Part 2 of our article on suggestions for activities with children when you are on holiday in the Cape. (Click here to read Part 1 of Things to do with kids in Cape Town if you missed it…)
Museums & Indoor Attractions (Also perfect for rainy days)
I have mentioned one museum already (Rugby Experience in What to do with Children in Cape Town) and will mention another later on (The Simonstown Warrior Toy Museum). These indoor attractions below are all either in the City Centre or what we call ‘the Southern Suburbs’, about 10-15 mins drive from the city centre.
Click here if you want to go to our Cape Town Pages
12) Planetarium, SA Museum & Company Gardens
The Planetarium forms part of the South African Museum and lies at the top of the Company Gardens in the city centre.
The Planetarium, is a ‘celestial theatre’, utilising the complex Minolta star machine and multiple projectors to transport you through the wonders of the universe. Inside the domed auditorium, they recreate the night sky. Thus the Planetarium sky is always clear, regardless of the weather outside. There are scheduled ‘shows’ which change constantly. Check out their website for what’s on whilst you are here. There are usually two shows, one aimed at younger children and one aimed at teenagers (and interested parents).
Whilst there, check out the SA Museum as well which focuses on South Africa’s natural and social history. It is very informative but it’s fair to say that it is not cutting edge in terms of interactive exhibits for kids. But well worth spending an hour if you have time.
Afterwards you can enjoy a stroll through the company gardens, perhaps having lunch at the new contemporary garden restaurant and enjoying the contemporary art exhibits.
Opening Times: Open daily from 10am to 5pm. Planetarium show times on their website
Age Range: Planetarium shows – varies; Museum all ages
Price Range: Low
Contact Details: 021 481 3900 or http://www.iziko.org.za/museums/planetarium
Note: This website also gives you details of all the government-owned museums in Cape Town.
13) Hint Hunt at Old Biscuit Mill
This is a fantastic option for families with older kids or teenagers. It’s in a non-descript building at the trendy Old Biscuit Mill. Parties of between 3-6 people (so ideal family size) are given 60 minutes to solve your way to freedom. On arrival you are shown to a room and the door is locked. You have 60 minutes to collectively crack codes, decipher difficult puzzles and unearth a series of clues in order to secure your freedom. “It’s like Big Brother meets CSI” explains one of the founders.
This little exercise has proved immensely popular being voted one of the top attractions in Cape Town. There’s an exhilarating heart-racing sense of urgency as you desperately navigate your way through all the puzzles using the props at hand in the room.
Of course it will only suit certain types of families, ones who are competitive, enjoy a challenge and ones which can work as a team (and don’t get too worked up!) Apparently there’s a less than 50% success rate but win or lose, everyone enjoys it.
Afterwards you can browse through some of the charming trendy shops of the Old Biscuit Mill or enjoy one of the many great eateries which have opened up in and around the Mill.
Reservations: You need to reserve a set time to participate using their website. You can book up to 3 months ahead.
Age Range: 12 years up but you can be younger. (Obviously with younger children your chances of succeeding go down…)
Price Range: Ok for family of 4 (Price varies by number of people)
Contact Details: 021 404 1967, 3rd floor, Old Biscuit Mill, 373-375 Albert Road, Woodstock www.hinthunt.co.za
14) Heart of Cape Town Museum
A great but little-known museum documenting the story behind the world’s first heart transplant which took place in South Africa in 1967. Great for older kids with enquiring minds. In the same area as the HintHunt at the Old Biscuit Mill and the Science Centre.
Guided Tours: 9m, 11am, 1pm and 3pm, 7 days a week
Age Range: 8 – 16 years
Price Range: Low
Contact Details: 021 404 1967, Groote Schuur Hospital, Main Road, Observatory
15) Science Centre
Though it’s not exclusively Capetonian, the Science Centre is a great option for kids (and parents) and is also conveniently close to the Heart of Cape Town Museum. With more than 250 interactive exhibits and mind-boggling puzzles, the Cape Town Science Centre is a world of discovery under one roof.
As well as a series of fun and often inter-active science exhibitions, there are also scheduled exhibitions and shows, usually at the weekends. See their website for the outline with times.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 9am to 4.30pm, Sunday 10am to 4.30pm
Suggested Age Range: Perhaps 5 years upwards
Price Range: Low
Contact Details: 021 300 3200, 3708 Main Road, Observatory www.ctsc.org.za
What to do with Children around the Cape Peninsula
There is so much on offer on the Cape Peninsula that you could easily spend two days here, if you have time. If you don’t have two days, then you’ll have to pick and choose unfortunately…
Suggested two day programme:
Day 1 – World of Birds – Duiker Island – Chapmans Peak Drive – Cape of Good Hope Park
Day 2 – Simonstown, Boulders Beach, Imhoffs Farm & perhaps Kirstenbosch (See Part 1)
Alternatively you could combine the second day with shark cage diving/whale-watching in season (See Part 1)
The following are in sequence assuming that you travel around the Cape Peninsula from Camps Bay to Hout Bay to Noordhoek to Kommetjie to the the Good Hope National Park to Boulders Beach to Simonstown…
16) Hout Bay – Duiker Island Seal Cruises
From the city centre, Waterfront or Atlantic side, most people first head to Hout Bay to the start of the spectacular drive along the Chapmans Peak Drive with its breath-taking views. This is great for all ages and not to be missed.
