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TThere are plenty of great places for families to eat out when visiting the coastal city of Durban, from coffee shops that cater for the little ones to steakhouses with play areas to keep the kids occupied.
uShaka Marine World is currently Durban’s top family attraction, and has some themed dining too. Kids will love the Centre Court restaurant, aboard the Phantom Ship flanked by open ocean exhibitions. In the stern of the same ship is the Cargo Hold restaurant, surrounded by the glass of a shark tank, where diners can see sub-adult silvertip sharks, black-tip reef sharks, guitarfish and barracudas (among others) while they eat.
There are over 70 food outlets at the sprawling Gateway World shopping centre in Umhlanga. Some are better than others, of course, but you won’t go hungry as the kids get to skate, action kart, drive dodgems cars, or watch movies.
AAnother delightful eatery is the Waterberry Coffee Shoppe in a forest setting in Ballito. The children will be entranced by the small antelope running around, the sand art area and the jungle gyms. Milkshakes, macaroni and cheese, French toast and spaghetti bolognaise are popular items on the kiddies’ menu.
Lucky Bean in Hillcrest, with a 60m bike track, jungle gym, swings, a gated outdoor play area and indoor play shed with equipment, is considered a great family outing. Light meals and cakes are also on offer.
La Spiaggia Trattoria on the Umhlanga promenade is easy to access if you are spending the day on the beach with kids. No need to dress up; you can rock up in your beach clothes. Pasta, pizza and line fish of the day are on the menu.
The Roma Revolving Restaurant, situated downtown in John Ross House, also welcomes children. Here the food is Italian, and kids are catered for with half portions.
Then there's the Spur chain of steakhouses in South Africa, which are ultra-family friendly. There are a number of branches in KwaZulu-Natal offering all sorts of deals to attract families, including loyalty cards, kids' specials, free meals for the under 12s on Wednesdays, a Secret Tribe Club and more. The Mustang Spur in Berea is a popular outlet of this chain.
Another restaurant chain that gives special attention to juniors is Primi Piatti, with 5 restaurants in the Durban area, including at the Pavilion and Gateway shopping centres. The Primi Pod concept seats children in a special area where they are shown how to make their own pizza and biscuits by dedicated caregivers.
Travel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Refer to the websites listed below.
Best time to visit
Durban is a great destination all-year round. During the festive season it does get pretty crowded, so make sure you book long in advance. Durban is also warm during the South African winters (May to August) and a good place to soak up some sun.
Things to do
Durban has superb beaches, and the Funworld Amusement Park on the beachfront is a great place for kids to enjoy fun rides and entertainment. The Gateway Theatre of Shopping is great for older kids where the Wave House, Skate Park and Sports Arena offer hours of fun. For littlies, Mr Funtumbles Funfair has activities and fun games for smaller children.
For older children, a trip out to sea with the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board is educational and informative. A tour of the Moses Mabhida stadium is another great outing for kids.
What to pack
Wet wipes are always a good idea when travelling with kids, as is sunscreen if you are going to be outdoors.
Where to stay
There are superb holiday apartments in Umhlanga and Ballito, not too far from Durban (about a 30-minute drive). Durban also has a number of beachfront hotels that cater for families.