How to be a cool parent in Joburg – Family Fun

10 May 2023
You used to be a cool cat enjoying life on Jozi's streets. Sipping a cortado at Father Coffee, rooftop drinks at Ansteys (you knew someone who lived in that Art Deco masterpiece), dancing in the New Year at Afropunk when it was held at Constitutional Hill, checking out the shisanyama at Kwa Mai Mai market, running up the Ponte steps with MicroAdventure Tours and Dlala Nje, and sporting the latest looks from 44 Stanley's boutiques while tucking into a Vietnamese chicken salad at Salvation Cafe.

Then you had kids...

While Papacino's has a great playground and you can't go wrong with Spur, you wouldn’t mind still feeling that Joburg vibe once in a while.

So here's some help. Thanks to our definitive guide to kiddie- and adult-friendly places and spaces, you'll keep your little ones happy, and your Jozi cool street cred.


There are so many restaurant-goers with kids, but just too few child-friendly spots that serve up more than grown-up-sized frozen pizza, croissants that aren’t bread rolls, or something more exciting than a chicken mayo wrap. Restaurateurs: please consider this untapped market of hungry parents who just want something satisfying to eat. Despite this, we managed to find several wonderful exceptions:
Fun at Joy Jozi

Joy Jozi

This play-space is a winner. It boasts activities for every age group from toddlers and up, and has a menu designed by top chef Luke Dale Roberts. Set in a large heritage property next to Oxford Parks, on the Rosebank-Dunkeld border, it's a must-visit for sophisticates, young and old. The cocktails here are also top notch.
SetteBello's beautiful playground during Jacaranda season. Photo: SetteBello

SetteBello at the Italian Club

Excellent Neapolitan pizza, beautifully cooked al dente pasta with crispy aubergines, a juicy burger that is perfectly pink in the middle, tender calamari in a subtle lemon sauce, and pistachio gelato (which may just be the best in town). The coffee is strong and good. Add a lovely playground, grass to run free on, and a lifeguard-manned pool for hot summer days. Cue: contented sigh for the whole family.
The Old Oak is lively and fun for the whole family

The Old Oak Restaurant & Family Centre

This meticulously designed spot has one of the best-looking playground's in Jozi (trust us: the kids won't want to leave it). The trampolines, bean bags, and log- and spider-swings means it's just too much fun – and you'll be tempted to try them out yourself! Sitting on the patio and enjoying a scrumptious breakfast may leave you wanting to stay for a glass of wine with lunch, while the kids make their own pizza...
Good food and good vibes at The Fish & Chip Shop at Victoria Yards 

The Fish & Chip Shop at Victoria Yards

Possibly the best fish and chips in Johannesburg is inside Victoria Yards. Fresh, flaky fish; slap chips with vinegar and crispy calamari. Kids love exploring the beautiful veggie gardens of Victoria Yards, swinging in the hanging chairs and getting a scoop from Sobae. You can also buy gorgeous local clothes, homeware and art.

Cool outings

Learn and explore at Sci-Bono 

Sci-Bono Discovery Centre

This science museum is full of fantastic exhibits, a construction play area that will keep little ones occupied for hours and a science show that will amaze you too. You might even enjoy ditching your street cred and tapping into your inner nerd, because as the saying goes here, "There is nothing cooler than science". 
Family fun at Nirox Sculpture Park 

Nirox Sculpture Park

This landscaped 15-hectare park, scattered with incredible contemporary sculptures, is a magical space for little ones to explore. Look out for special events like African storytelling on the line-up. The restaurant And then there was fire, serves up chips to delight the kids, as well as tapas-style dishes and Argentine grills. It's a hugely popular spot, however, so book in advance. 

Public spaces

Nothing like having some offspring to truly value the community spaces in our city. Despite Johannesburg’s declining infrastructure there are some real treats to discover. 
The Linden Swimming Pool. Photo: run4pix.

Linden Swimming Pool

Stuck inside on a cold or rainy weekend with kids nagging on repeat? The heated Linden Swimming Pool is a great place to let out some energy. The facilities are excellent and the pool is open year-round. Grabbing an almond croissant from The Argentinean on your way there and devouring it on the stands, post-swim, would make it an even better idea.
Beautiful views from The Wilds

The Wilds

While there are some wonderful public parks in Johannesburg, many with great playground equipment, The Wilds never fails to delight children and adults alike, thanks to artist James Delaney's laser-cut animal sculptures dotted throughout. There is a hike up to the viewpoint, manageable for young children who don't need prams, along with opportunities to spot the monkeys and owl sculptures or the late Andrew Lindsay's mosaics on the way up, or simply run on the grass and climb trees on Giraffe Lawn. It’s a really cool spot. 


Paterson Park. Photo: Nikki Pingo.

The libraries in Joburg remain some of the cities coolest spaces. With an array of books and free membership (you can register online here) it's always a great outing with kids. We love the Parkview Library on Tyrone Avenue for its excellent book selection and Paterson Park Library, just opposite the Norwood Police Station, for its beautiful public art.
Fun with books at The Atelier at 44 Stanley

The Johannesburg Family Cooperative

This Johannesburg initiative hosts some of the best events for young children with a cultural empowerment slant. From Afrocentric science fiction and robot-making at Breezeblock, to listening to African music at The Atelier at 44 Stanley, plus historic events like Femi Koya at Museum Africa, learning while having fun is central to the JFC. Become a member to support their growing work and check out their website for the next inspiring event.


Mamas with Attitude

Can't leave the house yet because your baba is just too young? Get the low-down on parenting in Johannesburg by listening to this honest, insightful and funny podcast hosted by two of Jozi's coolest feminist mothers: Kathleen Ebersohn and Dee Marco. Once you have listened to all the episodes, sign up to Marco’s latest offering, her 40 Days Postpartum + newsletter, a series of daily reflections on her life as a mother of three. 

In no time these Johannesburg gems will have you feeling like your (not too) old cool self and school your sweet little offspring on how to be Jozi cool. Essential for living in this city. 



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