Every year it’s the same old story: how do you keep the children busy during the school holidays? For parents, this doesn’t have to be especially daunting this lovely summer in Cape Town. Don’t sweat it, there is plenty to keep little ones busy and entertained. Here are some ideas for cool activities in Cape Town for the whole family during the school holidays (and beyond).
1. Nature’s Treasure Box Holiday Art Workshop, Kirstenbosch
6 April 2017
The kids are certain to enjoy the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts are one of the best ways to spend your Sunday afternoons. Summer isn’t summer in Cape Town without live music performances at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden on Sunday afternoons. The line-up has been set and the tickets are currently on sale!
Visit: For tickets and the schedule Sanbi.org/events
2. Go tobogganing in Durbanville
Image by John Macgregor
If the weather clears up, why not make good use of the winter sun and take the kids tobogganing at Cool Runnings Toboggan Park in Durbanville? Tobogganing Cool-Runnings-style involves planting your bum on a bob-sled and speeding down the hillside on a 1.2-kilometre steel-pipe track. The speed of all the toboggans is brake-controlled and the rides are very safe for children. Little ones under the age of eight have to be accompanied by an adult. One ride for children costs R40 (up to age 14) and one ride for adults costs R50, with an unlimited day pass costing R280.
Contact: 0219494439 / firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Cape Town Science Centre, Observatory
For indoor family fun, the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory is a great place to indulge your kid’s inner nerd. The Centre’s exhibits are both mind-bogglingly cool and informative. Who says the holidays can’t be educational? During the holidays they have hands-on workshops, science shows, family bingo evenings and even cool stuff just for mums. The SciCafe has a basic menu of filling and healthy options. There’s also free Wi-Fi. Entry to the Science Centre costs from R50 per person.
Contact: 0213003200, email@example.com,
4. The Book Lounge, City Centre
Every Saturday at 11:00, The Book Lounge in Roeland Street has a free story telling session, perfect for 3-8-year-olds. They often have additional activities during the school holidays as well. While your little one is enthralled by magical tales, you can sit downstairs and enjoy a cuppa at their coffee shop or take some time to browse through the myriad of interesting and sometimes unusual books. It’s best to book, so give them a call or visit their website for more information.
5. Bishopscourt Village Park
This was recommended by a mom and it sounds like an idyllic spot with a stream to splash in, rocks to clamber over and trees to climb. Not many folks seem to know about this hidden spot – it seems to be one of those “in-the-know” places! To find this secret garden paradise, drive all the way to the end of Upper Noreen Avenue and park along the road (don’t block driveways). There are two entrances: one you’ll see on your left as you drive down the road, marked by a green information board. The other is located near the end of the road, across the lawn, under the trees. Take a picnic as there are tables and benches too.
6. Artjamming, Cape Town
Create a masterpiece (or mess) on a blank canvas, while listening to funky music. Artjammers are provided with a menu of 12 different size canvases, easels, a selection of non-toxic acrylic paints, brushes and tools to freely express themselves. Great idea for children’s parties! You’ll find Artjamming studios at the Cape Quarter, Cavendish Square, The Paddocks, V&A Waterfront and the Willowbridge Centre. From R135 a canvas, although combo deals are also available.
7.Noordhoek Farm Village
Noordhoek Farm Village, is the ideal children’s destination to entertain the kids, with its free, fun activities, age-specific playgrounds and child-friendly restaurants. The playground has been designed to accommodate various age groups with suitable activities and safety features. Parents can enjoy laid-back breakfasts and lunches from Café Roux, while keeping an eye on the little ones – it borders the kids’ play area – Café Roux also offers a kiddies’ menu and hosts birthday parties.
