Many of the Waterfront activities have been designed with children in mind, making it Cape Town's foremost family destination. The top attraction here is the Two Oceans Aquarium. Face painting, drawing, and puzzles are on offer in the aquarium's Alpha Activity center, and staff often arranges sleepovers and excursions to interesting and educational locations for ages 8 to 12. Call tel. 021/418-3823 to find out what special kids' entertainment will be available when you're in town. On the way, stop at the Scratch Patch, where kids literally scratch through mounds of semiprecious stones, selecting their own "jewels," after which they can play a round of crazy golf.
Catch the kiddies' Blue Train in Mouille Point (tel. 021/434-8537; Mon-Fri 3-5pm, Sat-Sun 11-5pm); next door is a maze and an outdoor putt-putt (crazy golf) course. In town, the noon Planetarium show is held every Saturday and Sunday, where they attempt to answer such simple astronomy questions as "Why is the sky blue?" and "Is the sun round?" To get there, take a stroll along Government Avenue (enter from Orange St., opposite Mount Nelson), armed with a bag of nuts to feed the almost-tame squirrels. Afterward, take high tea in the Mount Nelson gardens, or head for Deer Park Café. It's the city's most child-friendly restaurant, with a great kids' menu, and it opens onto a large public play park shaded by stately trees. End the day by ascending Table Mountain in the rotating cable car -- a thrill for kids, with rewarding views for adults. Pack a picnic as well as sun block, hats, and a jacket, in case the weather turns.
A gentler experience is to chill out with a picnic next to a burbling stream at Kirstenbosch Gardens, or -- if you don't want the hassle of shopping at a deli -- head for the shady oaks at Le Pique Nique, Boschendal, near Franschhoek (or Groot Constantia, where Jonkershuis restaurant supplies the goodies). In the Paarl area, visit Butterfly World (tel. 021/875-5628), where 22 different species of butterfly flit about a tropical garden; Drakenstein Lion Park (tel. 021/863-3290), a sanctuary for captive-born lions; or the Le Bonheur Croc Farm (tel. 021/863-1142). Better still, head to Spier, near Stellenbosch, a one-stop wonder for kids. Here they can get up close to cheetahs and other predators, watch a fantastic bird show at Eagle Encounters Raptor Rehabilitation Centre (this is really tops), ride horses, or feed ducks and play in the parks (www.spier.co.za). For Eagle Encounter bookings, call tel. 021/858-1826. If this wets the appetite, consider a day safari at Aquila.
Closer to town is a walk through the World of Birds Sanctuary, Valley Road (tel. 021/790-2730), in Hout Bay (though it's looking a little down-at-the-heel currently, due to lack of funding). Then take one of the cruises to Seal Island, departing from Hout Bay Harbour. Imhoff Farm (tel. 021/783-4545), in Kommetjie, offers country-style refreshments, camel rides, horseback riding, crafts shops for kids, and a snake and nature park to entertain.
When all else fails, there's always the beach. Try Boulders, where the temperature is slightly warmer, tidal pools are safe, and the penguins are genuinely entertaining. Visit the Warrior Toy Museum (tel. 021/786-1395), on Georges Street, in Simons Town, on your way.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.