With a glut of public holidays (and a few school holidays thrown in for good measure) on the horizon in April I have been looking for good ideas of things to do with my kids. One of my first criteria is that they do not cost the earth because if you have 5 outings for 2 children and 1 adult which each cost R50 per person you are going to be paying out over R750 for one week of entertainment which is a bit ridiculous. And that is not even including drinks, snacks and parking!
Anyway most kids aren’t even aware of which fun things cost a fortune and which are free. It’s all about your attitude and enthusiasm which generates their excitement.
So here is a list of free things to do with kids in Cape Town. Yes, all these ideas cost nothing. I’m always keen on a bargain and free is the best bargain around!
Ideas for things to do in Cape Town for free
1. The beach – we are so blessed to live in one of the most scenic countries in the world with so many beautiful beaches. Some of my favourites for children are Fish Hoek which has a great playground, small waves and lovely catwalk, St James for the rockpools and pool, Muizenberg for body boarding, Blouberg – build sandcastles with a view, Bakoven and Beta Beach on the Atlantic Ocean side for private places to paddle between the boulders, Noordhoek for long walks and Windmill beach near Boulders for snorkelling. I prefer the beaches of the Indian Ocean side as the water is not as icy and there are lots of families and less tourists. We are very spoilt for choice!
2. The Arboretum – near Tokai Forest is lovely for a summer day when the beach is too crowded and hot or winter when a walk in wellies and a bit of drizzle is very atmospheric. This is a great place for nature treasure hunts and exploring.
3. Visit a Harbour – there are a few to choose from. The seals at Kalk Bay Harbour and a walk along the pier to watch the fishermen and boats is always a popular choice. The Waterfront is the ultimate harbour with lots to see – seals, boats, bridges, yachts, musicians, tourists etc just bear in mind that there are many temptating things to spend money on! Hout Bay harbour and beach is also worth a visit.
4. Ride bikes or skate boards or prams along the Sea Point Promenade and stop to play at the various parks. A great one is located right near the Mouille Point Lighthouse.
5. Pack a picnic for the park. In South Africa we have become quite nervous about public spaces but there are some lovely parks for kids in Cape Town and if more people got out and used them we could reclaim these public areas. Some great parks are Deer Park in Vredehoek (a restaurant overlooks the park and it is fully enclosed), Claremont Park, Liesbeeck River Park, Newlands, Keurboom Park in Rondebosch/ Claremont, Palmboom Park in Newlands, Arderne Gardens in Claremont, Maynardville Park in Wynberg, Brocker Way Park in Tokai, Seabreeze Park in Kirstenhof, Green Point Park in Green Point – this is a legacy project from the 2010 Soccer World Cup and is fantastic! Remember quite a few nursery centres have got great children’s play areas – Stodels in Belville, Earthworkx in Hout Bay, Ferndale in Constantia. Die Oog Bird Sanctuary in Bergvliet is a small well kept area situated in the suburbs. Remember to not only pack some sandwiches for yourself but bread for the ducks too.
6. A walk along the Green Belt – there are a few fantastic green belts in Constantia which are very popular for dog walkers and families with bikes and trikes. One of the best is the trail which starts just behind the Alphen Hotel. It runs alongside a river and is especially beautiful in Autumn when all the leaves change colour and start to fall. For details of the other trails in the area visit this website. Another great Green Belt is situated in Kirstenhof. It is much shorter but has a duck pond and park and a path for bikes and dog walkers.
7. Take a trip to the City Centre – lots of beautiful old buildings to see especially at the top end of Adderley street. I am especially keen to take my kids on a trip to the Central Library as well as one of the amazing old bank headquarters. While you are there walk up Government Ave and feed the squirrels in the Company Gardens. If you happen to be around town just before noon, take a drive up through the Bo-Kaap and past the many colourful houses to the Noon Day Gun on Signal Hill and listen to a short talk about the history of the firing of the canon. Boys are sure to love the loud explosion at exactly 12. Don’t be late!
8. A visit to the vineyards – The Constantia Wine Route is the oldest in South Africa and there are some really stunning vineyards dotted all over the valley. One of our favourites is Groot Constantia. There are great views down the to the Indian Ocean, a few ducks to feed, green lawn under gorgeous oaks to run along and some lovely historic homesteads. If you are up for a trip outside of Cape Town there are hundreds of wine farms from which to choose. Most offer free wine tasting for the adults, cellar tours and some have great plays areas for kids. Just the fun of visiting a working farm is worth it.
9. Rhodes Memorial – climb the huge stairs, enjoy the panoramic view of the city, do a short walk and explore the surrounding forest area. (A hike up the mountain is also a popular option but the safety of the area is not great at the moment so best avoid it for now.) If you are keen on doing a hike one which I can recommend is to do the Full Moon Hike up Lion’s Head. This is only an option with older kids or teenagers and adults with some level of fitness. You might find the mountain rather crowded on such occasions but at least there is safety in numbers!
10. Visit Noordhoek or Rondebosch Common – on opposite ends of the Southern Suburbs/ Peninsula. Both are great open places for kids to run, jump and explore. Pack a kite for windy days!
I would be so keen to hear of any other ideas you may have so please contact me if you have any suggestions! I live in the Southern Suburbs so there are more options of outings for this area by default but I would be interested to get ideas for things to do in other parts of Cape Town.
Here are few more articles I have written about “Things to do with kids”.
More free things to do in Cape Town with kids
Things to do in Cape Town for a special treat
Things to do in Cape Town that won’t break the bank
Things to do with kids on the Garden Route
images: Kathryn Rossiter