As you know, we are in a worldwide health pandemic. The risk is real. However, our children still need to be stimulated and burn off some energy, and we as parents need to stay sane. The occasional activity outside the home, with the necessary precautions, could make this situation more sustainable and create an opportunity to spend quality time together as a family. Here is a list of activities, walks and open spaces to enjoy. Sanitise regularly, keep the distance, avoid meeting in big groups and remember your masks.
Green Point Urban Park
Open every day from 7am – 7pm – entrance is free, but the various children’s play areas are still closed off due to Covic-19 restrictions. The park has vast open green spaces great for running around, kicking a ball around or having a picnic. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a lead at all times and the owner picks up all excrement. There are lovely water features, ducks and nature trails through indigenous fynbos areas. Grab a take away coffee and some Las Paletas ice creams (100% natural and free from artificial flavourings and colourants) for the children in the café.
Blue Train Park
A beautiful enclosed park bordering onto the Promenade in Beach Road, this park is iconic in Cape Town and is now open. The park has a mini skate park, a blue train that takes off every few minutes for a loop around the park, a dirt bike track, a soccer pitch and fantastic wooden climbing equipment for children. With plenty of fresh sea-air and open spaces, this is a great way to keep the kids active and stimulated.
Opening times: Tue – Thu 1pm – 6pm; Fri – Sun 9:30am – 6pm. Cost: R20pp
Battery Skate Park: Waterfront
Situated at 19 Dock Road at the V&A Waterfront this skate and scooter park is built to world class skate park standards. With a great view of the canal and the waterfront, in clean and safe surrounds with benches and grass edges for parents to relax, it offers a great space for kids and teenagers to skate and enjoy themselves. Just a note to remember sunblock and/or hats on sunny days as it can get hot on the concrete skate area.
De Waal Park
If you need to get your dogs as well as your kids out for some exercise, this is the perfect place. De Waal Park is a dedicated dog park with a range of wooden play equipment for children. There are various water fountains dotted around the park for your fur babies and bins provided for clearing up dog excrement. If you still want to avoid your children using shared play equipment, the park is big enough to run around in or have a picnic without having to use the play area. It is doggy – heaven and a very peaceful place to come to at the end of the day when it’s golden hour with lots of happy doggies running around. Situated in Upper Orange Street, Oranjezicht.
Rugley Road Park
This is a lovely little enclosed park with the most dramatic view of Table Mountain. It is frequented daily by parents or nannies with children and it feels safe and clean. Bordering onto it is another green space accessed by a gate where your dog can run around. It has a bike track circling the park so bring scooters, bikes and pushbikes along. Situated in Rugley Road, Vredehoek.
Nestled next to the Oranjezicht City Farm, this is a great community play area with large old oak trees and plenty of squirrels. In addition to the wooden play equipment under full shade, there are several green patches of grass for kids or dogs to play. If the adjoining farm is open, do pop in there and walk around as it is probably the most tranquil spot in all of Cape Town with a view to die for.
Clay café, Houtbay
This well-loved creative space in Houtbay’s doors are open again! Open every day from 9am -5pm for clay painting – suitable for kids as well as adults. They Clay Café also boasts an outside play area with a little stream running through it and a large sandpit. They serve delicious food (the pizzas in particular) as well as Truth coffee. For those that need it, they have gluten free sweet treat options – the brownie is really yummy. The tables have been moved two metres apart with screens between them. The studio fee is R40 plus the value of whatever clay item you choose to paint.
This is an adventure trail in the trees with different courses set for different abilities, starting at age 3. Kids are harnessed in and helped by friendly guides to navigate the treetop obstacle courses. This is great fun and wonderful for child gross-motor development. For more details go to www.acrobranch.co.za
Ferndale Nursery, Constantia
A wonderful nursery with a fabulous playground at the back. Be sure to purchase a bag of duck feed – there are plenty of chickens and ducks wandering around on the grounds but also in the dedicated area behind the old tractor. Enjoy the maze, the sandpit, the wooden climbing frames and the beautiful leafy setting. If you get desperate for a drink there is usually a food truck in the garden serving lovely hot chocolate and boerie rolls.
Little Stream Conference Centre and Tea Garden, Constantia
This delightful tearoom is set in a stunning garden under big oak trees. Enjoy a take-away coffee or a treat and wander down the path with your children to the stream where they can catch crabs, play in the bamboo forest or just run around in the big open spaces. It is situated at the top of Klein Constantia Road to the right of the entrance to Klein Constantia Wine Estate.
Good Thyme Café (Milnerton)
Located at the back of Stodels in Milnerton this café has a great outdoor play area. The wooden play area has sea sand under foot, which adds to the fun. The café serves meals and drinks and safety precautions such as temperature checking and sanitising takes place upon entry. Tables are available in the play area as well ensuring appropriate social distancing in the fresh air. Open 7 days a week from 9am -5pm.
