By: Abigail Klein Leichman & Naama Barak
(Continued from last week)
- Go caving
Exploring Israel’s famous caves is another great option for escaping the scorching summer sun. Located throughout the country, visitor-friendly and accessible caves offer cool respite and a fun opportunity to learn more about nature, geology and history.
Our top pick for a fun family day out is the Beit Guvrin National Park near Jerusalem, where visitors can easily spend a good few hours wandering underground, learning about ancient wine- and olive-press ruins and having an all-around good time.
- Row the Pool of Arches in Ramla
Feel like soaking up some history without working up a sweat? The Pool of Arches is the attraction for you.
Located in the central city of Ramla, the underground water reservoir was constructed in the 8th century CE by the Muslim Abbasid ruler Caliph Harun al Rashid. Originally used to provide water for residents of the city, nowadays visitors can cross the cool, dark pool by rowboat. Perfect.
- Strap on your ice skates
Ice skating in summer in Israel? Sounds impossible, but this is a great way to get some relief from the heat. Rinks generally have a minimum age limit of six.
In Tel Aviv, iSkate offers 500 square meters of real ice in a roofed, air-conditioned structure at the northeast corner of Luna Park (see #10). Skates, knee and hand guards are included; professional instructors are available.
South of Tel Aviv, check out the IcePeaks rink in Holon.
In the north, your kids can skate at the Canada Centre resort in Metula; and in the south at the huge Ice Mall rink in Eilat – ironically, one of Israel’s hottest cities.
- Climb the walls
If you want to keep your kids active and cool, try Israel’s many indoor climbing walls.
uClimb bouldering gym near the Rehovot train station is run by brothers Micha and Ram. This large facility offers classes for kids and climbing for children with special needs. Information: [email protected] or 972-(0)8-936-3455.
The Bloc bouldering/climbing gym in Jerusalem: [email protected] or 972-(0)2-539-8991.
Monkeys Climbing Gym in Netanya: [email protected] or 972-(09)-788-9933.
iClimb Boulderland has locations in Tel Aviv (Yarkon Park), Jerusalem (Teddy Stadium), Rishon LeZion, Kibbutz HaOgen, Haifa and Kfar Saba, for ages 6 and up. Some of these locations also have Funtopia, geared to children as young as 4. See the website (Hebrew only) for contact information for each location or contact [email protected].
- Bounce it out
Another fun and fit option for a day out involves plenty of jumping up and down – on massive trampolines.
A great option is to try out one of iJump’s many locations across the country. Just slip on some socks and bounce away – you too, parents! Not only is jumping up and down on a trampoline for an hour of massive fun, it’s also a good workout for almost every age.
An added bonus: your kids will be so wiped out, you’ll be able to enjoy some adult time in the evening.
- Go visit a museum
You’ve got their bodies moving, now it’s time to get their brain cells moving too, and nothing does that better than a museum. Israel is said to have the highest rate of museums per capita in the world, so that means there are plenty of museums to visit all over the country.
Activities at the Youth Wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem include “Selfie in the Israel Museum,” a photography route in the Art Garden that ends up on Instagram; a
family tour using the museum Map with a game and a quest in the Shrine of the Book, the Art Garden and the Exhibition Galleries; art and recycling workshops; and an animated “Time Travel” film telling the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Israeli Children’s Museum in Holon is where children (and their parents) can learn about diverse issues such as coping with shyness and dealing with change through wonderful, interactive exhibits and activities. It also has special hands on exhibits for older children that showcase what it feels like to be deaf, blind or old.
Lunada Children’s Museum in Beersheva is geared to ages one to 12 and gives children a hands-on experience of culture, art, the solar system, communication, money and food.
Among other Israeli museums of interest for kids are the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh; the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem; and the Nahum Gutman Museum in Tel Aviv, where they can discover their inner artist.
Read on for information about the fantastic science museums in Israel.
