Wondering what to plan for your kids this summer in Israel? Here’s our ultimate list of 32 activities for children to enjoy even in hot weather
If you’re taking your children to Israel this summer and wondering how to keep them entertained, educated and amused, you’ll be happy to know that Israel has a fabulous array of child-friendly and exciting activities for the whole family to enjoy during the summer, both indoors and out.
Use this list of 32 top summer activities from ISRAEL21c to plan an unforgettable summer of fun with children of all different ages.
- Head for the beach (of course)
The beach is the ultimate summer playground, and with 273 kilometers (170 miles) of beautiful coastline in Israel, you just can’t miss. In summer, the Mediterranean has an average temperature of about 30 degrees C (86 F), so it’s like getting into a warm bath.
Particularly child-friendly stretches: Shavei Tzion Beach near Nahariya with its natural seawater pool; Achziv Beach in the North, replete with lagoons to splash in; Dor (Tantura) Beach in the Carmel, featuring natural wave breaks; Beit Yannai Beach near Caesarea, which has both awesome kite-surfing and restricted turtle nesting grounds; Palmachim Beach near Rishon LeZion with perfect sand for castles; Tel Baruch Beach in Tel Aviv, where there’s tons of paid parking and family-oriented cafés; and the ever-popular Accadia Beach in Herzliya.
Thirty-six Israeli beaches are certified Blue Flag Beaches, a designation awarded for excellence in education and information, water quality, safety and environmental management and services.
- Try surfing, dudes
Win coolest-parents-ever accolades and take your kids to do some water sports! Israel’s lengthy shores mean that water sports can be enjoyed up and down the country, and there’s bound to be something to suit your taste.
Our recommendations: Try surfing in Tel Aviv or SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) in the beautiful Havatzelet Hasharon beach near Netanya(Hebrew website). Your kids will love you forever (okay, for the day).
- Talk to the animals
Jerusalem’s Tisch Family Zoological Gardens – popularly known as the Biblical Zoo — hosts the world’s largest collection of animals mentioned in the Bible, as well as thousands of other creatures in natural habitats. Kids can ride a train around the grounds and enjoy an animal-themed play area and petting zoo.
The Ramat Gan Safari combines the safari and zoo experience. Drive your car (or take a safari bus) through the open-air exhibits, then enter the zoo area for a closer look at the Middle East’s largest collection of furry and feathery friends across 250 acres.
At Gan Garoo in Nir David (Gilboa Springs) you can hand-feed kangaroos and exotic birds. At Afrikef Monkey Park in Kfar Daniel near Modi’in run by the Israeli Primate Sanctuary Foundation, your kids will love watching the monkeys and can also enjoy a petting zoo and other activities.
Families can tour Ya’ar HaAyalim deer forest in the Golan Heights with a guide in an electric vehicle, and enjoy pony rides, zipline, indoor games, pedal cars, a petting zoo and more. You can even camp here overnight.
There are also zoos in cities such as Haifa and Beersheva.
- Hit the playgrounds and parks
A well-equipped playground is always a pleasure for kids, and those with water attractions are especially welcome in hot weather. Kids in Israel tend to stay up late, so hit the local park as the sun goes down to help them expend some energy before bedtime.
One of the loveliest municipal parks in Israel is Park Ra’anana, a 200-acre expanse offering advanced play areas for children with and without disabilities, a boating lake, sports facilities, café, small zoo, amphitheater, observatory and hiking trails.
Tel Aviv’s vast Ganei Yehoshua Park is a child’s dream. The park includes playgrounds, gardens, boating lake, train ride, picnic areas, running and biking paths, climbing walls, soccer and basketball courts, Zapari topiary and Meymadion Water Park (see item #6) among other attractions.
If you’re in Jerusalem on a hot day, your kids will love running in and out of the huge water jets at Teddy Park across from the Old City walls. At night, these fountains are aglow with 1,800 lights and recorded music.
Anava Park in Modi’in has an adventure playground, splash park, duck pond, boating lake, café, picnic areas, biking trails, zipline and trampolining, and evening concerts in the summer.