8. Planet Kids, Muizenberg
Planet Kids play centre in Muizenberg has jumping castles, an intergalactic ball wall, fun ramps with a space slide, an outside area with a foefie slide and dream swing, as well as various workshops and other activities. They run special programmes during the school holidays to keep the little ones occupied. Refreshments can be ordered from the Flying Saucer Cafe, where grown-ups can sit and enjoy a coffee while browsing through a magazine. You can also drop the kids off and fetch them later. Kids aged 2 to 13 pay R35 for the first hour or R60 for two hours. Children under 2 years (10 to 23 months) pay R25 for an hour. Adults are free. Cash or EFT only, no credit cards. More pricing options available. Please check the Planet Kids website for more details.
Contact: 0217883070, firstname.lastname@example.org
9. Acrobranch, Constantia
Acrobranching gives you and the kids the chance to unleash your inner-ape and go swinging through the tree tops. This is another fantastic holiday activity for the entire family if the weather decides to play along. The Acrobranch park in Constantia consists of three courses, each one equipped with zip lines, sing bridges and Tarzan swings. The courses are family-friendly and safe for children as young as three years of age. The “Yellow Course” is for children ages three and up while the “Green Course” is for children seven years and older. The “Blue Course” includes the other two courses and is for older acrobranchers. If this seems like your kind of fun be sure to check it out. R100 to R180 depending on the course.
10. Bugz Family Playpark, Kraaifontein
Bugz Family Playpark is an activity-filled park with a huge outdoor playground and an impressive indoor play area suited for children from 2 to 10 years old. There are pedal cars, jumping castles, rowing boats, swing horses, mini tractor rides, a choo choo train as well as free play areas, horse rides and magic shows. When tummies need filling, there’s The Bugz Tent Kitchen and Bugz Too Restaurant. Open from 09:00 to 17:00 every day (except Christmas Day). They also host birthday parties. Adults R50 on weekdays and on weekends, kids R45 on weekdays and R60 on weekends (excluding rides).
Contact: 0219888836, email@example.com
11. The Giraffe House, Stellenbosch
The Giraffe House in Stellenbosch provides easy access to certain species of wildlife and birds, including giraffe, eland, impala, zebra, springbok, monkeys, owls, storks, parrots, ducks, geese and more. They host animal-themed parties, educational programmes, snake encounters, a play area and bicycle track. There is no restaurant on the premises, but a refreshment kiosk supplies snacks and something to drink. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic basket (please adhere to their no-alcohol policy). Open daily from 09:00 to 17:00. Read about my experience at The Giraffe House. From R30 a child, and from R50 an adult. Please bring cash as there are no card facilities.
Contact: 0218844506, firstname.lastname@example.org
12. Clay Café, Hout Bay
The Clay Cafe in Hout Bay makes for a day of creativity and recreation for children and parents alike. Choose from a vast array of unfired bisque and a wide selection of colourful paints to create crockery that is both personal and unique. Spend a leisurely day painting in a relaxed environment with friendly staff at hand to assist you with any painting techniques that you might wish to make use of. There is a garden and playground outside so once children are finished painting there is still plenty to explore. Also a great idea for children’s parties! R35 studio fee, plus the price of whichever item you decide to paint, ranging from R20 to R250.
Contact: 0217903318, email@example.com
13. Ratanga Junction, Century City
Allocate an entire day to the thrills and spills of Ratanga Junction, with rides to suit all ages and levels of bravery. It’s usually open only during school holidays, so check before you head there. Full Adventurer Ticket (over 1,3 m) – R179 a person; Mini Adventurer Ticket (under 1,3 m) – R95 a person; non-rider Fun Pass – R70 a person. There’s a separate charge of R65 for the Slingshot attraction.
Contact: 0215508504, firstname.lastname@example.org
14. World of Birds, Hout Bay
The World of Birds in Hout Bay is billed as the largest bird park in Africa, but most kids prefer the naughty squirrel monkeys who sit on your head and rifle through your pockets, while the meerkats, mongooses, porcupines and guinea pigs also have their devoted fans. The Robin’s Nest offers drinks and snacks as well as light meals. You are also welcome to take your own picnic basket and enjoy a picnic at the Flamingo Terrace (right next to the flamingoes). Adults R95, Kids R45. Pensioners and students (with card) pay R65.
