Family-friendly experiences in the Western Cape
struisbaai sea shack
What to expect: Struisbaai might not be the first coastal town on your list of getaways, but it should be. This little seaside town is an unassuming piece of paradise, with its deep turquoise waters, white stretch of beach perfect for family holidays. It also has an epic, long boardwalk that leads directly to the Sea Shack an awesome restaurant and bar built right on the beach. Panoramic views of the ocean and chilled, kid-friendly vibes make this the perfect spot to put your feet up after a day at the beach.
What to expect: Mountain bikers will rejoice at the prospect of a trip to the Cape Oveberg with some of the best trails in the country to explore here. Elgin, Swellendam, Gansbaai, the list goes on, with the region’s diverse terrain set to challenge and excite MTB enthusiasts with everything from jeep track and singletrack to big climbs and mad descents.
bontebok national park
What to expect: With the backdrop of the Langeberg Mountains and the Breede River running alongside it, the Bontebok National Park is the perfect day-trip and stayover. Rich in both flora and fauna, and a perfect place for birdwatching, the park has UA accommodation for those looking to stay overnight.
cape canopy tours
What to expect: Start your day with high adventure – and we mean ‘high’. The Cape Canopy zipline in the Hottentot’s Holland Nature Reserve is high-flying fun as you make your way down a total of 11 slides, the longest being 320m, taking in the beauty of your surroundings from an aerial vantage point. Open to ages 5-75, this is something the whole family can enjoy.
whale watching in hermanus
What to expect: You simply cannot visit the Overberg without stopping over in Hermanus for some whale watching. Considered the heart of the whale route, Hermanus is perfect for land-based whale watching and sea-faring tours. Whale season is officially open.
stanford boat cruise
What to expect: The beautiful, charming town of Stanford is a must-visit while in the Cape Overberg and while you are there, you HAVE to take a cruise up and down the fantastic Klein River located at the bottom of town.
Aquila Private Game Reserve
What to expect: A mere two-hour drive from Cape Town, lies the Aquila Private Game Reserve near Touws River. Boasting the Big 5 – elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo and leopard - and many other iconic African animals, such as the Cape Zebra and Hippo, the 4 star Aquila Safari Lodge is the perfect place to start your journey into the Cape Karoo.
What to expect: Stargazing is a must when visiting anywhere in the Cape Karoo it only takes you to look up and view stars pinned against a black canvas. From open vast landscapes, to sunsets following open starry night skies. The Cape Karoo is an untouched region just waiting to be discovered by you.
What to expect: The charming town of Prince Albert in the Cape Karoo is a 40km drive off the N1. Along this road you will discover vast landscapes and empty roads making for perfect photographic moment’s true Karoo style. Visit the Showroom theatre that hosts a number of unique productions, jump on board the Red bus for a historic tour around the town. Enjoy a ghost tour that happens every Friday as you discover the spooky stories as your journey through the graveyard and the quiet streets at night.
Art4Kids at Spice Route
What to expect: Explore all the Spice Route has to offer, while your kids find their inner-Picasso at the Barn Artist’s Studio Gallery. Fern Mocke offers fun and creative art classes for kids aged seven and older during the three-week winter holidays - perfect for those rainy day blues.
What to expect: Perfect for families looking to do something different in the Winelands, Scootours is an adventurous way to explore the magnificent mountains and wine farms surrounding the Franschhoek Valley in an exciting and family-friendly way.
What to expect: Not merely a butterfly park, Butterfly World is home to much more. A sanctuary for exotic animals, a bird sanctuary and a care centre for reptiles, this interactive experience is a perfect family outing.
Garden Route and Klein Karoo
outeniqua power van
What to expect: Perfect for the whole family, both the little kids and the big kids (moms and dads) will get to experience the beauty of the Outeniqua Mountains on this unique railway journey. The power van leaves from the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George and travels upwards through six tunnels, natural forests and fynbos, including an abundance of King Proteas, and culminates with epic views of the valley from the summit. The return trip includes a picnic about halfway down the track and ends back at the museum.
garden route trail park
What to expect: The Garden Route Trail Park is nestled at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains and the Karatara River Gorge, about halfway between Knysna and George. The park’s carefully designed trails have been designed with the all experience levels in mind, meaning it is perfect for the whole family to enjoy. With over 20km of hand-built singletrack, riders will be in heaven, while for the trail runners there is flowing forest trail, and epic scenery for both. There are also some fantastic accommodation options if you’re looking to spend the night and hit the trails first thing the next morning.
