm offers strawberry picking, tractor rides (an informative loop around the farm) and mini golf. Pony rides happen on weekends and during school and public holidays. There are light meals on offer. There are two play areas for different age groups. The toddler section was designed for children from 1 to 5 years old, and the junior section for children 5 to 12 years old. Strawberry picking season is between September and January.
Helderberg Farm (near Somerset West)
At Helderberg Farm, you can find a tea garden, hiking trails, and a children's playpark, among other activities. Animal feed is available at the kiosk. There are chickens, rabbits, goats and ducks. Bring binoculars, there's bird life in abundance. You can also go strawberry picking (October and November). The picking option is not available on Sunday.
Chart Farm (near Wynberg Park)
You can pick roses from the 6 000 roses in the rose garden at this farm. You can also pick apples, lemons, limes and grapes when they're in season. There's a farmstall and coffee shop/restaurant. The farm is open from 9am to 4pm every day. Find it in Klaassens Road, near Wynberg Park.
Note: Picking times are also weather dependent, so it's best to phone and ask. Covid-19 restrictions are still in place, so check first and enquire about group sizes. Some locations are windy, so bring a jacket. Some are hot, so a hat and some sunscreen are essential.
Putt-putt courses (Mouille Point and Muizenberg)
There are two putt-putt courses in Cape Town, one in Mouille Point and another in Muizenberg. The miniature golf course at Sea Point Putt-Putt has a little blue train and a maze nearby. It's open daily from 9am to 9pm. Advice includes wearing a hat or sunscreen, keep your players to a maximum of six or the boredom factor may set in while you wait for each person to play, have cash available for the drink and snack stand and bring a jacket in case the sea air turns chilly. The one in Muizenberg is situated by the water slides.
The Blue Train Park (Mouille Point)
This park, next to the light house, is open during summer from Tuesday to Sunday between 9.30 am and 6pm. It's closed on Mondays. It has a big and small jungle gym, a half pipe, climbing rocklands, a bike track (you need to bring your own bikes), see-saws, an obstacle course, a zip line and a soccer pitch. A kiosk offers ice creams, chips, cold drinks and sweets.
Bugz Playpark (Joostenbergvlakte)
An extensive children's amusement park that features a colourful array of indoor and outdoor rides, slides, sandpits and play structures of various kinds. There's a train, swing horses, dragon swings, a sandpit, a water slide, a tree house and a castle. The venue will keep your little ones busy climbing, jumping, running and exploring. It's open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 10 am to 4pm, keep an eye on its Facebook page for service changes.
Muizenberg Waterslides (Muizenberg)
Choose from three options in this waterpark – a twisty, turny main slide, a fast-paced speed slide to a fast fun adrenalin rush and a junior slide. Emerge with a splash into the water below. Lifeguards are on duty and the water slides are suitable from children from 3 years old. The pools are solar heated and shaded seating with tables is available. Bring a picnic or rely on the tuck-shop where you can buy refreshments, chips, hot dogs, hot drinks and sweets. It's open all week, weather dependent. On school days the park is open from 1.30pm. On weekends and public holidays, it's open from 9.30am to 5pm. On school holidays, the park is open from 9.30am to 5.30pm.
World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park (Hout Bay)
An avian, reptilian and wildlife sanctuary situated in Hout Bay spread over more than four hectares of land. Allocate lots of time. Take a walk through landscaped aviaries and you'll find colourful and exotic birds and birds of prey.
There are monkey jungles (they're fast, so watch your belongings) in walk-through enclosures. They'll probably want to play with either you or your clothes. Warn your children that you're not allowed to touch them, though they may well climb all over you. Other mammals and reptiles can be viewed as well.
Children will probably be fascinated with blue-tongued skinks. The park is open from Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm, all year. Wear closed comfortable shoes and a hat to keep the sun, and possibly bird poo, off.
Clay Cafe (Hout Bay)
Tucked into a hilly, green site in Hout Bay which used to be a dairy farm. This spacious venue lets children find their artistic streak and make personalised pottery. Younger children can make something less challenging, such as a small duck or fish or choose one of the other figurines. Older children can show their skills with items such as plates, salad bowls and mugs. Parents can play too, if they choose. You get to take home the finished personalised artwork, after it has been baked in a kiln.
There's a children's playground with a jungle gym, big tyre swing and a climbing wall. Breakfasts and lunches are on offer. Make a booking for the weekend or just pop in during the week. Open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday.
