As most people know, South Africa produces some of the best wines in the world. There are quite a few wine producing areas near Cape Town of which Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Constantia are probably the most well known ones. The more off the beaten track wine regions near Cape Town like Wellington, Tulbagh and Hemel & Aarde Valley are definitely worth a visit. These are much less crowded, offer beautiful scenery, stellar wines, fabulous accommodation and a LOT of things to do as we discovered. We recently spend a bit more than 48 hours in the Wellington Wine valley and had a wonderful time. Here are some suggestions for you of what to do, eat, where to go around Wellington.
Sightseeing on our way to Wellington
Wellington is about 1 hours easy drive from Cape Town. Just get onto the N1 and take the Wellington exit. We had an absolute fantastic time. As you know, I have a 5 year old child so I always need to be aware of her needs and wishes to make things fun for the both of us. On our way to Wellington, we made stop at The Giraffe house which is situated just off the highway on the way to Wellington. Seeing Giraffes from close by to me is always magical. However my daughter was totally fascinated with the 3 massive snakes that they were busy cleaning.. not my thing. She just wanted to touch and feel them and tried to get around the ranger. I was frightened the snake would do something unexpected. After visiting the Giraffe House, it was time for lunch and I had spotted an amazing place across the road from the Giraffe House, Joostenberg Deli, Wine Farm, butchery and restaurant.
You can easily spend a few hours here exploring the place. Lunch was delicious. We especially enjoyed the triple cooked hand cut chips which were the crispiest golden brown chips I’d ever tasted. The place is great to bring kids as there’s a jungle gym on the big lawn so they can run around freely without being too much of a nuisance to the rest of the guests. In case you’re self-catering, the butchery/supermarket is a fantastic place to get organic, fresh produce, meat, bread and much more. From Joostenberg it was still about 30 minutes to drive to our guesthouse.
Accommodation in Wellington near Cape Town
When deciding on accommodation for our weekend away, they must allow children and it MUST have a pool where Rosie can swim because that’s just her favorite thing to do. We stayed at Val Du Charron Guesthouse which was the perfect location for us. Not only are the views amazing, there’s the most wonderful staff and the food at both restaurants is very good. With kids it is easiest to eat at ‘Vino e Piza’ which boasts a beautiful terrace and there’s a fun splash pad for the kids to run around in. The atmosphere is super chilled and many families from the area come and enjoy their Friday and Saturday afternoon there to wind down from the busy week. Inside there are TVs and I suppose it is a popular bar for whenever there are important sporting matches and the whole community just comes out to watch.
If you enjoy a good steak or fillet, I can also highly recommend the Grillroom Restaurant where I enjoyed a great piece of meat which is sometimes just necessary.
Val Du Charron, about 1 hour drive from Cape Town, is a working farm which is fantastic to explore, especially with my Dad who used to be a farmer himself. It was grape harvest season so we found the farm workers while they were taking a break in the shade enjoying their lunch. It is hard working in the scorching sun sometimes but it is important work for all of us who enjoy wine so much. There was also an olive orchard. Did you know that South Africa produces some award winning olive oils? While you go for your walk on the farm, you will be enjoying magnificent views of the valley and the vineyards.
Things to do around Wellington
Now that our accommodation in Wellington was sorted, I could start looking into how we were going to enjoy the rest of our time in Wellington. The nearby Bain’s Kloof Pass is a beautiful road trip in case you enjoy mountain passes. The Cape Wine lands are fantastic for endless road trip. Where ever you go, the scenery is spectacular. You could take a break at 2e Tol hek which is a CapeNature Camp site and also allows day visitors. We camped there a few times in the past and the swimming holes in the river are really fantastic to cool of in the Summer heat. The water is crystal clear, bring a picnic.
On our way back from Bain’s Kloof Pass, we stopped at Dunstone Winery for lunch (they also offer fantastic accommodation). I had already checked this place out and had read how childfriendly it is and yes wow! Indoors and outdoors massive play areas, see picture, for the win!! Rosie was immediately playing, making sandcastles and cooking in the kitchen. Lunch was served either inside or on the patio which is right next to the playground. Wow this is really an awesome place for parents to come and unwind and let the kids go wild. They don’t only have a lovely restaurant but also have 3 guesthouses: 1 in Wellington, 1 in Jacobsbaai on the West Coast and 1 in Cape Town so you could actually plan a wonderful trip and stay in Dunstone accommodation only.
Wellington is really a commercial centre for all the outlying areas so on a Saturday morning it is very busy in all the shops when people stock up on supplies. Wellington is known for its educational institutions which were founded by Andrew Murray. The Wellington Museum is an interesting place to spend a morning and learn more about the people, the history of the area and admire some interesting artifacts. In town there are a few nice coffee shops and restaurants as well.
If you would like to support a children’s home while in the area you can pop by Andrew Murray Children’s home. We didn’t visit this time but in 2017 the home was renovated by a group of learners from The Netherlands. It is a very well run home and your donation will be much appreciated.
Summer is HOT in the Wellington area. In February, when we visited, the temperature would be as high as 38° C at times and all we wanted to do was just be in the pool and feel cool. The pool at Val du Charron as a shallow side for children and since Rosie is already water safe, I didn’t really need to worry. From the pool you have an amazing view, check featured picture, of the entire valley and the fun art in the estate’s garden do great in pictures. When you live in Cape Town it is great to get out of the city and experience the space. Especially for children it is SO nice to just run around without us adults continuously being on their case.
You probably wonder why I haven’t mentioned wine tasting once. I find it hard to write about something that I didn’t do. I love wines and I enjoyed my glasses of wine in the evening. Val du Charron offers wine tastings as well as daily cellar tours and we saw many people enjoy them. My parents who traveled with us, don’t care too much about wine so we didn’t do one tasting during the entire time. I was the designated driver for the entire time so unfortunately wine tasting wasn’t on the cards this time. Luckily the Cape wine lands have so many other things to offer that you don’t need to worry if you can’t drink wine.