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Posted on: Tuesday, 15 June 2010

What to do with the kids this winter in Cape Town – 10 great (mostly) indoor activities

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Kids Winter holidays

Kids Winter holidays

What were they thinking when they designated five whole weeks to the June / July holidays this year? This is the time of year when it rains and children end up on the couch in front of television or before the computer screen, rather than out of doors where they would rather be. And parents end up tearing their hair, and each others’, out.

My sister always has a back-up plan. A list the length of her arm of options she can do with her kids at the drop of a hat. I confess, I tend to leave a lot of this up to inspiration. And on the desired afternoon, a I’ve-been-infront-of-the-computer-working all morning stupor usually prevents my addled brain from coming anywhere close to creative, and my attempt at competence falls flat on its face…

Not to be out done, this year I’m planning ahead (just!) and thought I’d share the list with other soon-to-be-inundated moms. So, here it is so that you can get an overview – most of them indoors but not indoor playgrounds (I have an aversion to noise) and most have winter programmes to choose from too.

To visit this winter:

  1. Two Oceans Aquarium
  2. Planetarium
  3. MTN Science Centre
  4. Eagle Encounter & Cheetah Outreach at Spier
  5. Indoor go-karting (for older kids)
  6. Scratch Patch
  7. Clay Café workshops
  8. City Rock – indoor climbing gym
  9. Kirstenbosch
  10. Artjamming

1  Two Oceans Aquarium

Plenty to do here, and with the winter holiday family special – two adults and two children for R200 – worth a repeat visit or two (valid until end October 2010).  Otherwise, become a member www.aquarium.co.za (adults R210 and children R100) and come and go as you please.

Daily programmes:

  • Afrisam puppet shows – 10h30, 13h30, 16h00
  • Rockhopper penguins fed daily at 11h30
  • African penguins fed daily at 11h45 and 14h30
  • Rays and turtles fed in the I&J Predator Exhibit on Mon, Wed and Fri at 15h00
  • General fish feed in the I&J Predator Exhibit on Tues, Thurs and Sat at 15h00
  • Kelp Forest feed on Wed and Sat at 12h00
  • Sharks in I&J Predator Exhibit on Sundays at 15h00

Holiday programmes:

Sink or Swim
Exciting Life Science Winter School
From 21 to 25 June    08h30 to 16h00 daily.
Space is limited! First 50 students will be accepted.
Closing date: 15 June 2010.
Cost: R1 000 for the course (30 hours of quality enrichment).
Contact telephone: 021 418 3823.

Junior Biologists (Grades 5 – 7)
An exciting new Junior Biologist Course
From 21 to 23 and 28 to 30 June, 09h00 to 15h00 daily.
Space is limited! First 50 will be accepted.
Closing date:  9 June 2010
Cost: R300 for all three days.
Special offer: R420 including Shoreline Café meals.
Contact telephone: 021 418 3823.

Where: V&A Waterfront

2  Planetarium

This is always a ‘sure thing’ for rainy days. The recreation of the night sky and the appearance of Davy Dragon makes space exploration effortless. Although if it’s Davy you’re after, then best get there before 6 June, whereafter you can see Silly Solly and the Shooting Stars (probably because most children in Cape Town have already made more than a passing acquaintance with Davy).

Holiday workshop: 5, 22 June, 1, 8 July – for six to ten year olds, involving making your very own star viewer.

Where: South African Museum building

3  MTN Sciencentre

Packed with over 300 interactive displays, the Sciencentre at Canal Walk is great place for hands-on learning, and you don’t have to keep saying, ‘don’t touch’ as everything is there for that very purpose. It’s aimed at children of all ages and there is a winter holiday programme that includes daily workshops, activities, a hike through Intaka Island, lunch (if you want it) and a daily dose of hot chocolate.

Holiday programme: Gadget Week from 3 – 11 July,  Youth Day Extravaganza from 13 – 16 June, and a daily sizzling science show. What more could you want?

