I don't have any children yet myself, but I've hung out with enough couples who have small tots to know that once kids are in the picture, your social plans are dramatically altered. Gone are the late-night trips to trendy new restaurants and bars, replaced instead with 8 am breakfasts at a raucous, family-friendly restaurant. Farewell, leisurely Saturday afternoon at the gallery; hello, story-time at the library. But Cape Town, I’ve learned quickly, is full of family-friendly activities where I enjoy tagging along, too. Many of the most popular kiddie activities revolve around beaches and hikes, but I've polled my friends and put together this list of five unique family-friendly activities in Cape Town, ranging from the aquarium to outdoor summer concerts—the kind of things that parents (and their childless friends) can enjoy as well.
Two Oceans Aquarium
With 3,000 marine animals to see, your family could easily spend an entire day at this world-class aquarium. If the kids tire of the penguins (but really, how could they?), there's also a kids playroom with babysitters, slides, puppet shows, face-painting and more to keep them busy.
This farm near Cape Point has activities that appeal to all ages. There's a petting zoo, snake park and gym; you can also try your hand at paintball, horseback riding, off-roading and even camel riding.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Set on the slopes of Table Mountain, this 101-year-old, 90-acre garden is filled with unique indigenous plants for the kids to discover (7,000 species, to be exact), but it's also the site of open-air concerts and movie screenings all summer long. Bring a picnic basket and while away a whole afternoon here.
This hip indie bookstore on Roeland Street is one of my favorite places in Cape Town. But according to my friends, their kids love it too, thanks to their popular, Saturday morning story-time sessions. Each week, enthusiastic staffers get into character and read to a rapt audience. Sometimes, the authors themselves come by to read to do the readings.
As you might gather from the name, this indoor tropical garden is home to 24 types of butterflies—but that's not all. You'll also get up close to monkeys, birds, meerkats and iguanas (there are also spiders and scorpions, but rest assured those guys are locked up in glass cases).