Saddle Creek Ranch Farm

Get away from the buzz of the city and spend the afternoon out in Hekpoort Valley having an adventure with your special someone. Saddle Creek Ranch is bursting with fun and thrilling activities for you and your partner to try together. Take your pick from hot air balloon safaris, go-karting, playing Cupid with a little archery or even taking a romantic horseback ride through the peaceful countryside with its beautiful mountain scenery and lovely bush trails.

San Deck In Sandton

Sundowners, amazing views of Sandton and a vibey atmosphere is what's in store for you when you visit the San Deck Bar & RestaurantThis spot makes for a lovely spot for you and your sweetheart to have a romantic evening for two. There are plush sofas out on the deck, making it the ideal place to see one of the most beautiful sunsets in the city. You can also expect amazing food, cocktails and superb wines which will make your evening even more unforgettable. It's a popular hangout, so make sure you make your reservation to avoid disappointment.

sandeck

The San Deck

Harties Cableway 

There's no better way of seeing the amazing views of Hartbeespoort Dam and its surrounds than in a cable car at the Harties Cableway. Just imagine experiencing this with that special someone. Now that's romantic! This popular spot has finally reopened after being shut down for maintenance. And after enjoying the stunning panoramic views, you can head into town to explore and find a bite to eat.

Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens

Since the 1800s, people have come to the botanical gardens in Roodepoort to spend time relaxing against a backdrop of a cliff which houses a sensational variety of incredible flora and fauna. Take a page, pack a picnic basket, grab your beloved and find a spot close to the waterfall. That, my friend, is how you make a good memory.

The Bioscope

For quite some time now, The Bioscope has run some interesting cinema offerings at their viewing room in Maboneng. From kung-fu movies to Classic Movie Sundays with beer and pizza, there's always something fun happening at The Bioscope.  Check their viewing schedule online and pull in for a cuddle session.

The Bioscope

The Bioscope

Goodman Art Gallery

Since the '60s couples have flocked to the Goodman gallery to be inspired by the artworks on display. From the awe-inspiring images of photographer David Goldblatt to the controversial works of conceptual artist Willem Boshoff, there is something for everyone. Spend the afternoon soaking up some of the best creations South Africa has to offer because you and your dearest are cultured like that.

Northcliff Hill

Pack a sun-downer, head to the second highest spot in Joburg and spend some quality time with that special someone. The entire city can be viewed from the top as the sun sets over the city of gold, making for an experience like no other. Although moments like these with a special someone can be very sexy, it's probably best to take some like-minded pals and not to visit this secluded spot on your own.

Northcliff Hill

And for good measure...

Whisk Him/Her Away For A Weekend In Clarens

Let's face it, there's nothing more romantic than being whisked away on a lovely weekend away with that special someone. Finally, some alone time in between all rush of everyday life. But the question is: where to go? How about Clarens? Yes, we know it's not in Gauteng (it's in the Free State), but it makes for a lovely escape for you and your sweetheart. The town is quaint and quirky, the brewery always has ice-cold craft beer available on those hot days, and there are plenty of hiking trails, sites, adventures and activities to do while you're there.

Know other romantic spots in the city not mentioned above? Let us know below!

Remember that our “Top Picks” are not paid for and are compiled at the discretion of the journalist. We only write about what we love.

Camping

Glen Reenen Campsite

Where: Golden Gate National Park, Free State.

Distance from Joburg: Three-hour drive.

What to expect: The campsite has the ideal location, nestled between trees on the banks of a stream, where you can explore the park and where you’re sure to spot a few of the many animals that roam free.

Things to do: Check out the quaint nearby ‘Jewel of the Free State’ – Clarens, while you’re there.

Visit: www.sanparks.org

Buffelspoort

Where: Rustenburg, North West Province.

Distance from Joburg: One hour, 45-minute drive.

What to expect: Located close to Jozi, this is the ideal weekend getaway for the entire family. The resort boasts many amenities, including a water park and plenty of amenities.

Things to do: Enjoy the resort’s many activities, such as horse riding and golf.

Visit: www.atkv.co.za

Pitjane Fishing Camp

Where: Borakalalo National Park, North West Province.

