Unleash your inner Picasso, Rembrandt, or even Andy Warhol with Art Jamming; a fun, engaging, and wholly unique activity that is 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 your 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. There are two studios in Cape Town: (1) Shop G26 Willowbridge, Carl Cronje Ave, Tygervalley, Bellville and above Toy Kingdom at the V & A Waterfront.
Take the kids on an exhilarating pilgrimage to the top of Cape Town’s iconic mountain. Once at the top, you could spend hours admiring the incredible city, ocean, and peninsula views and wandering the network of pathways that wind around the mountain’s fynbos-carpeted summit. Look out for colourful agama lizards and sunbathing rock hyraxes (known locally as “dassies” – small, rabbit-like animals with sombre faces). You can take a picnic with you or, alternatively, stop at the Table Mountain Café for a family-friendly lunch.
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 families with the guidance they need to create something meaningful. They even have a decent (and licensed) on-site restaurant and a huge garden for kids to play in.
Address: 4080 Main Road, Hout Bay
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 Angels, 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.
Hike Up Lion’s Head
Right next door to Table Mountain is another of Cape Town’s iconic mountains: Lion’s Head. There is a short 1-2-long hike to the top, the summit of which reveals panoramic views of the city, peninsula mountains, and up the West Coast of the subcontinent. The hike is extremely popular for people of all ages and fitness levels and families with clutches of small children are a dime a dozen along the route. Just keep a sharp eye on your little ones because there are some steep drop-offs and, in parts, hair-raising climbing to be done.
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.
Address: 10 Myhoff Road, Claremont, Cape Town
Dive beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean at the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V & A Waterfront (without a wetsuit and without getting wet). Explore the enchantment of the kalaeidescopic life that thrives beneath the surface of the ocean embracing South Africa: an educational experience that thrills people of all ages. From sea horses and starfish to enormous marine fish and sharks, there are live exhibits to explore and even interactive experiences for the little ones.
Address: Dock Road, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town
Located on Queen Victoria Street in the heart of Cape Town, you’ll discover a cultural haven at which a family could easily spend an entire day: the Iziko Natural History Museum and Planetarium. The museum maintains a beguiling record of South African history from well before the arrival of the settlers until well after. There are life-like and life-sized replicas of dinosaurs and whales, which kids will love, and an extensive collection of Africa’s (taxidermied) birds and beasts. Attached to the museum is the Iziko Planetarium, which has just recently been revamped and updated. Here, visitors are invited to sit all the way back in their recliner seats and watch as a fascinating digital show about the stars, constellations, and universe unfurls on the darkened dome above.
Located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch’s sweeping, emerald gardens are a colourful and audacious celebration of life. Visitors here can get to truly appreciate the majesty and diversity of the Cape floral kingdom by meandering on the network of pathways that lead through protected Fynbos, ancient trees, forests, edible food gardens, and more. When the kids get hungry, you can stop in at the Kirstenbosch Tea Room (ktr.co.za) for a lovely menu of family-friendly treats – they also prepare picnics while you wait, which you can take into the gardens to enjoy.
Address: Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town
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.”
Address: Suite 202, 2nd Floor Standard Bank Galleria, 120 Main Road, Claremont
Feed the Squirrels in the Company Gardens
In 1650, the first European settlers in the Cape established the Company Gardens, the original task of which was to grow fruits and vegetables to refresh and restock the merchant ships travelling to India via the Cape. Today, the Company Gardens are beautifully kept and a wondrous, historic place for families to explore by foot. We recommend a winding walk through the garden’s various attractions: the rose garden, bird aviary, minute forests, and past the historic buildings that line Governors Avenue. Here, you’ll find vendors selling snacks so why not purchase the kids a packet of peanuts, get comfortable on one of the gardens’ many lawns, and encourage them to entice the resident squirrels – of which there are scores – to eat the nuts out of their hands?
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 so go to the website to check out their programmes.
Address: 370B Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town
The World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park is an enchanting daylong activity that immerses visitors in nature. Wind your way through humid micro-biomes populated by kalaeidescopic tropical birds, large raptors, and owls; take a step into the squirrel monkey enclosure and feel their little paws as they crawl all over you; and watch the keepers feed the penguins, flamingos, and pelicans. Bird enthusiast or not, the World of Birds is an institution and a delightful diversion for families visiting Hout Bay.
Address: Valley Road, Hout Bay
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! The entry to Mineral World is free, but it costs between R25 and R130 to fill a small to large bag up with pebbles from the Scratch Patch.
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. A round of golf only costs R30 per player (R25 for groups of 10 or more) with a refundable deposit of R20.