Why celebrate Stanford? Where is it? What makes it so special?
Stanford is a small village (population ±8,000) about 150km from Cape Town, 20km beyond Hermanus en route to Gansbaai. It's a great and easily-accessible weekend destination for city folk... but it's also a popular base for second-time international visitors to South Africa who want to explore more. And value peaceful, village life. Cape Agulhas, Greyton, Swellendam and Montagu are all about one hour away.
A Heritage Village There are so many things that make it special that it's difficult to decide where to start. First and foremost, it is a Heritage Village where the village core - around the historic Market Square - is a proclaimed conservation area. It's a village you'll want to walk around to explore the charming architecture and Victorian streetscapes.
A River runs through it Heritage extends beyond what's built to the natural environment too. Stanford lies on the Klein River which flows into Hermanus Lagoon. And it's this river (and the wetlands that empty into it) that give the village much of its magic. Explore the Wandelpad (path) alongside the river. Take a boat ride. Bring your own boat. It's a great way to explore the bird life that is one of Stanford's greatest attractions, and celebrated by the annual Stanford Bird Fair.
If you are a keen birder, please support Stanford's Eagle Eyes project, which is introducing less-priviledged children to birding. Your donation will make a difference!
If you're looking for accommodation on the river, try Mosaic Private Sanctuary (with their spectacular Lagoon Lodge & Spa), Stanford River Lodge (closer to the river you can't get and John will have you out in a canoe in no time) or Stanford River Cottages. But no matter where you stay in the village, the river and the Wandelpad is just a short walk away. Click here for all Stanford accommodation.
People make the big difference It's also a very social village. As it's shifted from a predominantly-Afrikaans boeredorp (afrikaans farming town) to a largely English-speaking village, locals leave their homes more often to embrace the village's social side. The weekly Saturday morning market and the monthly evening market (photo below) are regular events in the social diary.
Stanford has become home to a large number of people who have been very successful in their previous lives, and it shows in the civil society organisations, most notably the Stanford Conservation Trust. (It is an organisation other towns can learn from.) For more on Stanford people, click here.
Stanford's achievements have far more to do with what locals do than what the Overstrand municipality does, or doesn't do. Now that's a lesson for other towns!
Food & Wine This is where Stanford comes up tops and where one has to mention Marianas, which put Stanford on the foodie map - regularly one of the best, if not the best, country kitchen in South Africa. Mariana is one of the town's stalwarts... a very remarkable lady... read more. For all food and wine establishments, click here.
A visit to the markets or Graze Cafe will have you drooling and spoilt for choice, quality and freshness. And Coffee Corner will surprise you too! 1892 Spookhuis is a must-visit, as is Klein River Cheeses (regularly judged the best cheese in the world) and, during summer, their picnics. This has one of the best kids' playgrounds anywhere!
The wines from the Stanford area are very special, as the many awards demonstrate. Click here for wine estates and read what Tariro Masayiti, the new winemaker at Springfontein, has to say.
Kids & bigger kids Stanford is a kids' paradise, and bigger "kids" will enjoy it just as much. It's the sort of village where kids can roam around freely, where there are activities like horse-riding, quad-biking, hiking, mountain biking, fynbos walks and much more. It's a base to explore whale and shark-diving; it's clean, safe and pristine... and it is the Village of the Year... now isn't that worth a visit?
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