The holidays have arrived and with Boney M blasting out of every supermarket store and enough tinsel to be visible from outer space, Cape Town’s parents are yet again facing the festive roller-coaster ride of buying presents, putting up the tree, and preparing Christmas feasts. But nothing compares in arduousness to that festive horror of horrors…bored children.
Never fear, for Cape Town is a treasure trove of family friendly activities that are as engaging for kids as they are for parents and, as a bonus, serve to bring the family unit closer together. Here are some great ideas for entertainment and activities this festive season…
Rush Indoor Trampoline Park, Claremont
Test the bounds of gravity without fear in this 30,000 square foot facility that features wall-to-wall, interconnected trampolines, a battle beam, a huge foam pit, three basketball slam dunk lanes, and, for the older kids, two dodge ball courts. Rush Indoor Trampoline Park is extreme fun and an incredible workout for the entire family. To keep toddlers safe, the park dedicates the hours between 10:00 and 11:00 (Monday to Thursday) and 9:00 and 10:00 (Fridays to Sundays) to the little ones and their siblings.
Noordhoek Farm Village
A large open space for children to run free, a great variety of restaurants, pubs, and art shops, and a thrilling kiddies’ playground… the leafy and atmospheric Noordhoek Farm Village is the perfect weekend destination for families. Here, you can easily while away most of a day perusing the interesting stores and eating a leisurely meal, while the kids get a little outdoor time.
Where: Village Lane & Noordhoek Main road, Goedehoop Estate
The need for speed is an affliction that hits hard during childhood and while it might fade with age, it only takes one lap in a go-kart at the Kenilworth racetrack to bring it screaming back to life. A ticket gets racers 10 laps around the 310-meter course and a lifetime of adoration from your kids (and husband). There are lightweight 140cc vehicles and a junior track specifically for younger racers (shorter than 1.5 meters) so you can rest assured that they’ll be safe.
Unleash your inner Picasso, Rembrandt, or even Warhol with Art Jamming; a fun, engaging, and wholly unique activity that’s guaranteed to put your artistic talent to the test. They supply the tools (canvases of varying sizes, a spectrum of paint colours, and brushes) and you just let loose creativity. Art Jamming allows each and every participant to create his or her masterpiece in an interactive environment and have enormous fun in the process. Click here to view their holiday program for kids.
Where: There are two studios in Cape Town: G26 Willowbridge, Carl Cronje Ave, Tygervalley, Bellville | Above Toy Kingdom at the V&A Waterfront.
Cost: View pricing information here
Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A Waterfront
Explore the diverse ocean life that proliferates in the fertile waters around the southern African coast. The Two Oceans Aquarium is home to a fantastic and colourful array of ocean fish, crustaceans, sharks, mammals, oddities, and sea squishies. Children will love the touch pool where they can feel and hold colourful ocean critters like starfish, hermit crabs, and anemones, while adults can enjoy the tranquillity and enchantment of the underwater worlds.
Where: Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Cost: Purchased online, R175 for adults | R130 for teens aged 14 to 17 | R85 for kids aged 4 to 13. See full pricing information here.
Go to a Farmer’s Market
Cape Town’s selection of crafts and farmer’s markets have proven to be the perfect venues for weekend entertainment and indulgence for the whole family. From food, beer, and wine to fresh fruits and vegetables, artisanal produce, arts, crafts, live music, and kiddies’ entertainment, Cape Town’s numerous weekend and evening markets have it all.
Click here for a comprehensive list of the Cape’s crafts and farmers markets.
Cape Town Science Centre, Observatory
Expose your children to the fascinating realm of science from an early age and open their minds to its fathomless fields of wonder. You might even learn something in the process too! The Cape Town Science Centre is a not-for-profit attraction that offers up a smorgasbord of exhibitions, awesome experiments, and interactive discoveries to keep the whole family delighted and engaged. They also run workshops and science camps over the school holidays.
Where: 370B Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town
Cost: R65 per person; R57 per person for groups of 10+ that pay in advance.
The Clay Café, Hout Bay
Who doesn’t love using their hands to make things? The Clay Café in Hout Bay is all about crafting something unique, which is then fired and painted so that you can take your creation home with you to use and admire. Whether you want to make a vase, a mug, a plate, or even just something decorative, the Clay Café provides students with the guidance they need to create something meaningful. And afterwards, you can pop into the restaurant for a well-earned meal!