Meerendal Wine Estate (Durbanville)
This wine estate has a lot to offer even when no wine sales are allowed. The farm has sprawling grounds to walk and cycle on and has played host to the Cape Epic mountain bike race in the past. The mountain bike and walking trails are open again from 7:45am – 5pm Tuesday – Sunday. The mountain bike trail costs R50pp and the walking trail R30pp. Ask at reception which walking trails would suit the ages of your children. Please note no dogs allowed on this estate.
Meerendal has a lovely play area and farmstall where you can grab deli items or a coffee and the Wine Estate also hosts Carlucci’s restaurant with its own play area. Carlucci’s are open from 8am – 5pm daily.
Constantia Uitsig Bikepark
This popular bike track is open 7 days a week from 9am -5pm. However, it now operates on a booking system to control numbers during the pandemic. Bookings can be done on the website – look for the Shop and Bike Park Bookings Tab and then find the Bike Park Permit tab – 25 riders per hour are allowed and they ask that only 1 parent accompanies their children to limit the amount of people inside the park. A day permit is R50 per hour. Spectators are free of charge.
Constantia Uitsig Estate
The Blockhouse Restaurant is located on the same wine estate as the Bike Park. The garden has an enclosed wooden play area. Enjoy a coffee or a meal on the veranda whilst your kids play.
The Heritage Market can be found on the right as you enter the estate. This is a row of cottages each featuring artisanal food producers. We would most certainly recommend Kristen’s Kickass Ice Cream – arguably some of the best ice cream in town. Constantia Uitsig has become the kind of venue that would meet the needs of a family on many levels on a day trip out.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden will be open from Monday 3rd of August 2020. However, strict rules apply: Screening will take place upon entry, masks must be worn at all times in the garden, picnicking and gathering in large groups are not allowed, physical distancing measures will be enforced, the use of the children’s jungle gym is prohibited and limitations of daily numbers might be imposed. The tearoom, Moyo Restaurant, Garden Centre and Bookshop will be open. Opening hours: 8am – 6pm every day. If you wish to reduce contact please book online.
Another wine estate that has a lot more to offer than wine! Vergelegen has one of the best outdoor play areas I think I’ve ever seen. It is set in the most stunning of locations with mountains as the backdrop and stunning estate grounds aplenty. The play area has a water feature and a variety of play equipment as well as a wooden tractor and wooden animals. The estate hosts two restaurants – I would recommend the Stables Bistro style family friendly restaurant which is less formal and has tables within view of the play area. The food is great!
Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie is another destination on it’s own. It has plenty to offer families – there is the Higgeldy Piggeldy farmyard where you can feed small farm animals (R20 entry per person which includes the feed) and the Blue Water Cafe with it’s wonderful natural play area entwined around a large tree as the central feature. The outside seating options are within sight of the play area as well as the farmyard. The more adventurous can enjoy 4×4 routes, paintball and horse-riding – booking is essential. There is a selection of artisan shops and deli’s dotted around the property, making for great browsing.
Deer Park Cafe
This well-loved park and cafe has plenty to offer. The cafe offers socially distanced meals (using free-range, unprocessed and local ingredients where possible), as well as take-aways. They have transformed the inside of the cafe into a deli where they sell health-promoting foods, often organic or unprocessed. Grab some Las Paletas ice cream for the kids and a coffee for you and enjoy the sun outside as the kids play. Situated at the bottom of Deer Park Drive West, Vredehoek.
Valley Feeds, Hout Bay
This nursery not only sells organic plants (I recently bought a lovely rosemary plant from them) but has two fantastic, separate child-friendly areas. The first is the restaurant with outside seating which has a play area in the sand as well as a water feature and several small animals. The chickens tend to walk around the tables, which should be very entertaining to your kids. The second, is an enclosed bike-track (probably more suited to under 8’s so bring scooters, balance bikes etc). There is a fantastic wooden ‘fire-station’ and ‘petrol station complete with wooden petrol pump for ‘filling up your bike’ en route. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm. For more info go to https://valleyfarmhoutbay.co.za/valley-feeds/
The bonus of being in a city surrounded by nature, is the easy access you have to it. There are probably hundreds of different trails on the mountain but not all are child friendly. Below are a few of our favourites to do with children. Very important: please be sure to only walk during peak times (mornings before 9:30am and afternoons from 4pm onwards. The mountain has unfortunately become a target for occasional robberies but if you go at these peak times the traffic on the mountain increases and the concept of safety in numbers applies. Also avoid walking entirely alone even in peak times. Being outside in the fresh air, on trails that do not allow for big groups (therefore enabling social distancing), is, in our view, one of the best things you can do at the moment.