plett puzzle park
What to expect: The Puzzle Park near Plettenberg Bay is a great time for the family with two puzzles – a large wooden maze and a series of puzzle-based challenges in the forest. In the wooden maze, you will need to find your way to all four corners of the maze, collecting clues at each. Then it’s time to solve a riddle. The forest challenge is made up of 10 puzzles overall, and with the challenges quite tough, parents will more than likely need to lend a hand here, making it a combined family effort! After all the mind games, head over to the tea garden and gift shop for some down time. If you’re up for some more puzzles though, there are some optional word puzzles to challenge you.
cango caves zipline
What to expect: With only two lines at the moment, the Cango Caves zipline does not have as many platforms as other operators around the province, but the second line is 500m long, making it one of the longest in the Western Cape. It’s also a nice, quick way for the family to have some fun together before getting back on the road. Another nice touch is both platforms have dual lines, meaning you can shoot down with mom/dad and race them down! Moms and dads, make sure you stick around for a cup of coffee at the bottom – Cango Caves Estate serves arguably the best cup in Oudsthoorn.
sandboarding in mossel bay
What to expect: Welcome to the Dragon Dune! The biggest and longest sandboard ride in South Africa, ‘The Dragon’ is located in Mossel Bay and is the ultimate sandboarding experience. But while it is undoubtedly a beast of a dune, it is open to the whole family, with experienced operators on hand to help out anybody new to the sport. If you’re not quite ready to go down the dune standing up, you can opt to sit down or ride down the Dragon on your belly.
Cape West Coast (Weskus)
west coast fossil park
What to expect: The West Coast Fossil Park near the popular holiday destination of Langebaan, has one of the world’s richest concentration of fossils dating back some five million years ago. Discover fascinating stories of when sabre-toothed cats roamed the area, along with short-necked giraffes, four-tusked elephants and strange, three-toed horses. Adults can enjoy one of the fossil tours, and then grab a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, while the kids play in the play park.
west coast farm stall
What to expect: Eighty kilometres from Cape Town is a tranquil garden and nursery, the perfect place to catch your breath while enjoying a cappuccino and fresh scone with cheese and cream – YUM! There’s also traditional ox tail, fish and chips or eisbein and mash. The kids can visit the hundreds of birds and parrots on display in the garden and make their way onto a huge walk-on chessboard!
west coast national park
What to expect: Considered a jewel of the Western Cape, the West Coast National Park is just a 90-minute drive from Cape Town and just inland from the secluded harbour of Saldanha Bay. There is plenty to do, ranging from various hikes and mountain biking to kayaking and whale watching, while a picnic or lunch at the Geelbek restaurant are favourite pastimes in the park. There are also a number of fantastic accommodation facilities if you would like to spend some time exploring.
!khwa ttu san culture and education centre
What to expect: Embark on a fascinating journey into the culture, heritage, knowledge, skills and contemporary life of the San/Bushman people. Guided tours are offered and can be taken on foot or by bicycle. Indigenous to the area, the San have a wealth of knowledge of the region and are intrinsically tied to it. A great outing for young and old.
What to expect: Die Ou Tronk (Old Jail) in Vanrhynsdorp is located in a building dating back t0 1895 that has been recently restored. This lovely venue will captivate you with its small nursery, coffee shop, and locals waiting to share their stories. Perfect for the little ones and their parents.
What to expect: A family-friendly restaurant located right on the beach, boasting incredible views, amazing seafood and a great West Coast vibe. Grab a table on the stoep and soak in the atmosphere. The restaurant is also pet friendly if you have any four-legged friends you would like to take along for the drive.
cape nature bird island
What to expect: Lying about 100m offshore of Lambert’s Bay, Bird Island is one of only six sites in the world where Cape Gannet breeds and it is the only one that is accessible to the public. The island’s lookout will allow you to get close to the birds as they perform their unique mating dance, while you will also have the opportunity to view cormorants, cape fur seals and more.
tollies boat & river cruise
What to expect: Offering sunset and bird-watching cruises, Tollies Boat & River Cruise in Velddrif is an unforgettable experience for the whole family. Children will be well looked after with the boats adhering to high safety standards. Take along some snacks and refreshments, then it’s feet-up and time to relax.
Considered a jewel of the Western Cape, the West Coast National Park is just a 90-minute drive from Cape Town and just inland from the secluded harbour of Saldanha Bay.
Make it a family-friendly holiday in the Western Cape.