Things to Do in Port Elizabeth With Kids

Child playing
Child playing | © Pedro Ribeiro Simões / Flickr
Photo of Gill Lange
11 June 2018

Holidaying with the kids can be an awesome or traumatic experience for parents; it all depends on how the little darlings behave. Here is some advice on what to do with the younger gang in Port Elizabeth, leaving the kids thrilled and exhausted and allowing Mum and Dad some chill time.

Have fun on the ice at Bay West Mall

Movie Theater, Shopping Mall
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Child ice skating
Child ice skating | Child ice skating

The Bay West Mall is the newest and largest in Port Elizabeth, offering a whole host of retail therapy, recreational activities, and restaurants. It’s a super spot to keep the kids busy, meaning the adults can shop or enjoy a coffee and hook up to the mall’s free Wi-Fi. The ice rink is one of the most popular kid’s attractions and is fronted by large glass panels, allowing parents to watch from outside without needing to get chilly near the ice. Bay West Mall also has a movie house and a noisy entertainment center that entices kids with flashing lights and thrilling virtual rides.

Take the kids and explore Port Elizabeth's beaches

Natural Feature
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The Friendly City has a lovely coastline where visitors can enjoy beach side cafés and take a walk on the pier, or enjoy peaceful strolls along pristine and wild shores. The kids will want to be where the action is, so Hobie Beach or Pollack Beach are always good bets. The former is home to the Hobie Beach Pier and has a small yet safe beach for swimming. The latter is a popular surf spot. Both are right on the beachfront promenade and close to restaurants and takeaway spots.

Find enthralling wildlife at Kragga Kamma Game Park

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Zebras are plentiful at Kragga Kamma Game Park
Zebras are plentiful at Kragga Kamma Game Park | Zebras are plentiful at Kragga Kamma Game Park
Lying on the outskirts of the city, this unexpected little gem offers a mini-safari experience on a plate. The well-marked circuit can be driven within a few hours and promises awesome wildlife sightings as often as every few minutes. Buffalo, rhino, giraffe, and zebra are plentiful, while the resident cheetahs are kept in a predator enclosure that can also be accessed by vehicle. The beauty of this park lies in its easy accessibility and high concentration of wildlife that will keep the kids with their noses glued firmly to the windows. Kragga Kamma also has a restaurant where visitors can stretch their legs and take a walk into the wilderness.

Take in some culture at the Athenaeum

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The Little Theatre
The Little Theatre | The Little Theatre
This venue is considered the “grand old lady” of arts and culture in Port Elizabeth and was originally founded in the 1850s. It was declared a National Monument in 1980 and today has been completely restored, along with the Little Theatre that can also be found on the premises. The Athenaeum regularly holds many kinds of entertainment, including stage productions, music, art, and exhibitions. The atmospheric yet relaxed surrounds are a great place to introduce to kids to the joys of stage productions.

Spend a day at the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment Complex

Casino, Market
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The Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment Complex
The Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment Complex | © Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism
This one-stop entertainment destination is one of Port Elizabeth’s most popular playgrounds and a great place to have some fun with the kids. The complex is situated around an artificial lake that lights up at night in magical fountains of colour and also provides boat rides for the little ones. The kids can go wild on a selection of playground rides, while the gaming room will surely be filled with screeches of excitement and joy. There is also a tenpin bowling arena and a movie house to keep little minds amused. Tired parents can grab a coffee or a meal, with many of the eateries provide family-friendly service.

Bounce off the walls at Gravity Indoor Trampoline Park

Sports Center
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Gravity Trampoline Park has to rate as the purest kids’ pleasure within four walls, with a whole array of trampolines and foam pits as well as a dodgeball and basketball arena. The kids can spend hours literally bouncing off the walls and working off some energy, giving parents the chance to take a breather. The park is the only one of its kind in the Port Elizabeth area and covers a massive space where over 40 interconnected trampolines and foam pits wait to be clambered over and bounced on. Food and drinks can also be purchased here.

Uncover marine wonder at SANCCOB Penguin Rescue Station

Natural Feature
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SANCCOB volunteers in action
SANCCOB volunteers in action | © SANCCOB

Visiting the SANCCOB Penguin Rescue Station in Port Elizabeth is not only fun for the kids, but can simultaneously teach them a valuable lesson about marine birds in southern Africa. The rehabilitation and education center is located in the beautiful Cape Recife Nature Reserve, and while there, kids can watch volunteers looking after the patients, mostly African penguins. It is also possible to tour the marine rehab and education center, experiencing nature through sight, sound, and touch. SANCCOB is internationally recognized as a leader in the field of seabird rehabilitation and treats over 2,500 injured, sick, and oiled seabirds each year.

Sandboard the stunning dunes at Maitland River Mouth

Natural Feature
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The Maitland Nature Reserve comprises dense indigenous coastal forest, abundant birdlife, an old wagon road which leads to Maitland lead mines, a variety of small animals such as bushbuck and blue duiker, and the famous giant Maitland sand dunes. This is a favorite spot for young and old alike to hit the dunes and have some fun as as they slide down the sand towards the beach below. You don’t need a sandboard as any flat piece of material will do, and running up and down the dunes should ensure the kids sleep soundly that night.

Hop aboard the Apple Express

Train Station
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The Apple Express
The Apple Express | The Apple Express

This train was a special part of Port Elizabeth for many years before it was decommissioned. However, the famous green Apple Express has recently returned and is ready to take kids on a thrilling railway ride. The train departs from King’s Beach towards the harbor and the Port Elizabeth Airport before returning back to Kings Beach along the same route. Although perhaps not quite as exciting as the rides of old, the Apple Express is nevertheless not an attraction to miss. The Apple Express only offers rides during peak season, from December through to January.