The seasons are changing and this is the perfect time to head for Paarl for a quick break in the heart of the Cape Winelands. Within a 45-minute drive from Cape Town, this Boland town will captivate visitors with its scenic beauty, great food and wine and loads of activities for young and old.
As the third oldest town in the country, Paarl is steeped in heritage. Trace the history of the early settlers in South Africa and the origins and development of the Afrikaans language by visiting Paarl Museum, Het Gesticht and the iconic Afrikaans Language Monument. Enjoy a guided historical walk meandering through the town centre to discover the different architectural styles and buildings.
Nature lovers will enjoy escaping from the hustle and bustle of city life. Crisp, clear days are perfect for exploring the nature reserve, parks and the numerous outdoor pursuits.
Many of the attractions are geared towards kids, which makes for fun family outings. The Le Bonheur Crocodile farm in Simondium is a must stop. Kids can learn more about these ancient reptiles through an educational guided tour of the croc pond, where 1000 of these animals live. You can actually get up close and personal by holding and touching one of the smaller crocs. For the really brave-hearted, Le Bonheur has recently introduced a croc cage dive – but only for those that are older than nine. The family-owned farm has been in existence for over five decades and is ideal for a day outing, or even a kiddies party. In addition to the crocodiles, there are also emus and potbelly pigs, a dam for catch and release fishing and a cosy pizzeria.
For another animal encounter of a cuddlier kind, kiddies can meet some South American alpacas at either The Alpaca Loom in Paarl, or the Alpaca Farm in Wellington. Reminiscent of a favoured soft toy, kids can cuddle up to them in the petting zoo and even help feed them. There is a jungle gym and coffee shop at The Alpaca Loom and visitors can see how the alpaca fibres are woven on a loom and transformed into scarves, shawls and blankets. (The farm is open daily from 10am to 6pm, with special barn tours at 3pm from Fridays to Sundays.)
Looking for a kids-friendly lunch setting is just as easy with Rhebokskloof Wine Estate just around the corner. With acres of lawns and a jungle gym and jumping castle, this is an ideal lunch spot. On special days, events and festivals such as Ommiberg and for specially arranged kiddies parties, Romping Rascals transforms the whole area with toys, an obstacle course, pushbikes, tractor trikes and a trampoline – with adult supervision. A special kids menu is available for the youngsters, while adults can enjoy dishes from the restaurant’s a la carte menu with award-winning Rhebokskloof Wines.
On Sundays, there are special pony rides and plans are being made to develop a special MTB kids track. The newly opened Vivi Day Spa will even cater for special pamper parties for girls.
The historic Nederburg Wine Estate provides the grand finale for a day trip that the kids will remember for years to come. The staff has developed an inventive and entertaining kids tasting, featuring a mystery box that will appeal to their inquisitive nature. The pairing of hot chocolate and strawberry milkshake with marshmallows and cookies has proven to be an absolute hit – and the envy of many adults. With bubbles, crayons and pictures also provided, it will keep the kids busy, while adults can enjoy a selection of wine pairings. Kids tastings are R40 per child, while adult tastings are between R25 – R60 (depending on the wines). Bookings are advisable for larger groups.
Other kids-friendly venues in the area that can be added to your itinerary include the Language Monument, Kikka coffee shops with special kiddies sections, Under Oaks, Windmeul Cellar, the goat shed at Fairview and Laborie.
Accommodation options are varied and will suit any budget. Facilities range from five-star luxury with spa treatments for an idyllic romantic break to guest houses, value-for-money country cottages and self-catering establishments.
The Paarl Wine Route offers exceptional wine experiences at historic estates (some already mentioned), multiple-generation family farms, large producers and boutique wineries. The region has become renowned for producing world class wines and wine lovers will be spoilt for choice with a wide range of varietals and cultivars available. Many producers offer cellar tours, vineyard walks, specialised tastings and a variety of food and wine pairings. Enjoy an exquisite sweet wine liqueur and cake pairing at the KWV Emporium and stop at boutique winery Mitre’s Edge for a tasting – you can even spend the night at the luxurious guest house on the farm to explore the rest of the region.
Top-class culinary experiences await visitors around every corner with restaurants serving a variety of menus from authentic country classics, seasonal farm cuisine, casual bistro dishes, traditional grill houses to sushi, Mediterranean favourites and French-style fine dining.
New kids on the block Knus Karoo Kombuis draws its inspiration from the Karoo and will entice visitors with its warm and friendly ambience. This nostalgic coffee shop with a contemporary twist offers breakfast, lunch and sweet treats, while kids can enjoy organic wooden jungle gym on the grass.
If you’re looking for a special gift, a stop at the Fanglasstic workshop in Zandwyk Park just outside Paarl is a must. This family-owned business specialises in gorgeous glassware created through the art of fusing and slumping. Interested in trying your hand at the ancient art of glassmaking? Enquire about their special glassmaking workshops.
Enjoy a quiet mid-week break, a quick weekend getaway or spend your holidays exploring the beautiful Drakenstein region.
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