Found in the diverse Overberg Region, Elgin is one of South Africa’s prettiest valleys.
With its rich fruit- and wine-producing history, peaceful country vibes and incredible indoor- and outdoor-experiences, Elgin is also an incredibly family-friendly destination outside Cape Town as we discovered on a visit to the area last year.
Now that lockdown levels are easing, it’s the perfect time to start exploring again, and where better to go that to a local spot you haven’t visited before! Our visit to the Elgin valley a few months back was such a pleasant surprise. We’ve so often whizzed right past it, yet we’ve never chosen to spend a weekend here. And that’s something we now know was a big mistake.
The verdant valley of Elgin has so much to offer families looking for a weekend getaway less than an hour from Cape Town.
For this post, we reveal the ten best things to do in Elgin with kids:
Best Things to Do with Kids in Elgin
1) Fun Adventure Tours with Elgin Adventure Centre
Operating from the dynamic Elgin Railway Market (another featured gem in this post), Elgin Adventure Centre are the go-to place for Overberg adventure-seekers.
They offer guests everything from 4×4, MTB and e-bike tours, hiking and even ziplining.
Best of all, they really understand that families want to have fun together. So many of their activities cater to all ages. (Although some activities still have age limits, so please enquire before booking, if unsure.)
For families with younger children, choose a bike ride through the wine valley; hike at Paul Culver (kids aged 9 and up); or a 4×4 mountain-top adventure.
For teens aged 16 and up, try something a bit more adventurous, like quad biking or a guided MTB tour.
Elgin Adventure Centre Contact Info
Activity rates: Rates vary according to the chosen activity – but generally range between R350 – R900.
Tel: +27 (0) 71 509 1747
2) Scenic Ziplining with Cape Canopy Tour
Canopy Tours South Africa has branches dotted across our beautiful country – but its Grabouw branch, Cape Canopy Tour (also operated by Elgin Adventure Centre) provides visitors with the unique opportunity to enjoy incredible ziplining in the stunning Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve.
This is one of the Cape’s most daring family experiences (and one where I have pushed my own limits previously) Despite the scare factor, it is suitable for ages 5-75!
What’s more, young children are well taken care of because they safely zip in tandem with a professional guide, giving parents added peace of mind.
The zipline course is excellent, well-built and offers every possible safety measure. While the guides and management are top class and knowledgeable.
With 11 ziplines, a fun suspension bridge, slides up to 320 metres long and breathtaking Cape scenery all around you (including a gorgeous waterfall) – Cape Canopy Tour gives families a once-in-a-lifetime to soar through the skies (literally)… and you will love every second of it!
Cape Canopy Tour Info
Activity rate: R895 per person (applies to both children and adults).
Adult and child (under 18) combo: R1 390.00
Private tour (up to 8 people): R6 795.00
Tel: +27 (0) 21 300 0501
3) Visit the Exciting Elgin Railway Market
Housed in a former apple shed, Elgin Railway Market has fast become one of the Cape’s most popular, child-friendly markets.
Here, families can enjoy browsing incredible stalls (offering everything from tempting local food to gin, beer and wine tastings to handmade crafts, fresh flowers and thoughtful gifts); enjoy listening to great live music performances and above all, spend a day relaxing in the countryside.
The market is also famous for the steam train, which makes the trip from Cape Town to Elgin. When it stops at the market, it thrills visitors, young and old alike.
Based at the market, families will also find Elgin Adventure Centre. They can assist with excellent guided tours that satisfy all your outdoor adventure needs.
For kids, there is the freedom to run about in the fresh country air, tackle the popular climbing wall, enjoy the outdoor playground and more.
Elgin Railway Market opening hours:
- Mondays – Fridays – Ground Central Coffee Shop: 08:00–17:00.
- Wednesdays: Limited selection food vendors: 16:00–21:00. Bar – Beer and Wine: 16:00–21:00.
- Fridays: Limited selection food vendors: 17:00–21:00. Bar – Beer and Wine: 17:00–21:00.
- Saturdays and Sundays – Full Market: 09:00–17:00.
Tel: +27 (0) 21 204 1158
4) Enjoy Wine Tasting at Almenkerk, Elgin Vintners or Oak Valley
The Elgin wine route is famous for its delicious, cool climate wines, warm hospitality and beautiful wine estates.
Elgin has some wonderful wine farms for families to visit, among them Almenkerk, Oak Valley and Elgin Vintners.
Almenkerk: Aside from wine tastings, visiting families can also enjoy the children’s playground; a game of boule in the purpose-built court or a delightful picnic on the lawns.
You are welcome to bring your own picnic to the estate, provided you purchase some of Almenkerk’s wines to enjoy with it.
Oak Valley: At Oak Valley, visitors can enjoy sampling the estate’s excellent wines at the famous Pool Room – especially great after some epic mountain biking.
Oak Valley MTB is suitable for both child and adult riders, as they cater to all skill levels.
Elgin Vintners: Elgin Vintners offers several lovely wine tastings to enjoy, as well as a food and wine pairing option in their tasty-sounding picnic box.
The estate also has a secret fairy garden and lush, expansive lawns, perfect for garden walks – and child-friendly accommodation in its boutique, four-star guesthouse.
Opening hours: Please contact the relevant estate directly – or contact Elgin-Grabouw Tourism.
Tel: +27 (0) 71 267 9785 (Elgin-Grabouw Tourism)
5) Make a Pitstop for Pies at Peregrine Farm Stall
Another Overberg gem is the delightful Peregrine Farm Stall. This is an essential pitstop on every trip up or down the N2… for their famous pies!
Established in 1964, Peregrine has been caringly serving travellers for many years, offering incredible service, products and homemade fare that consistently ensure returning customers.
