It may be one of the world’s top wine destinations and a gourmet hotspot, but with plenty of child-friendly wine estates, lots of outdoor activities and less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the Cape Winelands is hard to beat as a winter destination for families. We’ve been taking our daughter (now 12) every year since she was born. Here are some of our top picks, where kids can have fun and parents can enjoy a glass of wine or two!
Where to play
1 Boschendal Tree House
Boschendal, between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, is one of the oldest wine estates in South Africa. It has beautiful picnic lawns, an organic vegetable garden, deli and two lovely restaurants with a farm to fork ethos. This year, we fell in love with their exciting new Tree House where ‘free range children’ learn all about farm life. Imaginatively designed, it’s an “edu-play” centre for children aged 4-14 and is complimentary for those staying in one of their cottages or dining at the Werf Restaurant but you do need to book 24 hrs in advance. Supervised activities include farm foraging, egg collecting, wood working, pottery, nature walks, climbing, cycling, horse riding and cooking on the camp fire. There’s even a cosy den with beanbags for watching nature films. Younger tots can also have fun at Boschendal’s “Splish Splash” water area.
2 Mish Mash Kids
Creative kids will love this new contemporary studio in Huguenot Square, Franschhoek, where they can choose from a range of crafty activities, from making bird houses to magic lanterns. Sessions last 1 hour and are available on a drop in basis anytime from 10am – 5pm daily (no need to book). Children 5 years and under must be accompanied by an adult, but those aged 6 and over can be dropped off, allowing you to discover Franschhoek’s lovely boutiques and cafes. They also have a selection of cool toys and stationary for sale.
3 Butterfly World
Walk through this tropical mini garden in Klapmuts to discover hundreds of vibrantly coloured butterflies flitting around. Children will also see smaller animals such as tortoise, guinea pigs as well as iguanas and reptiles. Afterwards, there’s a play area and a place to enjoy a cuppa.
4 Franschhoek Motor Museum
This world famous collection of over 200 vintage and classic cars knocked our socks off. Even for non –petrol heads it was staggering. Housed in four different halls, on the Rupert family’s wine estate, there are some priceless Bugattis, Ferraris, Ford Model Ts and other veterans dating back more than a hundred years. Many are in mint condition and most are still in working order.
Where to eat
5 Tokara Delicatessen
Set on the Tokara Wine Estate near Stellenbosch, with stunning vistas of the Simonsberg Mountains, vineyards and olive groves, this is an ideal spotfor a relaxed breakfast or lunch with the family. You can munch on wholesome mezze platters while watching your little ones play in the giant bird’s nest or the wooden jungle gym in front of the restaurant.
6 Babylonstoren Bakery
Don’t miss Babylonstoren’s Italian inspired evenings (Mondays and Fridays) at their Bakery where food is served family style from 7pm onwards. Bread and pizzas are crisp from the wood-fired oven and pasta is made in front of you. Salads are just picked from the organic gardens. (Booking is essential)
7 Warwick Estate
This top-notch wine estate near Stellenbosch offers delicious family picnic baskets which can be enjoyed on lush green lawns overlooking a dam. Whether you choose to relax on comfy cushions and blankets beneath umbrellas or book one of their picnic pods, it’s the perfect spot for a gourmet picnic and ideal for children. Kids have their own special menu, jungle gyms to entertain them and a water fountain to cool down in. (Advance booking essential)
8 De Villiers Chocolate Café
Divine chocolate, freshly roasted coffee and the best ice cream in the region are made in this Franschhoek café daily. You can sample all three, but our family’s favourite was the signature ice cream and sorbet tasting where you pick any 5 flavours to share.
Where to drink
9 The Wine Tram
One of the best ways to discover the picturesque vineyards and spectacular scenery of the Franschhoek Valley is on the Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour. The open-sided tram is a novel way for kids to travel and parents can enjoy the leisurely stops at some of South Africa’s oldest and most renowned wine estates.
10 Spice Route Estate
Spice Route is an exceptional wine farm near Paarl with lots on offer for everyone and makes a perfect day-trip. In addition to wine tasting, there is a brewery, a distiller, an art gallery, a glass blowing studio, a farm deli, a choice of excellent child-friendly dining options, including a pizzeria, an ice creamerie and a fabulous chocolatier where you can do tastings and learn all about how chocolate is made.
11 Spier Wine Farm
Whilst adults sample the vast array of Spier’s award-winning wines produced at this farm near Stellenbosch, children can have their own exclusive grape juice tasting. There’s a host of family-friendly activities too, including Segway vineyard tours for the over 10s and the popular Eagle Encounter where youngsters can get up close to South Africa’s biggest birds of prey, as well as snakes and lizards.
Where to stay
Lekkerwijnis well located in the hub of the Franschhoek – Paarl – Stellenbosch Winelands triangle and just round the corner from our favourite wine estate, Boschendal. Looking out to fruit orchards, this historic homestead has real soul and is more home than hotel. Its simple family rooms and self-catering cottages make it a good option for those on a tighter budget. Our daughter loved playing their piano, cooling off in the pool and feeding the animals. Nannies can also be arranged.
13 Boschendal Farm Cottages
Price: from £74
Boschendalhas long been famous for its picnics set in the estates beautiful grounds, but now you can stay too. Flexi self-catering makes it perfect for families who can stay in their fresh cottages up in the orchards, or closer to the Werf restaurants and deli and The Tree House.
Babylonstorenwill blow you (and your wallet) away with its magical organic gardens, rustic chic cottages and imaginative cooking. Their newly built family Fynbos cottages are gorgeous. Home up at your pad, then cycle down to their wonderful Babel restaurant – reason enough to visit. Kids activities include scavenger hunts, feeding their donkeys or harvesting fruit and vegetables. Parents can be spoilt in the Garden Spa.