Distance from Joburg: Two-and-a-half-hour drive.

What to expect: A rustic campsite that makes a great base from which to explore the eco nature and game reserve. Plus, you can enjoy some homely comforts, like flushing toilets and hot showers.

Things to do: Try your hand at the relaxing pastime of fishing.

Visit: www.borakalalo.co.za

Olifantspoort Bush Camp

Where: Modimolle, Limpopo.

Distance from Joburg: Two-hour drive.

What to expect: Switch off from the big city and get in tune with nature at this wilderness camp. Recharge your batteries with leisurely walks, bike rides or simply by taking in the majesty of the bushveld.

Things to do: Unwind with simple activities like swimming, hiking or bird watching.

Visit: www.olifantspoort.yolasite.com

Forever Warmbaths Camping

Where: Bela-Bela, Limpopo.

Distance from Joburg: Two-hour drive.

What to expect: A comfortable camping venue which is great for the less-experienced camper. This luxury camping site is the perfect balance of city life and nature.

Things to do: Explore the rest of this resort, which attracts thousands of tourists to Limpopo.

Visit: www.foreverwarmbaths.co.za

Bush Willow Tented Camp

Where: Muldersdrift, Gauteng.

Distance from Joburg: 40-minute drive.

What to expect: Want to go camping without the fuss? Then this is the place for you! Stay in one of 10 fully furnished walk-in tents that house four to six people.

Things to do: Explore all that Muldersdrift has to offer, like The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site or the new Lion Park.

Visit: www.bushwillowtentedcamp.co.za

Malonjeni Guest Farm

Where: Meyerton, Vereeniging.

Distance from Joburg: 50-minute drive.

What to expect: Stay in one of two campsites that boast a swimming pool, tuck shop and sports bar. Their farm is also home to several wild animals, like wildebeest, zebra and antelope.

Things to do: Take a game drive within the farm (or a game walk for if you’re on the more adventurous side).

Visit: www.malonjeni.co.za

Rametsi Eco Lodge Game Farm

Where: Lyndleyspoort Valley, Swartruggens.

Distance from Joburg: Two-hour, 15-minute drive.

What to expect: Enjoy your stay at this game farm situated close to a picturesque dam. The campsites all have electricity points so you won’t feel too far removed from the city.

Things to do: Take your pick from 4×4 trails, hiking paths and even canoeing.

Visit: www.rametsi.co.za

Dinokeng Waterfront Estate

Where: Kameeldrift, Roodeplaat Dam.

Distance from Joburg: One-hour, 15-minute drive.

What to expect: Located near the dam, this is an ideal quick getaway from Gauteng and is run by a friendly manager who has enjoyed fishing there for over 40 years. Although ablution services are shared, each campsite has an electricity point.

Things to do: If fishing isn’t your thing, you can enjoy a leisurely picnic, canoeing or mountain biking.

Visit: www.campdinokeng.co.za

Mountain Sanctuary Park

Where: Magaliesburg.

Distance from Joburg: One-hour, 15-minute drive.

What to expect: Up in the Magaliesburg mountains you’ll find a campsite that has been attracting campers for over 40 years. It’s also perfect for the nature lover who needs a short break from busy city life in Joburg.

Things to do: Take the short 20-minute walk to the nearby natural pools.

Visit: www.mountain-sanctuary.co.za

What Is It?

The Free State Madeira Flower Festival is for people who love everything to do with flowers and florals. It will be a weekend filled with hundreds of thousands of flowers, exquisite floats,  performers as well as giant flower puppets performing around a spectacular flower precinct in a Disney-like flower story. Last year's festival wowed guests as they celebrated the lives of Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu on their centenary. This year, Madeiran flower artists will yet again create breathtaking flower carpets for all to enjoy. The festival has a host of activities that cater for everyone, so don't miss it!

When Is It?

Thursday, 28 November 2019 - Sunday, 01 December 2019. 

Where Is It?

Parys, Free State, South Africa.

How Much Is It?

Entrance is free.

For More Information? 

For more information visit the Free State Flower Festival website. You can also follow them on Facebook for event updates.

