I’m a family travel and lifestyle writer, and throughout the years we’ve stayed at some wonderful places. Some have really stood out – places where we’ve made incredible memories. As a parent, we look at specific factors for a family escape. You don’t want to spend your entire holiday feeling uncomfortable, or worrying if your kids are too loud or too busy. You want to feel welcome. For us, there needs to be loads of space and our kids need to be catered for. As parents we know that when our kids are happy, WE are happy.
I’ve chosen 10 places in and around Cape Town where we’ve had a great time – and some places where our dogs have had a great time too. From city adventures to the great outdoors, I think you’ll find something in here that you’ll all enjoy!
1. Hout Bay: Tarragona Bed and Breakfast
This stunning B&B is situated 25 minutes from Cape Town. The rooms open up to a huge, indigenous garden with a big pool. Tarragona is very homey and relaxed with a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, making it ideal for kids (and parents!) They have board games, puzzles, kids books and outdoor games like badminton and swing-ball for the family to relax in the garden together. I felt right at home here! Great kids activities in the area include Clay Cafe, Hout Bay beach and World of Birds.
Rates: R950 – R2300 per person sharing. Kids under 3 stay free. Kids 4 – 12 pay 50% of sharing rate.
Contact: Tel 021 790 5080, www.tarragona.co.za
2. Overberg: Stanford Country Cottages
Stanford Country Cottages offers a variety of fully furnished, self-catering cottages for a perfect weekend break. There’s a river and jetty on the edge of the village with canoe rides or swimming on offer. Visit the country market on Saturday mornings for fresh produce and experience the family friendly restaurants in the area such as Stanford Hills and Madre’s Kitchen. Some cottages are pet friendly with enclosed gardens.
Rates: From R1000 per person per night for the first two guests, R150 per person thereafter. Special rates for mid-week.
Contact: Tel 082 320 0982, www.stanfordcountrycottages.co.za
3. Matjiesfontein: Lord Milner Hotel
Aah, country life! With family suites, cottages and two pools on site, my kids love this spot. Visit the transport museum, old post office and Matjies Museum for endless entertainment and exploring. The hotel has big landscaped gardens, a river and ducks. Visit Laingsburg next door to visit the flood museum. Keep the kids entertained with the rich history and ghost stories surrounding this little village.
Also read: Humans of Matjiesfontein
Rates: From R1 360 for a family of four, excluding breakfast.
Contact: Tel 023 561 3011, www.matjiesfontein.com
4. Elgin: Old Mac Daddy
Just an hour’s drive from Cape Town, I love Old Mac Daddy’s old refurbished airstream trailers with quirky décor. There is a dam on the property, several wine farms nearby and two jungle gyms, a pool and a kids’ entertainment room on the property. Babysitters can be arranged! A must-see for a weekend escape with a difference.
Rates: From R895 for two guests. Children under 2 are free. Kids 2 – 16 are R195 per night.
Contact: Tel 021 844 0241, www.oldmacdaddy.co.za
5. Overberg: Grootbos Nature Reserve
I fell in love with Grootbos as soon as I arrived. With a giant kids (and teens) gaming room, projector TV, child minders, endless entertainment, games and activities you won’t be able to fit it all in. Plant a tree in the Milkwood forest, take a dip in the pool, visit the petting farm, take a horseback or pony ride, picnic on the beach or explore the ancient caves on a guided tour. It’s certainly not a budget break, but almost all of your activities are included in the room rate. No other family retreat will top this one: I just want to go back over and over again.
Rates: From R2230 pp sharing, including meals, horse riding, tours guides and many other activities.
Contact: Tel 028 384 8008, www.grootbos.com
6. Stellenbosch: Spier
Just 40 minutes from Cape Town, my whole family loves Spier. They’ve got kid-friendly wine tastings (chocolate and grape juice pairing for the kids) as well as bicycle rides, golf carts, swimming pools, gorgeous restaurants and endless open space. (Check out five ways to explore Spier wine farm with your kids). Visit the Eagle and Owl encounters where your family will enjoy the bird show, watching the dancing owls and petting a porcupine – we had an incredible time at Spier.
Rates: R1600 per night for a family room (two adults and two children under 12.) Note: Kids stay free, but pay an additional R100 per child for breakfast.
Contact: Tel 021 809 1100, www.spier.co.za
7. Ocean way: MSC Sinfonia
Kids love ships and they’d be enthralled by this experience. MSC has recently upgraded their children’s facilities to make it more family-friendly. The MSC Sinfonia now has even more balcony cabins, more spacious public areas, a greater choice of restaurants and new clubs dedicated to younger guests, including the outdoor Spray Park with exciting waterfalls and splashy water slides. The ship also has special kids’ areas equipped with Chicco and LEGO products. MSC Sinfonia will only arrive in Durban late in 2015, and cruises from Cape Town in early 2016, so this is a planning-ahead adventure to have in your sights.
Rates: 2 nights out of Cape Town from R3060, including meals and non-alcoholic beverages. Kids cruise free, or for greatly reduced rates depending on cabin type and number of passengers.
Keen to get the kids outdoors and away from the television for a weekend? Take the dogs along for a weekend of wholesome, outdoor fun in nature. Beaverlac offers camping and very basic cabins with the bare necessities. Spend time with nature in a 5000 hectare valley surrounded by mountains and enjoy either of the two rivers: Honey Badger or Olifants. Two dogs allowed per vehicle.
Rates: R150 – R350 per cottage per night. Camping prices are R55 per person, with R35 per child between 4 – 17, and R50 per dog.
Contact: Tel 022 931 2945, www.beaverlac.co.za
9. City Bowl: Cullinan
If you want to be in the city, you’ll love The Cullinan. They’re very family friendly with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. My kids love the courtyard pool, but there are all kinds of nearby entertainment such as the City Sightseeing Bus – you can hop on, hop off and explore the city and its history. A great place to stop is the Company Gardens for a chance to stretch your legs and feed the squirrels.
Rates: Rates vary – contact hotel for latest specials.
10. Waterfront Luxury: Table Bay Hotel
The Table Bay hotel has a direct entrance to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, which hosts countless shops, movies, restaurants and cinemas. We explored the harbour, visited the Scratch Patch and watched the performers in the amphitheater over an ice cream cone. You could also take a cruise to Robben Island. The Table Bay Hotel has loads of kiddies activities on offer during school holidays and have a gorgeous pool and jacuzzi spa for kiddie fun! Treat mom to a spa session while the kids explore the endless entertainment on offer.
Rates: Rates vary – contact hotel for latest specials.
Contact: Tel 021 406 5000, www.suninternational.com/table-bay