However before leaving Hout Bay, you may want to take a boat cruise out to Duiker Island (also commonly known as Seal Island) to see the Cape Fur Seals in their natural habitat. There are several companies operating but we recommend Drumbeat Charters as its boat is specially designed to be able to get close to the thousands of seals. The cruise takes approx 40 minutes. They also have longer cruises which include Chapmans Peak or Shipwrecks.
Scheduled Cruises: 8.30am, 9.15am, 10am and 10.45am
Age Range: All ages
Price Range: Ok to Pricey
Contact Details: 082 658 7055 or http://drumbeatcharters.co.za/
Note: You can also visit World of Birds in Hout Bay which is a massive bird aviary. Contact them on 021 790 2730, Valley Road, Hout Bay www.worldofbirds.org.za
17) Imhoffs Farm
Imhoffs farm is a good place to stop en route to Cape Point (or on the way back if you prefer). This historical Cape farmstead offers a variety of amusements from a lovely farmstall, to a series of small craft shops, a popular cheesery and three eateries ranging from a coffee shop through to a sushi bar. There’s loads on offer for kids from camel rides to cart rides, face-painting, horse-riding, the petting farm yard and even a snake park. This is unashamedly touristy but it makes for a great place to spend an hour or two which the kids will love…
The horse-riding is only for older kids (12 years upwards) and caters to all abilities with outrides (approx 1.5 to 2 hours) on the beautiful Noordhoek Beach. Pre-booking is essential.
Opening Hours: 9am to 4pm
Age Range: All ages
Price Range: Low. Different attractions cost small amounts. Nothing too expensive except the horse-riding which is for older kids only.
Contact Details: 021 783 4545 or www.imhofffarm.co.za
18) Cape Peninsula lighthouse in Cape of Good Hope Park
This windswept park of rolling hills with its stunning coastal views is a must-see for most visitors to Cape Town and provides a focal point for a family day out. Depending on how energetic you are, you can walk the final 20-25 minutes uphill to the lighthouse (10-15 minutes on the way down) or you can opt to take the Flying Dutchman funicular railway up to the viewpoint.
It’s very busy in season so we recommend booking ahead for lunch at the Two Oceans Restaurant (Tel 021 780 email@example.com).
Why not take the low road and take the steep walk down (and back up again) to the old lighthouse. Here you will get away from the crowds and enjoy some stunning mountain and ocean scenery. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour in total.
If you have time you can also pop into the Cape Point Ostrich Farm which lies very close to the entrance of the Park.
Opening Times: Park: 6am to 6pm from Oct to March; 7am to 5pm April to September. The Furnicular train, restaurants and shops are only open from 9am to 5pm
Age Range: All ages
Price Range: OK
Contact Details: 021 780 9010, http://capepoint.co.za/
19) Simonstown Warrior Toy Museum
Simonstown is a charming little town on the Cape Peninsula, which has been a naval base for over 200 years. It served as a Royal Navy base until 1957 when the town was finally handed over to South Africa. The area around Jubilee Square has many interesting shops, street vendors as well as a statue of Just Nuisance, a great dane adopted by the Royal Navy who would kindly lead drunken soldiers back to their club! It’s worth a stop here for something to eat and to visit the charming little Toy Museum which has a permanent display of 4,000 model cars, 500 dolls and teddy bears. Miniature dolls houses, two fully functioning railway sets and lead soldiers are on display. It’s like going back in time to how we all used to play as kids before social media!
Opening Hours: 10am to 4pm
Age Range: 6 to 12 years
Price Range: Low
Contact Details: 021 786 1395
20) Swimming with African Penguins
This is one of those little Cape Town secrets. Yes the best sightings of the colonies of penguins are at the official Boulders Beach Penguin Colony site (which is next to the beach). BUT if you park on the southern side of the colony ie if you are coming from the Cape Point National Park, you can also pay a small fee to enjoy Boulders Beach. The penguins can and do swim around from the ‘marine park’ to swim in and out of the boulders so that you can swim with the penguins.
Of course we do recommend that you also visit the Marine Reserve to see the penguins en masse for the best photography.
Opening Times: 8am to 5pm from Oct to March; 9am to 5pm April to Sept
Age Range: All ages
Price Range: Moderate
Contact Details: 021 786 2329, 1 Kleintuin Road, Simonstown, www.sanparks.co.za
Note on Price Range used above:
Low typically means less than £12 or $20 for a sample family of 2 adults and 2 kids under 12 years
Moderate is typically less than £25 or $40 for this sample family of 4
OK is typically less than £50 or $80 for a family of 4
Pricey varies and we suggest you check the website for exact pricing. Pricing and telephone numbers were correct at time of press with current exchange rates, but are subject to change.
Bio: Cedarberg Africa is a specialist tailor-made tour operators for Southern and East Africa. Africa is our home as well as our passion. Feel free to contact us if you want some assistance planning your Cape Town trip, or anywhere else in Southern Africa for that matter.