Contact: 0217902730, email@example.com
15. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
A sunny day will find many Capetonians lazing on the immaculate lawns of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, the finest gardens in South Africa. Everyone has their favourite nook – I love the giant trees over the Skeleton Stream, which provide lots of exciting climbing for young adventurers. A raised walkway, named The Boomslang, has been recently built through the Arboretum, between the Protea Garden, Cycad Amphitheatre, the Dell, Mathews Rockery and the Concert Lawn. The boardwalk raises visitors to over 12m above ground, and winds like a snake, dipping through the trees. Adults – R60, kids (aged 6-17) – R15, kids under 6 years of age – free. Students (with card) – R30.
Contact: 0217998899, firstname.lastname@example.org
16. City Sightseeing Bus, Cape Town
Nearly everyone has seen the big red City Sightseeing Bus, but actually going on it is so much fun (be a tourist in your own city). You can sit and watch the world go by and hop on and off at various places of interest. If you actually listen to the commentary, you will learn a lot about the city we live in and there’s a kid-friendly version too (that’s actually very clever, informative and amusing). Don’t let rain put you off, it’s dry in there! All children get a free activity pack with a colouring-in book and crayons which helps keep them occupied. One day pass: Adults – R170, Kids (aged 5-15) – R90 (when you buy online). Kids under 5 – free.
Contact: 0215116000, email@example.com
17. Company’s Garden, City Centre
The Company’s Garden is a great free spot for families. You can picnic on the grass, play ball games and feed the squirrels and (inevitably) the pigeons. Be aware though that squirrels have sharp little claws! I have seen a few children burst into tears when one of the cute little critters decides to scramble up their bare leg in search of peanuts. The Company’s Garden Restaurant in the park also serves good food, and the outside section is full of interesting things to keep kids busy. You’ll find The Company’s Garden in Queen Victoria Street, at the top end of Adderley Street.
18. Green Point Park
I love this park (read about how I discovered Green Point Park) and kids love it too. Entrance is free, so pack a picnic and take the kids out for the day. There are play areas for littlies and for bigger kids, so everyone has a good time. Adults can give the outdoor gym equipment a go, or just sit on the lawn or at a table and relax. Leashed dogs and bicycles (or tricycles) are welcome too.
Contact: 0214170120, firstname.lastname@example.org
19. Take a trip on the Atlantic Rail Steam Train
If you want to add that extra element of awesomeness to your next family day out, you can do a lot worse than the Atlantic Rail Steam Train. This vintage steam locomotive offers day trips from Cape Town to Simon’s Town on most Sundays, with trips to Spier and Vredenheim in the Stellenbosch Winelandsalso available depending on demand. Get the kids and hop on this old iron horse at 10:30 at Cape Town, take the slow scenic route along the Peninsula and then spend the day in Simon’s Town. The train departs Simon’s Town for Cape Town at 15:15. Passengers are also allowed to get off at Kalk Bay. Booking is essential, and unfortunately, the trips are so popular it’s often booked for months in advance.
Stellenbosch Option: (Includes only your return steam train journey to Stellenbosch) – R300 for adults and R200 for kids
Spier wine Farm Option: (Includes your return steam train journey to Spier Wine Farm, as well as wine tasting (grape juice for children), animal experience at Eagle Encounters, and lunch at Eight Restaurant (3 meals to choose from, beverages not included) – R500 for Adults and R400 for kids
Vredenheim Wine Estate Option: (Includes your return steam train journey to Vredenheim Wine Estate, as well as wine tasting (grape juice for children), animal experience at The Big Cats Park, and lunch at Barrique Restaurant (3 meals to choose from, beverages not included) – R500 for Adults and R400 for kids.
