Activities for Kids, Parenting

My Top Family Friendly Parks + Picnic Spots in Johannesburg

The weather is warming up and the first blooms are showing signs of flowering.  Bring on warmer weather and long summer days. Living in the city I try to get out into nature most weekends, my soul craves it and its one of my biggest challenges with living in Joburg.

I’ve put together a list of my absolute favourite Parks and Picnic Spots around Gauteng to maximise those beautiful warm days heading our way. Only once I compiled the list did I realise just how many options there are, so to make it a bit easier I have separated the lists into Johannesburg and Pretoria.

To kick off let’s have a look at some of Johannesburg’s glorious garden spots:

Emmarentia Dam and Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

One of our favourite spots to ride bikes and take in the view. This park is particularly popular with joggers, bike riders and rowers. The Park offers different sections, in the northern section, take a pleasant stroll through a rose garden, indigenous herb patch, or view an amazing collection of succulents at the Johannesburg Botanic Gardens. The gardens have terraced ponds and fountains and a Shakespearean garden, with herbs and roses. In the North east section is the dam which is popular with canoeists and families feeding the ducks.

Zoo Lake, Forest Town

Joburgs backyard forest. Our family (and a large portion of Johannesburg) have been visiting Zoo Lake for years. Popular with families for braais, picnics and birthday parties on the weekend. The park also has probably one of the biggest Moyo’s in it and is a firm favourite when entertaining foreign visitors in Joburg. Rent out a boat to row on the lake or enjoy a picnic under the shady trees. Watch out for the VERY friendly ducks and geese 🙂

Mushroom Park (Our hidden gem), Sandton

Right in the heart of Sandton, surrounded by cloud touching sky scrapers, mushroom park offers a beautiful reprieve from big city life. It has a lovely little river running through it, an outdoor gym and about 5 different jungle gyms.

Delta Park, Randburg

Probably one of the largest parks in Joburg extending right the way from Craighall Park to Randburg. Delta Park is offers a beautiful 104 hectares to explore. It has a fantastic kiddies play area and extensive nature trails, including bird hides. The Environmental Centre offers a fantastic range of nature related courses for children and adults alike.

Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, Roodeport

Absolutely breathtaking and well worth the short drive to Roodepoort. The best place to get back to nature in Joburg. The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens offers beautiful surrounds, a glorious waterfall and if you are lucky you may even spot a pair of Verreaux Eagles. There is a small entrance fee to maintain upkeep of the gardens

The Wilds, Killarney

I have to say, I lived in Killarney for a number of years and at the time I would never have considered stepping foot in this park. I always longed to explore it but never felt safe. That’s all changed due to a recent revamp by the community. There are 67 owl sculptures across the park alongside fountains and sundials. Ramble across the hillsides with views of the city from various sides, mixing urban life with local vegetation.

Lonehill Park, Lonehill

Another one of our favourites. Lonehill park is exceptionally well maintained and safe, with a security guard on duty patrolling the area. There is a fenced off kiddies play area that my boys adore and of course a dam where you can fish on a catch and release policy. Its home to bass, barbell and carp  This is one of the best kept secrets for those who want to take a walk or are just looking to get some open air.

 

Gillooly’s Farm, Bedfordview

Gillooly’s Farm is another very popular picnic spot. Beautiful views of the lake with several braai area’s available as well. The large grassland is perfect for soaking up the sun (whether in Summer or Winter), braai areas are available and there is a memorable amount of bird life at the lake.

Golden Harvest Park, Randburg

This was a new one for me, you see even after so many years of exploring I still stumble across new gems.  A great park with unspoiled indigenous bushveld, ideal for walking dogs, walking trails and a peaceful picnic.  The park was established in 1972 and offers forms of recreation such as walking/jogging, fishing, mountain biking, various sports including beach soccer, and bird watching. If you are a bird love apparently the park offers over 60 species of birds, and its dam is home to geese, carp, barbel, crabs, frogs, otters and mongoose !You do need to be aware of your surrounds and go at busier times, but it has had a revival of sorts and there is a parkrun that runs through.

Sandton Field and Study, Sandton

An age old favourite in the Sandton area and popular with dog walkers. The park offers a number of different braai area’s along the river and a nice kids play area. You can also take a pony ride through the equestrian centre or enjoy a cappuccino at River Café.

Florida Lake, Roodeport

Situated in suburban Roodepoort, this lake and park promises a fun family-day outing. It has a putt-putt course, an Olympic size swimming pool as well as a playpark for kids. There is an incredible Bird Park next door.

Rietfontein Nature Reserve, Paulshof

This 25 hectare nature reserve in the heart of the Northern Suburbs.  The indigenous green area, with a quartzite koppie, has walking trails and beautiful lawns for an idyllic family picnic. The reserve hosts an array of birds as well as blesbok, duiker, klipspringer and steenbok. The reserve is open every day from 6 am – 6 pm. Entrance is free, but please note that no dogs are allowed in the reserve. There is a short and relatively easy walking trail in the reserve – suitable for kids – which takes visitors to the top of the ridge with great views of Sandton.

Rietvlei Zoo Farm

Rietvlei offers a jam packed day filled with family fun. Enjoy a picnic under the shade of the large willow and oak trees or partake in a round of putt-putt, then have a look at the farm animals, or take a ride on the steam train or tractor. Rietvlei offers beautiful natural wetlands and well maintained gardens.

Nirox Sculpture Park – Krugersdorp

A little piece of heaven on earth in my opinion. A privately funded park but open to visitors every weekend. Standard entrance fees are R100 per adult and R50 for kids under 12. The sculpture park comprises of cultivated landscape and water ways designed to showcase sculptures. It is located within a privately owned nature reserve which has more than 40 kilometers of walking, cycling and game drive trails through unspoiled grasslands, natural fountains and indigenous forests.

Bartlett Park/Boskruin Koppie, Boskruin

The Boskruin Koppie is one of the protected areas in the city, alongside the famous Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, Delta Park, Emmarentia Dam, the Johannesburg Botanical Garden and Golden Harvest Park. The Park is a beautiful safe green strip hidden in amongst a residential area. It has wild bunnies for the kids to feed so be sure to take some carrots and keep an eye out for the feisty rock dassies !

Walkhaven, Muldersdrift

Walkhaven is situated in the Muldersdrift area right next to the Cradle of Humankind on 22 hectares of rolling grassland. It has a fully stocked dam surrounde by wetlands and is home to a number of bird life. Braai and picnic facilities are strategically placed throughout the park should you wish to bring your own refreshments. The park was initially started as a dog park and is a popular outing for the entire family. There is a small entrance fee of R20 but its open daily from 7am.

Brookwood Estate, Cradle of Human Kind

Technically not a park, but Brookwood Estate is a peaceful retreat and the perfect picnic spot! Its situated an hour outside of Johannesburg.The farm offers 5 stock dams for the fishing enthusiasts among you and their picnic site, right next to the Blaaubank Spruit river, is well looked after. Braai facilities are available as well.

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