Endless beaches, soaring mountains, lush gardens and a buzzing waterfront – there is a seemingly never-ending list of options for family activities in Cape Town. Children are welcomed with open arms and given VIP status, thanks to an endless amount of entertainment, kids restaurant specials and action-packed outdoor adventures. Here are just some of our personal (tried and tested!) family highlights.
1. Explore the underwater world at the Two Oceans Aquarium
One of Cape Town’s top family attractions, The Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront presents a fascinating marine experience for children of all ages. From penguin exhibits and shark tanks to interactive displays and fun play areas, they are bound to have a whale of a time. And if it makes them want to venture out to sea – Tommy the Tugboat docks just outside.
2. Run riot on a rainy day at PlayDate SuperPark
PlayDate is a brand-new indoor adventure park for all ages that is perfect for keeping little ones entertained on rainy days. It boasts a gigantic, triple-storey, 3-dimensional maze; two Submarine Escape Rooms; an extreme high line rope course; and a kiddies mini maze – all in an innovative space that incorporates educational play, exercise and creative stimulation. If it all gets a bit too much – you can safely retreat to the adjacent café for a break from the action.
3. Freewheel down Table Mountain
No visit to Cape Town would be complete without a trip up the famous Table Mountain. For a slightly different, adrenaline-fuelled experience, families can book a “Scootour” and freewheel into the city on an adventurous off-road track. During the guided trip riders aged 10 and over get to navigate their own “Monster Mountain® Scooter” (a non-motorised pushbike) down the mountain, while smaller passengers get a lift from mum or dad.
4. Pack a picnic and head to Kirstenbosch
On a sunny day, nothing beats a picnic at Kirstenbosch, one of the great botanical gardens of the world – few others can match the sheer grandeur of its breath-taking setting. Pick up a picnic basket from the Tea Room Restaurant and let the kids run wild amongst rivers, trees and the “boomslang” treetop canopy walkway. During the summer months Kirstenbosch also plays host to weekly concerts and outdoor movie screenings – perfect for family weekend outings.
5. Throw some shapes at the Clay Café
A Hout Bay family institution, Clay Café will get your creative juices flowing. Sit at long tables inside or, weather permitting, outside on the patio next to the playground, and create your very own ceramic masterpiece. Children (and adults) can choose from numerous designs to paint; if they get bored, bouncy castles and trampolines provide additional entertainment. While you are busy perfecting your artwork, order coffee and freshly prepared breakfast or lunch dishes from the café menu.
6. Set sail in search of seals
Hop aboard one of several tour boats from Hout Bay harbour for a 40-minute cruise to the Duiker Island Seal Colony – home to thousands of Cape Fur seals. Kids will love watching them in their natural habitat – sitting on the rocks, basking in the sun and whizzing through the water. Try to choose a mild day for the excursion, as the trip can get somewhat rocky in blustery weather.
7. Swing through the Constantia Nek forest
Gravity-defying adventures await at Acrobranch, an action-packed aerial park in Constantia. Various obstacle courses for children, teenagers and adults offer dizzying tree-top adventures with high ropes, ladders, tunnels, walkways, bridges and ziplines. Experienced staff members tuck kids aged three and up safely into harnesses and keep an eye on proceedings to ensure everyone’s safety while they swing from tree to tree like little monkeys.
8. Enjoy a wheelie great day at The Bike Park
Another action-packed adventure awaits at the Bike Park on the Constantia Uitsig wine farm, which features a variety of exhilarating pump tracks for riders of all ages. It’s conveniently located next to the rather stellar Open Door restaurant, for a well-deserved post-bike refuel (try to get a table outside, for a perfect vantage point of the adjacent playground).
9. Chill out with Cape Town’s very own penguins
A must for any child visiting Cape Town for the first time is an up-close encounter with a penguin at Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town. It’s not every day children get to swim in perfectly shallow waters while sharing the beach with a large crowd of African Penguins! Go early during season – the main beach gets busy and only allows a certain number of people to avoid overcrowding.
10. Free-range fun at Imhoff Farm
Imhoff Farm in picturesque Noordhoek is an iconic family destination. Kids will love the “Higgeldy Piggeldy Farm Yard”, where they can feed pigs, bunnies and chickens, and the wide expanse of the Blue Water Café, which allows them to run around safely. Children aged 12 and up can also saddle up and take a guided horse-riding excursion on the magnificent Noordhoek Beach.