[What to Do When You’re a Two Year Old in Durban]

Toddler tantrums aside, it’s a lot easier getting around with a two year old than a one year old. Not only because you get to forgo the ridiculously over-stuffed baby bag, but also because this is such an exciting stage where their little brains are like sponges – taking in new experiences, words, sights, smells, sounds, textures and more. With the sizzling Durban summer about to launch soon, and my son now at an age where he can interact and understand a whole lot more, I’ve compiled a bucket list of things I’d like to do in and around Durban with him (ahem. And his dad, on the few occasions I manage to peel him off the couch and away from his Xbox). I’m so looking forward to ticking off a few of the outstanding ones over the next few weeks and months 🙂 

In no particular order:

Inchanga Express
Ryder goes gaga over choo choo trains. I’ve thought of taking a walk down to our local train station with him, but I suspect it could be a dodgy experience complete with mugging of mummy and the toddler potentially being held for ransom. The Inchanga Express is a far safer, more exciting option. Kloof to Inchanga and back, with a tea garden and museum on the route. It’s a bit pricey as a family outing, but well worth it to see the look on the kiddo’s face, methinks.

Via USR website. Copyright 2010 of Steve McCurrach of Airserv

Virginia Circle Steam Trains
Held once or twice a month, this little spot in Durban North is really popular. These are miniature steam trains for kids and adults to hop on and ride, and there were lots of kids in awe of the real life Thomas the Tank Engines on the day we went. Thankfully we got there early and didn’t have to wait too long in queues. 

Umgeni River Bird Park
There’s no excuse for overlooking this spot just down the road from our home. A definite must for the holiday and I know my boy will especially love the free-flight bird show. Another bird park option, although a bit further for me, is the 1000 Hills Bird Park.

uShaka Kids World and Aquarium
It’s pretty bizarre that our ad agency works on the uShaka account, yet I haven’t taken my son on a full day out there yet. The Kids World area has been seriously beefed up in the last few years with creative play activities, a padded toddler play area, a Lego lounge and more, in addition to the mascot shows, Africa’s highest jungle gym and the wonder of the aquarium. Ryder will go nuts and hopefully sleep for days thereafter. 

Lucky Bean
Lucky Bean is ah-mazing and I can’t wait to make the trip up to Assagay again with my kidlet. Ryder’s favourite part was the extensive indoor soft play area, but they also have a lovely outside play area with jungle gyms, swings, doll houses and more/ There’s also a  shop selling gorgeous kiddies’ dress-up outfits, books, toys and trinkets, and by the way, the cakes from the coffee shop are divine.

Flag Animal Farm, Ballito
Finally managed to get down there recently and had the most amazing time. A super selection of kid-friendly animals and the opportunity for littlies to get up close and personal with all of them. Kiddies get to milk a cow, go on pony rides and there’s even a cute little motorised train ride to thrill the sproglets to bits.

Flag Farm is much larger than some of the farms I’ve been to up Kloof way with Ryder, although Winsome View Animal Farm deserves special mention for the amazing fresh food they prepare. Ryder was about a year old when I took him there but rain ended up cutting our trip short. There’s also Duck & Deck up the same way for some more farm fun.

Harbour Cruise
I recently took Ryder down to Wilson’s Wharf for a look around at the boats and a visit to some old ships at the Maritime Museum (super cheap at R5 for me and free for him). 

It was lovely, apart from the fact that he started undressing and insisting he was going to swim in the “big pool” (uh, no kiddo, that’s Durban harbour and you WILL drown). How exactly I am hoping to prevent him from throwing himself overboard during a harbour ferry ride is beyond me. But challenge accepted! A harbour cruise is something I definitely want to do soon.

Fire Station & Airport
A friend reminded me the other day that I could take my boy to one of the local fire stations to see the big fire trucks and witness real life heroes in action. I called and they’re happy to accommodate little ones on a visit, no appointment necessary. How cool?! I’d also like to show him some planes and helicopters up close and personal, so will give Virginia Airport a call sometime, too.

Mini Town
Who doesn’t remember visits to Mini Town as a kid? I dislike the sponsors’ advertising placed all over the cute mini buildings now, but I know bills need to be paid, and I’m sure my toddler wouldn’t really mind. Plus he’ll literally feel like the big boy I keep telling him he is.

Makaranga Gardens
A nice, albeit much further, alternative to the usual Botanic Gardens, is Makaranga. It’s so incredibly beautiful, airy and spacious, as summed up in the venue’s own description of all it offers to little kids: “nature, space, freedom, natural stimuli and the world’s greatest platform for the development of imagination”. Aaaah. A lovely day out. 

Market Hopping
An absolute favourite pastime of mine pre-kid, somehow post-kid I’ve neglected the simple joy of browsing through markets endlessly (blame lack of time and money). Durban has so many ah-mazing options these days, but two that I’ve been dying to get to and which look so darn kid-friendly are The Play Market at Giba Gorge and The Meeting Tree Market in Shongweni (side note: I set a reminder for both of their upcoming dates months ago and each time it beeps, I cry inwardly because, time! money!). I’ve also never been to Litchi Orchard, so these are on my toddler to-do list, fo’ sho! 

Crocodiles and Sharks 
I know he’s probably too young for these trips right now but I’m still putting them on the list (mostly so I don’t forget them myself!) I’m sure shark dissections at the KZN Sharks Board must come with an age restriction and quite frankly I don’t feel comfy walking past large crocs with a little person who has a penchant for running off in his own direction and flinging himself on the floor. Still, when he’s a few months older I’d love to take him either to Crocodile Creek, Croc World or Phezulu to see a few reptiles (from a distance, of course!)

There are obviously also the old favourites that most of us central Durban mums do often, like People’s Park at Moses Mabhida Stadium, Jimmy Jungles in Umhlanga, Mr Funtubbles at Gateway and Mitchell Park in Morningside. And of course, special mention to the coffee shops and restaurants that cater for mums and kids, like Blue Zoo at Mitchell Park, Marula in Westville and Heatherbelle’s in Broadway. 

What fun things do you enjoy doing with your kids in and around this awesome city?

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