Top four picnic spots in Johannesburg
We’re already in February and before we know it the leaves will start turning orange and the air will be crisp. We need to spend the last few months of summer to the fullest, outside in the fresh air. A great way to do this is by going for a picnic. There are some lovely picnic spots around Johannesburg, so stop making excuses and pack your picnic basket for a day of fun in the sun!
1. Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden
Situated in Little Falls, the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden really is one of Jo'burg’s gems. The minute you walk through you gate you are completely transported into a beautifully relaxing environment. With green grass and open or private areas, you will find the perfect picnic spot.
For nature and animal lovers, take a stroll around the gardens and make your way to the waterfall. There is a breeding pair of Verreaux's eagles nesting along the cliff near the waterfall. There are also over 220 species of birds flying around the gardens. Keep a watch out for small reptiles and small mammals wandering around. You will probably only see these if you hike up to the top of the mountain, although you often find tortoises munching on the green grass in the picnic areas.
Where: End of Malcolm Road, Poortview
Entrance fee: Adults: R27; pensioners and disabled: R22; students: R22; scholars: R12; children under six years: free
2. Emmarentia Dam and the Johannesburg Botanical Garden
Seemingly the most popular wedding photo destination in Jo'burg, Emmarentia Dam is frequented by many wedding parties on weekends for beautiful (and free) photo opportunities. There is a reason for this – the rose garden is gorgeous. There are quite a few different roses planted around the rose garden, along with ponds and a big fountain at the end. It is extremely calming and the perfect place for a Saturday afternoon nap.
Emmarentia is huge; there is the rose garden, the dam, picnic spots, as well as a large dog park with a dam for the pooches. While the different areas are physically separated, there are distinctions in the different areas. Dogs aren’t allowed out of the dog park section, which is good because you don’t want stray pooches coming and stealing your picnic snacks.
There are big, open areas that are great for soccer or cricket (or any other sport that takes your fancy). You can rent a canoe and float around the dam or you can just chill by the side and feed the ducks.
Where: Olifants Road, Emmarentia
Entrance fee: Free
3. Zoo Lake
A pretty park in the middle of a very suburban area in Parkview, Zoo Lake is popular among the locals. You will often see joggers and dog walkers in the early mornings around the dam. And on the weekends families gather on the grass for big picnics of food, drinks and often a game a cricket.
Like Emmarentia Dam, you can also row around the dam. The dam isn’t that big but it can still be a fun activity. There is also a large kiddies' area with jungle gyms, which the kids will love.
It is extremely calming and the perfect place for a Saturday afternoon nap.
If you forget to take your picnic lunch then you can stop for a bite to eat at Moyo’s at the top of Zoo Lake. Not really a picnic vibe but you are still surrounded by a park and can see the dam.
Where: Corner Jan Smuts Avenue and Westwold Way, Parkview
Entrance fee: Free
4. Rhodes Park
Rhodes Park in Kensington has been around for decades, and you can feel that when you visit it. The picturesque gardens are made up of green grass, winding pathways, and little ponds and lakes. The park also has two jungle gym areas, a library, tennis courts, football fields, an amphitheatre and a bowling club. There really is something for everyone here.
Every now and then there is something on in the amphitheatre, which is good to keep a look out for. Otherwise go along for good old-fashioned picnic followed by a stroll around the gardens.
Where: Corner Cumberland and Ocean streets, Kensington
Entrance fee: Free
Don’t forget to pack a picnic blanket, chairs if you need, snacks, some drinks, music and some form of entertainment (board games, cards, volleyball, badminton etc.).
Do you have a favourite picnic spot in Johannesburg? Share your suggestions in the comment box below.