You may find yourself forgetting that there is more to do with your kids in Johannesburg on the weekend than just braaiing, swimming and running errands. If you are a visitor, you may be wondering where you can take your kids to have fun. Here is a short list of places that are open year round that are sure to delight your kids.
If You Have No Money...
Grab an old loaf of bread before walking out the door and make sure your children have shoes with them. The bread is for the ducks of course and the shoes are because Zoo Lake is a popular place for community braais on the weekend. Although everyone is pretty good about cleaning up after themselves, you wouldn't want your child to step on broken glass as you go for a walk around the lake (actually it is just a big pond, but your child won't care either way). There is also a terrific playground area, for both big and small kids. There are ice cream and toy vendors that walk through the play areas, so you may want to have some small change on hand for this sort of treat.
- Admission Costs: Nothing, but you may want to tip your parking guard.
- What to Bring: Stale Bread for the ducks, shoes for the kids, Fido if he can handle the excitement and a picnic lunch if you want to enjoy the afternoon there.
- Where to Find It: Across from the Zoo, between Jan Smuts Avenue and Lower Park Drive in Parkview.
If You Have R10 Per Kid...
The largest science centre on the continent is located in Johannesburg, very close to the Nelson Mandela Bridge. The "Sci" is short for science and "bono" means vision in Venda. Regardless of what it is called, you can't go wrong by bringing your kids here. Sci-Bono is open seven days a week and a large (free) parking lot means you will pay almost nothing for your kids to have a good time. Exhibits are hands-on and you will need to practically drag your kids out of there. (And good luck with getting them away from the building and soccer activities!)
- Admission Costs: R10 for children, R20 for adults. Parking is free.
- What to Bring: Your kids need their imagination; you may need a book because they will get involved.
- Where to Find It: Corner Miriam Makeba and President Streets in Newtown. Call +27 11 639 8491 for more information.
If You Have R25 Per Kid...
Located within the University of the Witswatersrand (please just say Wits), the Planetarium is one of Johannesburg's hidden treasures. Every Saturday at 10:30am, the planetarium has a show geared towards children aged 5 to 8 years old. Kids travel with an astronomer in his rocket, first to a game reserve, then into space. The Planetarium also offers great packages for birthday parties at this time.
- Admission Costs: R21 for children (and pensioners); R34 for adults. Parking is free.
- What To Bring: Nothing. Although you may want to have a picnic on one of the nearby lawns.
- Where To Find It: University of the Witswatersrand, Yale Road Entrance 10, off Empire Road in Milner Park. Call +27 11 717 1392 for more information.
If You Have R30 Per Kid...
Here you can wander through the gardens and see over 60 species of birds and believe it or not, small antelope as well. Try to schedule your outing around the Flight of Fantasy Shows (11am, 1pm and 3pm on weekends). This forty minute show will entertain you as the birds fly unrestricted in the open air amphitheatre. There is also a parrot gallery and frog room. The Monte Casino Complex also offers a skate park, 10-pin bowling and a host of other entertainment for young and old. (There is also a crèche available for when you want to play some poker as well.)
- Admission Costs: Entrance to the Bird Gardens is R25 per child (or pensioner) and R45 for adults and kids over R10. Parking at Monte Casino is a flat rate of R10. Plan on a getting a snack at the food court as well.
- What to Bring: Walking shoes and binoculars.
- Where to Find It: Montecasino Boulevard (Cnr William Nicol and Witkoppen) in Fourways. Call +27 11 510 7000 for more information.
If You Have R35 Per Kid...
The Johannesburg Zoo is open 365 days a year and regularly offers programs, such as Carols by Candlelight and Zoo Trots to the Public. The best know Zoo event is the annual Mother's Day concert which you don't want to miss. The Johannesburg Zoo has everything you would expect a zoo to have, including a small farm-yard and a new exhibit, the Temple of the Ancients. If you have a large group, you can even organise a camping experience at the zoo and listen to the lions roar as you fall asleep.
- Admission Costs: R34 for children under 12 (and pensioners); R55 for adults. Parking is R10 per car, although you can park outside the gates for free.
- What to Bring: Walking shoes, sunscreen and a picnic lunch.
- Where to Find It: Jan Smuts Avenue in Parkview.
If Money Is No Object...
Best known for being a kid's art studio, Smudge also offers a dress-up room, a music room, and a book corner. There is also a coffee shop for parents. Art projects the kids can do include: painting, drawing, sculpting, beading, handprints, and mosaic. Everything the kids create can go home with them, so no worries on that front and children are supervised by Smudge employees, trained to help them create. It is also a terrific place to host your children's next birthday party.
- Admission Costs: R120 first hour and R60 every hour thereafter, per child. This includes all art supplies. Adults don't pay a thing. Parking in the centre is free, but you may want to tip your car guard.
- What to Bring: A shopping bag and a book to read.
- Where to Find It: 21A Valley Centre, 396 Jan Smuts Avenue in Craighall Park. Call +27 11 501 0234 for more information.
For directions to all venues, click on the map below. Enjoy!
Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkview, South Africa
Cnr Miriam Makeba and President Street, Newtown
Yale Road, Entrance 10, Off of Empire Road, Milner Park
Montecasino Blvd, Sandton 2191, South Africa
Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkview
396 Jan Smuts Ave, Randburg 2196, South Africa