The Kids Shack (Rondebosch)
An indoors play venue for children from 0 to 12 years. There's a bike and scooter track, splash play, zip line, jungle gyms and a variety of indoor and outdoor play. The indoor play spaces have climbing, fantasy play, soft play and craft areas. Other than snack boxes for young toddlers, food cannot be brought into the venue. Opening times are Friday to Sunday, 9.30 am to 4.30pm. During school holidays, it's open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 9.30 am to 4.30pm.
At The Playshed, customers are limited to 40 at a time, so it's best to call before you arrive. Play hours during school term are Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 5am. During school holidays, it's from Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm unless stated otherwise on the Facebook page.
This indoor play centre creates a bright friendly environment for children under the age of 10. Children and parents can share a meal. Various activities are available. In the major play area, there's a double story jungle gym. Outside, by the treehouse, there's a race track on which to ride toy cars and diggers. There's a ball pond, climbing tunnels, a balance beam, slides, climbing nets and punch bags.
A zone created separately for young ones (under 3) has padded mats, a mini ball pond and toys and activities. There's a craft area – a table set aside for drawing, craft activities and colouring in. Additional zones include a kitchenette, fruit and vegetable shop, workshop, dress up, dolls, bicycles, building blocks, puzzles, games and cars. There's a baby-changing facility. There are also horse rides at the eco village, attached to the Millstone Garden Cafe and Farmstall. Patrons get horse rides. Find The Playshed at Oude Molen Eco Village, Pinelands. It's open from 9am to 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
Lourensford Market (Somerset West)
This market with an abundance of stalls has a wheelchair, pram and pet-friendly layout. There's a fountain in which children are allowed to play. There are also the gardens which they can run around in. There's a jump and ropeyard (tree obstacle course with ziplines) suitable for children over the age of four. There's a good chance of finding face-painting and other children's activities on Sunday. And they'll enjoy the live music. There are three jungle gyms, one of which is designed for toddlers. The children's area has train rides which go round the estate. Find the market on Lourensford Wine Estate on Lourensford Road. It is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 3pm.
Root 44 Market (Stellenbosch)
This popular market under marquees will re-open in December after renovations. Apart from food, drinks, live music and numerous stalls, the market also hosts World of Adventure. This amusement/theme park is directed at children between the ages of 1 and 12. It has a 30m slip n slide, a pedal go-kart track, a mini-golf course, spray park, mini zip line, swings, climbing wall, indoor and outdoor jungle gyms, outdoor slides and sandpits and more. There are picnic areas, indoor tables and benches shaded by umbrellas. You can find the market on the corner of the R44 and Audacia Road.
Strand Waterworld (Strand)
This venue is situated on the beach, so you can enjoy both. At Waterworld, there's a long super tube, speed slide and children's double speed slide. Additionally, there are a number of pools, which are solar heated. Grassy areas invite picnics and there are jungle gyms, an adventure play area and jungle gym. There's a cafe on site for coffee, refreshments and eats. You can sit and relax on the benches which have umbrellas providing some shade.
Find Waterworld at Beach Road in Strand. The venue is open from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Sunday during school and public holidays. On term weekends, it's also open from 9am to 5pm and during term weekdays, it's open from 1pm to 6pm, although not on a Monday.
The duck pond (Plattekloof)
Take yourself, your little one and your dog for a walk to enjoy the air, birds and views. Find the park at 44 Olienhout Avenue in Plattekloof. It's at the end of Tygerberg Nature Reserve. There's an open park with a pond. Bring some lettuce and feed the ducks. There's also a slide, swings, picnic tables, plenty of lawn and trees. No toilets though.
Jack Muller/Danie Uys Park (Bellville)
This is a clean, well-kept park with plenty of shade under the trees. You can picnic, but not braai. In one section of the park there's a jungle gym for children. There's an urban gym in another. There are swings and slides and you are permitted to cycle here. Dogs on leashes are allowed. A toilet is available and parking is safe. Find the park on the corner of Frans Conradie Drive and Carl Cronje Street. The park is usually open from 7am to 7pm.
The Majik Forest (Durbanville)
At the edge of Welgemoed in Durbanville, and not far from Willowbridge, this area has two dams (Fynbos and Amandel) and flowing streams. The forest is shady and has hiking trails. There are nice spots in which to sit or stroll. The flowers and proteas are spectacular in spring. It's open from 7am to 7pm and you can find it in Van Riebeeckshof Road.
