Tag: family activities in Gauteng

Things To Do With The Kids In Gauteng – For Free!

Things To Do With The Kids In Gauteng – For Free!

Il’l be honest, when we moved back to Joburg one of my biggest fears was that doing stuff with the kids was going to cost a fortune. In the Western Cape there are so many things to explore in nature that you didn’t have to spend any money to have a great day out. In a “big city lifestyle” however, chances are you’ll have to pay an entrance fee wherever you go.

Well maybe not….. Here are a few places I like to take the boys for free in Joburg (Ok ok, so maybe under R50)

Museums/ Educational

Ditshong – National Museum of Natural History

Since going the first time we have literally been back twice! There is so much to see and because the boys were little still attention spans weren’t too long. The National Museum of Natural History also has a section made for littlies, where they can explore with their senses. At R20 for kids and R35 for adults, it comes in under our R50 mark! Such a fun, educational day out and the dinosaur skeletons in the garden will have you coming back time and again!

James Hall Museum of Transport

Another hidden gem in the heart of Jozi that more people should really visit. Especially if you have transport obsessed kiddos like me! You’ll spot everything from animal drawn cars, to bicycles from the 17th century! They even have a collection of steam vehicles. Entrance to the Museum is absolutely FREE!! Donations are welcome.

If you do have budget to spend, why not make a day of it and get there by jumping on the Johannesburg “Hop on Hop Off” red bus trips. One of the stops is the museum and it will add to your transport theme!

Immerse yourself in culture at the Nan Hua Buddhist Temple

For a truly educational, architectural feast, visit the Nan Hua Buddhist Temple in Bronkhorstspruit. The red glazed roof, vibrant murals and beautifully kept gardens make for a wonderful day out. The temple is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday, 09h00 to 16h00, free of charge. On the weekends they host vegetarian lunches that cost a little as R30.

South African National Museum of Military History

If you follow me on Instagram, you will clearly see just how much we love this place. The boys have honestly asked to go there no less than 10 times. We make a day of it and get dressed up in our “finest” military gear. They love learning about the aeroplanes, tanks and weapons and afterwards our treat is to go and get an ice cream from the guys who stand by the zoo wall and sit on the steps of the beautiful commemoration arch. It’s also a fabulous party venue, for kids and adults alike. At R30 for kids and R40 for adults it also meets our R50 budget 🙂

The Johannesburg Planetarium

The Planetarium is an age old favourite in Joburg, for both kids and adults alike! Its fun, educational and what kid doesn’t like to learn about planets and space? There is a show catered for younger kids called “space travel” which follows Thomas the astronomer in his “giant rocket”. Entry is from R40. Call 011 717 1390 for more info.

The Johannesburg Art Gallery

Ever considered taking the kids to an art gallery? The Johannesburg Art Gallery often referred to as JAG, is located in the centre of Joubert Park in downtown Johannesburg. The building is architecturally beautiful, and it houses one of the biggest art collections in the country. It offers heaps of art and history and entrance is completely free. It’s a little neglected, but as with all places in Gauteng, the more we support these historical gems, the more we can contribute to their longevity. They are child friendly and offer art classes on a Saturday. We have ubered there in the past, which I would recommend as its downtown city centre.


Pushing this one into it, JUST. Children are R40 over 3 years of age, so that just makes the mark, but adults are R60. If you haven’t heard of the Sci-Bono centre you may have been living under a rock 🙂 It’s the perfect outing for rainy days or an educational morning. It’s a state-of-the-art interactive science and technology centre where kids — big and small — will learn to love science. They run various programs, with a specific focus on holidays too so phone in beforehand to see what they have on offer! Call 011 639 8400 for more info.

Wits Art Museum

The Wits Art Museum has won a number of awards and is situated in Braamfontein. It houses the biggest collection of African Art from all across the continent. I have found them to be hugely child friendly and the exhibitions kept the boys interest. Admission is free and they are open from Tuesdays to Saturdays.

Visit to the fire station

With a little bit of pre-planning this is one activity your kids will remember for a long long time. Our favourites include Sandton and Lonehill fire stations, Lonehill even has a fab play area and the firemen and women are always very accommodating. Sadly, Lonehill hasn’t had an operational truck for quite sometime though, but hopefully that should be restored soon and if you go in a large enough group they can somtimes “borrow” one from a neighbouring station.

