Real life in Pretoria is large and tons of fun, if you know of venues that tie into whatever you feel like experiencing today.
Pretoria by bike
Those clever guys at Capital Collective have developed a brilliant cycle route from Brooklyn Mall to the Walkerspruit River in the Botanical Precinct. Definitely for the energetic, this is a great way to see the city. They also host the Market @ The Sheds but the calendar notes the last for the 2018 year is 1 December, so try not to miss it.
Treetop cruising at Acrobranch
Babysitting your family’s cheeky kids? Well, even though Go Ape! would have been such a better name, Acrobranch in Pretoria North will get them out of your hair and give them a new and silent respect for life. Jokes aside, the treetop acrobatics are all safe and, if anything, you’ll probably have a better time then they will. Also, a team-building opf*k venue for adults who need to lighten up or shape up, the park has obstacles and is loads of active fun. Kids strictly nine and older, although the Centurion branch has a smaller obstacle course catering for younger children. Wednesday to Sunday. The 300m zip line is awesome!
It’s a tragedy that Park Acoustics is only a monthly event, although it’s equally true that if it was more regular, the tone might change. Literally, acoustic vibes outdoors, when it comes around it’s not to be missed. Especially on a slow Sunday when you want to be out, but not challenged and simply entertained, head for the Voortrekker Monument to grab a smattering of great local musicians and a cold one. R15 a carload of you guys and kids under six enter free.
The (climbing) Barn
A reputable climbing facility that boasts more than 450m² of easy, moderate and truly challenging routes. The Barn is in Korhaan Road in Mooiplaats, and gear is available at R80. Before you write it off as a dedicated climbing nut’s paradise, the people having the most fun on any given day are those who’ve never tried it before! Go on, challenge yourself — there’s a zen to climbing that might just overtake you. Open Monday to Thursday from 16:00 to 22:00, weekends and public holidays 10:00 to 18:00. Classes are available if you want to take things seriously, and adults pay R100 for a day’s climbing (students R90 and scholars R80).
Only a Saturday thing, Pretoria’s Boeremark is a trip down many lanes all at once. Touches of Voortrekker-era stalls dot the place, awesome food is everywhere, and special attention needs to be paid to the pancakes and vetkoek components of the ensemble! More an early start to a great day, this market is an open secret and also an eye-opener, literally. If you get there at 05:30, you’ll find it already bustling as food is prepared and regulars go about their business.
A wonderful mix of yuppies looking for antiques and the homeless guy without pants, Hatfield’s Duncan Yard has saved more marriages in Greater Tshwane than we know. An idyllic amble for you, you and him/her, or everyone, the place is an enchanting mix of salons and boutiques and boutique stores. If you’re the slow browsing type — and December vac is a great time for slowly browsing — a lunch at Deli on Duncan will make you feel positively aristocratic. There’s also Papa’s Real Food, so maybe lunch and dinner?
After you’ve walked through Duncan Yard while she oohed and aahed and kept saying, “Look at this baby!” you deserve a visit to Capital Craft for some awesome beersss, plural. Don’t worry, poplief can come too. While this brew emporium must surely rank as many men’s idea of an afterlife, the food is absolutely delicious too. Another Menlo Park attraction, Capital Craft is very reasonably priced and there’s no shame eating and drinking, and then eating the next meal, before drinking again. And repeat. You get the idea.
The Blue Crane Restaurant
Of course, if skattebol would rather have a purple rinse than spend the day at a restaurant bar, take her to a restaurant bar that meets the prerequisites of every good chic flick. With beautiful, imposing thatched roofs and heavenly cuisine, this is a restaurant and bar you can all live with. Yes, everyone knows the Blue Crane is a great restaurant, but if you haven’t been for a while, or never been, December is a good chance to glimpse the essence of a really great, rustic dining venue. You’ll want to go back. The sun deck on the lake is beautiful and, being situated in a bird reserve in Nieuw Muckleneuk, afternoons and evenings are a singular pleasure to absorb on a lazy Sunday. Surprisingly, R200 a head will see you very happy indeed.
Groenkloof Nature Reserve
Groenkloof Nature Reserve’s 20km bike trail is a constant thrill for regulars and a new excitement for those riding there for the first time. If Pretoria by Bike sounds too sedate for you, go ramp it up as many notches as you like in the oldest nature reserve in South Africa. Try not to cycle under giraffe and accept that the zebra will outrun you, ok? Not just for triathletes, the whole family can amble along in a beautiful setting that is unmistakably fresh, outdoor Pretoria. There are also horse trails for everyone, and they’re guided and very genteel, in case you’re wondering. Adults pay R38 to enter and kids R22.
Hazel Food Market
Food markets can get a lousy reputation as sometimes pretentious and often insubstantial, but not in Pretoria, baba! As diverse as Die Boeremark is boer, the Hazel Food Market is another culinary delight, offering fresh produce and loads of yummy things to snack. Even if you’re not a foodie, a trip here will probably make you wonder why. Soaking up the enthusiasm stallholders have for their products while the kids hit the jumping castles, makes for a glorious day strolling and snacking, and the market only closes at 14:00 so a day it is, almost.
Mustang Sally’s is an unashamedly all-American diner, so garish it actually becomes sexy after your eyes adjust to the palette. Known mostly as a milkshake venue — they are awesome and no lie — it’s still a shame, as the food is pretty phenomenal too. Humming Elvis tunes is quite ok surrounded by the 1950s decor, and it’s always a fun place to spend some time. But let’s get back to those milkshakes… standard strawberry or lime will make you wish for a milkshake machine for Christmas, but the Candyfloss will take you directly back to childhood. Beers are also served in what look like glass mielie silos, so one should be enough! One an hour, that is.
Rietvlei Game Reserve
We keep banging on about Rietvlei, but it really does warrant extended and extensive visits, and December is a great time for it. Catch a glimpse of your fellow humans, loaf wildly, picnic until you’re stuffed and snooze until everyone starts making fun and throwing bits of grass at your open mouth. Yes, it’s for many just another green open space, but it’s also the largest game reserve within city limits anywhere in the world. Special, charming and able to fill you with joie de vivre like few other reserves around, several visits to soak up the ambience over the holidays are perfectly acceptable. Adults will pay R55 and kids R32.