Herzliya Park is known for its slides among the 10-and-under set. Located diagonally across from a shopping mall, this state-of-the-art accessible park offers bridges, slides, train, café, library, biking and walking paths, and other activities across 50 acres.
Down south in Beersheva, a new 13.5-acre progressive children’s park adjacent to Lunada Children’s Museum encompasses a lake, pirate island, lighthouse, waterfall, bridges and water channels.
- Visit the amusement parks
Disneyland they’re not, but Israel’s more modest amusement parks guarantee hours of fun for kids of all ages.
Luna Park in Tel Aviv, opposite Ganei Yehoshua (see #3) has a Ferris wheel, bumper cars and rides such as Swan Carousel, Demon Train, Pirate Ship and Top Spin. The iSkate rink (see #17) is inside the park.
Superland in Rishon LeZion has two Ferris wheels, Congo tubing line, teacup ride, carousels, boat rides and a range of roller coasters, some that go through water.
Shvil Hatapuzim near Hadera is a cross between a nature park and an amusement park. Attractions include battery-operated vehicles that kids can drive through the orange orchard; climbing and ropes courses for various ages and abilities; a netted tunnel; miniature golf; mini roller coasters; treehouses; kayaking and pedal boats; an obstacle course; zipline; splash pool; carpentry shop; and mini carwash tunnel.
Kiftzuba on Kibbutz Tzuba near Jerusalem is especially recommended for younger children. It has a variety of carousels, trains, a pirate ship, bumper cars, indoor play area, picnic area and plenty of rides for older kids too.
A small Luna Park in Holon’s Peres Park is conveniently adjacent to the Israel Children’s Museum complex. There’s a carousel and train for toddlers and a roller coaster and pirate ship for children 5 and older.
- Make a splash at a water park
Have a good splash at one of water parks dotted around the country for true summer fun. While they don’t come cheap, water parks are a special treat that are suitable for all ages, making them a fabulous family destination.
Those staying in Tel Aviv can hop over to the Meymadion in the city’s north, or drive a little south to Holon to check out the Yamit 2000 water park. Another firm favorite is the Shefayim park a little further north (Hebrew-only website) and Luna Gal on the shores of Lake Kinneret (Hebrew-only website).
- Go pedal-boating
Strap on a lifejacket, climb aboard and pedal a rented boat for four or five passengers along these relaxing natural or manmade lakes:
Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv (rowboats and motorboats are also available here)
Timna Park north of Eilat
Peres Park in Holon next to the Children’s Museum and Music Garden
Anava Park, Modi’in
Shvil Hatapuzim near Hadera
Optimist in Sdot Yam near Caesarea (this one is on the Mediterranean rather than a lake.)
- Whitewater rafting and kayaking
Jordan River Rafting in the Upper Galilee is your address for rafting and kayaking on the historic Jordan River. The route is relatively short, but there’s more fun to be had at the site, with an enormous zip-line plus paintball, archery, Jeep trips, guided hikes and a kosher restaurant.
Nearby Kfar Blum Kayaks offers a variety of routes on the Hatzbani and Banias streams leading to the Jordan, for ages 5 and up. Choose a six-person raft, kayak for two, or kayak-and-zipline option. The Top Rope Adventure Park and an overnight campground add to the site’s attractions.
Over on the Mediterranean coast in Sdot Yam near Caesarea, your family can go whitewater kayaking at Optimist. This company also offers sit-on-top kayaks geared to family recreation.
- Meet sea turtles
Children ages five and up can learn all about brown and green sea turtles – and the dangers they face and how to protect them — at the Israel Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Mikhmoret. A tour of the Rescue Center and its hospital can be combined with a tour of nearby Beit Yanai Beach or Alexander Stream.
On summer nights at Achziv National Park near Rosh Hanikra, sea turtles make their way up the beach to lay their eggs and the earliest ones start hatching. Kids can find sea anemones, urchins, crabs and even little octopi among the rocks at this excellent beach. There’s also a playground and café here.
- Float at Israel’s national parks
Israel’s national parks are not all about hardcore, sweaty hiking – quite a few of them have amazing water sources for some serene floating.