Details: +27 (0) 51 404 0300 | [email protected]

Oneplan Muddy Puppy

Dates: Sunday, 10 February 2019 at The Big Red Barn and Sunday, 31 March 2019 at The Wedge

The Oneplan Muddy Puppy is a 2.4km fun obstacle course fun run or walk for you and four-legged companion. You can expect lots of fun and interesting obstacles that include crawling, climbing, jumping, slipping, sliding, wagging, barking and lots and lots of mud. It definitely sounds like an entertaining (and dirty) day out! And to make things even more exciting, they have decided to add in a beer mile for the humans as added extra festivities for the day. Keep in mind that all dogs must please be on leashes at all times. Once you and your fur-buddy have crossed the finish line, you’ll both be awarded a Muddy Puppy medal. A portion of the “Muddy Puppy” proceeds will be donated to an animal charity of their choice. They host a few of these throughout the year, just keep an eye out on the Facebook page for upcoming events.

Muddy Princess

Dates: 09 February 2019 at Legends MX, 17 February 2019 at Rietvlei Zoo Farm, 

Muddy Princess is a fun, exciting and women's only 5km mud fun run, filled with plenty of obstacles waiting to be conquered. No matter your fitness level – newbie or pro – you and your friends will have a blast crawling, walking, running, climbing, laughing, playing and getting absolutely filthy through this course. It's definitely a great idea if you’re looking for a ‘girls' dirty day out’. Muddy Princesses can enter as a team or run the course on their own, and cross the finish line at their own pace. Who says fitness and fun don’t mix? They also have amazing merchandise available at their online store!

The Toyota Warrior Race

Dates: 02 March: Bloemfontein, Free State | 23 March: Namibia | 06 April: Tierpoort Adventure Farm, Gauteng | 24 August: Mbombela Stadium, MP | 05 November: Riversands Farm Village, Midrand, GP | 02 November: Cape Town

Test your fitness, get that blood pumping and love the rush at the Toyota Warrior Race! This is South Africa’s largest obstacle course race series, complete with trail running and a number of physical challenges that’ll test your strength, speed and endurance. Participants can take their pick from one of three distances, depending on their level of fitness. This race series is all about promoting and leading an active and healthy lifestyle, with an emphasis on the importance of being bold and overcoming challenges that put your body, mind and spirit to the ultimate test. We best get training for the next one ASAP!

Gajiga Run

Dates: 10 February 2019 at Riversands Farm Village

The Gajiga Run is an exciting 5km fun run, complete with seven massive inflatable obstacles en route, offering plenty of thrills for everybody! Anybody can join in on the fun, from the young at heart to the social weekend runner. There’s no water, no mud, and no time restriction – just pure fun! And best of all, it's perfect for all ages and fitness levels - kids, families, the in-laws, the young at heart, the athletic professionals and social weekend runners. You'll definitely run, walk, laugh and bounce your way through this one. This will be their Final Bounce, so make sure you don't miss it.

IMPI Challenge

Dates: 26 October 2019 at Van Gaalens Kaasmakerij (North West Province)

Whether you're looking to push your limits or just want to have a little bit of fun, the Fedhealth IMPI Challenge is a muddy trail run is perfect for everyone. You can expect loads of exhilarating obstacles, mud, music and even an amazing festival area once you've crossed the finish line. It's the trifecta - social, fun and challenging. The adrenaline-charged experience is ideal for all capability and fitness levels. It’s an opportunity to play like a kid and challenge yourself while having fun. The entry categories cater for a variety of athletes, from elite sportspersons, competent and beginner runners to families looking for a fun experience.

The Beast Challenge

Dates: 10 March 2019 at Battle Rush, Bryanston, GP

The Beast OCR is a family-friendly event which gives everyone, both young and young at heart the chance to experience the thrill of obstacle course racing. It's everything you want in a race - fun, challenging and social. There are three different levels of entry to choose from, so anyone can compete. Lots of smiles and laughter are guaranteed along the course with a little mud and a proud sense of achievement at the end of the race. Get dirty, have fun and challenge yourself with some trail running and climbing, crawling and sliding across various obstacles designed by professional Obstacle Course Race athletes. Enter the race as a family, compete against your friends or work colleagues or a training opportunity.

