Soft sand beaches, the mountain and its myriad activities, wildlife spotting, the carnival atmosphere of the Waterfront and much more: Cape Town takes the prize as a lekker (Afrikaans for 'brilliant') location for family vacations.

Beaches & Boats

There’s no shortage of beaches, with those on the False Bay side of the peninsula lapped by warmer waters than those on the Atlantic Coast. Good choices include Muizenberg, St James, or lovely Buffels Bay at Cape Point.

Boat tours are abundant: Tommy the Tugboat and the Jolly Roger Pirate Boat are at the V&A Waterfront, while cruises leave from the harbours at Simon’s Town and Hout Bay.

Playgrounds & Parks

There are two inventively designed playgrounds at Green Point Urban Park. Mouille Point has a big play area, toy train and golf-putting course. Sea Point Promenade also has playgrounds, and swimming at the pavilion. In Vredehoek, there’s a good playground beside Deer Park Café.

Animals, Birds & Sea Life

Check out the local marine life at the excellent Two Oceans Aquarium; the birds and monkeys at Hout Bay’s World of Birds or the wetland reserve of Intaka Island; a happy-footed African penguin colony at Boulders; wild ostriches, baboons and dassies at Cape Point; and the birds at Rondevlei Nature Reserve. Farm animals live at Oude Molen Eco Village and at Imhoff Farm, where you can even arrange camel rides!

Interesting Museums

Science and technology is made fun at the Cape Town Science Centre, where there’s usually some special activity scheduled. The South African Museum offers giant whale skeletons, and star shows at the attached planetarium. The Castle of Good Hope, with its battlements, museums and horse-and-carriage rides, offers an entertaining visual history lesson.

Shopping & Eating

Toy and kids’ clothing stores are found at all the major shopping malls. For a fine selection of secondhand items and a play area visit Merry Pop Ins. The Book Lounge has a great kids’ book section and story readings.

Weekly markets, including Neighbourgoods, Bay Harbour Market and Blue Bird Garage, have play areas and kid-friendly food. For fish and chips, try the Waterfront, Hout Bay and Simon’s Town.

Need to Know

  • Websites Try Cape Town Kids (www.capetownkids.co.za) for listings and features of local places and events that will appeal to kids, or Child Mag (www.childmag.co.za) for a South African parenting guide.
  • Babysitting Hire a local sitter from Super Sitters.