Exploring the small towns of South Africa is one of my favourite ways to spend a weekend. In fact my very first blog series on my site was about our Weekend Wanderings exploring all the Western Cape had to offer.
On our past visits to various places I’ve always done some research before arriving about what there is to do in a place but often you don’t really know until you actually explore it yourself.
So today’s blog post is all about the Top 10 things to do in the Robertson Wine Valley…. that’s the area around Bonnievale, Ashton & McGregor.
We spent a weekend in the area a few months back – 2 moms and 4 kids – and we were on the hunt for things to do with kids in the area, well ones that us adults would enjoy too!
I think you’ll appreciate this list as it has a little bit of everything that’s good about the country – fresh food, great wine, farm animal encounters and plenty of fresh country air!
Top 10 things to do in the Robertson Wine Valley
(incl Bonnievale, Ashton & McGregor)
1.Excelsior Wine Estate
First things should come first when visiting a wine valley and our first stop was Excelsior Wine Estate. There is a great wine tasting area for the adults (where you can do a wine blending experience and create a bottle of your own!) and there is a play area for the kids with large open lawns.
Our kids even got stuck into the row boat on the neighbouring lake – although I’m not sure that this is allowed! 😉 and probably not the wisest play thing for those who can’t swim yet! The neighbouring [email protected] deli is also really kid-friendly and would make a great place to fill hungry tummies!
There’s also a sand pit, a few friendly horses to feed and in Summer there is a child-minder to take them fishing off the dam’s jetty!
2. Marbrin olive farm
A highlight of our visit to this beautiful valley was our time at Marbrin Olive Farm.
Hidden down a really long, bumpy dirt track, this little gem is well worth the trek…
Us moms indulged in sampling a huge selection of olive products as well as local honey, balsamic glaze and some other secrets.
The foodie kids from our crew also enjoyed testing their taste buds, while those who weren’t so keen on the savoury samples headed outside to play, swing and run riot. The girls even discovered a chicken coop with eggs and a resident pig. Farm life at it’s finest!
If you’re keen to experience life on an olive farm and to learn about how olives and olive oils are processed as well as taste some stunning olive oils while enjoying the views from their terrace be sure to pop by. Open Monday to Saturday 9am till 4pm. Closed on Sundays.
3. Viljoensdrift river boat cruise
An experience not to be missed when spending time in the part of the world is the river cruise at Viljoensdrift. This is a really relaxing way to while away an hour or two.
Pack your own picnic from the deli then step aboard and find your spot to enjoy lunch with a difference!
My kids LOVED this… the cruise lasts about an hour and they really enjoyed spotting the bird life and watching the world float by (oh, actually we were doing the floating!)
The meander along the river, flanked by indigenous Breede River Yellowwood and Wild Olive trees, is a laid-back affair and the perfect way to spend time with family and friends.
Prices are R70 for adults, including wine tasting prior to departure, and R20 for children between 3 and 12 years. The boat which can accommodate 36 people departs daily at 12:00 and thereafter there will be trips hourly depending on the no of bookings (a minimum of 6 Adults). Advanced booking is essential. Check-in is 30 mins prior to departure.
4. Flag labyrinth at Le Roux and Fourie
If you’re looking to add an educational element to your weekend away why not head to Le Roux & Fourie’s Flag & Wine World Labyrinth.
The Flag ‘n Wine World is especially designed for kids of all ages to learn about and pray for nations and to explore world geography in a classroom without walls!
A scenic walk through the organic flag labyrinth helps to paint a picture of the world that is fun for the whole family, and also inspires a greater social responsibility that can impact our and other nations.
More than 220 flags were manufactured from recycled pallets and painted – a project that took 8 months to complete!
5. Van Loveren
A spot we head to on every visit to this valley is Van Loveren. This is a little spot of heaven especially on scorching summer days when the cool tropical gardens offer respite from the intense heat.
The gorgeous lush gardens are well worth a visit alone, but there’s also the delicious pizza’s at Christina’s, the stylish wine tasting area and the fun sweet & grape juice pairing for kids that make this a destination worth discovering.
Open 7 days a week (Note that this is until 3:30pm on Saturdays and 3pm on Sundays)
6. Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary
One of our favourite spots in the valley is the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary located on the road into McGregor. We have visited before and just loved the peaceful atmosphere and the wide open spaces, plus a cute donkey never hurt, right!?
Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary provides a permanent refuge for abused, neglected and elderly donkeys. Here they are given the opportunity to live out their lives with respect and dignity, surrounded by their own kind, in a protective and natural environment.
Every time we find ourselves in McGregor we try to swing past… on our most recent visit we stopped to spend some time with the donkeys but then we headed off to follow the marked path known as Adam’s Walk. It’s an interactive walk that takes you through the surrounding countryside and gets you to appreciate a little bit more of this beautiful part of the world.
And if you’re feeling peckish after all that exercise and fresh air then pop into the restaurant for a bite to eat. Open Thursdays to Sundays from 10am to 4pm.
7. Ashton Winery
If you aren’t a fan of wine then you want to know about Ashton Winery, aside from an impressive range of wines they are also widely regarded for their delicious sparkling grape juice that is beloved by adults and kids alike!
A visit to the valley is not complete without stocking up on some of this nectar… and while you’re there you might as well enjoy a game of cheese on the outdoor chess board or a spot of lawn games.
8. Platform 62
Platform 62 is a situated in the small town of Ashton on the scenic Route 62. It has a well stocked Wine Boutique with only the best wines from over 500 wine farms. Wine tasting is available daily from 9am to 5pm.
The Shed Restaurant and Farm Stall serve some of the most delicious homemade meals and preserves in the valley, including homemade pies, gourmet burgers, traditional Bobotie and curry chicken. There is a beautiful garden with a safe play area for the kids that has free roaming tame chickens, a pot belly pig and even baby chicks in summer.
9. Bird’s Paradise
Bird’s Paradise in Robertson is home to more than one hundred bird species such as Macaws, Hyacins, Conures, Pelicans and lots of waterfowl.
Discover birds from Australia to Peru, Central-America to Africa and Asia to Northern Wales.
There is a coffee & curio shop where you can enjoy a delicious meal while the kids enjoy the large play area outside.
Open Monday – Sunday between 08:30am and 5pm.
10. Weltevrede underground wine cellar
Another hidden gem in this valley is the underground wine cellar located in the old cement wine storage tanks at Weltevrede. We had visited this wine farm on a previous trip to the area and had no idea that lying beneath our feet was this fun experience!
On our second visit we discovered a whole new way to do wine tasting!
Make your way along candlelit passages until you reach the wine tasting room where you can enjoy the most unique wine tasting in the area, possibly in South Africa!
And, yes, even the kids enjoyed this one (although they weren’t drinking wine!)
There you have it…. My Top 10 things to do with kids in the Robertson Wine Valley. Let me know if you have any suggestions to add to this list of things to do in McGregor, Bonnievale, Ashton or Robertson! I’d love to get your comments and feedback!
Keep a look out for my next Top 10 Towns post coming soon – I’m rolling out a whole series of Top 10 lists of things to do with kids in various small towns across South Africa! Let me know which town you’d like to see covered and I’ll see what I can do!
Images: Kathryn Rossiter