Power Extreme OCR

Dates: Keep an eye out of Facebook for upcoming events. 

Are you ready? Whether you are or aren't, on your marks. Get set. GO! The Power Extreme OCR is just the obstacle race if you're looking to enjoy some outdoor racing. You can be a pro or just the average Joe next door, there's a distance just for you. You'll spend the day enjoying the vast terrains expertly set up by the adrenaline specialists. And as if that wasn't enough, there will also be plenty of entertainment throughout the event (for spectators or competitors once they have crossed the finish line), from massive beer gardens, food stalls and live entertainment to outdoor shopping. This is a fun day out for family and friend.

GI Joe Hardcore Obstacle Race

Dates: 30 March 2019 at Tikwe River Lodge in Virginia, Free State

Do you consider yourself hardcore? Do you think you can take on one of the toughest challenges possible? If you want to test your limits and push yourself, then why not try the GI Joe OCR. The GI JOE is a hardcore 6 and 12km obstacle course race complete with mud, ropes, tunnels, barbed wire, tunnels, monkey bars, electric shocks, fire and much more! Everything you need to test your endurance, stamina and strength! Here, you can confront and conquer your fears, stay fit and healthy and get your heart pumping while having a blast. Not only will it challenge you physically, but it will also challenge your mind. It takes a lot of guts to conquer a fear.

 

Where To Eat

Clarens Brewery

Hanging out with great company, sipping on ice-cold draughts and tucking into some delicious grub – what more do you need to make a great outing with your loved ones? And if this is just the thing you’re looking for after a long day hiking and being adventurous in and around Clarens, then Clarens Brewery is just the place to refuel, refresh and simply have a good time. This is one of the country’s first brew-pubs, cideries and distilleries, so you can expect to sample and enjoy great beers, ciders and distillate (request for the tasting board to sample a few options before placing your drink order), all while being part of the fantastic craft revolution that is sweeping our country. It is an absolute must-visit when you’re in the area.

Clementine’s

We all love a fabulous meal, which is why you need to visit one of the best dining options Clarens has to offer. Clementine’s is one of the most exclusive restaurants in Clarens, where you can expect excellent food, a great atmosphere and friendly service. The pork belly, oxtail and steaks are all highly recommended. With such great food, you can expect this place to be busy and packed over the weekends and holiday season. To avoid disappointment on your next visit to Clarens (and Clementine’s), make sure you book your table at this popular gem well in advance.

Sugar & Cinnamon

Whether you’re after a delightful breakfast or something to satisfy your sweet tooth, Sugar & Cinnamon offers all things delicious from pancakes and glorious chocolate cake to home-style meals and good coffee, all with a stunning view of the mountains in the distance. Just a short distance away from Clarens, this is a hidden gem that gives travellers and even locals a great place to relax and enjoy the fresh air out on the countryside. Talk about a great way to start the day.

Where To Shop

The Purple Onion Deli

The Purple Onion Deli is hard to miss – it’s situated around the town square (in the Clarens Windmill Centre) with a little windmill spinning away right next to it and the majestic mountains in the background. This quaint shop gives guests an exceptional country deli experience, unlike anything you’d find in the city. They source unique, handmade and special products that are made with yesteryear’s recipe, including jams, fudge, coffee, marmalades, cherry items (seasonal), chocolates, pasta, preserves, biltong and much more. And best of all, it’s all absolutely delicious.

The Cherry Company

Love everything that smells, tastes and even looks like cherries? Then The Cherry Company will be your cherry heaven! From the moment you walk into the shop, you smell cherries, as the shelves are stocked with all things cherry. And to delight your taste buds (one of my absolute favourites): the cherry liquor. Trust me, if you’re nuts about cherries, this is one spot you cannot miss while visiting Clarens.

The Ugly Duckling

Who doesn’t love quirky and interesting gifts? If you’re looking to shop for something unique for family and friends or want to take something home with you to remind you of your visit to Clarens, then make sure you check out The Ugly Duckling. As their slogan says, it’s “the shop that’s worth a stop”. This store will have everything from unusual gifts and furniture to carpets, mirrors, one-off items, toys, indigenous instruments and souvenirs.

