I could be totally biased choosing Franschhoek as a travel destination seeing as it’s only 45 minutes away from me, but when it comes to visiting an area that makes you feel like you’re in a totally different country, Franschhoek is the perfect spot.
The town has an almost magical quality to it and the valley is home to some of the best wineries in South Africa, more specifically, the best MCC (bubbly) houses. But this is a post about families and aside from wine, Franschhoek has a lot on offer for those with younger kids and teens.
It’s a culinary hotspot and an achingly beautiful part of South Africa, it’s not vast in size so it has this small-town buzz to it that I love and which makes it perfect for a long weekend away.
I’m all about mini getaways and that’s mainly because the husband never stops working (being your own boss is a heavy title to bear) so we like to do small breaks and often…or we did until we had another kid, and I think we need a few weeks to settle before attempting a holiday as the awesome foursome. But let me not digress, you’ve come to this post to find out why I think Franschhoek works so well for a family visit and here are my top five reasons:
It’s definitely one of the more dynamic and beautiful wineries with a purpose other than just wine. It’s a fully working farm, balancing agriculture, delicious food, stunning gardens and plenty of locations to get lost in. It’s a one-stop spot for spending the whole day at with horse and pony rides available and in better weather, their picnics are delicious and always in demand. Food-wise the deli has a child-friendly, relaxed environment or you could opt for finer dining at The Werf restaurant. There is even a Splish Splash play area inside the main werf area and plans to create a tree house are in the pipeline.
The Franschhoek Wine Tram
This may feel like a strange addition considering you’re with your family but it’s not just about the wine (that’s just a bonus for the grownups) – with eight hop-on hop-off lines to choose from, each visiting different wine estates, it’s a great way to see Franschhoek and it gives you the freedom to choose. Many of the wineries are family-friendly and I’d definitely look at doing the Purple line
Tickets for adults are R220 and for children aged 3-14 it’s R90.
Chocolate tasting at Huguenots.
Who wouldn’t want to do a chocolate tour and sample delicious imported Belgian dark, milk and white chocolate? Okay, so it might be a sugar overload for some kids, but you only live once right? The tour itself is half an hour and you’ll be delighted by stories, demonstrations and of course, tastings.
The Franschhoek Motor Museum.
Even if your kid’s aren’t car mad, it’s still a good one to have on the list – seeing the size of the older 1920s beasts will have anyone speechless. There is more than 100 years of motoring history under one roof, including vintage cars, motorbikes, bicycles and memorabilia.
This is such a happy place for kids because it’s one big, flat garden with so much to see and explore. You can easily exhaust your children here, and yourself. I’ve taken my daughter here twice and each time we’ve found something new; tortoises crossing the path, cockerels, beds of chamomile, trees laden with oranges, donkeys keen on having a chat and branches bent low with apples. You could take a guided tour but I can’t foresee many kids willing walking at the same pace as a group, so my advice is to let them explore in their own time.
If you start to get peckish, there are two restaurants to eat at and a deli that does fantastic bread and charcuterie. Older kids might let you sit and have a wine tasting but best not hold your breath.
Need to stay over?
If Franschhoek feels a little far for you, consider staying over in one of the many self-catering, hotel or B&B options. I’ve picked three places that I think would work for a family:
Paddabult Self Catering Cottages.
Super close to Babylonstoren, each cottage can accommodate up to 4 people in two en-suite bedrooms. There’s plenty of space for running around outside and each cottage has an open-plan kitchen and living room that leads onto a large patio with built in BBQ facilities and awesome views.
There’s a few wineries that are incredibly close and next door is the Le Bonheur crocodile farm which is always a popular spot.
Kim’s Self Catering Cottage
The cottage sleeps four guests in two bedrooms; the main bedroom is kitted with a TV, Queen-sized bed, air conditioner, en-suite and that all important walk-through wardrobe.
The second bedroom has two single beds for the kids and there is a second bathroom too.
The cottage has an open plan kitchen, dining and lounge area with an indoor barbecue / fireplace. It has a flat screen TV offering all DStv channels.
This contemporary country style cottage has 2 bedrooms, each with their own bathroom and a large lounge and dining room with feature fireplace and underfloor heating for those colder days. The kitchen is fitted with all the essentials and a washing machine and tumble dryer too.
With a beautiful private garden for exhausting little people, and with roses and lavender bushes galore, it’s pretty Instagram worthy. There’s a swimming pool, so this will probably suit those with children from 7+.
The property also offers free wireless/wired ADSL internet access.