Port Elizabeth – the Friendly City, the Windy City, Nelson Mandela Bay, good old PE… Call it what you will, this is a great spot for family vacations for many reasons…

It has stunning swimming beaches, warm water, plenty of malls and restaurants; and it remains one of South Africa’s most affordable destinations. This is great news for families with little ones who need to be entertained.

These days, a trip to the movies for four can become mortgage-worthy. So, here are some free or cheap things to do in and around PE:

1. Beaches

These are always going to be a hit for families. Warm Indian Ocean water, rock pools and plenty of sandy spots for tanning and games of bat-and-ball mean that there is something for everyone. The main beaches (King’s, Hobie and Pollock beaches, in particular) have plenty of free parking and are close to restaurants and other entertainment centres. There are promenades, ice-cream stalls and supertubes. This is sure to be a hit. And it’s free of charge! These beaches are situated along the Humewood and Summerstrand doorsteps.

Port Elizabeth – the Friendly City, the Windy City, Nelson Mandela Bay, good old PE. Call it what you will – this is a great spot for family vacations for many reasons...

2. The Sacramento Trail

This circular route is eight kilometres long and goes through the Schoenmakerskop-Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve. There are rock pools to explore, shells to admire, long stretches to run, dunes to roll down, and an old cannon that was part of the shipwreck of 1647. It is easy enough for little ones to tackle and doesn’t require parents to be fit either. And, it’s also free.

 

3. Volkswagen Auto Pavilion

Kids absolutely love seeing the vintage Beetles and Kombis on show at the VW Auto Pavilion in Uitenhage. They can also meet Herbie and ogle a car that has been cut into two. This tour is only R10 for adults and R5 for children under 16 years. What a score for something a little different.

 

4. South End Museum

Celebrating the many different cultures of PE and the Eastern Cape, this museum talks about the struggle and displacement during the apartheid regime but, more importantly, about how the people rose above this, creating a city that is multifaceted and complex. This is a real celebration of our Rainbow Nation. Donations are accepted, but no entrance fee is charged.

 

5. Van Stadens Flower Reserve

Another freebie, this is a very special way to spend a morning with your family. Here, wild and endemic plants are protected, and visitors can explore them and admire them from up close. An added bonus is that there is a traditional Xhosa homestead nearby.

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