Parks and Outdoors

Relax at Zoo Lake

Zoo Lake will always be a firm favourite for lazing under the shady trees, with kids kicking a ball around you and the smell of braai’s filling the air. Feed the ducks (careful, they bombard you), or ride your bikes on the paved paths. For a small fee you can even rent a canoe and have fun splashing about on the water.

Take advantage of the awesome play area at Delta Park

The first Joburg park we fell in love with after coming back from Cape Town. Delta Park has the best (in my opinion), kiddies play area and several walking trails to explore. Its HUGE and it even has an awesome environmental center which is open from Monday to Friday where kids from Grade R through to Grade 11 can learn about the environment.

Feed the ducks at Emmarentia Dam

One of our favourite places for a Sunday stroll. Visit the botanical gardens, take along a canoe for a paddle or bring along some bread to feed the ducks. There is always something happening at the park and you would probably catch a music show for free as well.

Go for a Hike in a Nature Reserve

Put on your walking shoes and head to Kloofendal or Klipriviersberg nature reserves in Johannesburg. You may want to go in a slightly larger crowd, but we have done Klipriviersberg a few times and always felt perfectly safe. You will be amazed at the amount of wildlife you can spot along the way! Hennops

Wonderboom Nature Reserve
Have you ever seen a 1000-year old tree? This gem is between Pretoria and Magaliesburg and is open from 7am up until 4pm daily. The Wonderboom fig tree spans over 50 meters wide and is truly a sight not to be missed! R37 gets adults in and between R13 and R21 for kids age dependent. Take a hike to try and find the waterfall or see how many Zebra and Impala you can spot along the way.

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens

Get back to nature by visiting this glorious garden in the west of Johannesburg. Home to a “insta-famour” waterfall, a pair of breeding Verreaux’s eagles, hiking trails and picnic spots there’s no shortage of stuff to keep the kids busy. Kids get in for R15 (if you’re under 6 it’s free) and adults are charged R40. They often have family events on so hop onto the facebook page to keen an eye on up coming events.

Junior Traffic Center – Fontainebleau

The amount of fun we have had here is priceless and I have held two birthday parties there personally, and have attended many more. The centre can be visited by anyone, we tend to get a group of people together and go and take picnic blankets while the kids ride their bikes around. It has small roads, stop signs, circles and sharp corners where children can ride bicycles and tricycles to learn the laws of the road. Its best to pop by beforehand to get a visit booked. The best part is its absolutely free, even birthday parties!

Rand Society of Model Engineers

Open the first and third Sundays of each month, this requires a little pre planning but absolutely worth it. Entrance is free and train rides are from R10 each. Take a picnic blanket and enjoy a day out with the family with the kids marvelling at how trains work. If you’re in Pretoria, Centurion has one as well, and is open every Sunday from 10am. The scenery is beautiful!

Animal Interactions

Bunny Hop Bunny Haven

Recently re-opened, its a sanctuary for small farm animals and houses over 200 animals, mainly bunnies, rescued from across Johannesburg. R40 per adult and R30 per child.

Irene Dairy Farm

Entrance and strolling around the farm are free. If may decide to have a delicious scone at the restaurant or purchase fresh produce from the Deli, but for a beautiful scenic walk and a chance to see cows being milked or feed the swans, its free! You aren’t allowed to take in a picnic blanket or any food/drink but it’s a beautiful family morning out and great to get back into nature.

Public swimming pools

Believe it or not, Joburg still has a few public swimming pools that are relatively well maintained and good to swim at. The entrance fee is minimal, literally like R12 per person. Our favourites are Linden (which is heated and indoor, can you say winter swimming?), and Zoo Lake (You can pack a picnic and sit on the grass), but I believe Parkhurst and Roosevelt Park are also well maintained. They are perfect for larger playdates!

Public Libraries

Yup, we have done these to and you will be surprised by some of the activities planned for kids, especially during the holidays. Our favourites includes Olivedale and Randburg. Across these March/April holidays you can expect activities like an Easter egg hunt and craft at Parkview, Blackheath is hosting an Easter Story Time and across Johannesburg the Libraries will deliver 30-minute puppet shows. Our local Rivonia library hosts a story hour on a Thursday at 3pm. So, select your closest one and phone ahead to see if they have anything planned!

