My children are 4 and 1 (13 months) respectively. Needless to say, going out for lunch doesn’t have the same appeal as it used to given that my husband and I can never sit at the table at the same time! One of us is usually running around after our 1-year old whose capacity for sitting at a formal lunch table is about 25 seconds and in those 25 seconds he has an incredible ability to create chaos on the table and relocate all visible cutlery and condiments onto the floor. In light of this, just imagine my absolute joy and delight to find the PERFECT venue for eating out with kids, whilst enjoying STUNNING, relaxing surroundings. Ride-In café and bike-hire on the Jonkershoek road just outside of Stellenbosch is probably now one of my all-time favourite venues. I love it so much I would happily hop in the car and make the journey from Cape Town especially. You are guaranteed a day very well spent.
Let me set the scene for you: You take the steep road leading out of Stellenbosch onto the Jonkershoek road, soon descending into the beautiful valley with mountains and vineyards either side of you. About 3km into the valley on your right is the entrance to Ride-In. You park in a spacious car park at the back of the venue and the path leads you into the most splendid garden. This time of year the plethora of flowers not only provides a colourful backdrop against the mountains but the smell just permeates the air with loveliness. The garden has two levels, the bottom level has a couple of tables under a shaded area as well as a great selection of wooden play equipment. The area is entirely covered by lush green grass and at the bottom of the lower level there is a bike path, perfect for little ones to entertain themselves on their bikes (remember to bring your own). We had lunch at one of these tables and my children were able to come and go as they pleased, enjoying the open space, the informality and the wonderful equipment. We were all able to enjoy our (delicious!) food, take in the beauty of the surroundings and just spend the afternoon together having fun. The top garden has more tables as it is right next to the café. A hedge separates these tables from the play area but it is very easily reached by older children who might not require as much supervision.
The café itself offers a wonderful selection of food and drinks. I had a bun-less beef burger (two roasted slices of butternut replaced the bun), which was easily the best of its kind I’ve ever had. The breakfast and lunch menu offers a good selection and there is also a selection of cakes, muffins and lighter options. The owner roasts his own coffee, which is not only commendable but also delicious.
Alongside the café and delightful garden, Ride-In is a mountain bike hiring venue as well as bike repair facility. To make a day-trip of it I would suggest the following: arrive early before it gets too hot, hire some bikes (adult and child bikes available as well as toddler/baby attachments) and cycle to the Jonkershoek nature reserve and back through spectacular scenery (10km in total). Alternatively, if you have older kids (or indeed no kids), you can go on to do the circular route within the reserve. Once back at the café, enjoy some well-deserved drinks/lunch and relax in the garden. You can of course also bring your own bikes but this is a great way to conveniently spend some active time together as a family in absolutely stunning surroundings without the hassle of bike-racks etc.
I can absolutely and wholeheartedly recommend Ride-In! Do make a point of visiting this summer and I guarantee you will be back again and again but only after telling all your friends about it first!