Our team at VACorps keep up-to-date with Cape Town happenings, so that we can provide insider knowledge to you during your time here. There is no doubt that Woodstock is on the rise of trendy places to visit in Cape Town. If you are interested in the creative industry or would like to pursue a web or graphic design internship, this is a neighborhood you will want to check out!
Historically, this isn’t the first time that Woodstock has seen an influx of popularity. In the early 1800s, many families settled into the then Papendorp neighborhood – named after a local property owner. With more development and businesses flocking to this area, the renamed Woodstock became a sought after seaside suburb by 1860. Once the first railway line from the city was up and running in 1862, it made it even easier for CapeTonians to get down to Woodstock and to the beach there – a once favorite bathing spot.
By 1904, Woodstock was home to roughly 30,000 residents – a diverse mix of classes and races. The suburb was surprisingly able to stay fairly integrated during the apartheid era, even with the removal and demolition of the neighbouring area District Six. Unfortunately, Woodstock beach was destroyed in the early 1950s due to land reclamation for the Cape Town foreshore, which resulted in a loss of popularity in the area.
The Old Biscuit Mill
With a new boom of development and revitalisation, Woodstock is shifting back into the popular neighborhood it once was. Take a walk down Albert Road and you’ll see this immediately. The place to start is The Old Biscuit Mill — one of the first major revamp projects that boosted Woodstock into the scene it is now. Most famously known for its Neighbourgoods Market, The Biscuit Mill is open every Saturday from 9am to 2pm for this popular food market bursting with local flavors. It is also home to top restaurants such as the Test Kitchen and the Potluck Club as well as clothing and designer shops.
Salt Circle Arcade
Almost directly across the street towards the Salt River roundabout is the Salt Circle Arcade. This historic little mall has expanded rapidly since it opened in 2011. It now boasts Beerguevara (a brew supply shop), Blank Books (a book shop), various artisanal clothing stores and a courtyard full of food trucks and a coffee car. Yes, you can buy coffee out of the back of a car.
Walk down Albert Road towards the city and you will find the most popular new additions to Woodstock – the Woodstock Exchange and the Foundry.
The Woodstock Exchange is a large warehouse that’s been revamped into a creative hub. The building itself is a masterpiece with rotating and interactive art installations. As the name suggests, it is all about exchange, collaboration and inspiration. At the top level is The Garage which is an open floor plan with multiple companies working in the same space, forgoing the idea of closed off cubicles. The next levels down are full of studios such as Wonderland Collective, Starling & Hero Bicycle Cafe, and Wolf and Maiden Creative Studio. While the bottom floor is anchored with the adorable yellow and grey Superette cafe, the whimsical Lady Bonin’s Tea Parlour and other ornate shops.
New on the scene is The Foundry, another creative hub with both retail and studio space. Right on the corner is the notorious Fat Cactus restaurant. Originally serving up Tex-Mex style food in Mowbray, this new Woodstock location has been just as popular. Be sure to grab a heaping portion of cowboy nachos and an ‘iceberg’ (a 500ml beer topped with frozen lime margarita). Then polish your meal off with an espresso at Tribe Coffee Roasting.
Other Woodstock Happenings
Craft Beer- Other spots to make note of while walking through this creative district are the craft breweries. From famous Devil’s Peak to Riot Factory, to Garagista and Woodstock Brewery – this area is truly the mecca of craft beer in Cape Town. More on this in another week’s post.
Street Art- Be sure to notice the street art while walking between all these Woodstock destinations. From organised and stencilled to scribbling on a wall, they all tie into the vibe of the area.
Woodstock Cycleworks and Juicebox- This bicycle shop is not just where you buy or repair your bike. At Cycleworks, you have a coffee, chat to the friendly staff for a while and then they fix everything without you even noticing. You’ll actually wish there was more work to be done just so you could stay a little longer in their garage. But fear not, you can head across the patio to Juicebox for a uniquely pressed juice made right from their 1950s style kitchen.
Thursday Late- If you want to see this creative neighbourhood in action, check out the Thursday Late evenings every third Thursday of the month. Based on the concept of First Thursday in the city, art galleries and studios open their doors for us to see the latest trends. It’s a perfect opportunity to sip a glass of wine and feast your eyes on some art.