(CNN) -

You might know South Africa for Kruger National Park, where you can see the Big Five, or for the gorgeous beaches and wine farms that surround Cape Town.

But there's more to see and do around this 1.2-million-square-kilometer (463,000 square miles) country.

These 10 destinations help round out a full South Africa experience.

1. Johannesburg

Often shunned by visitors, Jozi (as South Africans call Johannesburg) thrives on new ideas, outrageous talent and bold creativity.

It's a city with an energy all of its own -- for that reason alone it's worth exploring.

What to do: You can soak up the vibe at Maboneng Precinct, an inner-city neighborhood that's become a trendy gathering place for artists, foodies and performers.

Food, accommodation and entertainment are all here.

Another creative gathering space is 44 On Stanley.

Once a collection of industrial buildings, it's been transformed into space that houses design studios, coffee shops and boutique stores.

Where to stay: The Troyeville Hotel is as famous for the artists and political activists who've stayed here, as it is for the hearty Portuguese cuisine it's served them.

Operating as a hotel since the 1930s, the Troyeville's intellectually inclined gatherings remain legendary for good food and conversation.

2. Cradle of Humankind

Experts say we all come from an area just hour outside of Johannesburg: the Cradle of Humankind.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site has been inhabited by humans and our ancestors for more than 3 million years, providing an incredible look into our development as a species.

What to do: The area is divided into two main sections.

Maropeng has the official visitor center, built as a grassy dome. From here you can take an underground boat trip.

The Sterkfontein Caves have exhibitions and trails into the caves. This is a fascinating area, with world-class interactive exhibitions, requiring a full day to take it all in.

Where to stay: To sleep close to where it all began, you can stay at the Maropeng Boutique Hotel.

The hotel, which has lovely views across the Magaliesberg and Witwaterberg mountains, is a short walk from the Maropeng visitor center.

3. Free State

The Free State is a province wrapped around the north of Lesotho that bulges into South Africa's interior.

It's a province dominated by farm areas -- but in the east, in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, there's spectacular scenery.

What to do: Sunrise and sunset are memorable times at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, when the sun's rays turn majestic sandstone cliffs into columns of deep yellow and ocher.

Game viewing at this park is good -- you can expect to see eland, blesbok, springbok and black wildebeest.

Guided horseback rides take in the peaceful, picturesque town of Clarens. Surrounded by sandstone mountains, it's known for art galleries and pottery studios.

The Free State is a three-hour drive from Johannesburg -- it's a popular weekend trip for locals.

Where to stay: Just outside Clarens, Kiara Lodge has a spa, swimming pool, good restaurant and lots of activities.

The views are lovely, and it's a good base for exploring the Golden Gate Highlands National Park and Clarens.

4. The Battlefields

The Drakensberg is one of South Africa's most dramatic mountain ranges, where the land drops through cliffs and valleys and into undulating hills and flatlands that eventually extend toward the east coast.

Below "the Berg," the flatlands and hills mingle around the towns of Ladysmith and Dundee, where some of the most epic battles between the English, Afrikaners and Zulus were fought in the late 1800s.

Known as The Battlefields, this beautifully wild area was the scene of bloody clashes during the Anglo-Boer and Anglo-Zulu wars.

What to do: Hiring a guide helps get the full picture of these dramatic battle sites.

Where to stay: Nambiti Hills is an exclusive five-star private game reserve that can be used as a base for viewing both the Big Five and embarking on guided tours of the battlefields.

Amphi Backpackers is a budget-friendly option. From here, there are walking or climbing day trips into the Drakensberg.

5. The Midlands

KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands is a popular weekend getaway from the city.

The winding roads through the pretty farming area have become home to many top restaurants, cafes, art galleries and guesthouses, most of which belong to the Midlands Meander tourism route.

What to do: The Capture Site marks the spot where Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962.