I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of travelling, and I tend to chat a lot about the great places that I visit. What I often forget about, especially when I see how often I talk about overseas locations, is that there are tons of great things about the city I call home. In Johannesburg, there are great things to do and Johannesburg is a beautiful city because it happens to be a lovely mix of city and suburbia all decorated with green trees and jacaranda blossoms everywhere. I think it is just that when you live somewhere, you often forget about all the great things that are right in front of you because you take them for granted that they will always be there. Well, I’ve spent a lot of time away from home this year, and I think that distance has helped remind me that while the places I have been are great, there is still a lot of greatness in my own city that I forget about. So today, in honour of Joburg, I’d like to share with you all ten fun things to do in Joburg. Whether you are a tourist looking for things to do or a resident who has forgotten some of the great spots right around the corner, here is a little demo of some of the great things one can do in Johannesburg. I hope you enjoy it!
Monte is probably my top spot so you may call this favouritism seeing as I’m starting with it, but considering there is so much at Monte I thought I just had to do it first. Montecasino is a ‘pseudo shopping mall’ in the Fourways area and from the outside walls to the storefronts inside, it feels as if you’ve stepped into some picturesque Italian village. What makes this such a great stop, in my opinion, is that there is so much to do there for just about everyone. Those looking for some fun and play have their pick of a neon-lit bowling alley, one of the best-rated cinemas in the city and, my favourite, a massive arcade. I mean, who can say no to an arcade? If that doesn’t quite tickle your fancy and you’d prefer to be outdoors, Monte has that covered too with a beautiful Bird Park/Gardens to visit right outside the entrance. Adding on to that, Monte has plenty of shops and a range of restaurants as well as two theatres that continually host top-rated performances and even a nightclub. There is so much to do at Monte that everyone can find something, so if you can’t find something you like at Monte, then I’ll be a little shocked.
Lion and Safari Park
When I travel overseas, people sometimes ask me if there are lions everywhere when I say I’m from South Africa. Well, yes and no. No, there are not lions loose on the streets, but there are more opportunities to see lions if you don’t count the ones you’d find in the zoo. One of the great spots in ‘Joburg’ (technically it is in the Hartbeespoort/Cradle area, but it is a close enough drive that I’m including it) is the Lion and Safari Park if you don’t quite want to schedule a trip to one of the game reserves. What is great about this place is that it lets people see some of South Africa’s most iconic wildlife up close in a very secure manner. You can either drive in your own car or in a guided game vehicle to see the animals in ‘the wild’, you can have lion (or other predator) encounters on a night tour and hand-feed several herbivores like giraffes, ostriches and more. It is an incredible experience for anyone who wants to see or experience the South African wildlife outside of a zoo.
Who could hate a place that is essentially rooms of trampolines? I’ve only ever done Bounce once, but it is honestly some of the most fun I’ve had. With 100 interconnected trampolines, you can just bounce your way through them all, or spike your adrenaline in the slam-dunk or wall-running areas or the dodgeball courts. Bounce is not only great fun, but it also can help you let loose, blow off some steam and considering how much energy it takes to jump on trampolines, you could even count it as a workout. Be aware though that this activity does require a lot of energy and to get your money’s worth, you’ve got to be ready to bounce your heart out. But, besides all that, it is a fun way to spend an hour or two and also happens to be a great group activity, so get bouncing!
Gold Reef City
Amusement park? Yes, please! Gold Reef City is our own amusement park, complete with roller coasters, carnival games and just the right amount of junk food. It may not be on the same level as Disney World (but I mean how on earth can anything compare with that giant patch of magic?) but if you’re looking for that adrenaline rush that only a roller coaster can give, then Gold Reef has got you covered. Gold Reef is a great amusement park because it has a mix of thrill rides relaxed rides, water rides, kids rides and activities for those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground. Gold Reef is also unique because it has a historical touch. It is located on an old gold mine that was closed in 1971, and the park is themed around the Witwatersrand gold rush that started in 1886. A heap of fun on top of a gold mine – now doesn’t that sound exciting?
For some people, fun might not be games and lions and thrilling roller coaster rides. For some people, fun might just be getting outdoors and experiencing nature in all of its beauty and sense of calm that it imbues. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys scenic strolls through beautiful parks and picnicking in a field where you are surrounded by lush, floral vegetation, then the Botanical Gardens is the spot for you. There are several gardens to enjoy on the 81-hectare land, including the Shakespeare Garden, Rose garden, Herb garden and hedge demonstration garden, all containing a mixture of indigenous and exotic plants. If you’re lucky, there might even be an event or concert being hosted there when you decide to come and visit, so you get two experiences for one. At the end of the day, though, if you like being outdoors and appreciate plants, then the Botanical Gardens is definitely a good place for you to visit.
