7 local experiences to keep the kids entertained this festive season

A family of four enjoys a day out and picnic in the shade. Picture: Supplied

A family of four enjoys a day out and picnic in the shade. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 1, 2023


School is out and it’s time to travel and explore with loved ones.

According to Tourism Update, January to March 2023 saw a 40.5% increase in local holiday trips compared to the same period last year, underlining that South Africans are back to doing what we love most - travelling our beautiful country.

Multi-generational trips in the country are also up, meaning that granddad, grandma, mom, dad and the kids (including the fury ones) are also up for the adventure.

Keeping the family entertained, especially the kids, may seem like a daunting task but for inspiration, you just have to tap into your inner child by planning fun experiences and activities that you the adult can also enjoy. It’s that simple.

So if you’re looking for some inspiration on lekker local experiences to make your family getaway unforgettable, here are 7 experiences to add to your travel itinerary.

SANCCOB – Gqeberhaba & Cape Town

SANCCOB is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sea birds, primarily the endangered African penguin. It plays a crucial role in educating the public about marine conservation.

There are interactive tours at its centre every 30 minutes to teach families about the journey of rescued birds and the importance of conserving their habitats.

The centres are open 7 days a week from 9am to 6pm, however, please call to confirm.

Entrance Fees: Adult RSA citizens pay R50, and all senior citizens and children under 12 years pay R30. Take your ID or passport along for verification, as rates differ based on country of residence.

Ushaka Marine World - Durban

Ushaka Marine World is an aquatic wonderland boasting Africa’s largest aquarium (Sea World) and an adventure-packed waterpark (Wet N Wild) for family fun in the sun. You can explore the aquarium that is home to diverse marine life displayed in uniquely designed tanks.

There’s also a separate shipwreck aquarium. The whole family can also enjoy the waterpark that features an assortment of relaxing and exhilarating water slides and pools.

uShaka also hosts regular kid-friendly shows and special events at the aquarium.

Sea World is open daily from 9am to 5pm whilst Wet N Wild is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

When it comes to ticket pricing, there are various ticket options, including family passes and combo tickets for multiple attractions.

Check the website for the latest pricing: www.ushakamarine.com. Tickets are only available at the ticketing office.

Spier Wine Farm - Stellenbosch

Spier, set in the heart of the Cape Winelands, is renowned for its exceptional winery and commitment to family-friendly experiences.

The list of experiences on the farm include eagle encounters, where you can get up close with birds of prey in interactive demonstrations; craft markets where you can explore local arts and crafts, perfect for family browsing; kid’s grape juice tasting, which is specially curated for young ones to enjoy the fun of tasting while parents sample the estate’s iconic wines; play areas that are safe and engaging spaces for kids to play and explore, including their Elemental Play Garden and picnics where kids get to indulge in seasonally-inspired finger food beneath the farm’s oak trees.

Spier Wine Farm is open daily, however, check the website (www.spier.co.za) for specific timings and prices for various activities.

Noordhoek Farm Village – Cape Town

Tucked away at the foot of Chapman’s Peak, Noordhoek Farm Village captures the essence of rustic charm and simplicity.

There’s a playground that’s a safe and engaging area for children of all ages. The farm also has artisanal shops where you can explore unique local goods from little shops like Tenga Tenga and The Food Barn Deli.

It also hosts markets and events where the kids can find treasures and handmade wooden toys at their Wednesday market and enjoy regular events, such as potjie cook-offs.

There’s also live music where you get to listen to great SA bands at Café Roux in a fun and festive family setting. What about food?

Kristen’s Kick-Ass Ice Cream shop is a firm favourite with kids and the restaurants offer pub grub, wood-fired pizza, acclaimed chef-prepared tapas and sushi.

Noordhoek Farm Village is open daily but some activities may require booking in advance. For more information visit the website (www.thefarmvillage.co.za) or contact them for detailed pricing.

Monte Casino Bird Gardens – Johannesburg

The Monte Casino Bird Gardens is a serene sanctuary for over 60 species of birds, and possibly, Johannesburg’s best-kept secret. It hosts engaging and educational bird shows that captivate audiences of all ages.

It also has walk-through aviaries where you can walk amongst various bird species in their naturalistic habitats.

There are educational programmes designed to enlighten visitors about bird conservation and ecology and Garden Walkways providing an opportunity to see reptiles, small mammals and unusual animals as you meander past enclosures.

The bird garden is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm (confirm timings before visiting) and entry fees differ for various reasons, but normal rates are R105 for adults and children 13 and older, R70 for pensioners and children 12 and under, and R45 for hotel guests.

Loch Logan Waterfront – Bloemfontein

Loch Logan Waterfront in Bloemfontein is one of the largest shopping centres in the Free State, providing a retail experience combined with leisure options for the entire family.

The hopping centre has kid-friendly entertainment including play areas and gaming zones. Of course, you can also go shopping at a wide range of stores catering to all needs, from fashion to toys.

Loch Logan is open from 9am to 6pm on weekdays, 9am to 5pm on Saturday and 9am to 4pm on Sunday.

Market@theSheds – Pretoria

Market@theSheds promises an eclectic urban market experience and a celebration of local culture, arts, and cuisine and the perfect family day out.

Activities to enjoy include live music performances, exploring over 50 stalls featuring local artisans and their creations, from handcrafted jewellery to bespoke homeware, interactive and creative workshops designed specifically for kids, and food stalls with a wide range of food options showcasing local flavours and seasonal ingredients.The market is hosted every first Saturday of the month.

Entry costs R50 before noon, R100 before 2pm and R120 after 2pm. Kids under 13, Vespa riders and cyclists enter for free. Rates differ for special editions of the market, however visit www.marketatthesheds.co.za for more info.

The list was sourced from Flight Centre.