Tobias Art

If you have a flair for all things artistic and creative, then Tobias Art is a must-visit. This spot is a landmark destination for discerning shoppers who are looking for that something ‘out of the box’. They have everything from paintings, pottery and pillows to T-shirts, handbags, handmade soap, incense and jewellery. They even have interesting vintage toys in store.

Where To Play

Ficksburg Cherry Festival

If you are frequent visitors to Clarens, then you know all about the Ficksburg Cherry Festival. But if not, then you’re in for a treat. Ficksburg is the cherry capital of the world and every year in November, they host the Ficksburg Cherry Festival that attracts many travellers and cherry lovers from across the country. A must during this festival is the Constantia Cherry Farm tour with a picnic and the McKinley Chocolate Tour. This year the festival will take place from 16 to 18 November 2017.

Plenty of hiking trails

Love the outdoors and spending time trekking along trails and exploring? Then Clarens is just the place for you, as it has plenty of hiking trails no matter your level of experience. If you want something quick and easy, then take the Spruit Walking Trail, but if you’re looking to up the tempo and the time, then why not take the Kloof Hike that’s about 2.5 to 3 hours long!

Outdoor Adventures

If it’s adventure you want, Claren Destinations has it. There are plenty of extreme adventures you can experience in Clarens, all you have to do is book and enjoy. They offer a variety of experiences to get your adrenaline pumping, including river rafting, abseiling, paintball, hiking, rock climbing, enduro trails, zip- lining, quad biking, archery, fly fishing, a variety of day tours and even skiing and snowboarding in the colder months.

Where To Sleep

Kiara Lodge

There’s a little bit of everything at Kiara Lodge. It makes for the perfect family getaway home as it has plenty of facilities to keep the little ones busy. These chalets are all complete with balconies that offer stunning views and are within walking distance to the dam, playground, swimming pool and restaurant. Also, you won’t be too far away from the main street in town, as it’s just down the road.

Protea Hotel by Marriott Clarens

This luxurious four-star retreat is nestled close to the Golden Gate National Park and the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. Protea Hotel by Marriott Clarens exudes sheer style, luxury and design that blends in with the natural beauty of the stunning little town of Clarens. It boasts 70 luxurious rooms perfect for any occasion, whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, team-building endeavor, a business conference or an adventurous weekend escape with the family.

Lake Clarens Guest House 

Apparently, this guest house has even hosted Brad Pitt… If you want 4-star luxury at its finest along, stunning country views and quick and easy access to town, then book a stay at Lake Clarens Guest House. Their luxurious rooms are furnished to make your stay as comfy as possible with queen-sized beds, TVs, fridges, snack basket and a safe, and are all tastefully decorated. And best of all, all bedrooms have an exquisite view of the lake and mountains.

De Kunst Huisje

Two hours outside of Johannesburg is De Kunst Huisje, a quaint little hideaway from the hustle and bustle of big city life. Beautifully decorated in classic Dutch style De Kunste Huisje also boasts a sparkling blue pool, brilliant breakfasts and 100% arabica coffee.

Kurisa Moya

The best part about matric vac is taking road trips and seeing parts of the country you've never seen before. Let's tell you all about Kurisa Moya in Polokwane. This nature lodge can be found deep within the Magoebas Kloof reserve and is situated on the side of a hill from which you can overlook the whole valley. Activities include hiking, biking, bird watching (the flying kind) and slackpacking.

Old Willow Houseboats

We're all about being fresh and we pride ourselves in thinking outside of the box. What if we told you that you can spend your matric vac on a - wait for it - houseboat? Yeah, that is pretty cool. You can listen to some old skool cool beats while rolling on the river while indulging in a game of beer pong. Let's introduce you to our friends at Old Willow House Boat Charters.

