9 free things to do in the Free State

Posted by Emma Odendaal on 16 May 2012

Feeling the pinch? Here are some great free things to do in the Free State.

1. Go game viewing in Franklin Game Reserve

It’s unusual to find a wildlife reserve in a city centre, but Bloemfontein’s Franklin Game Reserve is a fine place to spot zebra, blesbok, springbok, giraffe and eland. Walk to the top of Naval Hill and admire the views. Tel 051-405-8786.

2. Wow at the blooms in the Orchard House

Orchard House in Bloem’s Hamilton Park contains hundreds of exotic orchids. Most specimens in the domed greenhouse are exotics, such as cymbidium and phalaenopsis. Visit in winter months when most flowers will be in bloom. Tel 051-412-7017/7000.

3. Clamber over art at Oliewenhuis Art Museum

The permanent exhibition at Oliewenhuis Art Museum boasts works by Jacob Hendrik Pierneef and Lien Botha, among others. It’s perfect for kids, who are encouraged to engage – and even climb on – googley-eyed sculptures of wild imagination. Tel 051-447-9609.

4. Stroll down President Brand Street

Architecture buffs must walk along President Brand Street in the centre of Bloem to see examples of late 19th- and early 20th-century buildings. A map with info about the buildings is available at the tourism office. Tel 051-405-8489.

5. Visit Bloem’s museum

Just a block away from President Brand Street is the Bloemfontein National Museum that houses anthropological and cultural displays, as well as natural history and astronomy installations. Tel 051-447-9609, www.nasmus.co.za.

6. See what makes Fauresmith unique

The little town of Fauresmith’s claim to fame is the railway line that runs along the main street, a phenomenon apparently found only in two other towns in the world: Tula Homa, Tennessee, USA and Wycheproof, Australia. An old steam locomotive stands as a reminder of days when the line was still in use. www.fauresmith.co.za.

7. Go grave hunting in Fauresmith

While you’re in Fauresmith, visit the three Murderer’s Graves, who were publicly executed in the 1800s. www.fauresmith.co.za.

8. Have a swig at Clarens Brewery

Sip handcrafted beer and cider at Clarens Brewery. Tel 082-901-4700, www.clarensbrewery.co.za.

9. Take a hike in Clarens

Hike the two-hour Kloof Trail in Clarens. Beginning on Berg Street in town, it’s a well-marked, easy amble to the plateau for views of the town. www.clarenstourism.co.za.

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