Looking for places and spaces to take your children around Johannesburg? My girls are at the age now that they wake up at the crack of dawn and I find myself scrolling through places to go with kids to try and find ideas on the weekend. Covid-19 changed the landscape of family outings and entertainment in Johannesburg so I thought we are well overdue an update on things to do with children in Gauteng.
I’ve updated our ultimate list from 2017, taken out some which have closed down and added in some new hot spots as well. Are there any other places you would recommend that I may have missed? I’ve tried to “categorize” them into applicable activities. Animal related, park related, cafes etc and links to all original articles with full lists of places are attached as well.
I don’t want to ever hear “but there is nothing to do in Joburg with kids” again Theres a ton! Happy reading and exploring .
Lion and Safari Park (Lanseria) – New and improved, the recently re-opened Lion and Safari park is bigger, better and has a lot more interaction for kids. Nice play area but my favourite thing to do here is the “camps” for kids. Short 2 hour “camps” teaching the kids about nature and survival skills in the wild.
Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve (Kromdraai, Krugersdorp) – Our most favourite “Nearest Faraway Place”, the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve really does cater for the whole family. With a lovely restaurant (thatch cafe), an incredible BMX bike and all the animal enclosures are super spacious. There’s an edu-tainment center in the middle of the reserve for educational talks and snake interactions. An amazing children’s play area complete with fountains and swimming pools. It really is a full day’s adventure.
Crocodile City (Just before Lanseria) – We always have such a great time at Croc City. They hold on the hour educational talks on reptiles (snakes and crocs), you also get up close encounters with some of them. They also house a number of reptiles and much to my horror my boys lined up to hold the snakes. After a tour, the kids ran around counting and feeding as many tortoises and bunnies as they could. For the braver kids, why not try zip-lining across the croc enclosure?
The Donkey Dairy (Magaliesburg) – You’ll need to make a day trip of this one but it is OH SO WORTH IT! A working farm that produces donkey milk and products. Donkey Dairy is home to some of the rarest farm animals in South Africa including dwarf goats, miniature pigs, dwarf rabbits, miniature cattle, miniature horses, silky chickens, Suri alpacas and not to forget the stars of our farm, miniature spotted donkey. There is a cafe on site and you can also pack a picnic blanket and sit in the gorgeous picnic area or laze around in the hammocks. Great kids play area, donkey rides and goat feeding is avaliable. Probably one of our favourite places to visit at the moment.
Old MacDonald’s Farm Yard (The Fat Olive Restaurant/ Beach Bar) (Lanseria) – This is a true hidden gem. Home to the Fat Olive restaurant and a Beach bar, Old MacDonald’s has free roaming Zebras, geese, duck and a whole mini farmyard for kids to feed/interact with. It doubles up as a party venue as well as a restaurant. Theres even canoes to take out on a paddle on the small lake.
Crazy Kids Farmyard (Randburg) – A diamond in the middle of a bustling city. Crazy Kids has also recently had a bit of a refresh with some new animals (including another pony and a friendly pig). It is literally smack bang in the middle of a residential area in Randburg. It has a huge variety of play equipment for kids, a ton of bikes to ride around and an epic sandpit. This is a winner, everyday of the week.
Bird Garden – Monte Casino (Fourways) – We have been going here since the boys were small. The only bird park of its kind in Africa and perfect for all ages! Take a stroll through the gardens and aviary and see a wide variety of bird life, reptiles, and other exotic animals. It also has the flamingo cafe and a cute kids play area.
The Johannesburg Zoo – A timeless classic and always good for a family day out.
The Irene Dairy Farm – Every child’s dream, right on our doorstep! A working dairy farm situated right in the heart of Gauteng. Kids can enjoy seeing the cows being milked, ride on one of the numerous tractors and enjoy an ice cream underneath the beautiful shady trees. They offer “milkshake” tasting during the week.
Lori Park Zoo (Midrand) – Holds a nice variety of crocodiles, predator birds and of course lions/ leopards – though I do feel for the bigger cats as their enclosures are very, very small.
Willow Feather Farm(Pretoria) – Originally started off as an Indigenous tree farm, Willow Feather now hosts a nursery, tea garden and awesome Farmyard for kids. They have a number of interactive activities for kids and the number of animals in the Farmyard is exceptional. Alpacas, pigs, bunnies, cows. Kids can get up close and personal to the animals and of course participate in feeding. There’s also a wonderful kiddies play area to keep little ones busy while moms can enjoy hot tea and scones.
Bunny Hop Haven (Observatory) – A sanctuary for rescued exotic pets and small farm animals as well as an educational and play centre.
Cafes and Play Area’s:
For a full list see my previous article here.
