Cape Town, with its focus on the great outdoors, is seldom short of places to which you can take your children – beaches, walks, picnic spots abound – but there are times when the more formal, child-designated spot comes in handy, and a few of these are worth taking note of.
The top five, in no particular order (having gone through no competitive process to reach these pages other than to have gained my approval), are the Barnyard in Tokai, Bugz in Kraaifontein, Deer Park (also known as Rocklands Park) in Oranjezicht, Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie, and Scarecrows in Hout Bay. Most of these are outdoor venues, to accommodate the gorgeous summer weather, and places where parents also get to unwind.
Bugz kiddies play park
An extravaganza of what it is to be child, Bugz includes a huge array of outdoor play and one of the biggest indoor play areas in Cape Town. Situated at the Cape Garden Centre in Kraaifontein, Bugz is a play park full of sandpits, pedal cars, jumping castles, rowing boats, jungle gyms, a train, a water slide, quad bikes, horse riding and paintball (used more frequently by dads than their progeny) it’s a barrage of colourful children’s delights, and a great party venue for children’s birthdays.
The combination of the play park and the garden centre, is, to say the least, a little overwhelming, but if you don’t mind the constant, baleful strains of muzac, the garish use of primary colours, a restaurant that offers food that consists mainly of hamburgers, soft drinks and chips, and a R25 entrance fee per person, then this is the place for you.
• children love it
• hours of entertainment
• downtime for parents
• pretty bathrooms
• elevator music
• food that seriously lacks imagination
Address: 56 Tarentaal Street, Joostenbergvlakte
Telephone: 021 988 8836
Open Monday to Sunday from 9am – 5pm
Whilst most Capetonians know this as the Deer Park, although there aren’t any deer, the name refers to the Deer Park Café and the road that runs the length of the park, rather than the park, which is known as Rocklands Park. The park is a great play area for children. There is ample amount of shade, great grassy patches on which to sit, the park is fenced in, and there are various jungle gyms and swings to keep little ones amused.
The reason the park is so lovely is that the local neighbourhood has a committee that holds various fundraising events to maintain the climbing structures and creative play equipment. The park is great for birthday parties, and parents can pop up to the restaurant for a takeaway coffee, or a sit-down breakfast.
• great play venue
• safe, shady and pretty
• plenty of space
• rarely place at a table at the Deer Park Café
Address: 2 Deer Park Avenue, Vredehoek
Telephone: Deer Park Café – 021 462 6311
It might be a bit of a drive, but certainly for locals Imhoff Farm provides a wonderful, rural style venue for children, whilst adults have a series of shops and restaurants to choose from. There are two main play areas for children – a series of jungle gyms and swings in the sweeping gardens of Blue Water Café, with some of the most beautiful views over Long Beach, and another play area in the garden of the Free Range Restaurant that is associated with the Free Range Farm shop (full of great goodies).
Over and above these obviously parent-friendly spots, where parents and friends can easily swop stories whilst children play largely unhindered, there is also the Higgeldy Piggeldy animal farm. For a minor fee, children get to wander in amongst farm animals that include goats, pigs, sheep, ducks, geese, guinea pigs, a pony called Piccadilly, and a host of peacocks. Most of these have free range and respond particularly well to a goody bag or a carrot. Oh, and there are also camel rides.
• wonderful venue, loads to do
• good food at both venues
• enough activities, shops and events to make a morning or afternoon of it
• service at the Free Range restaurant
This is a great combination of play area, outdoor seating and a restaurant. The coffee shop and restaurant provide good food, it’s a great venue for parties and gatherings, and there are two play areas, one in front of the restaurant and one behind in a large open playground.
Life-sized scarecrows litter the entrance passage, there are swings, jungle gyms, coin-operated rides (not always my favourite, but there you go), teepees, and generally a great spot in which kids can amuse themselves whilst their parents and friends catch up for five minutes. In winter there’s a roaring fire and a resident cat, although be careful, as she tends to be rather stroppy. Word has it that if you bring your own dish along, they fill it with a ready meal for that evening…
• beautiful views, good food
• great play area for children
• great birthday venue
• can get really hot in the back play area, so come armed with hats and sunscreen
Address: 2958 Dorman Way, Hout Bay
Telephone: 021 790-0841
Other spots worth a mention
• The Range, in Tokai
• Stodels Nurseries in Bellville and Milnerton
• Noordhoek Farm Village