At Peregrine, you will find a casual café (complete with a lovely, seasonal menu); a mouthwateringly tempting bakery and the farm stall/shop, which offers everything from fynbos honey to artisanal foods and champagne-style apple cider.
Peregrine Farm Stall opening hours:
Farm stall trading hours:
07:30 – 17:30, Monday – Thursday.
07:30 – 18:00, Friday – Sunday.
08:00 – 16:00, Monday – Sunday.
Tel: +27 (0) 21 848 9011
6) Charming Lunch or Teatime Experience at Rojaal
Rojaal (which translates to ‘lavish’ in English) is a charming Grabouw eatery. In 2016, it was inventively established in a former flower-packing shed by forward-thinking apple farmer, Arno Reuvers.
Today, it is loved as both a restaurant and function venue. Rojaal offers visitors a wholesome menu, which complements its heritage-style decor and country setting perfectly.
Join them for a delicious lunch or relaxing teatime treat. They have a small kiddies’ section on their menu, suitable for children under 12, so there is something for everyone to feast on here.
Our meal here was memorable indeed. Delicious double-decker burgers and decadent desserts are the order of the day and you’d be amis to not visit this spot for a meal during your visit.
Rojaal Opening hours:
10:30 – 16:00, Sundays.
Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Wednesdays and Thursdays: 10:30 – 17:00
Fridays and Saturdays: 10:30 – 22:00
Tel: +27 (0) 21 204 1085
7) Mountain Biking Family Fun at Oak Valley Wine Estate
Oak Valley is one of the best places in the Western Cape to enjoy incredible, scenic mountain biking. As they accommodate all skill levels, both children and adult riders can ride here.
Riders can enjoy soaking up the local beauty, passing through ancient oak forests, vineyards, fruit orchards and across cattle pastures, set to the backdrop of the imposing Groenlandberg mountains.
Best of all, the trails here are generally open 365 days a year. Except during scheduled events, stormy weather and then at least one day after these instances to ensure the trails’ long-term integrity.
We explored the trails in an entirely different way on our visit – via `segway – however I can attest to the fact that these are beautiful trails and the whole area is well worth exploring on pedal power.
Oak Valley info
Daily Rate: R50 (adults). R30 (kids).
Annual Rate: R500 (valid from the date of purchase).
Opening hours: Open during daylight hours only. Please contact Oak Valley for more information.
Tel: +27 (0)21 859 2510
8) Mountain Biking Trails and a Mini Pump Track at Trail’s End
Situated in Grabouw, Trail’s End is a bike hotel that offers its guests mountain bike- and trail running-accommodation, excellent in-house facilities and a lovely restaurant.
As Africa’s first bike hotel, they are also the perfect base from which to enjoy all the fun outdoor adventure that Elgin has to offer.
Kids can enjoy Trail End’s 20-metre, two-lane swimming pool, mini pump track and fun climbing wall. There is also slackline, table tennis and a great kiddies’ corner, equipped with puzzles and games.
Best of all, little ones don’t have to miss out on the fun because Trail’s End has small bikes with training wheels that can be used in the courtyard too.
For families who love to MTB together, Trail’s End is perfectly situated near some of South Africa’s best MTB trails.
Trail’s End contact details
Tel: +27 (0)21 859 5193
9) Tranquil Family Fun at Elgin River Lodge
For those seeking a peaceful escape, Elgin River Lodge is your dream oasis. With lovely chalet- or self-catering accommodation, a nice, child-friendly restaurant and different activities to enjoy at the lodge, both day visitors and overnight guests have plenty to do and enjoy.
Although day visitors are advised to call ahead to ensure the venue is not booked for a wedding or event, they are most welcome at Elgin River Lodge.
For R100, day visitors can enjoy access to the games room, kiddies’- and adult- zipline, the hiking trail and swimming.
Note: If day visitors are simply visiting the restaurant for lunch or dinner, Elgin River Lodge is happy to waive the day rate.
Overnight guests are also able to enjoy incredible river cruises on the Elgin River Lodge barge – as well as facials, nail treatments and massages in the mobile Wellness in the Wild spa.
We loved visiting this secret spot, tucked away down a winding dirt road and felt like we had discovered a real gem on arrival. This is the perfect place to while away a sunny afternoon with friends and there is plenty for the kids to do.
We can highly recommend the river barge cruise as a very relaxing way to spend time enjoying the delights of Elgin.
The gentle river waft is offered for a minimum of six guests and a maximum of 15 guests. Even though there isn’t a prescribed time, late afternoon is best to watch the sun set over the mountain, river, orchard and forest. Best to reserve a spot in advance, this activity is dependent on the water levels, so please check before your arrival if this option is still available.
Elgin River Lodge info
Activity rates: An R100 rate is applicable to day visitors – unless they are simply visiting the restaurant.
Tel: +27 (0) 21 846 8345
10) Accommodation and Family Fun at Houw Hoek Hotel
Last but certainly not least we have Houw Hoek Hotel… This family-friendly hotel offers so much for both young and old!
Situated in the heart of the richly beautiful Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Houw Hoek is the ideal place to relax with your loved ones and enjoy some quality time together.
Families can enjoy the game rooms, swimming pools and a host of child activities, including the trampoline, seasonal jumping castles and water slides or jungle gyms.
With 77 beautifully appointed rooms (with en-suite bathrooms), two great restaurants, the oldest licensed bar in South Africa, gorgeous gardens and surrounding views and a host of family-friendly attractions, Houw Hoek is one of the best accommodation offerings around.
Houw Hoek Hotel contact details
Tel: +27 (0)28 284 9646
These are just ten of the best experiences for families to enjoy together in Elgin! Let us know if you have discovered any gems yourself on your own travels!