Contact: Booking is essential. Book at email@example.com
Read more:Atlantic Rail: A 1930s steam train to Simon’s Town
Read more:Take a steam train to Vredenheim in the Stellenbosch Winelands
20. Imhoff Farm, Kommetjie
Here’s another fun activity for the odd sunny day this winter holiday. Head to Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie and take a ride along Noordhoek Beach on one of the farm’s five camels. This is one of those activities that’s bound to be a hit with both you and the children. Once you’re done with your camel ride you can also pay a visit to the Higgeldy Piggeldy Animal Farm – where the little ones can play with the farm animals – or have a bite to eat at one of the farmstead’s three restaurants. Imhoff Farm is open Tuesdays to Sundays.
Contact: 0217834545, Info@imhofffarm.co.za,
21. The Playshed at the Oude Molen Eco Village, Pinelands
I met one of my mommy friends here recently and was quite impressed with The Playshed. The kids (make that screaming kid) were having a ball on the jungle gym and zipping down slides, while we enjoyed a cup of coffee and a toasted sandwich. There are magazines on the tables so moms can take some time out and the food is very reasonably priced. Afterwards, we took the kids for a pony ride which was a highlight (and at R10 a ride, well worth it!) Children will love this place – apart from pony or horse rides and The Playshed, there are chickens and dogs too. It’s like a little farm in the middle of the city. If you don’t fancy eating in the Playshed, there’s also a separate restaurant.
Contact: 0741962778, firstname.lastname@example.org
22. CityROCK, Observatory
If you and the kids feel up to something more challenging, why not try some indoor rock climbing at CityROCK in Observatory. All the climbing gear you need can be rented or bought on site. First-timer to rock climbing? No sweat. You can get a day pass for R105 per adult and R85 per kid (excluding gear). There are also special programmes for children of different ages and skill levels, including a three-day holiday programme. The best option for kids who are new to rock climbing is the test-drive package which includes entrance and gear rental. CityROCK also offers yoga classes. Adults – R175, kids – R155 (includes bouldering and climbing on the automatic belay wall and gear rental). Add R200 per hour for an instructor.
Contact: 0214471326, email@example.com
23. Mini train, Mouille Point
I know some adults who enjoy this train too! Catch a ride on this cute little miniature train and enjoy views of passing ships and Robben Island. Then hop off and let the kids enjoy the park with a tricycle track, jungle gyms and rock climbing. R50 per person per ride.
Contact: 0843149200, firstname.lastname@example.org
24. Kenilworth Karting, Kenilworth
Feel like upping the ante and getting the adrenaline pumping? Kenilworth Karting is a great way to add a bit of oomph to your family day out (they also have a track in Canal Walk). This indoor go-kart racing course features a challenging 310m race track and a number of 160cc karts with hydraulic brakes and slick tyres and 140cc GP Junior karts for the little ones. All racers are provided with helmets. Take your pick from the different racing options like the Grand Prix and Endurance options. A five-minute Junior Race (Height Requirement of 1.5m and up) will cost R160 pp for kids and adults. It’s best to book ahead of time, as there are height restrictions on the ‘Arrive and Drive’ options.
Contact: 0216832670 and 0216836950, email@example.com
25. Butterfly World, Klapmuts
Take a drive out of Cape Town on the N1 to Butterfly World, where you will find a fluttery paradise with butterflies from all over the world. When the kids get bored of the beautiful flying insects, there are meerkats, ducks, goats and chickens to look at. Along with iguanas, scorpions and spiders. Adults – R80, kids – R45.
Contact: 0218755628, firstname.lastname@example.org
26. Paintball, Atlantis
U-TAC – or urban tactical – Paintball outside Atlantis is one of the best paintball joints in South Africa and is the perfect place for you and the kids if you’re feeling trigger-happy. What makes U-TAC so special is that it allows you to enact a wide range of military scenarios such as battling it out in a village, in trenches or in the bush. You can also arrange for 48-hour wars or helicopter insertion. The premises also have a tuck shop and braai facilities if you feel like relaxing after an epic family feud.
