This majestic estate in the heart of Somerset West is our favourite local place to go when we just need a quick break. The quick drive means we’re not dealing with overtired and grouchy kids by the time we pass through the gates, while the meticulously maintained estate grounds and old historical buildings make it seem like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s also wheelchair friendly (something we certainly appreciate at Somerset View Guest House). The entrance fee is minimal (R10 per adult and R5 per child at time of writing).
You can do so many things here and it is definitely one of the very few places you can take anyone from any age group. Where to start?
I'll start with the smallest members of our civilization: the children. Vergelegen has a big beautiful playground area complete with slide, swings and even unique wood-carved objects in various shapes that the kids can climb onto and let their little imaginations fly. Big trees offer lots of shade - just bring along shoes as the sunshine makes the surrounding black tarmac quite hot! But perhaps the best thing about this playground? Stables, one of two excellent restaurants on the estate, is just a few steps away where parents and adults can order coffee or a cooldrink and lazily sit and sip while watching the kids play. If you forget to book in peak season or decide to go last minute like we do all the time, no problem! Make it a takeaway and sit in the shade and relax while the kids have a ball!
Certainly, while sitting at the restaurant or playground is great if you want to be off your feet, one simply must make time for a walk through the historic part of Vergelegen Estate. The old buildings are beautifully kept up and are the reason that our 4 year old asks to visit every museum he hears of. There is simply too much to mention, but our favourites are the Big Oak Tree, the 300 year old Camphor Trees, the Rose Garden, the Governor's House, the Reflection Garden, the big bridge on the Yellow Wood Tree trail, and Stables restaurant.
This visit, we had the pleasure of checking out the picnic area, which we had somehow missed on previous visits! It’s quite a magical-looking place and bookings can be made HERE. This is definitely high on our to-do list for 2020.
Vergelegen is not only educational in history, but also in unexpected ways; every time you come here, you’ll likely see something new. For example, we were out with some friends on a playdate and we happened to bump into some people working in the gardens and they kindly offered to showed us the life cycle of a ladybug. We were all in awe as they showed us how in one part of the garden at the Reflection Pond, there were ladybugs everywhere in their various stages of growth: eggs, larvae, pupas and of course the adult ladybugs we’re all familiar with. The kids were overjoyed and we were left with the realization that there is always something to learn and see - sometimes unexpectedly - at Vergelegen.
For those of you with an appreciation for music: the old library has a GORGEOUS baby grand piano standing, neatly covered by a black cloth. Only pianists are allowed to play and from personal experience, if you're a pianist, ASK! The sound is simply breathtaking and Beethoven feels so near when playing the Moonlight Sonata while surrounded by 300 year old furniture, books and art. A really special experience for music lovers that costs just a couple words… “May I?”
In conclusion, whether you come here to eat, exercise, smell the roses, for a photoshoot, or just simply to spend some time with friends, family, or just yourself, Vergelegen is definitely a place everyone should visit and enjoy.
Vergelegen, you've done it again. We'll see you again many times this coming year.