Where: entrance 5, 407 Canal Walk, Century City

4  Eagle Encounter & Cheetah Outreach at Spier

Not indoors, I know, but there will be days when the sun shines. And meeting cheetahs and eagles face-to-face is an experience for any child of any age. And the two encounters are right next door to one another, which means that visiting both in a day trip is definitely on the cards.

Spier has given a home to a group of hand-reared cheetahs and kids get to encounter them first-hand. The meet-a-cheetah facility is incredibly popular though, you might have to queue for as long as 20 minutes to get to meet them, but worth it.

Eagle Encounters is not as crowded but is just as interesting. Time it for 2pm, and you might get a raptor to hop on your gloved hand as it feeds.

Where: Spier Wine Estate

5  Indoor go-karting

This is for older kids, and the circuit is apparently a little difficult to find behind Access Park, but there is no better adrenaline rush than doing a circuit or two. The track is a small, twisty track and you’re probably better off sending the kids with dad, unless you have nerves of steel.

Where: corner of Warrington and Myhof Roads, Kenilworth (behind Access Park)

6  Scratch Patch

The magic of little gemstones! Deposit your child in amongst the amazing variety of this mineral world – there are so many that is like being at the beach, but with pebbly stones instead – and you won’t hear from them for the better part of an hour (or more) – promise! Simply buy a bag or container (price ranges from R14 – R85 depending on the size) and your children can choose from any of the stones to fill it to the brim. Best of all, this is a calming activity and fun for small groups of children.

Where: V&A Waterfront Dock Road, near the Aquarium or Simon’s Town, Dido Valley Road

7  Clay Café

This actually ends up being as much fun for you as for your kids. Get the creative juices flowing at the same time as sipping tea, coffee or nibbling on a piece of cake. Grab an unpainted clay bowl, plate, mug or ready-made sculpture and get going with your own paint designs. Once you’re done hand in your masterpiece for firing. There is a studio fee that includes painting, glazing and firing, and you can pick up a professionally designed and painted ceramic if yours doesn’t turn out quite the way you were hoping!

Holiday programme: 09h30 on 14, 17, 21, 24, 28 June and 1, 5, 8 July 2010.

Where: Hout Bay

8  City Rock – indoor climbing gym

Best way for you to get them to climb the walls, rather than you. This is the first indoor climbing gym in the city and the largest in South Africa, with 24 different top ropes, 400m² of wall climbing space and a beginners’ and kids’ wall (just in case you were already thinking that this all sounds a little too dangerous!). It’s aimed at six year olds and older and they can do a test-drive package on arrival to learn the ins and outs. The bouldering includes a soft foam ground cover in case they fall.

Where: Corner of Collingwood and Anson Roads, Observatory

9  Kirstenbosch

Winter picnics at Kirstenbosch when the sun shines are one of Cape Town’s best kept secrets. Not only do the kids get in free of charge but the silver Tree Restaurant’s Winter Wonders programme is again available between 9 June – 7 July for the little ones. The programme includes balloon modelling, a magic show, a puppet show, Rubik the clown, and face painting.

Where: Rhodes Drive, Newlands

10  Artjamming

Walk in, grab a paint brush and let your imagination run riot. And best of all, you need absolutely no drawing or painting skills at all! To a chill outt beat, you get to pump creativity, imagination and colour onto a canvas, armed with acrylic paints on tap – hey, sounds close to heaven to me.

Holiday programme: 10h00 – 12h00 daily during June/July – children will get a canvas, snack pack, arts and crafts tools etc.

Where: Shop 10, Wembley Square, Solan Road, Gardens or Shop 014, Cape Quarter, Somerset Road, Green Point

Theatre in Cape Town during winter:

  • Rainbow Puppet Theatre (Constantia) – Snow White & Rumpelstiltskin
  • Fugard Theatre – Aesop’s Fables
  • Artscape – Noddy
  • Baxter – Pinocchio
  • Grand West – Just So Stories
  • Canal Walk – Jungle Book

Enjoy!!

Cape Town Links:
Cape Town Attractions
Things to Do in Cape Town
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Western Cape Accommodation

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