Iziko Museum Planetarium, City Centre
There’s nothing quite as magical as sitting underneath a canopy full of stars. Now, with the Iziko Planetarium having recently upgraded its celestial theatre, families can enjoy this spectacular show in all its high resolution, digital splendour! The new Digital Dome is the most advanced on the African continent and with a variety of shows about the constellations, planets, meteorites, solar system, zodiac, and more, it makes for an awesome educational experience for the whole family.
Where: 25 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town
Cost: R60 for adults over 18; R30 for students, pensioners, and children
Cool Runnings Toboggan Park
Ever seen the movie “Cool Runnings”? Well, ever since bobsleighing was immortalised in the movie, it’s been adopted by adventure sport and outdoor companies as an exhilarating thing to do when the weather’s playing nice! In Tygervalley, there’s a whole park dedicated to tobogganing and it’s a great day of fun for the whole family; it’s also perfectly safe. Get inside one of the bullet-shaped bobsleds and shoot down the 1.2-kilometer steel pipe track like you’re at the Olympic Games!
Where: Carl Cronje Drive, Tygervalley, Cape Town
Cost: R50 per ride per adult | R40 per ride for kids up to the age of 14 | R280 for an unlimited day pass
School of Rock Cape Town, Claremont
If there were one skill virtually no one would turn down, it would be the ability to make music. Now, with the School of Rock opening its doors in Cape Town, the entire family can sign up for a totally rockin’ adventure that will put an instrument in their hands and a stage under their feet to experience a thrill that very few ever get to. There are a variety of performance-based courses, programmes, and camps to choose from (depending on age and experience) but the goal is the same: “to inspire the world to rock on stage and in life.”
Sandboarding the Atlantis Dunes
A 40-minute drive from the city, near Atlantis, lies an impressive dune complex composed of fine white sand and boundless potential for thrills. You can sign up for the adventure with a local company, such as Sandboarding Cape Town, that will provide the equipment, show you the ropes, and take you out to the dunes for several hours of sand boarding fun in the sun.
Where: Off the R27 past Melkbosstrand, Atlantis Dunes, Cape Town
Cost: R750 per person for three hours | R600 per person for two hours | Click here to view more options
Butterfly World, Cape Winelands
Butterfly World is a lush and tranquil sanctuary for a kaleidoscopic legion of butterflies from all over the world. This Cape Winelands attraction also maintains a bird sanctuary, a hair-raising arachnid exhibit (spiders and scorpions), the rather gruesome yet interesting Road Kill Skeleton Park, and daily animal shows. Afterwards, visitors can sit down at the delightful tea garden or stock up on padkos at their farm stall: you are in the Cape Winelands after all.
Where: R44, Klapmuts, Cape Town
Cost: R88 for adults; R49 for children; R79 for students and pensioners; R225 for two adults and two children.
Founded in early 2012, HintHunt is an exciting yet challenging live escape game that has been perfectly designed for groups of three to five people. Players are locked in a themed room and must put together the hidden clues they find to overcome various puzzles they encounter in order to escape the room before the 60-minute timer hits 0! Since its conception, this social, mind-bending game has become a worldwide phenomenon with installations in multiple countries all over the world.
The Ice Station at GrandWest Casino
It may be 30 degrees outside and the summertime southeaster might be giving the Cape one heck of a kicking, but inside the cool, grandiose interior of the Ice Station at Grand West Casino, it’s winter all year round! Here, people of all ages and levels of experience can rent skates and hit the ice. If you’re not up for it, being a spectator is extraordinarily entertaining given the number of first-timers on the ice on any given day. There’s also a mini-rink for very young kids, which keeps them safe and out of the way of those clumsy first-timers.
Where: Grand West Casino, 1 Jakes Gerwel Dr, Acacia Park, Cape Town
Cost: Depending on time, a single ticket price with skate rental is in the R55 to R60 price range. View the summer holiday schedule and pricing.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Teaching kids to take pleasure in helping those less fortunate than ourselves is an incredibly important lesson and what better classroom could there be than an animal shelter? There are several – the SPCA, DARG, F.A.L.L.E.N, and Uitsig Animal Rescue – all over Cape Town and they readily accept help from volunteers to walk the dogs, help kittens become accustomed to loving contact, groom horses, clean cages, and more. Volunteers get the pleasure of interacting with the animals and knowing that their time and energy is helping them live more comfortable, love-filled lives.