Black Horse Brewery

Deep in the Magalies mountain range, in the Zeekoeihoek Valley, sleeps Black Horse Brewery. Its suds are fine, its accommodation fair - and the restaurant serves a mean burger. Everything you need in an ale house can be found at the Black Horse Brewery: an ample supply of beer and grub and a comfy place to rest your head, such is the 14 sleeper guesthouse which could be the perfect hideaway for your matric vacation.

Flintstones Mountain Cabin

Going on matric vac is all about the freedom before your studies take up centre stage. One way to take advantage of your time off is to check out the Flinstones Mountain Cabin in the Free State. Beautiful rock vistas will welcome you and your friends to a relaxed and laid back stay. The pet friendly cabin allows accommodation for 4/5 people and consist of two double rooms with an extra single bed in the 2nd bedroom, a bathroom and a big lounge which features a fireplace - just in case an icy hailstorm chills you guys out even more...

Toy Zone

This specialist mega toy store (yes, mega) stocks everything your child would ever dream of playing with. In the boy's zone is an array of cars and action figures. Meanwhile, doll houses and karaoke sets can be found in the girl's zone. They also have a family zone and cyber zone with board games, TV and computer games, puzzles and so much more. They have numerous stores in Gauteng. Click here to find your nearest store.

The Toy Factory Shop

The Toy Factory Shop, as the name suggests, is a factory shop fully dedicated to the play needs of little ones. Branded toys from Barbie to Ben 10 and Disney can be found here. Not to mention a huge variety of iPod docks and electric scooters. They really have everything a youngster could want and it’s all far cheaper than commercial toy shops. The owner further assures us that the products are not damaged or imperfect in any way. The stock is all end-of-range and new. This means you get great toys at a considerably better price. You can thank us later.

Polly Potter's

Polly Potter's is a family fun business. Their toys are divided into age, gender, pretend play, arts and crafts, educational, puzzles, wooden toys, wheels and other. This way you are given a range that caters to your kids' specific toy needs. Polly Potter's also offers online shopping for your convenience.

toys

Toys R Us

Toys R Us, well-known and trusted retailer available nationwide, offers a wide range of toy options in their different categories. They also frequently post hot deals and specials on their website. Be prepared, your kids won't want to leave the store once inside.

Babies R Us

Babies R Us is a division of Toys R Us, which specialises in merchandise and toys for babies and toddlers. You get everything from walkers and strollers, to soft rattle toys and wooden building blocks – just in case you have a little architect on your hands.

Hamleys

Founded by William Hamley in 1760, Hamleys has a reputation for delivering only the finest quality toys for kids. Their stores are a child's paradise, offering wish fulfillment deluxe. The store is also well known internationally and its branches in South Africa can be found in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Splurge on your kids in this wonderland.

toy store

Toy Kingdom

Toy Kindgom describe their stores as fantasy wonderlands. With every item your prince and princess could ever want under their roof, they're exactly that. Take a browse through Baby Boulevard (with items for 0–24-month-old's), girls and boys sections, Lego Lane, Barbie House, Princess Place and Soldier Street. Every one of their five stores is unique.  We encourage you to visit each spot to find the one you – and your little one – love most.

Toy Adventures - Pretoria

What started as a small family-run store in 2009 selling only Lego, has now grown into three well-loved toy stores in Pretoria and Centurion. Toy Adventures' focus is on quality toys that give good value for money. They stokc all major brands including Lego, Playmobil, Top Model, Burago and many more. They’ve since expanded into e-commerce, stocking over 6000 products. Check out their online store, as they offer free door-to-door delivery for orders over R499. Find them at Byls Bridge Promenade in Centurion, and Grove Mall and Irene Village Mall in Pretoria.

Remember that our "Top Picks" are not paid for and are compiled at the discretion of the journalist. We only write about what we love.

Being the latest addition to the food market scene, Neighbourgoods Market is a great way to spend your Saturday. You can check out some fresh seasonal fruit and veggies from the Free State and stock up your meat supply with meat from the Braeside Butchery in Parkhurst. And, if that wasn’t enough, you can also enjoy the beautiful views over the city from their upper level outdoor terrace. Don't forget the delicious food stalls, which offer an array of amazing treats from authentic Paella to Belgian waffles and everything in between.

To find out more about the Neighbourgoods Market, click here.

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