Northgate Ice Rink
For people who might live in colder climates, I’m sorry to disappoint you that you won’t get much of that in South Africa. Our winters can get quite cold but the only thing white and icy you will ever find outside, no matter what time of year, is either an ice cube and ice cream or a handful of frost. Not to worry though because as hot and non-icy it is outside, there is a place you can go to enjoy that brisk cold air and a more wintery activity. The Northgate Ice Rink is great fun for anyone who enjoys sliding along the gleaming icy surface, or for people who are looking for a fun social activity that comes with music. Personally, I’m not so great at ice skating and look more like Bambi on ice than a sophisticated figure skater, but even I think that ice skating can be great fun if you go with the right people.
Zoo lake, a popular lake and public park, is a favourite spot of many people. It is an excellent spot for picnicking, walking your dog, going for a run, or just having a leisurely stroll with the water foul for company. Zoo lake is an excellent spot for the whole family because there is a large playground, as well as one of the more popular African-style restaurants, Moyo and it is a peaceful and relaxing spot to spend your day. Depending on the time of year, you can even rent boats to row across the lake in. Zoo lake also happens to host several events throughout the year, including the annual Jazz on the lake, Carols by Candlelight and a monthly open-air art exhibition. There is even a sports club that offers many different sports and amenities, and a restaurant and pub.
South Africa has a rather dark past that only ended its horrific chapter 25 years ago. Apartheid, a terrible period of racial inequality. While that period is thankfully in the past, it is always important to reflect on the historical events that lead to the present, especially in South Africa, where we have now become the rainbow nation. The Apartheid Museum illustrates the rise and fall of Apartheid and allows people to see and try to understand what the period was like and how it all eventually came to an end. It may not be an upbeat spot or one that everyone will enjoy. Still, since Apartheid was such a large part of our history, I believe it is vital for people, foreigners and residents, to understand the history that brought our beautiful country to finally becoming the Rainbow Nation.
Another excellent spot for nature lovers, dog walkers, athletes in training or just people who would prefer to eat their lunch on the grass in the open air than at the kitchen table again. Emmarentia Dam actually consists of several dams, is right next to the Botanical gardens, and is considered to be the best dog-walking spot around. Regarded as one of the most tranquil places in the city, people can enjoy relaxing or playing in the grass, having a picnic or braai with family, strolling through the lush trees or simply letting their dogs have a splash in one of the smaller dams. The main dam is actively used by canoers and windsurfers. In the summer, there are usually dozens of events and concerts at Emmarentia, so check and see if there is an event you are interested in. The setting is undoubtedly spectacular enough. Even if you opt-out of bringing your own picnic basket, there happens to be a fantastic cafe and lovely tea room (the scones are amazing) so you won’t need to worry about staying hydrated or well-nourished. It really just is a fantastic spot to spend the weekend.
Pick a mall
I know I’ve been listing plenty of places that are more outdoors or require some form of physical activity, so that is why for this last one if you aren’t for any of the above-listed options, I’d say pick a mall. Johannesburg has a large number of pristine shopping malls for you to enjoy if that is more your idea of fun. There are countless high-end brands, fun stores and malls that have their own quirky activities besides the usual cinema and mouth-watering foodcourt. The three malls that I would recommend though if you like shopping or malls, in general, would be Sandton City, Mall of Africa and Fourways Mall. All three are grand, magnificent and just filled with stores to shop, restaurants to eat at and things to do. If you haven’t found an activity you like in the nine before this option, then I guarantee one of the malls will have something for you.
And so there you have it! I hope that you all enjoyed today’s blog post. Joburg residents, I hope I either reminded you what a great city we live in or inspired you to visit a great place you had forgotten about. Foreigners/visitors, I hope I have maybe convinced or inspired you to make your next vacation here so you can test out some of these great activities. As always, thank you all so much for reading my blog – I really do hope you enjoyed today’s post. Please don’t forget to hit that little like button if you liked the post and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on any future blog posts. But, besides these ten fun activities, that is all I have for you guys today. See you on Saturday, everyone!
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx