The Gardens suburb, in Cape Town’s City Bowl, offers laid back living in close proximity to the buzzing CBD.
About the area
Urban and vibrant, Gardens is as close to the city centre as you can get and still be counted as a suburb. Residents stroll through the Company’s Garden to get to work in the CBD; the lively cafe culture of Gardens’ Kloof Street seamlessly segues into the nightlife of Long Street and the hip restaurant scene on Bree. This proximity to the hum of the city is a big part of the attraction for the young professionals who make Gardens their home, but it also has its own laid-back identity. “Gardens is comfortable, relaxed, friendly,” says Bridget McNulty, who has lived here for 8 years. “It really feels like a neighbourhood, with lots of people walking around and interesting spots to eat.”
Predominantly made up of apartment buildings and cottages, there is less of the leafy spacious appeal of the suburbs higher up the slopes of the City Bowl, but residents claim two green spaces as their own – the formal botanical gardens of the Company’s Garden, its cafe a perfect summer brunch meeting place, and the shady lawns and trees of De Waal Park with its Victorian bandstand and free summer concerts, a Mecca for dog walkers.
Shopping is easy at the Gardens Centre, which combines the daily necessities of supermarkets and hardware stores with spoils such as Sorbet and Cassis. A newer centre adding a chic industrial vibe to the area is Wembley Square, which has a Virgin Active for gym and yoga, and an airy precinct of cool cafes and shops, including Knead, Rua and Wellness Warehouse. Then the City Bowl Market on Hope Street is a community hub on Thursday nights with gourmet street food, music and organic veggies.
Older residents are attracted by the convenience of car-free living, with everything within walking distance, including the Mediclinic, and the MyCiti bus right there to venture further afield. Gardens is all about city living but with a relaxed and friendly feel.
Although Gardens is in the heart of the City Bowl, it doesn’t feel rushed or busy – it’s a place you can relax and unwind, where it feels like everybody knows your name.
Bridget McNulty, resident.
Things to do:
- The Labia for independent movies
- The Book Lounge for readings and book events
- City Bowl Market in Hope Street on Thursday evenings
- Gym and yoga at the Virgin Active in Wembley Square
- First Thursdays for galleries and a happening city vibe
Best in nature:
- The Company’s Garden is the neighbourhood’s front garden.
- De Waal Park is a community hub for dog-walking, running and summer concerts.
- Mountain trails are only a few steep streets away above Oranjezicht and Vredehoek.
Best in food:
- Maria’s Greek Cafe & Restaurant in Dunkley Square
- Aubergine for fine dining
- The Dog’s Bollocks for burgers
- Societi Bistro in Orange Street
- The Black Sheep in Kloof Street
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.
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