As much as you’d love your kids to enjoy learning about local history, haggling in the markets or challenging their palates with a few unusual delicacies, the reality of family travel is that sometimes you just need to find a family-friendly attraction. Luckily, Cape Town abounds in activities for every member of your clan.

Family, with children, parents and grandmother, walking together along the beach at sunset.
Some of Cape Town's beaches are ideal spots to head with the family in tow © Alistair Berg / Getty Images

1. Beaches

Surrounded by water, there are some great family-friendly beaches in Cape Town. St James Beach, which is near the train station of the same name, has a tidal pool for safe swimming. For older kids there is a 2km coastal path that offers views and a chance to spot seals and whales. That path leads to Muizenberg Beach (also accessible by road), which is famous for its colourfully painted Victorian bathing chalets. You can hire surfboards and get lessons for the kids from various shops on Beach Rd. The beach has a gentle slope and the ocean is safer here than elsewhere along the peninsula.
Best for: Little ones, tweens, teens

A curving wooden walkway sweeps through the landscape above the botanical garden; Table Mountain makes a stunning backdrop.
The elevated walkway in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden © EcoPic / Getty Images

2. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Clinging to the back of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch is a remarkable garden with large lawns, themed gardens and forest to explore. Tots will love a picnic on the grass while older kids will enjoy the treetop walkway and might even relish the challenge of a hike on the lower slopes of the mountain. And everyone will appreciate a slice of cake or a decadent hot chocolate in the tea room at the end of the day. 
Best for: Little ones

Introducing Cape Town & the Garden Route

3. Blue Train Park

This rather quaint park operated by the rotary club has been operating since the 1950s. The centrepiece is the miniature train that performs endless rotations around the park’s other attractions – football pitches, jungle gyms, climbing walls, a skating rink and a bike track. It can get pretty crowded with birthday parties on weekends, but the views make up for it – sitting at the ocean’s edge in Sea Point you get great views of Lion’s Head as you breathe the fresh Atlantic air.
Best for: Little ones

A young child of five or six stands with face and hands pressed up against a massive glass wall, behind which is a sea of fish, kelp and other marine life.
Besides leaving hand (and nose) prints on the glass of the displays at Two Oceans Aquarium, kids love the touch tank and play area © Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Lonely Planet

4. Two Oceans Aquarium

Cape Town gets its fair share of rain, particularly in the winter months (June-August) but there are surprisingly few wet weather activities on offer. The excellent aquarium can easily occupy a couple of hours. For young ones, the touch tank is fun, and the play area with its puppet shows is always a big hit. Kids over eight can meet the rockhopper penguins up close while over 12s can dive in the tanks, assuming they have a diving qualification. Be sure to check out the feeding times for the penguins, sharks, rays and the resident turtle.
Best for: Little ones, teens

You might also like this: Mother City markets: where to shop 'til you drop in Cape Town

5. Middelvlei

There are plenty of wineries offering activities for kids, but Middelvlei is one of the best. Start off with some lawn games then grab a bucket of animal feed for the pigs, goats and chickens. And while the grown-ups sit down for a wine tasting or the lots-of-fun blending experience, kids can tuck into the well-thought-out juice and candy pairing experience. Lunches are also kid-friendly, with a traditional braai (barbeque) where kids can toast their own marshmallows.
Best for: Little ones, tweens

You might also like this: Cape Town's controversial (and free) public art

6. Massimo’s

Restaurants with kids’ play areas are fairly common in Cape Town and good food is abundant. But finding both in the same place can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Massimo’s, in the seaside suburb of Hout Bay offers authentic Italian cuisine with the added bonus of a huge outdoor play area. Best of all, while the kids play, their parents can enjoy views of the surrounding mountains while chomping on some of the city’s best pizza.
Best for: Little ones

A family with two kids at a rocky lookout over Cape Town on top of Table mountain; below the bay sweeps along to the horizon.
The fun doesn't stop when families reach the top of Table Mountain by the rotating Cableway © BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock

7. Table Mountain

It’s usually at the top of every visitor's list of things to do in Cape Town, and kids of all ages should be no exception. The fun starts with the Cableway, which rotates 360 degrees as it swoops riders atop the mountain in just under five minutes. Once at the top, a series of fairly flat pathways make for easy, whinge-free walking. Get younger kids to keep a tally of the dassies (rock hyraxes) that they spot along the way and challenge older ones to perfect their photography skills from the many lookout points. Braver kids can even join a scooter tour and freewheel down the lower slopes. The only downside is the queues that form on busy days. Buy tickets online and arrive early to minimise the wait.
Best for: Little ones, tweens, teens

You might also like this: 10 free things to do in Cape Town

8. Springbok Experience

Whether your offspring knows much about rugby or not, the Springbok Experience is a lot of fun. Interactive exhibits allow you to train with the national team, testing your passing skills, kicking ability and general fitness level. It’s the kind of place adults want to explore and feel less silly doing so with their kids in tow. 
Best for: Tweens, Teens

A sailboat sits at a dock, with an historic lighthouse and clocktower in the background; the sky is cobalt blue.
The V&A Waterfront has plenty to offer families, from rides on pirate ships and the Cape Wheel to spotting sea lions © Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Lonely Planet

9. V&A Waterfront

You can easily spend a day shopping and dining at the Waterfront, and luckily there are plenty of ways to keep kids entertained as well. The Cape Wheel is a nice way to give children the lay of the land, with several landmarks visible from the top. Once the ride is over, try the hour-long trip into Table Bay on a pirate ship, complete with face paint and cutlasses. Head over to the Clock Tower precinct to spot (and smell) sea lions basking on the jetty and if it all gets too much, you can drop the kids at PlayDate SuperPark – an indoor assault course – while you shop for crafts at the Watershed market. And for teens of course, there is a mall!
Best for: Little ones, tweens

You might also like this: Five of the best Cape Town day trips

10. Cape Town Science Centre

While it pales in comparison to science museums in cities like London and New York, Cape Town’s science centre is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. There’s a giant Lego pit, a hugely popular construction site complete with wheelbarrows, trowels and rubber bricks, plus plenty of interactive experiments for all ages. It’s mostly geared towards the under 10s, though tweens will get more out of the daily demonstrations and experiments than little kids will.
Best for: Little ones, tweens

11. Spier

It is one of the Winelands’ most commercial wineries, but it’s easy to see why so many people visit Spier. The expansive estate is extremely child friendly, with kid-sized tables and colouring activities scattered about the various restaurants and tasting rooms. There’s juice tasting, excellent bird of prey displays and for older kids, Segway tours through the estate. The attached hotel comes with a kids’ club so adults can relax while the kids are taken care of.
Best for: Little ones, tweens, teens

Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter.

Explore related stories