14 Mar Get Out: where to go in Johannesburg
As the prospect of colder weather seems more like a reality and less the anxiety of a former version of yourself, you may want to use those last remaining weeks of sunshine to create some outdoorsy memories for when thick sweaters and non-negotiable appointments with electric blankets become the norm.
Words: Tshiamo Seape
Johannesburg, a sprawling metropolis no doubt, is also home to some to natural and semi-natural attractions that are perfect for the milder days of summer and the more forgiving pre-winter weeks. Catering to yuppies families and pretty much anyone just looking to something a little closer to nature here are some recommendations for where you should be spending your time outdoors over the next few weeks.
Nirox Sculptor Garden
Waterways, manicured gardens and breathtaking contemporaneity sculptor await guests at Krugersdorp’s Nirox Sculpture Garden. Taking in art is a uniquely rewarding experience and there’s probably nowhere better to do it at Nirox. Formerly a commercial tout breeding and fishing farm, the garden has been transformed and regularly features concerts and exhibitions – perfect for a one day retreat from the confines of the inner city.
From the development team behind 44 Stanley, Victoria Yards is fast becoming a favourite hangout for Joburg residents from across the city. The space, which bills itself as redefining the Joburg inner-city landscape, the Yard is a community focused urban complex that is “as much about social development as it is a commercial enterprise.” With artisan studios, urban farming, skills development, and galleries, Victoria Yards provides everything so much for potential visitors to get stuck into. If you’re looking for something to do on the First Sunday of every month, then a trip to Victoria Yards is highly recommended. Not only is the Makers and Growers market open, but it is the only day when you can expect all studios and restaurants to be open. Take in some art, pick up a box of fresh, seasonal produce, or indulge in delicious wood-fired pizzas and something refreshing from the on-site gin distillery.
The story of how this once iconic piece of Johannesburg real estate was transformed from a notorious crime hot spot into a lush local attraction is something fit for the headlines and only part of the allure of this rediscovered Johannesburg gem. Sometime between its origins as a park fro indigenous vegetation and its recent resurgence The Wilds fell victim to disinterest and neglect, creating its previously unsavory reputation. Local artist James Delaney took it upon himself to revitalise this local landmark. While the paths had been maintained by Johannesburg Parks much of the park itself was overgrown. “30 truckloads of branches later” and the space began to flourish. With over 40 acres to explore in central Johannesburg, The Wilds is the perfect retreat for runners, artists, families and even business people trying to squeeze in some time away from the office. With beautiful views, winding paths lined with sculptures and breathtaking vegetation, The Wilds deserves personal exploration. Get outside and see for yourself.
The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
There’s a lot to be said about this picturesque botanical garden that’s just 29km outside of Johannesburg – close, but secluded. the fact its been named the best place to get back to nature or of the staggering variation in vegetation and bird species, but it would be an even better idea to take the time and visit for yourself. Picnic’s, Bird watching, hikes and the occasional live performance make this a no-brainer for anyone trying to get outdoors.
A central Johannesburg landmark, Zoo Lake has a lot on offer for families and individuals. A stone’s throw away from the Johannesburg Zoo and a favourite spot for runners and dog walkers patrons can also slow down the pace at the local favourite Bowls Club where you can settle in for some cheap pub fare and a cold draft. For something more refined, visit the Moyo restaurant, with its African inspired cuisine and cap off an exciting night in the City of Gold.