Did you know?
Experts say that children under the age of five should be physically active for at least three hours a day.
Too often at child-friendly restaurants, the atmosphere and food are great for the kids, but not so for the parents. But that doesn't hold true for Johannesburg, where many restaurateurs have perfected the art of creating an ambience for young and old alike.
Bambanani in Melville caters brilliantly for children, featuring an enclosed, outdoor play area that includes a giant jungle gym, dress-up area, sand art, nail bar and hair-braiding area. There is also supervised childcare that allows parents to relax completely while they order off the tapas menu or tuck into one of the restaurant's legendary breakfasts.
The River Cafe at the Sandton Field and Study Centre is another family favourite, with its beautiful garden setting and ample space for the kids to climb trees or play in the giant sandpit. It specialises in children's parties (you can order pony rides too), while for the adults there's a monthly morning craft market on a Sunday.
In North Riding is Blandford Manor, which offers a family restaurant as well as arts and crafts activities.
At the Zoo Lake Sports Club you'll find Panettone Café, a fun family restaurant where kids can make their own pizza, in between jumping on the playground equipment.
Feastt in Parktown North is another restaurant that appeals to families because the food is rather delicious and it caters for children in an alfresco environment. One of its offerings is chef classes for mini-cooks.
Also in this part of the world, Rosebank's Serendipity is a fun place for Sunday breakfasts – children can play to their heart's content, either inside in the book area or outside in the garden, while their parents enjoy the sunshine and a bit of downtime.
Children are also welcome at the Lifestyle Garden Centre on Beyers Naude Drive with its mini-amusement park, where they can be entertained while their parents browse for homeware, plants and fresh produce, or catch up over a cup of coffee in one of several eateries.
And finally, one can't talk about family friendly without mentioning the Spur chain of restaurants. Spurs generally come with a well-equipped play area and a steakhouse menu that caters for adults and children alike. They can be found throughout South Africa.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
85 4th Avenue, Melville, Johannesburg
Tel: +27 (0)11 482 2900
48 Keyes Avenue, Rosebank
Tel: +27 (0)11 447 7836
Parktown Quarters, 7th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg
Tel: +27 (0)11 447 8001
Best time to visit
Opening times are different for each restaurant. However, most restaurants are open for breakfast from 8am. Places like Bambanani and Serendipity close at 5pm, while Spur steakhouses are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Tours to do
A guided night tour of the Johannesburg Zoo is lots of fun. These are on offer during holiday seasons.
Having your own car is an advantage. Children will also enjoy a ride on the Gautrain.
What will it cost
Some child-friendly venues have a cover charge to cover the cost of child-minders. At Serendipity in Rosebank, this fee is R40 per child. At Bambanani there is no cover charge, but parents are expected to tip the carers. Cost of menu items vary from restaurant to restaurant, but R50 should cover a child's meal and drink.
What to pack
Sun cream and sun hats are essential if the children are going to be outdoors.
Where to stay
Johannesburg has a number of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs that cater for families. Try the Protea group of hotels or the various Tsogo Sun hotels, as well as independently owned B&Bs.
What to eat
Kids love the French toast at Bambanani. Mini-burgers are very popular Spur restaurants.
There is always something for the kids, from fun rides at Gold Reef City to science exhibitions at the Sci-Bono Centre in Newtown.