If you are thinking of going away this Easter, and Clarens is your destination of choice, then please don’t leave your doggies at home as we have gathered some first hand info on the pet friendliness of Clarens. Turns out most places are…what a great thing!
We left Benoni at 15:00 on the Friday and arrived at our accommodation, Cottage Pie, around 18:45. So we dumped our luggage and headed for the first spot we could find that was willing to serve us food! We were starving!
And so the weekend began.
When we arrived, we asked to be seated, and we were given a table outside the restaurant. Even though it was nice to be seated at the first restaurant we arrived at, it sucked sitting outside as the vibe of the restaurant was inside and we were the only customers seated outside this evening. Luckily this was very quickly cheered up, with an awesome cider and whiskey, to brighten up our moods:-)
As it was a little bit chilly outside, we packed out Lucy and Lily’s blanket and they had an awesome time, looking at everyone who went past them into the restaurant and eventually passed out on their bed of softness.
The waiter was very kind and efficient and brought Lucy and Lily an awesome Stainless Steel bowl full of water which they loved, after the road trip biltong they enjoyed 🙂
I had the fillet which was absolutely divine and my husband enjoyed a pizza, while savoring a bottle of Leopard’s Leap white wine. The food was a bit pricey, but overall a nice experience.
Saturday morning we had some coffee in our little garden and then leashed up the pups to walk into town. Its about 1.5km walk which was so beautiful. Lucy and Lily enjoyed it quite a bit, barking at every dog they found along the way. Our first stop in town was the Artist’s Cafe.
Breakfast – Artist’s Cafe
WE LOVE THIS PLACE!!! The same owners as our Guest House, Cottage Pie, they really run an awesome restaurant! Although it’s just a day time restaurant, we actually went there twice… AND BOTH TIMES THEY ALLOWED US TO SIT INSIDE THE RESTAURANT WITH THE DOGGIES!!!
The first time we went there was for breakfast. I thoroughly enjoyed a very traditional breakfast of Mieliepap with butter, sugar and milk, with an awesome scone & jam to go with that. My husband enjoyed a less traditional breakfast of Fruit Salad and Yoghurt. My husband liked this place especially as they serve a decent cup of coffee, using beans from Terbodore Coffee
Lucy and Lily got some water and snackies to chew on… The owners really had no problem with the doggies inside. Lucy and Lily were thoroughly loved by all the other patrons.
Lunch – Clementines
Clementines was definitely a bit more on the “fancy” side, so we immediately went outside to sit with the pooches. With the food and drinks a bit pricey, we decided to share a lunch and sat outside, under a tree with the doggies. They had a few couches with coffee tables that was just what we needed to chill out properly. We ordered a rump steak with camembert and caramelized onions that came with potato wedges and veggies as well as a 3 cheese filo parcel. These went down so well with a nice glass of wine. Clementines is quite a large establishment and even though it was fairly empty over lunch we did notice that they were very busy for dinner as we drove past there every night on our way out of town. Be sure to try them out.
We actually enjoyed it a lot, but unfortunately a family came there with their doggy, who was not on a leash. Although Lucy didn’t mind it too much, Lily is a bit of a “I need a bit of space” doggy, when it comes to doggies just starting to sniff around her, so she had a bit of a barking sesh with this dog. It’s so important for owners to keep in mind that even though your doggy is comfortable walking around without a leash & approaching other doggies, they never know what the personality or character of another doggy might be.
Afternoon Drinks – Red Stone Craft
What is a Saturday afternoon without some drinks. With this in mind we decided to head over to the little gin place behind Clarens Brewery. With a basic interior showing off their Gin making process we took a seat and before long were presented with a little menu. We opted to do the tasting where you get 5 different Gins to taste with Tonic.
We took a liking to the Gin & Tonic and went back the next day to purchase a couple boxes to take home, and to give as gifts, naturally 🙂
Dinner – The Grouse & Claret
After a full day of exploring we ended up at The Grouse & Claret for Dinner. The Zapper review said that most people loved the pub style of this place and we thought “oh cool, let’s check it out. There are 3 areas you can sit; the bar, the restaurant and also outside area (unfortunately overlooking a petrol station). We chose to sit inside and once again it was no issue that Lucy and Lily sat with us.
What we did love about the place was that they had nice area outside for dogs to drink water at. This would have been helpful if we had lunch and sat outside overlooking the park.
The food isn’t much to write home about, or maybe we just ordered wrong 🙂 My husband did try a whole trout stuffed with peppers and mushrooms. This sounded nice, but alas, didn’t taste as he had hoped. This will teach us to order pub food, at a pub. Unless you’re at a Michelin starred pub somewhere in the English Countryside.
We decided to skip deserts and coffee and go search for it elsewhere.
Post Dinner Dessert Hunt – Friends Restaurant
We strolled down the road and came upon Friends Restaurant, thinking it was a restaurant with a Dessert Menu and Cappuccinos; we were wrong. But we were in the door already so it was too late to turn back. They weren’t all that bad so keep reading.
The place can basically be described as a pub. Decor comprising a hoard of outdoorsy benches with tables and chairs where there were open spaces. They had TVs everywhere so the hubby could at least catch some of the Sharks game. The menu is unpretentious with a list of rules on the first page basically saying that either you like it or you don’t, and they’re not phased. We had a nice chuckle about it. Asked the waiter for a dessert menu to which he replied they had no desserts. My Hubby asked for a Cappuccino to which he got the same reply…with an added “we have filter coffee”. Cool, then so be it, a filter coffee for him and a Savanah for me.