Pappachinos – No Johannesburg list would be complete without one – Broadacres seems like the biggest, Clearwater mall also has a bike track)
The Kids Club at Moove Gym (Melrose Arch) – Just the most EPIC family fun you’ve had in a while. When was the last time you played table tennis or basketball WITH your kids? I loved this kids club because instead of just sitting at a restaurant “watching” your kids in the play area, you could actually get involved with them. Theres a small jungle gym area, basketball court, pool tables, table tennis, trampolines and a 5 aside soccer pitch. Gamers will be in their element with a large gaming floor as well.
Clay Café (Irene) – About twenty minutes out of Johannesburg Clay Café is opposite the iconic Red Barn in Irene. Kids can choose from a large variety of ceramics to paint with lots of accessories to add patterns/ shapes to their masterpieces.
Nostimo by Mythos (Waterfall) – Incredible quality food, amazing views of the city. The play area is central to the restaurant, whilst the jungle gym isnt the largest, they do offer putt-putt for the kids, as well as a pottery studio, where children can paint their own ceramics or keep busy with crafts.
Sci Bono Center (Newtown)- A must visit on a rainy day (well actually any day). The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre is situated in the vibrant and safe precinct of Newtown. It offers over 350 exhibits to encourage Math, Science and Technology in kids. Plan to spend the full morning, there is honestly so much to explore and make sure you catch the planetarium show, climb the rock wall and watch the hourly science experiments. Its ideal from ages 3-12 and they host birthday parties!
Kiddilicious (Bedfordview) – You will never regret paying this child friendly cafe a visit. The staff are always friendly, there is endless play equipment for the kids and they even offer various classes and workshops from ante-natal to baby massage. One of my favourite places discovered in 2018.
256 on Smit (Fairlands) – Friendly staff with a super little hairdresser and masseuse right next door this is also set in an unassuming suburb in Fairlands. The play area is cleverly designed in the middle so you can watch your little ones from pretty much anywhere. They also have an aviary and some bunnies.
The Momentum World of Golf – Yes yes, its “Golf”, but it’s so much more. The World of Golf has an incredible kiddies play area at Dimples Cafe, they offer free “masterclass” coaching sessions for kids and kids can hit at the driving range, bunker pits and the chip and putt to their heart’s content. They also offer sand art and activities on the weekends for kids (my daughter painted and potted flowers last weekend) and they can make their own pizzas. What more do you need? Oh I forgot to mention, there is a Camelot Spa there too for mums.
Smoke Daddy’s (Fourways) – Just inside Cedar Square, Smoke Daddy’s is probably one of the most popular play area’s and restaurants. It offers great quality food (yes a large amount of it is “smoked”), a large covered play area, childminders and of course the infamous candy and milkshake stands.
Glitter Factory Craft Shop (Fourways)– Just off Witkoppen, next to the fabulous State 5 coffee shop and restaurant, the glitter factory craft shop offers a ton of messy fun! From painting ceramics and wood to creating mosaic’s, it’s a fabulous outing for both parents and kids. The State 5 coffee shop next door offers such a huge selection of treats for the kids as well as a fun play area.
Hyto Tyto(Olifantsfontein)- Another one of our favourites. It offers a brilliant kids play area, both indoor and outdoor, an epic bike track and a great restaurant. It’s a bit of a drive if you are in central Joburg but worth it. They have really put a lot of thought into the design of the kiddies play area.
Art Jamming (Across Gauteng) – I love how they have pegged the term “The art of paintertainment”. Paintertainment is exactly what it is! Whether you are young or old, time spent at art jamming feeds your soul. Our favourites are in Cresta and Melrose Arch. For younger kids they have also introduced “messy play”. Contact stores for more detail.
27 Boxes (Melville) – Not the most conventional place to take your kids but its right across the road from Bambanani (kiddies restaurant and play area). They have recently redone their outdoor play area and its pretty impressive! You can also find “Kitchen Concepts” there for your little ones to try their hand at baking and cooking!
Bounce – Take your pick from venues across the city, our favourite is at Fourways Mall. You pay per hour (it flys by), and you and the kids can bounce, run, jump, play basketball, soccer or run the obstacle course to your heart’s content. Download the Entertainer app and receive 2 for 1 specials if you have a larger family! Well worth the deal!
Adventure Golf – An afternoon of fun for everyone! Theres 3 to choose from across Gauteng, but again our favourite is at Fourways Mall (you could really spend the entire day there with the kids). Its open daily until 10pm and they offer various packages and birthday parties. What kid doesn’t love putt-putt? Especially when you have to navigate through streams and waterfalls.
Happy Island Waterworld (Muldersdrift) – It opened its gates in December 2018, and although it still actually had its “official” opening yet, (there are a few slides and rides that have not been complete), its taken Jozi by storm! The Pre launch has been extended so you can enjoy discounted rates if you dont mind not having access to the lockers etc. It’s a waterworld filled with slides, pools and a guaranteed day of fun! (I would try to go either mid week or early morning to avoid crowds).
Ditsong National Military Museum (Forest Town) – The boys love going here! Not only is it aesthetically beautiful (we always eat ice creams underneath the huge war memorial), but its packed to the brim of old history, real aeroplanes and tanks and old artifacts. For a super reasonable price its a jam-packed day for the whole family.
