Johannesburg can be sweltering over December. If you’re not one of those lucky people heading off to the coast for the holidays, here are a few fun and inexpensive ways to stay cool in the city.
Hang out at the Zoo Lake Swimming Pool. The entrance fee is minimal, the grassy area is well kept and you can always find a large oak tree to laze underneath. It’s public, but the area is big enough to feel private. The pool is always bright blue and sparkling, and there is a separate swimming area for the kids. Afterwards, walk across to the Zoo Lake itself, get a Choc-99 and even take bread to feed the ducks.
Picnic at Emmarentia Dam and Botanical Gardens – this won’t cost you a thing. Lay out your blanket, take a book and maybe even pencil and paper — you don’t have to be an artist to be creative. There is a shop and a restaurant, so think about yummy waffles and cream or a milkshake. If you’re inspired, and energetic, take your bike — they have fabulous cycling paths. You could take a canoe too!
Wander up and down 4th Avenue in Parkurst, enjoy window shopping and perhaps stop for an iced coffee at the 4th Avenue Roasters. This is the perfect spot for people-watching and dog-watching — everyone seems to have either a poodle or a great Dane. Afterwards, walk to the park, sit on a bench, read the newspaper and pretend you’re in Central Park, New York!
Spend the day at a Spa! You can book yourself a treatment (okay, that is the fairly expensive part), but find a Spa where the water facilities are included. The Saxon Hotel Spa (I know — $$$) offers complimentary access to the jacuzzi, plunge-pool, steam room and sauna, so you can literally spend the whole day and pay just for your massage and maybe some tea! It’s worth it, and you’ll feel fantastic afterwards.
We have our own Hands on Retreat, and although they don’t have a pool, they do have a river that gurgles and lovely tables and chairs under enormous Eucalyptus trees. It’s totally relaxing here and does have the feel of a holiday resort. And their chocolate cake is delicious.
Enjoy cocktails at the Melrose Arch Hotel. They literally have chairs and tables IN their pool, so you can sit and have a drink with your feet hanging in the water. There’s nothing stopping you from swimming too, as long you have something small to eat or drink, and it’s a fun, funky space. Afterwards, wander around the pedestrian mall and pop into Exclusive Books, choose a couch and page through a few magazines!
The fountains at the Nelson Mandela Square are always fun in summer. Watch tourists having their photograph taken underneath the huge Nelson Mandela statue, choose a sidewalk cafe and take a book with you, drink a coffee, read, and watch the kids splashing in the fountains. Sandton has a fabulous library too, a beautiful space with perfect air-conditioning and a fab selection of reading material.
There’s a public swimming pool in Linden too, a heated pool, both indoors and out. The grassy section is lovely and the indoor section is perfect if you don’t want to get sunburned. Nearby is the fabulous Whippet patisserie, so you could splurge on a cupcake afterwards, and explore the ceramic and craft shops that Linden is becoming so well known for.
If the temperature reaches over thirty degrees celsius, then we advise you not to move at all! Find a shady spot in your Johannesburg Guesthouse , sip lemonade and do absolutely nothing. Several of our guesthouses have swimming pools, and if they don’t they will put the sprinkler on in the garden.
Don’t forget your sunblock!