Recently I started profiling blogging moms from around the world on this blog in a new series called My City (with kids!), getting them to share insights into the family friendly things to do in their home towns…. until now the series has had a fairly international flavor, but today I’m sharing my space with a fellow South African blogging mama who calls Port Elizabeth (or Nelson Mandela Bay) home! Thanks to Luchae for joining me and for sharing all her favorite things to do in Port Elizabeth.
Read on for her insights into the “Friendly City” of SA!
Things to do in Nelson Mandela Bay (with kids!)
Growing up in Nelson Mandela Bay (then Port Elizabeth), I often huffed and puffed about the lack of exciting attractions and hot spots available in our little metropole. But I soon learnt that my hometown (of 35 years!) has a lot more to offer than I know! And, let me tell you, when you’re trying to entertain a preteen, a teen-teen, a four year old and a baby, options are your friend! So here are my favorite.
Top 10 things to do with kids in Port Elizabeth
We’re so lucky to live in a sunny coastal city complete with stunning beaches, endless stretches of sand and one of the prettiest boardwalks I ever did see. (Biased? Maybe!) Besides for the really gorgeous Kings Beach and Humewood Beach, our kids are spoilt for the choice at The Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World, located on the beachfront. Here they have an option of catching a movie, playing some outdoor mini golf or hitting the ever-popular game center!
Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve
If it’s sand and surf that you love, you need to check out the Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve. We’re pretty excited about the Heavenly Stables horse ride that takes you through the nature reserve. This is weather dependent, so I would definitely include it on our to do list during those warm Summer days!
Volkswagen Auto Pavilion
Our older kids love the Volkswagen Auto Pavilion, where they are able to explore the automobile discovery centre for free! This is the only automobile discovery centre on the continent and it is the fifth one, worldwide! Some of their favorite things to see include checking out the words oldest kombi and a car that was sliced in half, by laser!
Trip to the museum
Rainy weather does not have to mean lazing around indoors. Our favorite “bad weather” activity has to be a trip to the Port Elizabeth Museum where our kids are simply enthralled with the natural science and cultural history displays. From dinosaur figures to marine and historical artifacts and even costume and local history halls, there’s something for everyone. Must see: the Curiosity Corner and First People of the Bay exhibit! One of the museums most exciting attractions is the 15m skeleton of one of the last Southern right whales, which was harpooned in Nelson Mandela Bay. There is also a life-sized reconstruction of a gigantic prehistoric dinosaur, fondly known as Algoasaurus.
Kragga Kamma Game Reserve
Discover free-roaming buffalo, white rhino, giraffe, nyala, zebra, cheetah, bontebok and lechwe at the Kragga Kamma Game Reserve. This reasonably-priced game drive is always a highlight! We actually turn it into a lesson, as we share fun facts about the animals that we spot. There is also a self-drive option, but we much prefer the game drive.
Funky Frogs is a kiddies’ entertainment venue, with a soft toy set up and a host of fun activities, in a safe environment. We love the “adult friendly” vibe and often enjoy a hot cuppa and some delish snacks while watching our little ones meander around and hopefully play until they are ready to take a nap! This is my favorite place to unwind or even get some work done.
Our family-friendly restaurant of choice has to be Grillers Diner. We love the full on nostalgic late-American décor, the big red booths and, more than anything, the cool kids play area! The menu is well priced and their specials make feeding a family of six really affordable!
Ice skating at Baywest Mall
If we’re looking to score some cool parents points, we usually take our older kids to the ice rink at Baywest Mall. Since this is the only rink in the Eastern Cape, it’s quite a popular attraction and you would need to rock up early during school holidays, if you want to avoid long queues. Pay R80 to enter and an extra R35 to hire skates. There are group rates available.
McArthurs Swimming Pool
If public swimming pools are your thing, you’ll enjoy McArthurs Swimming Pool, located on the beach front. This family-friendly pool complex is another one of our Summer faves. The kids especially enjoy the water chute and open-air freshwater pools. I appreciate the splash pool and the fact that the change rooms are always kept neat (who has time for wet floors?!)
Nelson Mandela Bay Pass
We’ve recently discovered the Nelson Mandela Bay Pass card which offers great discounts and free activities! The pass card gives you access to a variety of touristy offerings (which includes some of the hot spots that I’ve listed above) and is pretty affordable, if you consider the value that you’re getting with it.
- 1-day unlimited activities pass – R400 adults, R300 kids
- 2-day unlimited activities pass – R475 adults, R350 kids
- 3-day unlimited pass – R575 adults, R400 kids
- 7-day unlimited pass – R800 adults, R500 kids
You’re also able to purchase a 3 month pass that is limited to 5 activities – R600 adults, R450 kids. Please note that children’s passes are only valid for kids aged 3 to 12 years. You can order a pass online.
My City (with kids!) – Luchae from Port Elizabeth
How long have you lived in your hometown? I’ve lived in Nelson Mandela Bay my whole life (35 years).
How old are your kids? My kids are: Kyle (17), Seth (12), Karis (4), Jonah (1)
Our favorite spot to visit as a family in our hometown is… Summerstrand/The Beach
My kids favorite outing in our hometown is… Going to the beach and the game centre at The Boardwalk
The don’t miss tourist attraction in our home town to visit (that the kids will also love) is…There are so many! The Campanile and Fort Frederick
Our favorite family-friendly good weather outing is… The beach, again haha
Our favorite family-friendly BAD weather (indoor) outing is… The museum (mentioned in the article) and Funky Frogs
The best free outing in our home town is… The beach (sorry lol)
Our “insider” tip for visiting our hometown is… The NMBT pass
The best family-friendly restaurant is… Grillers Diner
Be sure to try this kid-friendly local dish… Grillers rib burgers!
The easiest way to get around with kids is… via a hired car, definitely
The best family-friendly neighborhood to stay in is… Newton Park is very central and is close to schools and shopping malls.
Luchae Williams is a young wife and mom of four to a 16-year-old son, 12-year-old stepson, 4-year-old daughter and 18-month-old baby boy. She is a founder of the annual Eastern Cape bloggers convention, #ECMeetUp, and is the owner and content producer for her blog titled, My Spreadsheet Brain. My Spreadsheet Brain is a parenting, marriage and lifestyle blog that was birthed when Luchae realized that she enjoys talking to herself and that doing it outloud makes her look like a crazy person. The blog was voted runner-up in the Best Spirituality Blog category at the 2017 SA Blog Awards. It was also runner-up in the Best Parenting Blog category in the 2016 SA Blog Awards and was featured in Living and Loving in Oct 2016.