Skilpadvlei is a cozy family-friendly restaurant thanks to their hearty food and roaring fireplace in the winter. It was by pure chance that we ended up at Skilpadvlei the first time which was on a very wet winter’s evening last year. We stumbled upon their buy-one-get-one free burger special on the Internet and on a whim decided to try it out instead of ordering take aways. It turned out to be a good decision which lead to a great (albeit very unanticipated) discovery of another child-friendly restaurant in Stellenbosch. I recently visited the venue in the daytime (also on a rainy day) and had the opportunity to check out their outdoor play area which I couldn’t properly assess on my previous visit due to it being dark outside.
The restaurant at Skilpadvlei is situated on the Kuilsriver road also known as the M12 Stellenbosch Arterial road (if you’re still unsure – it’s the road that takes you past Asara). Keep on driving past Neethlingshof on your right hand side and once you see Mulderbosch on your right you will find the next left turn-off belonging to Skilpadvlei. This is one venue that you shouldn’t allow its website to put you off. The website is a bit outdated and you won’t find their menu on it (apparently they are in the process of correcting this). But to give you an idea about the type of food that they serve I would say that the menu is a good mix between La Romantica and Barrique at Vredenheim. In other words, you get your burgers, steaks and schnitzels but also your good old “boerekos” like bobotie, stews and malva pudding.
Now, to get to the child-friendliness… Skilpadvlei has both an outdoor and indoor play area – something that you do not often find in Stellenbosch – which makes it a great place to visit irrelevant of the weather. The indoor play area consists of one large room with walls painted to look like a forest. Inside the play room your kids will find a TV (tuned to one of DSTV’s kids’ channels last time I checked in), a jungle gym with slide (similar to the one they have outside) and a small plastic kids’ table and chairs with two biggish crates filled with building blocks. My lo at 19 months loved it and threw one massive tantrum when we had to leave! Hands up, please, everyone else who struggles with a toddler throwing public tantrums when it becomes time to leave a jungle gym so that I won’t feel so alone? Unfortunately we could not test the outdoor play area due to the rain. The main feature about their two play areas is that both are very close to mom and dad. The outside play area is right next to the restaurant and you can watch the children through the windows while sitting at your table (if you sit inside you are literally about 5 – 10 meters away from the playground). Or if the weather is nice you can sit outside on the verandah right next to the play area. The outside play area includes a jungle gym with swings, a sandpit, see-saw and one cute mountable zebra that brings back memories of Trek petrol filling stations with their quagga mascot. Remember those?
Skilpadvlei is definitely one of my favourite child-friendly options for winter in the Stellenbosch winelands.
Why Skilpadvlei is child-friendly?
- Baby changing station & chair to breastfeed (No sign on the door! but look in the disabled bathroom and you’ll find it)
- High chairs
- Kids’ menu
- Indoor play area with jungle gym, TV and building blocks
- Outside play area with jungle gym, sandpit, see-saw, swings and a cute mountable zebra
- Drive around for parking with stroller-friendly access to the restaurant. The front entrance has about a dozen stairs…
As a party venue:
Children will love a party at Skilpadvlei due to all the outdoor and indoor activities. Each child can choose a meal option from the kiddies menu plus they get a dessert. Priced per head. Contact the venue to book a table.
May 2014 UPDATE: Sadly, Skilpadvlei doesn’t offer the burger special anymore that I wrote about in this post. They also used to have kids-eat-free-evenings which don’t exist anymore.
28 August 2015: Skilpadvlei has just opened a new outside play area featuring a toddler play area and designated play spaces for older children. Read our latest article on Skilpadvlei’s revamped outdoor play area here.