I must say that the food coming from the kitchen made my husband’s mouth water. Stacked burgers with awesome looking onion rings and chips seems to be their speciality. Each and every burger coming from the kitchen looking better than the previous one.
So we were clearly there at the wrong time. Next time we will go back to try the food, on a Saturday, when there’s rugby on, with friends. I think that may be the golden formula for a visit to Friends Restaurant.
So we left, still looking for dessert.
Post Dinner Dessert Hunt, Take 2 – The Posthouse
With most of Clarens being sort of closed by, this time we came upon The Posthouse. We saw them during the day and they were quite busy so we decided to give it a swing. We popped in and they were also nearing closing time but they did have what we were looking for; dessert!
Something to know about Lily is that her internal clock for bedtime is set at 8pm…no later! At home when the clock goes 8pm, she walks up the stairs, looks at us as if to say “you comin” and then goes to bed. So us being out still at about 9pm was unacceptable for her. Everytime the waiter walked up to the table and started speaking she would be so startled and would just burst out in a bark fit…too cute! Shame, really 🙂
Back to the Posthouse; their dessert menu was quite good so I went for a cheesecake and my hubby had “Homemade honey ice cream and roasted Pecan nuts” with a double espresso. Totally hit the spot and we were ready to go home.
The Posthouse is a nice spot for lunch or dinner and their menu seemed to cover all the bases.
Cottage Pie – Our Guest House
Sunday morning started super slow…we stayed home for a bit just enjoying the garden and it’s beautiful surroundings. It was a stunning morning with the Guest House at the foot of a mountain and the sound of a stream in the background, it is just pure bliss. We really liked it there.
The room we stayed in was Pet Friendly with it’s own little garden. With a very nice patch of grass and an area where we could sit drinking coffee in the morning and braai at night, it was really beautiful. Although we would not leave the doggies in the garden on their own, as the fence wasn’t very high and Lucy could fit under the gate, it was still really nice being able to have them run around the garden, off leash, when we sat outside with them having a drink.
The room wasn’t really fancy, but definitely more than cosy with a VERY comfortable bed and amazing bedding. Although the room became a bit cold at night, we didn’t have to use the heater or electric blankets once, as the feather duvet kept us nice and toasty. The doggies really loved it too!
Fully equipped with a little kitchen and bathroom, we really cannot complain about our guesthouse and certainly enjoyed our stay there.
We headed back into town early afternoon to explore a bit more.
Breakfast – 278 on Main
After sleeping our faces off on Sunday Morning we thought we’d try out 278 on Main. We went to have some breakfast and we both ordered Eggs on Toast, I asked for a side of bacon and the Hubby got mince. We also got a scone with jam and cheese, to share.
When ordering his coffee, my husband got a little biscuit, that was so good, he asked for more, and they did bring more, a little plate full:-) When the food came it turns out the biscuits was the best offering in the place unfortunately. The eggs on toast was nothing special nor was the mince. I ate the whole scone, no sharing 🙂 But did leave the eggs on my plate (Lucy and Lily were more than willing to clean the plate by taking a couple of bites, on my behalf:-D)
If you want to bring your furry family members along to this restaurant, just ensure that you bring something soft for them to sit on, as the whole outside area’s floor is covered with gravel.
Unfortunately 278 on Main wasn’t what we hoped it would be and so we moved on to go lie under a tree for a little while. Lucy and Lily sure didn’t complain about that!
Clarens Central Park
I think this was one of my favourite activities of the weekend! Clarens is REALLY VERY pet friendly and has a big park in the middle of the town square, maybe about double a rugby field’s size with big Oak Trees and Weeping Willows.
After leaving Artist’s Café we were looking to continue our very relaxed day so we found a spot on the grass, threw open a big blanket under the shade of a huge tree and just lay there, me reading a book, my husband napping and the doggies having an awesome time watching all the people walking around with their doggies, children kicking around rugby balls and a couple of people in love, having picnics and enjoying this wonderful and laid back ambience.
Early Afternoon – We went back to Artist’s Cafe
Loving the place so much we went back for a quick afternoon snack, which turned into a few glasses of white wine enjoyed whilst getting lost in a good book sitting in the sun shining through the sky lights.
The staff at Artist’s cafe were great and again kind enough to bring the doggies water, not that they cared too much, they were too wrapped up in their chew treats and only looked up every now and then when someone gave them some lovin…which they won’t ever say no to. Their chews are also the ones we use in the Novelty Boxes, they were kept busy for a good 2 hours or so…
Finally we had to leave Artist’s Cafe behind and explore some more.
Im pretty sure that everyone who has ever googled “things to do in Clarens” have come upon this place. What an awesome hang out spot! With a wonderful list of Craft Beers as well as Gin & Tonic on tap, this is definitely a must when you’re in Clarens.
What we liked is they have a dedicated “water hole” for the doggies and a wonderful spot, to do some free beer tasting, having a lunch and hanging out with some friends.
By this time on the Sunday, we had walked quite far and spent time in many a place, so Lucy was getting a little “ma-vas” and wanted to spend most of the time, napping in my lap… gotta love the fur kids!
Sadly we had to leave
What an amazing weekend away!! Going away as a family, especially with our furry children is so wonderful and we really do not do this often enough.
Clarens is a SPECTACULAR place to go, which is not too far away for a weekend. About 3 to 4 hours’ drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria, this is a place all couples with furry kids should do, at least once in their life!
From coffee shops, restaurants, parks, safe streets to walk, beautiful picnic sites, quaint little shops to browse, wonderful trails to ride your bike or go for a walk, the list goes on, this definitely remains one of our favourite “close by” holiday destinations.