Things To Do In Cape Town With Kids

By Dieter Heiser Who came to Cape Town to work in the diamond mines, and now spends his leisurely retirement days sharing his beautiful city with guests

|Edited by Jess Wright

If Cape Town is the world’s playground, it is a veritable amusement park for children, with thousands of kid friendly things to do in Cape Town to keep the smaller members of the family entertained. While it’s probably true that modern kids just need a phone to keep busy, when visiting South Africa’s Mother City, they won’t have time to glance at their devices. Put the phones away, and get ready for an excursion of a lifetime, kids! Whether your children enjoy the sea or art, surfing or pottery, museums for culture and history or the wild outdoors and habitats of animals and birds – there is just plenty for them to do. Of course, it is all dependant on the age and special interests of your children, which is why I have given you a long list of exciting things to do in Cape Town with kids, all of which are destined to provide hours of entertainment for the kids, and some much needed rest and relaxation for the folks. 

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Getting Around Cape Town with Kids

Cape Town is a tourist’s paradise, but that doesn’t mean your Cape Town family holiday won’t come with its own set of challenges. Luckily for you, Cape Town is incredibly family-friendly – down to the family dog, who would be welcome in many, many places – and an easy city to explore with kids. While there is public transport available in the city, I wouldn’t recommend it to new visitors  – apart from the My Citi Bus which is very reliable and safe! The metro train system and minibus taxis that you will see across the city are at best unreliable and at worst quite dangerous, so avoid them. Instead opt for Uber, which is a great, affordable way to zip around the city or better yet – especially for longer trips away from the city centre, where Uber can get quite pricey – rent a car! Not only is having your own car super convenient with little children, it gives you the freedom to travel back and forth across the Western Cape – all of which is beautiful! – with ease, and in a budget friendly way. The usual car rental brands such as Avis are a sure-bet, while the local favourite Rent a Cheapie is best for travelers on a shoestring budget.

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Eat Up!

Like so many aspects of Cape Town, the food scene is as much fun for kids as it is for adults. When in Cape Town with toddlers you might not be enjoying the interiors of the many Michelin star eateries, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fantastic gourmet food while your children play at one of the many kid-friendly restaurants Cape Town! Kalkies is a winning option; cheap and thoroughly local, this on the docks setup offers classic no-frills fish and chips in the popular Kalk Bay, a local neighborhood out on the False Bay side of the city. Cafe Paradiso in Kloof gives aspiring chefs the opportunity to create their own pizzas, supplying dough, guidance and much-needed free-time for parents! Hudson's laid-back burger bistros serve tasty burgers and craft beer in a vibey, grown-up atmosphere with fantastic play areas. For kids that finish all their greens a sweet reward might be in order, and nowhere is better for that than Charly’s Bakery, with elaborate cookies and cakes that are a treat for everyone!
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Calling All Bird Watchers

If your children are fans of feathered creatures, head to the World of Birds – a true hit with animal-loving kids and adults alike. Here they will love feeding the birds and even get to interact a more mischievous kind of furry friends; monkeys! The largest bird park in Africa – and in fact, one of the very few large bird parks in the World – World of Birds is home to over 3 000 birds and small animals of 400 different species. Stroll through the spacious and picturesque aviaries, enjoying a closeness with nature rarely found in an urban environment. Have a rest in the lush, leafy grounds, enjoy some drinks and eats at the Robin's Nest restaurant while the children have fun playing at the playground, or indulge in a delicious picnic at the Flamingo Terrace, with a view of live flamingoes. Push-carts are available for a fee of R20 each, making exploring the park a fun and convenient outing. Open 09h00 - 17h00, 365 days of the year you can enjoy this activity year-round. 

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If you like this one, you might also enjoy SANCOBB; a rehabilitation centre for seabirds, including rescued penguins and flamingos. Recently upgraded, this is a stunning facility to experience the story of the penguins and seabirds of the Cape, full with educational colouring in and people in penguin suits! Or, you could go one better and see the penguins in their natural habitat! For this, head to Boulders Beach, which is out in the Southern Suburbs (making it a perfect stop if you’re driving around Chapman’s Peak), where you can get up close with the African Penguins who call this little stretch of sand - and its freezing waters - home.

For the Animal Lovers

Children's activities Cape Town including animals aren’t restricted to seabirds; if your little ones love furry friends head to The Company Gardens where they can feed squirrels and pigeons in droves. The gardens are beautiful and well kept, with many twists and turns to explore including a rose garden and some lovely colonial architecture. Time your visit well and you might be able to attend the Good Company Market – one of the city’s hidden gems – which takes place every Sunday from 10am to 3:30pm.