Outdoor parks and Farm spots:
For a full list of our favourite parks and picnic spots click here.
Kids Days at Leafy Greens Cafe (HoneyDew)- Kids days or not, Leafy Greens and Casalinga are legitimately one of our most favourite weekend spots to venture out too. There is nothing better than walking through the glorious gardens, seeing all the incredible vegetables and flowers and having a bite to eat. We take the boys bikes with and they ride across the huge fields to their heart’s content. This is the closest I get to my “bush” Botswana life here in Jozi and I relish every chance I get to visit. Leafy Greens hosts Kids Adventure days from time to time and for a small fee, children can pick their own vegetables and make a little treat fresh from the garden!
Farm Picking Days at Ganico – Ganico grows organic fruit and veg, with ZERO pesticides. One of our best mornings out. I could LIVE at Ganico 🙂 Keep an eye on their social media pages to check when the next picking day is; these days at Ganico offer an educational farm tour and you get to pick your own seasonal veg (if you are lucky that may include pomegranates), you also learn all about the health benefits of certain plants.
The Herb Farm (Midrand) – A botanical gem in the heart of Gauteng. Boasting over 400 herbal plants in a beautiful garden setting and it has a gorgeous play area for kids. It has an outdoor educational facility for kids, where they can get their hands dirty and play in the garden. Now that’s my kind of place!
MacFresh Deli & Berry Farm (Benoni) – Our best “Lockdown” Discovery – Previously known as Country Kitchen Benoni, this “Urban” Berry picking farm as a glorious day out for the whole family. With rows of strawberries and blueberries to pick and a beautiful cafe and Deli to enjoy, it is such a fun day out for the family. Definitely worth the drive!
Delta Park – Probably holds the best play area out of all Joburg parks. It also has glorious walking paths with gigantic trees shading them.
Lonehill Park – Between Lonehill Park and Angelo’s Restaurant you are guaranteed a good time with the kids. Lonehill Park has a beautiful enclosed play area for kids and Angelo’s Kitchen borders onto the park with additional jungle gyms, bike tracks and games for kids.
Mushroom Park – Our go to park for mid-week fun. Mushroom park is a little piece of green forest in amongst Sandton’s high-rise buildings. It has the perfect tracks for kids to ride their bikes on and has over 5 jungle gyms and a large sandpit area.
Raspberry Picking at Fieldberry Farm (When in Season) – A morning spent in the fields at Fieldberry farm is a morning well spent. A beautiful day out for the entire family, kids will have an amazing time selecting and picking the juiciest berries to pick. After all their hard work mum and dad can relax on hay bales around the play area while sipping on a handmade smoothie. My boys had sooo much fun. Raspberry season typically ends around April.
Willow Feather Farm (Pretoria) – Originally started off as an Indigenous tree farm, Willow Feather now hosts a nursery, tea garden and awesome Farmyard for kids. They have a number of interactive activities for kids and the number of animals in the Farmyard is exceptional. Alpacas, pigs, bunnies, cows. Kids can get up close and personal to the animals and of course participate in feeding. There’s also a wonderful kiddies play area to keep little ones busy while moms can enjoy hot tea and scones.
Two Trees Bakery (Mulbarton) – Under the shade of blue gum trees, this gem is in the South of Joburg. It possibly has the biggest selection of climbing equipment, monkey swings and zip lines that I’ve seen in a restaurant. They specialise in pizza’s, burgers, and yummy baked goods. Super friendly staff and a mass to do with the kids, my boys cried when they left!
Cycle Lab Bike Park (Magalieseg/ Bryanston) – Home of adventure and skills for bikers (from the smallest to the most professional), trail runners, corporate events and kid’s parties. Great kids play area, good pizza’s and an ice-cream is a must after riding. The bike park is always a “vibe” , with a number of different trails catering to different skills and ages, music playing and skills workshops. Its an instutution in Jozi and always one worth a visit.
TreeTop Adventures – Across Gauteng. We love Riversands, situated in amongst an old pine forest, Treetops have constructed different obstacles at varying heights catering from about 2 years of age right through to an adult course! Kids can climb through the trees, complete an obstacle course, and if brave enough (my 4-year-old was), zipline across the river!
Tres Jolie(Ruimsig) – Traditionally thought of as more of a wedding venue, Tres Jolie actually is a littler wonder world for kids. They offer a touch and feel farmyard, giant sand pit, pony and camel rides, and a big jungle gym. You can bring your own food to feed the animals or buy packets at the Kiosk.
These are just some of the places I’ve explored with my children and I know there are probably hundreds of more hidden gems waiting to be discovered. This doesnt include more well known places like Gold Reef City, or the Arcade at Monte casino, I have chosen to focus on the smaller ones.
The list is on going, and ever-expanding. Where are some of your favourite places to go? Comment below.