One thing you learn very quickly about Stanford in the Overberg is that it’s hard not to fall under the spell of its numerous restaurants and wineries (see 12 restaurants and wineries in Stanford worth visiting). But wining and dining isn’t the only thing to do in the town, not by far. Here’s my pick of 10 things to do in Stanford.
Another market takes over the stoep of the Stanford Hotel on the main road every Saturday morning. Here the locals sell cakes, pastries and pies, breads, preserves, honey, flowers, herbs and fresh seasonal veggies from their gardens. Take a basket or shopping bag to carry away your stash.
Many of the people who sell at these markets belong to the Stanford Food Heroes – a local initiative that promotes locally grown and locally made produce in a way that helps the local economy and is environmentally friendly (most is organic and there’s no long-distance transport to hoik up the carbon footprint).
2. Go on a river cruise
Stanford lies along the Klein River, and there’s a pretty path along the bank that you can walk. But perhaps the best way to enjoy the river and see some of almost 130 bird species that occur here is to take a late afternoon river cruise on the River Rat (4-14 people), Platanna (2-12 people) or African Queen (20-40 people). Watch the mountains change colour and discover why the locals are so besotted with their sunsets.
3. Go beer tasting at Birkenhead Brewery
Beer tastings daily 10am-5pm, brewery tours Wed to Fri at 11am and 3pm (book ahead for a tour, tel 028-3410183)
4. Go whale watching
5. Go nature quad biking
Learn about fynbos, birds and lagoon wetlands on a guided quad bike tour at Mosaic Private Sanctuary. Ride along the edge of the lagoon, or climb to the top of the sand dunes to see 40-ton southern right whales in the sea below during whale season (June to November). Guided trips take one to three hours and are free to guests staying at Lagoon Lodge. For everyone else it’s R300 for the first hour and R150 for each hour after that.
6. Take a walk through historical Stanford
7. Indulge in a massage
8. Go cheese tasting or picnicking
Enjoy a picnic lunch (daily 11am-3pm) on the banks of the Klein River or in the garden. In your picnic basket: homemade bread, cold meats, salads and a selection of Klein River cheeses. There are farm animals for the kids to see and a lovely playground with trampoline, jungle gym, tree houses and more. There’s even a ‘birthday bungalow’ for kids’ parties.
Shop/tastings Mon to Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-1pm, public holidays 9am-2pm. Picnic Shed open daily 11am-3pm
9. Get some retail therapy – with a difference
Walk through Stanford village in search of antique shops, galleries and gift stores where you can browse and buy.
10. Stay over in Stanford
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to somewhere to stay in Stanford, with everything from camping to B&Bs, self-catering and luxury options. Given how much there is to see and do in the dorp – yes, and how many great restaurants and wineries there are to explore – staying over makes a lot of sense.
Two elegant options I’m lucky to have experienced are Mosaic Private Sanctuary & Spa, and Blue Gum Country Estate – both perfect for a romantic weekend.
For lots of other accommodation options, see Stanford Tourism’s website.
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