The Scratch Patch, V&A Waterfront
The Scratch Patch is a total gem (pun intended) tucked away across the road from the V&A Waterfront’s revamped warehouse district, although the original is in Simon’s Town. With shimmering glass cases full of glittering crystals, colourful rock specimens, and jewellery and a veritable treasure of polished semi-precious stones on the floor of the Scratch Patch den, any self-respecting adventurer could keep busy for hours!
Where: 1 Dock Rd, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town
Cost: Entry to Mineral World is free, but it costs between R22 and R120 to fill a small to large bag up with pebbles from the Scratch Patch.
Picnic at Kirstenbosch Gardens
Sprawled across the eastern slopes of Table Mountain is the world famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, which is home to a spectacular abundance of plant and bird species. Bring the whole family here for a walk around the lush gardens before settling on a lawn somewhere, perhaps under a tree, to enjoy a picnic!
Where: Rhodes Dr, Newlands, Cape Town
Cost: Adults (R65), SA students with card (R35), children aged 6 to 17 (R15), kids under 6 (free)
Cave Golf, V&A Waterfront
Literally right next door to the Scratch Patch is the aptly named Cave Golf: an 18-hole indoor putt-putt course located in a moodily-lit room that’s been elaborately done up as a cave, complete with running streams and low-hanging rock ceilings (in places). It’s deceptively tricky at times, making it a decent challenge for the whole family.
Where: 1 Dock Rd, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town
Cost: R25 per player with a R20 deposit for your club | R20 per player for groups of 10 or more.
Web: www.scratchpatch.co.za (same as for Scratch Patch)
Go to the Beach
Surrounded by water on three sides, the Cape Peninsula has absolutely no shortage of beaches to spend a lazy day on, many of which are dog friendly too. From Noordhoek, Fish Hoek, and Muizenberg to Camps Bay, Clifton, and Blouberg, there’s white sand to sink into, fresh surf to play in, and rock pools to explore. Just keep an eye on your young kids: some beaches have strong currents and pounding waves.
The Company’s Garden, City Centre
Originally established in the 1600’s as a supply station for the Dutch East India Company ships that were travelling to Asia, the Company Gardens is one of the Cape’s most historic sites. Today it is a lush and manicured collection of lawns, rose gardens, garden walks, bird aviaries, fountains, historic statues, and tree-lined avenues right in the heart of Cape Town’s city centre. It’s a fantastic place to take the family for a walk and a picnic on one of the lawns. Bring peanuts for the squirrels: they’re tame and will eat right out of your hand!
Where: 19 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town City Centre
World of Birds, Hout Bay
The World of Birds is a long-standing bird sanctuary in the charming valley suburb of Hout Bay. Families can quite easily whittle away a whole day perusing the extensive series of walk-through aviaries and enclosures that house an incredible variety of local and exotic bird species, including sleepy owls, magnificent raptors, quirky ostriches, raucous parrots, and a colourful flock of flamingos. There are also a collection of small mammals and monkeys. The World of Birds is dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured and sick birds, as well as conservation outside of the park so your entry fee goes towards a good cause!
Where: 4914 Valley Rd, Hout Bay, Cape Town
Cost: R120 for adults, R45 for children, and R75 for students and pensioners.
Table Mountain Cableway
Every Capetonian must make their pilgrimage to the top of Table Mountain at least once in their life; it’s practically a rite of passage! If you and/or your kids are yet to see our mountain’s summit, this summer is the perfect opportunity. Make the most of the cable car’s half price summer sunset special for locals and enjoy the most incredible views of the city, its surrounding farmlands, and bordering oceans.
Where: Table Mountain Cable Car Station, Tafelberg Road, Gardens
Cost: R145 per adult | R72.50 per child for the summer sunset special.
Strawberry Picking at Mooiberge Farmstall, Stellenbosch
Located in the heart of the Stellenbosch Wine Route – and adjacent to a collection of wine farms – the Mooiberge Strawberry Farm is a lovely outdoor family destination. From October to December every year, the strawberries ripen and are available for picking by the public. After filling your box, you can head over to the restaurant and farmstall for lunch, or even swing by one of the neighbouring wine estates where mother can have a well-deserved glass of wine while dad plays designated driver.
Where: R44, Between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, Cape Winelands