Shopping Malls

What? How on earth are shopping malls free? Well in terms of entertainment you’d be surprised. Across the holidays most of Gauteng’s major malls have some sort of entertainment available for kids. Mall of Africa, Sandton City and Cradlestone Mall often have holiday specific entertainment just do a quick google search. In Sandton we have seen Paw Patrol Live, Shimmer and Shine on stage and even the Nutcracker live. Cradlestone currently has a “Space Wonder” exhibition on where your little ones can see a “Space Chamber”, check out a couple of robots, or play on an inflatable UFO Space Ship. Last year we checked out their jungle wonderland as well as the Dinosaur Exhibition.

So there you have it. There is quite a lot to do in terms of activities that fall under R50 around Gauteng. Some just require a little more forward planning and thought but are well well worth the effort. Id love to hear your thoughts if you have gone to any of the places or if you know of anymore? Please leave a comment below xxx

Family Friendly Accomodation – Planning A “Staycation” around Gauteng

Family Friendly Accomodation – Planning A “Staycation” around Gauteng

First and foremost, let me start by saying this post is in no way sponsored, or paid for. These are my own thoughts and views and genuine recommendations based on places I love.

These past December holidays we decided, like many other South African families who just can’t comprehend the cost involved in oversea’s vacations, to take a “staycation” around Gauteng. It was also the last time we would be able to properly “adventure” as a family of four (and a normal sized car :)). I ticked off places on my bucket list that I have been meaning to visit for more than 10 years (there are still quite a few more to go).

We chose to explore the Cradle of Mankind area a little more and wanted to stay in places that offered activities for the whole family to enjoy.

First up on the agenda was the serene Kloofzicht Lodge. We had been there before previously, in fact I booked in there for a night for our wedding anniversary (and boy did they pull out the stops), so I knew it offered great service coupled with family fun.

Hubby had been dying to just spend quality time with the boys, teaching them how to fish and taking them on nature walks. Aadam is the perfect age to fish but Yusuf still gets a little bored and his mind wanders, so we needed something to cater to us all. I loved the fact that at Kloofzicht the swimming pools are all pretty centrally located to the lakes. So Daddy and Aadam went of fishing and the moment little one got bored, Mummy and Yusuf could go off and jump into the pool! They also have perfect “shallow sections” for kids to splash about in.

When we arrived we were greeted by 3 healthy looking Giraffe slowly cruising their way through the bush. The sign of a beautiful weekend to come! At Kloofzicht you can go on hikes and the grounds are home to Giraffe, Zebra, Eland, Wildebeest and Warthog to name a few. To walk amongst them in the mornings was an absolute treat! All the rooms overlook the mountains and six exquisite fly fishing dams (one of which you can fish for carp). If you are keen on the fishing side you don’t need to be “resident” at the hotel to fish, visitors can pay a daily rate for a permit and use the facilities for the day as well. We had such a huge milestone moment with Aadam bringing in his first catch and learning how to cast all by himself.

For those that don’t know the lodge also offers a fabulous spa which offers a variety of treatments, massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and tailor-made spa packages. They also stock my favourite Matsimela range. Hubby and I took it in turns to have a treat at the spa allowing us each to get some quality time in.

For me personally, one of the things I appreciated most about the lodge is the layout. You never ever feel that it’s too “busy” nor does it have a “resort” feeling. I felt comfortable spending my days lying by the pool without feeling conscious of my body or too many people around. The pools are always warm and inviting. My only “stumbling block” if that the poolside bar in front of the family rooms wasn’t operational. It would have been great to have been able to order some mocktails or snacks without having to trek up to the “Overmeer Bistro.”

Whilst we were in the area we stopped by our favourite Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. It’s literally around the corner and due to it being under construction is quite quiet. They have the most fabulous BMX bike park that they boys spend hours riding around and we helped give Solly the giraffe a bit of lunch too. The Nature Reserve is an actual “Nature Reserve”, the predator enclosure is nice and big and you don’t have that horrible “I’m in a zoo” feeling.

