Kids Cape Town – It’s not always easy travelling with the kids – they need almost constant entertaining, and woe betide the parent who takes their child on one too many ‘boring’ museum tours. Luckily, Cape Town has some really exciting things to do and places to see for intrepid little ones. Read on for kid-friendly holiday activities in the Cape …
The Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront is a fun and interactive – not to mention educational – way to spend an afternoon. Kids can wander around the fascinating Two Oceans galleries, tremble at the I&J predator exhibit and have hands-on fun drawing and painting or watching a puppet show at the AfriSam Children’s Centre. Then head to the Shoreline Cafe for a nibble on the extensive kiddies’ menu …
If your little ones prefer an even more hands-on experience, take them to the Scratch Patch (there’s one at the V&A Waterfront, quite close to the Aquarium if you want to make a day of it, but the original is in Simon’s Town). Select a bag or container on your way in (prices range, depending on size, from about R15 to R80) then get scratching! The floor is covered with literally thousands of semi-precious, tumble-polished gemstones. Kids can while away hours selecting their favourites from the tiger’s eye, rose quartz, amethyst, jasper, agates and crystals (and many more!), which are then theirs to take home.
If this little geological adventure is right up your child’s street, then a visit to the MTN ScienCentre at Canal Walk Shopping Centre is a must. With 300 fully interactive exhibits, it’s the perfect way for enquiringly minded little ones to spend an afternoon. They’ll be improving their science, technology and maths skills as they learn and play. Apart from the permanent exhibits, there are educational talks, expos and the Rossum Robotics Academy, which introduces school-age kids to the basics of mechanics, engineering and computer programming. Also watch this space for the upcoming ScienCentre Sleepovers.
And since you’re at Canal Walk already, pop into Place of Play, an indoor and outdoor play park with everything from a teddy bear stuffing station to a laser beam room to a huge (and they mean huge!) jungle gym. Parents are well catered for too with a restaurant, WiFi zone, nail bar and shiatsu parlour.
In a similarly scientific bent, the Planetarium at the South African National Museum in the Company’s Garden is another winner for kids. The night sky is recreated on the domed ceiling of this celestial theatre, providing the ultimate in armchair travel. Check out the website to see what special kids programmes are running. After a trip around the galaxy, explore the museum and then take a wander through the lush Garden – a picnic on its sprawling lawns is a great way to end an afternoon of fun and learning.
Getting out of the city, a stop at the Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie is always worthwhile. This is a popular spot for visitors and locals, not least because it’s on the way to Cape Point Nature Reserve and has a host of activities for the whole family. Parents can enjoy an alfresco lunch and some of the Cape’s finest wine at the Blue Water Café, or browse the Free Range Farm Shop, the cheese and chocolate shops or the nursery (not to mention a number of art, craft and decor stores). Meanwhile, kids will be torn between the Higgeldy Piggeldy petting zoo, horse and camel rides (yes, camel rides), a snake park, paintball and face painting (please note, parental supervision is obviously necessary for most of these activities, but parents will no doubt get as much enjoyment from them as the kids!).
For more fresh air and friends from the animal kingdom, no trip to Cape Town is complete without visiting Boulder’s Beach, close to Simon’s Town. Not only will kids love a day of sand and sun, and a swim in the warm(ish) sheltered waters of this cove, but the 3 000-strong colony of African jackass penguins is sure to please. You can spend the day sharing the beach and swimming with these tuxedoed birds at Boulder’s, or head to neighbouring Foxy Beach, where a newly constructed boardwalk allows you to view the colony in its entirety. Just remember, though they look cute, these are wild birds, and trying to cuddle them will result in bitten fingers. (see our previous article on the penguins at Boulders Beach).
Speaking of feathered friends, The World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park in Hout Bay has over 3 000 birds for children to learn about while wandering through more 100 aviaries in this tropical landscaped paradise. And it’s not just birds you’ll see – let the kids make friends with the curious little squirrel monkeys in the monkey jungle, and then try to spot the other mammals the park provides a home for, including meerkats, pot-bellied pigs and porcupines. There’s also a reptile park for those who prefer scales and skin to fur and feathers.
For winged creatures of a different variety, there are few places more magical for little ones than Butterfly World in Stellenbosch. This 1 000 square metre greenhouse plays home to many hundreds of exotic butterflies, and walking through the enclosure surrounded by thousands of these delicate creatures is a truly beautiful experience. Challenge the kids to stay still (and quiet!) long enough for one of the pretty ladies to land on their head, then explore the many other activities on offer. The beautiful outdoor garden has an aviary and meerkat enclosure, as well as ducks and chickens that children can feed with bags of seed from the gift shop. An iguana cage teaches us more about these fascinating reptiles, or you could end with a visit to the Spider Room to make the acquaintance of some eight-legged friends and scorpions. (see our previous article about Butterfly World).
There really is so much for children to do in Cape Town over the holidays, whether it’s any of the above activities, or playing putt-putt in Muizenberg, going ice skating at Grandwest, learning to surf on our beaches, picnicking at Kirstenbosch doing a hiking trail up one of our magnificent mountains or enjoying some children’s theatre at the Baxter or Artscape. Most large hotels in Cape Town also provide a babysitting service and a summer programme of things to keep the kids entertained, which means that parents can enjoy the Cape Town nightlife à deux.
Two Oceans Aquarium: +27 (0)21 418-3823
The Scratch Patch: +27 (0)21 419-9429
MTN ScienCentre: +27 (0)21 529-8100
Place of Play: +27 (0)21 555-0303
Iziko Planetarium: +27 (0)21 481-3900
Imhoff Farm: +27 (0)21 783-4545
World of Birds: +27 (0)21 790-2730
Butterfly World: +27 (0)21 875-5628