The Green Patch:
I am sure there is a proper name for this trail but this is what we call it. Park at the top of Deerpark Drive East, Vredehoek, and follow the trail where it veers off to the left. The trail runs just behind the houses and flats but still feels entirely like you are in nature as the mountain is right next to you. A few hundred metres from the start the path opens up into a beautiful patch of green grass surrounded by natural fynbos. Our kids simply love this space. The trail goes on towards the quarry where it opens up onto a number of longer and more strenuous trails for walking and cycling so you can tailor it to your needs and ability.
This forms part of Table Mountain National Park and is a wonderland of trails and streams and mountain bike trails. If you follow the gravel path to the left as you enter the park, it will lead you on a circular walk that is easy enough to do with children and allows for some hopping and skipping over the stream towards the end of the loop. Park at the top of Deer Park Drive West, Vredehoek.
This is a firm favourite amongst families and dog walkers. Park in the car park on Alphen Drive, Constantia, and enjoy the circular walk. There are several swings hanging from the trees along the trail and a wonderful river/stream to fuel the imagination of little ones. You can make this walk as long or as short as you want as it does extend well beyond the circular loop to the bridge.
This is another iconic place to walk or cycle as a family. Masks are compulsory and most people do seem to be wearing them on the Promenade now. We have been several times in the last few weeks and it has not been particularly overcrowded. Park anywhere in the several car parks along Beach Road, Seapoint.
Cape Point Vineyard, Noordhoek
This estate has opened some walking trails at R20pp to be enjoyed by the public on Saturdays and Sundays. Walks need to be pre-booked on their website to ensure social distancing is maintained. You can enjoy wonderful sea views as well as the lush and beautiful fynbos on the mountain. Spoil yourself and book a picnic after your walk – the cost of the walk is refunded to you if you book a picnic. You can find more details on their website www.capepointvineyards.com
Lion’s Head to Signal Hill
Start this trail to the right of the Vida Coffee Stall on Lion’s Head. The trail is very easy and mostly flat. You can walk all the way to Signal Hill and back and it offers absolutely stunning views of the ocean, the city, Lions Head, Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range.
Sandy Bay Shipwreck Hiking Trail, Houtbay
If you have slightly older children this is a great circular walk that is mostly flat apart from the steep hill one needs to climb at the shipwreck in order to get onto the top path. The walk can be as long or as short as you want it to be as you don’t have to do the loop (the loop can take about 3 hours at an easy pace). Park in the car park at Eustegia Way in Houtbay and follow the path you will find at the top. There are two routes, one from Sandy Bay and the other from the contour path you will find as soon as you get to the big sand dune at the top of the car park. Please note Sandy Bay is a nudist beach. If you need more specific directions you can do a search of the trail details online first – it is also called the Oude Skip Hike. Dogs are allowed. If your kids are anything like ours you might get stuck on the massive sand dunes at the start of the hike which is often used for sandboarding. Our kids had great fun just running up and down the sand dune.
This is a very popular walk. It is relatively easy and boasts some of the most stunning scenery of the twelve apostles mountain range and the ocean at Camps Bay. It is safe at peak times due to the amount of trail-runners frequenting it. Do yourself a favour and do this walk, it feeds the soul. Just as you drive onto Tafelberg Road there is a little car park on the right. The trail starts there with a few steps that takes you onto the contour path. If the little car park is full there is a larger one on the left as well.
Drive all the way to the end of Tafelberg Road, well past the cable car. The road is eventually blocked off – park here and walk or cycle up beyond the barrier. The road carries on endlessly so you can make the walk as long or as short as you want. Plenty of people walk here at peak times so it is safe and the road is wide so social distancing is not a problem.
Intaka Island, Century City
Intaka Island is a series of natural wetlands and manmade islands. The 16- hectare nature reserve boasts 125 species of bird and 170 different species of plants. Usually open to guided tours, school groups and boat rides along the canals, Intaka is currently only open for self-guided walks. Please wear masks at all times and adhere to the social distancing requirements where needed. Limited numbers of people allowed in the bird hides and sanitation is required upon entering each hide. Bring binoculars and enjoy this green wildlife treasure in the heart of the city.
This is a lovely walk that takes you all the way into the back of Kirstenbosch. Park at the Constantia Nek car park (this is the traffic circle by La Parada and the car park is behind the fruit sellers). Follow the road all the way up from the car park and it becomes a gravel path. Keep following signs for Kirstenbosch. The walks takes about 1.5hrs and requires mild to moderate fitness. My 5-year-old managed it. If you don’t want to walk back, you can leave a car by the Constantia Nek entrance to Kirstenbosch or if you consider it safe enough, Uber back to your car.
This isn’t so much a walk as it is an outdoors experience in a beautiful natural setting. Set in lovely manicured gardens on the banks of the Liesbeek river this is a great place to bring your children for a stroll on the well-maintained path. Alternatively, make some paper boats or catch some crabs – do bring nets as we have managed to catch (and release) crabs on almost every occasion we have been here. There are several picnic tables dotted about.