Contact: 0837789111, email@example.com.
27. Iziko Museums, Cape Town
One of the major perks of living in Cape Town is that both the South African Museum and the South African National Gallery are conveniently situated in the City Bowl, around the Company’s Gardens. The Museum and the Gallery – both falling under South Africa’s national heritage institution Iziko – are ideal for a more peaceful, contemplative family day-out. The Museum boasts everything from dinosaur fossils to rock art. The National Gallery houses an impressive range of contemporary artworks, traditional beadwork and textiles and is ideal for the culture vultures in your family. Entry to the South African Museum costs R20 for Kids (aged 6 to 18 years) and R40 for adults. Kids under 5 get in for free. The same prices apply for the South African National Gallery.
Contact: 0214813800, firstname.lastname@example.org
28. V&A Waterfront
The V&A Waterfront often has special programmes for children during the school holidays. There’s also a play area with all sorts of interesting things, like pirate ships and jungle gyms near the food court.
The Scratch Patch is an inexpensive and fun place for all ages. Kids (and adults) can sort through mountains of gemstones and pick out tiger’s eyes, amethysts, jaspers and more. Cave Golf is another option if you are on a tight budget. It sounds easy, but this version of putt-putt has some tricky ramps, sharp corners and deceptively difficult holes. Operating hours: The Scratch Patch – 9:00 to 18:00, Cave Golf – 9:00 to 17:00.
Price: You can purchase a small plastic bag or container ranging in price from R17 for a small bag to R95 for a large container.
29. The Two Oceans Aquarium
The Two Oceans Aquarium is hands-down one of the best places in Cape Town for indoor fun (great for rainy days). Apart from the dazzling glimpses it offers into the underwater world, the aquarium also has several activities that will delight young and old alike. Be sure to schedule your trip to the time of day when the penguins, sharks and other fish are being fed. Don’t miss the Touch Pool which allows you and the kids to interact with anemones, starfish and seaweed. For a little bit extra, you can buy tickets for the Penguin Encounter that allows you and your children to come face-to-beak with the super-cute rockhopper penguins. Adults – R160, Kids (aged 4-13 years) R115 and online purchases are R105 for Kids (aged 14-17 years) and R145 adults. Kids under 4 years old are free.
Contact: 0214183823, email@example.com
30. Ten-pin bowling, Grand West
Ten-pin bowling is what I call “good old-fashioned fun” and kids from five and up will love the competition! Magic Bowling at Grand West Casino offers 12 lanes of fun bowling pleasure for all ages, accompanied by music and a cosmic bowling experience. So get a group together and go bowling, even if it’s raining.
31. Intaka Island, Century City
Intaka Island covers 16 hectares of wetland, birds and flora in the middle of Century City and makes for a good day out if the sun is shining. Catch a ferry ride and take a stroll along the 2km of footpaths, (or get one of the experienced field rangers to lead you). There are special kiddie programmes during the holidays too. Adults – R35, Kids (under the age of 12) and Pensioners – R30. Combo tickets also available, which include a boat ride.
32. Tots ’n Pots, Cape Town
Want your kids to cook but don’t want to clean up afterwards? Take them to Tots ’n Pots where they can fling flour and bash butter to their hearts’ content. These cooking classes are run by incredibly patient teachers and chefs around the peninsula – try the Constantia branch run by Deirdre Cargill who loves the hands-on element in cooking. There are many lessons your kids will learn without realising it, but the main aim is to have fun. And they do – whether it’s the actual mixing and stirring, eating their concoctions or decorating their takeaway box – all with mom or dad guiding along the way. Particularly good for smaller kids, you can sign up for a single lesson or a whole course. Some clubs run during the school holidays. They also do birthday parties. There are also branches in Tableview, the Northern Suburbs and the Southern Peninsula. Bookings are essential.
Contact: 0768163892, firstname.lastname@example.org