School holidays are a kid’s favourite time of year. But for parents they can be a nightmare. Two to three weeks of constant nagging for extra pocket money may eventually leave you ready for your own holiday away from the kids. Luckily, as Joburg natives we have a wide range of lifestyle activities to choose from, many of which are child friendly. A lot of these activities are also reasonably priced or even free of charge. So, get the kids out of the house before the chilly season really kicks in. The last thing you want, is to become known as the ‘uncool’ parent around town.
Free activities for kids in Joburg
There are a number of free entrance museums, galleries and activity centres around the city.
James Hall Transport Museum
The James Hall Transport Museum is a great place to take kids who are fascinated by cars, trains or anything that moves really. The museum showcases the most comprehensive land transport collection in South Africa. Their display includes animal-drawn vehicles dated from 1870-1910, bicycles and motorcycles from 1786-1960, buses and coaches, fire engines from 1877-1960, motor cars from 1900-1980, steam-driven vehicles and trams and trolley buses from 1896-1986. There are a few picnic areas around the museum, so pack a snack bag to take along with you.
Details: Pioneers’ Park, Rosettenville Road, La Rochelle, Johannesburg | 011 435 9718 | email@example.com
Adler Museum Of Medicine
The Adler Museum of Medicine is situated in Parktown, on the Wits Medical School campus. The museum houses a vast collection of medical documents, art installations related to medicine and displays depicting the history of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy through the ages. This place offers a wonderful learning experience for kids with an interest in medicine. Explore your child’s fascinations with the medical world at the museum unguided for free, or pay R20 for a guided tour.
Details: 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg | 011 717 2081 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
It is vital that children know the history of their country. But, it isn’t only the job of their school teachers to teach them about the mistakes and triumphs of the past.
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory is the official home of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Situated in Houghton, the museum offers visitors a vast archive documenting the life, work and writings of the former statesman. The centre was opened in November 2013, exactly three years to the day after Mr Mandela last used the building as his office. His post-presidential office has been kept exactly as he left it. Where could you find a better place to start teaching your kids about our past and what it took to ensure democracy for all?
Details: 107 Central Street, Houghton | 011 547 5600 | email@example.com
These activities may come with a small price tag, but they are well worth it for the experience.
The Johannesburg Botanical Gardens
The Johannesburg Botanical Gardens at Emmerentia Dam offers parents and kids a vast outdoor space to run about and burn off some energy. While the beautiful rose gardens may be out of season by Autumn, there will still be a lush of greenery to appreciate. Kids can watch the ducks paddle along the dam or share a picnic with their friends under one of the many shady oaks. There is a dog park adjoining the gardens, so if you like, bring your furry friend along for some exercise. Look out for the mini library set up at the entrance to the dog park. You can borrow a book to read to the kids for the afternoon for free.
Details: Olifants Road, Emmarentia, Johannesburg | Tel: (011) 782 7064
The Bokkie Park
This is one for the little kids. Hop on down to Boksburg to visit the bunnies, ostriches and other farm animals at the Bokkie Park. Pack a few carrots or buy some at the kiosk available, and hand-feed the tame bunnies and other animals like goats, cows and donkeys. Make a game out of trying to spot the bunnies hiding away in their burrows. But, remember to always teach children to be kind and gentle towards animals.
Details: Opening times: Daily from 08:00 to 16:30 | 8 Southvale Rd, Leeuwpoort 113-Ir, Boksburg, Johannesburg | Tel: (011) 422 3651
ArtJamming is the perfect way to get more introverted kids out of their shell. Purchase a small canvas (priced at *R165) and let your child’s imagination run wild. There are always helpful staff on hand to assist in creating their version of a masterpiece. You can take along a print out of your child’s favourite cartoon character, action hero or even their pet. The ArtJamming staff will then assist in sketching out a template for them to paint. Just make sure to wear clothes you wouldn’t mind getting a little dirty.
ArtJamming has branches at malls all around Joburg. Click here to find your nearest branch.
The Bioscope Independent Cinema
The Bioscope is the only independent cinema in Joburg. Situated in the artsy Maboneng Precinct, the Bioscope offers kids a one-of-a-kind movie experience. The theatre seats are refurbished car seats, which is sure to tickle a few little funny bones.
The Bioscope regularly host classic kids movie screenings over the holidays. This Autumn, they will be screening Disney’s classic, Dumbo, in anticipation of the release of Tim Burton’s live action adaptation later this year. Foster a love of the cinema arts in your kids by taking them to this eclectic venue.
Click here to book tickets to the screening of Dumbo.
Details: 286 Fox Street, Maboneng, Johannesburg | Tel: 011 039 7306 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Have fun at home
If you really can’t afford to take the kids out these holidays, make an effort to have fun right at home. Whatever your child’s interests are, find a way to incorporate activities that revolve around these interests into the every day. This could mean building a blanket fort in the living room, playing dress up or baking a cake together. Whatever you do, be present and participate in your child’s whimsy. As we all know, they grow up soon enough.