Oudekraal (between Llandudno and Bakoven)
This beach with its white sand and big boulders provides a relaxing outing. It's part of Table Mountain National Park and forms a cove between Llandudno and Bakoven, so the water is calm. There's a braai area with 35 braai spots spread out among the milkwood trees. You need to bring your own grid, charcoal, wood, umbrella and water. Note, it can get busy and the beach closes earlier, about 4pm. There's an entrance fee to this beach. Find it opposite the 12 Apostles Hotel. The site is open during the week, on weekends and public holidays.
Liesbeek Bishopscourt Village (Bishopscourt)
Here, there are streams to splash in and rocks and trees to climb. Another great picnic site, the venue has rustic wooden seating spots. Drive to the end of Upper Noreen Avenue and park on the road. There are two entrances. One has a green board, the other is across a lawn and under the trees.
Die Oog Bird Sanctuary (Bergvliet)
This bio-diverse bird sanctuary and conservation area is also a breeding ground for leopard toads. There's plenty of fynbos and birds – the sanctuary has herons, ducks and kingfishers. It's also a roosting site for cattle egrets, hadedas, sacred ibis and reed cormorants. The area also has terrapins, tortoises and a water mongoose. Keep to the walkways so you don't disturb the terrapins, toads, crabs or breeding birds. Have a quiet picnic or just watch the birds and the terrapins sunning themselves and listen to the frogs croaking. Find the sanctuary on the corner of Lakewood and Midwood Avenues. It's open every day from 6.30am to 6.30pm.
Rugley Road Park (Vredehoek)
This is a pretty, enclosed park with a view of Table Mountain. It's frequented by parents and nannies with children. It has a bike track on the outskirts which circles the park, so you can bring scooters, bikes and pushbikes along. Find it in Rugley Road in Vredehoek. There's a roundabout and swings.
The Little Stream Conference Centre and Tea Garden (Constantia)
The coffee shop/bistro is located in a beautiful garden estate with large oak trees. You can walk down a path to a stream and your children can run around in the bamboo forest and open spaces. Due to Covid, the tea garden is closed and the venue is running a takeaway, limited model from the Farmhouse Deli where clients can collect their food (and coffee from the barista cart) and find a space to sit and eat in the seven-acre garden. Find it in Klein Constantia Road, at the end of the road to the right of the cul de sac. The venue is open from Tuesday to Friday, from 9am to 4.30pm from Monday to Friday and from 9am to 3.30pm on weekends.
Meerendal Wine Estate (Durbanville)
Meerendal has a nice play area with a farmstall. There's a large gym area and sometimes jumping castles. You can sample eats from the deli or grab a coffee. The estate also has Carlucci's restaurant on the premises, which has an additional play area. Find the Estate in Vissershok Road in Durbanville. Find the estate in Visserhoek Road in Durbanville. The estate is open Monday to Sunday, from 6am to 5pm.
Vergelegen Wine Estate (Somerset West)
This wine estate has a beautifully constructed outdoor play area. The themed gardens are spacious and the play area has a water feature and assorted play equipment, as well as a wooden tractor and wooden animals.
There are two restaurants on the estate – the Vergelegen Signature Restaurant and the Stables Bistro. The Stables Bistro is more family oriented and offers outside tables with a view of the play area. There is spongy flooring around the play area for safety. Note that dogs, cycling and bring your own picnics are not permitted. It's open from 8.30 to 4pm from Monday to Wednesday, 8.30am to 6pm on Thursday to Saturday, and from 8.30 to 4pm on Sunday. Find the estate in Lourensford Road in Somerset West.
Fairview Wine and Cheese (Paarl)
A vineyard and goat farm with a Mediterranean-style restaurant. The resident goats even have a goat tower. Children will enjoy the garden, especially the koi fish. The cheesery offers a selection of goat and cow's milk farm cheese blends. Of course, the restaurant is called The Goatshed. There's also a bakery. It's open from 9am to 5pm all week.Find the farm in Suid-Agter-Paarl Road in Paarl.
Dunstone Country Estate (Wellington)
The Stone Kitchen is a family orientated bistro on the estate. It offers home-style cuisine. The bistro has a soft, all-weather play area and garden spaces, also with a play area and a few animals. There's putt-putt, sandpits, ducks in the dam, pigs and goats, a trampoline and a jungle gym. Find the estate in Bovlei Road in Wellington. The bistro is open from 8.30am to 4pm Monday to Sunday, and from 8.30am to 9pm on Friday. Booking is recommended, and essential for dinner.
Please exercise caution in outdoor spaces and remember that at some venues, numbers will be limited. Remember that cash is no longer accepted at many venues.