Our next stop after was another member in the Guvon Hotel Group,  Askari Lodge. The one thing you should know about my husband is that is expectations are extremely high. He will not stay in a hotel or place that is not “better than his house”, because otherwise, “whats the point of leaving home” 🙂 We have different views of travel… but I digress, I was a little nervous about Askari as I hadn’t been before and we had heard mixed reviews. I booked the “garden suites” and had no idea what to expect!

We were very very pleasantly surprised! The garden suites are newly built (I cannot comment on the older thatched rooms as I didn’t see them). Our “room” however was brilliant! It had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, SUCH a treat for mum and dad to have two separate rooms, woooo hoooo! The rooms were joined in the middle with a little kitchenette, complete with a sink and a microwave. Such a bonus when travelling with small kids. We often battle when travelling as most hotels don’t “cater” for halaal without bringing in external vendors, so we usually opt for fish/vegetarian options. After 4 days of pizza/pasta or fish we usually crave meat. At Askari, we had our own braai area on the outside patio which was fantastic! Definitely something to keep in mind for future trips.

The garden suites overlook the central swimming pool and are just a short walk away from some of the watering holes where you can spot the resident hippos. The old restaurant is fantastically quaint, it stems off the Bodenstein family farmhouse, and some of the original pieces like the family bible, telephone and staircase are still in tact. We spent an afternoon playing chess upstairs with the kids.

Of all the places we ate at, we actually enjoyed Askari’s food the most. It was mainly buffet style, again a bit limiting if you can’t eat the meat, but the food was tasty and well spiced. One area they could definitely improve on is “afternoon tea”. We went through to the restaurant at about 4pm wanting to get some tea and cake to keep the boys going till 7pm dinner time. They were very accommodating but stated they would have to check with the “top” kitchen if there was any cake (all food is prepared in the bigger kitchens at the main reception and brought down). Our waiter brought us down some scones they had left from breakfast I presume but didn’t supply any jams, honey or cream. I would recommend that they should always be prepared for “tea time”.

Breakfast was a bit of an odd set up as well. The buffet is situated precariously around the stairs of the main reception room and hot water for tea in the morning had to come from the “coffee station” machine. I had to go to the manager to ask him for a pot of hot water for tea as the waiters told me to utilise the self-service station. That being said, the views from the deck are fantastic and we could have sat there for hours but our game drive was waiting.

Being the only “family” there with small kids we were treated to our own safari vehicle in case the kids got bored quickly. (I loved the consideration they took not only of us but of other guests as well). I was disappointed at the “lion enclosure” – we weren’t allowed to drive inside and there were only 3 lions (There are better options around Joburg for a better lion experience). Though I was hugely impressed with our guide. He was friendly, informative and very clued up on the history of the area, the weather and the animals. We got to see Giraffe, Hippo, Springbok, Eland, Waterbuck, Impala, wildebeest, rhino, zebra, jackal to name a few., we even got to “walk” with the giraffes for a bit. It was definitely worth the price and I hope the kids appreciated the beauty.

Askari is also home to the Plumari Heritage Museum. Our transport obsessed kids were enthralled by all the old Ox Wagons and carts, and it was such a treat to show them how transport has developed. The famous “Mrs Ples” is also at this museum and we had a mini history lesson for the kids. The museum is also home to a much sadder story, but a very important one for our kids. It contains the fetus of a baby rhino, a mere 2 months away from being born. Sadly his mother was a victim of poachers and by the time they found the mama the baby rhino had already passed on inside her womb. The boys took it in and understood more than I thought they would. But to see such a perfectly formed baby rhino, so close to being born, is just heartbreaking.

On Sunday we got the biggest treat when the two resident elephants walked down to the watering holes at lunch time.  One of my absolute favourite animals, it was magical to get to watch these beauties up close. The boys even got to give them a few treats! These are memories we will never ever forget!

We will absolutely go back to both Askari and Kloofzicht. At 45 minutes out-of-town it’s really such a treat to escape from the city. Im so glad we chose to explore our province in more depth, these are really memories we will always cherish as a family. I encourage you all this year to explore whats around you and take time to adventure.

Part 2 is coming up soon where I’ll feature a few more of our stops, so keep an eye out for that!