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)
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!
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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