Stellenbosch is fast becoming known as a child-friendly holiday destination. The small town boasts literally hundreds of restaurants, wine estates and other venues promoted as “family-friendly”. If you are struggling with information overload, here is a list of what we think you ought to be doing with the kids when visiting Stellenbosch.
Get out and enjoy nature. Jonkershoek Road provides a lovely drive through the Jonkershoek Valley starting from the edge of town and winding through the mountain range and vineyards for 6kms. The road can be driven by car or bicycle and if you do decide to be adventurous and hop on your bike you sure won’t find yourself cycling alone as the valley is a hot spot for cycling enthusiasts. The end of Jonkershoek Rd is also the entrance to the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. You will find a car parking area, bikes for rent, bathrooms and coffee shop at the reserve gate.
The circle route that starts at the gate of the reserve is a lovely 10km-long dirt road that can be hiked or cycled by the whole family. Or else, drive into the reserve and hike a more rugged trail in the mountains (the trail that leads to the waterfalls is very popular). After exercising grab food and drinks at Jonkershoek Café (next to the main gate of the nature reserve) or Ride In Café (a trendy coffee stop a couple of kms on your way back in Jonkershoek Rd).
See some animals: Giraffe House, Butterfly World & Eagle Encounters
Stellenbosch has heaps of animal activities for children but Giraffe House, Butterfly World and Eagle Encounters are at the top of the list if we must choose three animal encounters in the area. Giraffe House is a mini-zoo with an astounding variety of animals to see. A reptile show where children can see and touch a python and baboon spider is always great fun. It is probably the closest you will get to finding a zoo in the Western Cape since the closure of Tygerberg Zoo.
Butterfly World’s greenhouse is a wonderland filled with exotic butterflies, iguanas and small deer. Reptiles, fish, parakeets and other small animals can also be seen on the premises. Butterfly World is an unique animal encounter for the family, even when it is raining, as the butterflies and many other small animals are all housed under-roof.
Catch an interactive falconry flying show and get to see birds of prey at Eagle Encounters on the Spier Estate. A playground is also available for children to get rid of all that extra energy while the adults have their Spier picnics on the Eagle Encounters grounds.
Weltevreden has the biggest play park for children in town. Based on a carnival atmosphere, children can play while mom and dad sit down to a glass of wine or cappuccino. Everything at The Carnival is centered around the children and playing on the amazing jungle gyms forms the main attraction. Even the crockery and drink-ware in The Carnival-area are made from plastic to prevent little feet from stepping on broken pieces of glass and other accidents from happening. A cover fee per child above the age of two is payable.
Child-friendly Wine Estates
Visit a child-friendly wine estate. There are plenty of wine estates that have child-friendly restaurants and/ or coffee shops and other activities for children on the estate. If you don’t know where to start try the child-friendly deli at Tokara, a picnic at Warwick Wines or the playground at Mont Marie, Klein Dasbosch.
Serious about wine tasting? Try a wine estate that offers an educational grape juice tasting for kids.
Stellenbosch has a couple of markets that are open on weekends and these are often the ideal open-aired playgrounds for children. The Blaauwklippen Family Market is open every Sunday from 10:00 – 15:00 and offers pony rides, carriage tours, jungle gym and other children’s entertainment. Children get to see goats and llamas while parents can browse and shop anything from antiques to craft beer. Take a picnic blanket and enjoy your freshly-bought food from the market on the lawn.
The Old Woodmill Market is open every last Friday of the month in the evening and it is a good place to go when it is cold or rainy as this market is under-roof. The market has a supervised children’s play area.
The Root 44 Market has grown in popularity and is currently the biggest market in Stellenbosch. On weekends the parking area is packed with cars carrying license plates from all over the Western Cape. The market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 to 16:00 and has a children’s play area next to one of the seating section. There is also paid-for children’s activities.
And lastly, pick some strawberries
The Mooiberge Farmstall and its neighbouring scarecrows in all shapes and sizes (from soccer players to dinosaurs) that keep watch over the strawberry fields are real crowd pleasers. During strawberry season, from October to end-December, the whole family can join in and pick their own strawberries. Enjoy a light meal afterwards at The Thirsty Scarecrow, Mooiberge’s child-friendly coffee shop that has a special play area for the children. Do phone ahead as the crowds can get over-eager.
Else, try strawberry picking at the Polkadraai Farm on the Stellenbosch Arterial Rd/ M12, it may be less well-known, but its still a great family outing. Visit the popular Polkadraai Farm Stall for refreshments or goodies to take home or pack your own lunch and have a picnic in the Winelands on the lawn next to the strawberry fields.
This article forms part of our “What to do with kids in…[town]”-series.