Our top pick would have to be Gan Hashlosha National Park (the Sachne) in the Beit She’an Valley, which is basically a collection of natural swimming pools surrounded by spacious lawns. And while it’s pretty packed in summer, it’s still not to be missed.
Another great water-filled (and, unfortunately, people-filled) attraction is the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve near the Dead Sea. Visitors can choose from a range of hikes to suit all levels, although in the height of summer we’d recommend sticking to the easiest, most watery ones.
- See some stars during the Perseids Meteor Shower
Every August, families head to Mitzpeh Ramon in the Negev Desert — one of the best places anywhere to observe the night sky — to watch the spectacular Perseids meteor shower.
This occurs when the Earth crosses the path of the Swift-Tuttle comet, causing huge clouds of ice and dust particles to break loose from the comet and burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.
In 2019, the meteor shower is expected to peak on August 13, though some associated shooting stars should be visible each night from July 23 through August 20.
The town turns off all its lights to heighten the visual effect and offers a variety of organized events. But you can just take the kids and some air mattresses and camp out to watch the sky show.
Mitzpeh Ramon’s “Starman” Ira Machefsky will be offering a family-friendly star tour during that time in conjunction with a tour of the nearby Alpaca Farm, in English and Hebrew. Click here for details.
- Take a look under the sea
There’s an amazing world of fish in the Red Sea. In Israel’s southern resort city of Eilat, visitors of all ages can watch the colorful fish and corals through the enormous windows of the Underwater Observatory at Coral World Marine Park. The park also has a shark tank where you can watch the staff feed and interact with the sharks.
Additional places to observe the undersea world in Eilat are Coral Beach Nature Reserve, which offers wading pools, an observation bridge, and opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Glass-bottom boat tours are available at Coral World and at the Eilat Marina, where they depart three times a day for a two-hour tour.
Children aged eight and above can take scuba or snorkeling lessons at Nautilus Red Sea or Snuba Eilat.
Scuba diving for ages 12 and up is offered at Aqua-Sport and at Shulamit’s Eilat Diving Adventures.
- Swim with dolphins
Make childhood dreams come true and head down to Israel’s south to swim with everyone’s favorite marine mammal.
At the Dolphin Reef in Eilat, visitors can choose between observing the dolphins from the pier, snorkeling with them or going diving alongside them. Age and health limits apply for each of the different activities, so make sure to choose the one best suited to your family before jumping in.
- Watch the birds
One of the best places to see birds and other wildlife is Agamon HaHula, a Galilee park you can tour by foot, bicycle, golf cart or guided safari wagon. While the peak times for birdwatching are the fall and spring migration seasons, summer is a quieter time at Agamon HaHula and you can take cool sunrise, sunset and night tours to observe animals such as night herons, spur-winged lapwings, barn owls and bats, as well as water buffalo, coypus and turtles.
For urban birdwatching and demonstrations of bird ringing, we heartily recommend the one-acre Jerusalem Bird Observatory nestled between the Knesset and the Wohl Rose Garden. Activities great for kids include night hikes, nature movies and nature crafts. The birdwatching station is open 24/7.
- Marvel at Rosh Hanikra grottoes
Located at the most northwestern tip of Israel, the marine caves at Rosh Hanikra are more than well-worth the journey.
Visitors take a short cable-car ride to sea level, where they can walk around the stunning grottoes and learn all about their fascinating history. The brave of heart can also rent kayaks nearby and explore the site from a more aquatic point of view, but this probably should be left to families with slightly older kids.
- Explore Israel’s tunnels
When the weather is sweltering, there’s no better way to stay cool than to go underground to Israel’s fascinating tunnels.
A guided tour of the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem (available in several languages) allows visitors age five and up to explore hidden segments of the Temple Mount retaining wall — the most significant remnant of the Second Temple, destroyed approximately 2,000 years ago. The subterranean space includes interactive models of the Temple and archeological findings such as large stone arches, water pits and an ancient aqueduct.
(To be Continued Next Week)
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