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This quaint community is an artist’s haven, home to painters, poets to sculptors.

An Off-the-Beaten-Track Artistic Haven in the Western Cape

In the Western Cape, we are spoilt with many tiny hamlets and towns, within easy driving distance of Cape Town. Many have historic significance, and each has developed its own set of unique characteristics, be it an artists’ retreat, adventure sport, or weekend getaway for foodies.

One such town is McGregor, about 2hrs drive from Cape Town. The only road into town ends there, surrounded by mountains and vineyards. While not on the obvious tourist trail it is worthy of consideration when looking for an off-the-beaten-track experience. This quaint community is an artist’s haven, home to painters, poets to sculptors.

McGregor Hiking

McGregor Dining

The History of McGregor

The town of McGregor was founded in 1861, originally named Lady Grey. It was renamed in 1905 to honour Rev Andrew McGregor, who had been the Dutch Reformed Church minister in the Robertson area for around 40 years and played a vital role in the development of the region.

McGregor’s irrigation system dates to the 1800s. A water channel was built at the edge of each street that feeds water from the town to the nearby dam. To this day, each landowner now has a slot allocated during the week where they get a few minutes to an hour for the channel to flow into their property to water their gardens.

Image Credit: Lucky crane villas

The Ideal Stay in McGregor

Two nights is an ideal period to stay as there is so much to explore in the region. If you are in town on a Saturday, the church bazaar, or market offers up a selection of homemade goodies. Located just 20 minutes from Robertson Wine Route, enjoy a morning wine tasting followed by lunch at one of the many vineyard restaurants. Also worth a visit is Owl’s Rest Olive And Lavender Farm.

Just before you enter McGregor, is the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary. This farm provides a permanent refuge for abused, neglected, and elderly donkeys. Here they are given the opportunity to live out their lives with respect and dignity, surrounded by their own kind, in a protective and natural environment.

The town itself has numerous art galleries and artists’ homes to visit. Otherwise stroll up and down the main street, shopping for bric-a-brac, antiques, and collector’s items.

Rediscover the pleasure of creativity in a workshop with inspiring potter, Alila Hofmeyr — and make happy memories as well as beautiful reminders of your stay! The landmark Millstone Pottery is a stroll away from your Villa, and Alila’s workshops suit all levels, from beginners and 7-year-olds up.

Where to eat:
  • Lizzy Sourdough Culture – Share one of life’s essential pleasures with delicious bread-baking classes.
  • Frida’s at Green Gables  – eclectic home cooking. The focus is on home-grown, locally sourced ingredients, used for the base of their tapas menu. Sundowner drinks and tapas on the veranda is a must while enjoying gorgeous views over the village and mountain ranges.
  • Tebaldis Restaurant – Chef Christiaan Campbell of Delaire Graaf and Boschendal fame, has reinvigorated the old Tebaldi’s restaurant (and the separate cafe). Chef Christiaan sources fresh, local produce, supporting local suppliers of ethical meats as well as wine estates from the area.
  • 51 Fifty One – a perfect breakfast/brunch spot utilising local and organic produce.
Tebaldis dining

Image by Tebaldis Restaurant

Sourdough bread

Image by Lizzy Sourdough Culture

Where to Stay:
  • Lucky Crane Villas– We stayed at the newly built, Lucky Crane Villas. Modern and stylish self-catering homes with uninterrupted views looking out into the surrounding mountains and nature reserve, yet just a few minutes stroll from the town centre. Each home features a chef’s kitchen, outdoor BBQ and a pool.
  • Green Gables Country Inn 
  • Lord’s Wine Farm 
  • Temenos Retreat – Situated 50 metres from Edna Fourie Gallery, Temenos Retreat features accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a garden and a terrace.

Otherwise, there are a number of smaller, quaint bed & breakfast options to consider too.

I recommend visiting this beautiful region.

In this article
  • An Artistic Haven in the Western Cape
  • The History of McGregor
  • The Ideal Stay in McGregor

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