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Done exploring? Grab a table at the Company Gardens restaurant; it has a playground with giant bird nests that kids can get into! For the burgeoning zoo keepers who want more live animal interaction, head out of the city to the Alpaca Loom farm with coffee shop and petting zoo, where kids can interact with and learn about alpacas while mom and dad browse quality Alpaca wool products, and enjoy cakes and freshly brewed coffee. Close by, and worth combining into a single day trip, are Butterfly World – tropical gardens full of running water, birdsong and butterflies, as well as iguanas, snakes and spiders! – or Giraffe House. When you’re all petted out stop in at one of the wine farms along the way. Many farms, like Lourensford, do fun grape and juice tastings for kids while mom and dad unwind.

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Thrills for the Speed-Freaks

If you're looking for kid friendly things to do in Cape Town that are sure to thrill everyone in the family, the Cool Runnings toboggan should be your next stop! Named after the 90s film featuring four Jamaican bobsledders ready to compete in the Winter Olympics, Cool Runnings in Cape Town is a park boasting the first downhill tobogganing track in Africa. Fast, exciting and (best of all) safe, the intricate course of steel tracks and quality wheeled bobsleds is fun for everyone. While it is completely safe (no matter your skill level, which is likely zero), the combination of speed and skill makes for an adrenaline-filled challenge, sure to satisfy your need for speed. The track starts at the foot Durbanville’s slopes, where Cables haul you to the top of the course, before letting you loose at high speed, with nothing but the brake lever between you and the bottom, and a spectacular view of Cape Town stretched out ahead of you.

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Indoor Havens for Outdoorsy Types

Cape Town is an incredibly outdoorsy city with loads of outdoor things to do in Cape Town with kids, which makes living here with children fairly cheap. Enjoying the sea (which is icy cold!) or hiking and picnicking in the many parks and reserves that dot the city and surrounding mountains; all of this and more you can do for either a pittance or entirely free of charge! If the weather is bad, however – like on those super windy days in summer, or the cold and rainy ones in winter – don’t despair; there is an abundance of adventure activities indoors to keep your little adrenaline junkies active! For those with energy to burn, head to Rush – a giant trampoline bonanza – where your kids can bounce to their heart’s content. For adrenaline junkies seeking a thrill, CitiROCK is your port of call; a huge warehouse of towering climbing walls dotted with colorful grips and strung with state of the art climbing equipment. Perfect for beginners and experts alike, this will keep the whole family busy and is a great chance to introduce your kids to a rewarding new sport, perhaps inspiring a new generation of rock climbers.

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Pirates and Seafarers, Ahoy!

No matter where you are in Cape Town, the sea and the many vessels that use it for food or trade are a constant presence. A visit to the Waterfront is the best way to get up close and personal with the many types of vessels that frequent the city waters, with everything from cruise liners, cargo ships, fishing boats, fancy yachts and – perhaps the best of all for kids – the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship! Hop aboard this pirate themed ship for a cruise around the waterfront and harbour for great views and some fun photo ops with the kids. The fun doesn’t end once you disembark, with a plethora of fun Cape Town family activities lined up for you and the family at the V&A Waterfront. These include the PlayDate Super Park – where you can drop your kids off to have a ball, while you enjoy some shopping – or, across the road, the Gem World scratch-patch and mini putt-putt  as well as the Two Oceans Aquarium – a brilliant facility boasting a river with live birds and penguins, touch pools for interaction, a bubble head feature where fish can swim around your head and large tanks with sharks and seals. Keep an eye on the calendar for special events for kids, like aquarium sleepovers! 

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Chill out in Noordhoek

Noordhoek is a quiet coastal town, a great bet for where to stay in Cape Town with kids and an excellent place to call your home away from home on your family trip to Cape Town thanks to its quiet, tranquil atmosphere and brilliant stretches of white sandy beach (popular with horseback riders). But there’s still great access to the city, the mountain parks, and all the laid-back coastal suburbs of False Bay and Kommetjie. Noordhoek Farm Village offers some lovely family entertainment, with artisan bakeries, coffee roasters and juice bars, kid-friendly restaurants with playgrounds and pop-up stands with fun activities for children, including pottery and crafts. The nearby Chapman's Peak Drive is an activity on its own, linking Noordhoek with the city via a rugged stretch of coastline that offers absolutely breathtaking panoramic views of the Atlantic, and ends up in the quaint and picturesque suburb of Hout Bay. Visit Noordhoek farm village for breakfast before navigating the Milkwood Maze, relaxing on Kommetjie Beach or spending the day horse-riding along the beautiful Noordhoek Beach.

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