- Get some scientific stimulation
Israel is a powerhouse in the field of science, so it makes sense that the country also boasts awesome, hands-on science museums for youngsters.
We recommend the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem; MadaTechNational Museum of Science, Technology and Space in Haifa; Carasso Science Park in Beersheva; Technoda Interactive Science Museum and Science Park in Hadera; Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa (ages 10 and up); and Clore Garden of Science at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
- Indulge in indoor star gazing
A planetarium is a great place to learn all about the heavens from the comfort of an air-conditioned space. And on cool nights, you can observe the sky outdoors. Click here for possibilities across Israel.
The planetarium at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv offers a range of kid-friendly shows where your little ones can learn all about stars, planets and astronauts. English-language performances are available but need to be booked in advance. Combine your visit to the planetarium with a general tour of the museum, and you’ll get a great day’s worth.
- Head for Tel Aviv Port
The Tel Aviv Port is one of the non-stop city’s main entertainment hubs for all ages. There’s a carousel, playgrounds and sandpit as well as the Yerid Hamizrach mini amusement park and playground for toddlers to tweens.
The port has trendy toy and clothing shops for kids, and cafés that cater to families. And it’s adjacent to the beach, making for a fun and mesmerizing spot to watch the waves or jump into them. Bring your sand toys or buy some here!
- Travel through time at Caesarea Harbor
At archeology-rich Caesarea Harbor National Park, your children can splash through the ancient Roman aqueducts and frolic on the beach, and have a fun experiential history lesson at the multimedia Travel Through Time show inside a rebuilt Crusader fortress. Highlights include a virtual tour of the city as it was in Roman times, and personal “meetings” with figures from different eras, such as King Herod, Louis IX, Rabbi Akiva, Baron Rothschild and Hannah Senesh. In the port there are special events for families most weekends.
- Dig up the past
What kid doesn’t love digging in dirt? While you have to be at least 16 to participate in most archaeological digs in Israel, Dig for a Day at Beit Guvrin National Park is geared to families – and because it’s underground, the summer sun isn’t a problem.
This isn’t pretend; it’s an actual excavation looking for artifacts from the time of the Maccabees. Younger children get plastic tools and older kids and adults use real excavation tools under the supervision of experts.
Once upon a time, ice cream in Israel was a sad affair – vegetable oil-laden and too brightly colored scoops of generic flavors. Luckily, those days are long gone.
Nowadays, high-quality stores and vendors can be found across Israel. Your kids can find their regular favorites but the more adventurous ones will want to try local specialties such as Bamba and watermelon. Don’t be shy about asking for a taste before you choose. And if they’ve had enough sugar for the day, most shops also offer fruit shakes.
- Feed a sweet tooth
Making sweet treats is fun for the whole family any time of year, and especially on broiling-hot days when you want an indoor air-conditioned activity that doesn’t involve malls or movies.
Book your yummy experience in Israel at any of these locations (most have kosher certification) and bring an insulated bag to take home your chocolate goodies in good shape.
De Karina Chocolate Boutique Factory and Visitors Center in the Golan Heights: 972-(0)4-699-3622.
Emilya Chocolate Passion in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim: [email protected]
Galita Chocolate Farm on Kibbutz Degania Bet near the Sea of Galilee (972-(0)4-675-5608) and on Kibbutz Tzuba outside Jerusalem (972-(0)2-534-7650).
Hagit Lidror in the Western Galilee offers a raw-food chocolate workshop: [email protected] or 972-(0)052-646-4884.
Sarina Chocolate in Moshav Ein Vered near Netanya, has a visitors’ center with a greenhouse growing cocoa trees: [email protected] or 972-(0)77-525-5370.
Shulman Chocolate Museum on Kibbutz Dafna in the Upper Galilee is a unique museum about chocolate-making (all displays and videos have English translation). Workshops in English can be arranged for groups of 15 or more: [email protected] or 972-(0)54-590-2198.
ToMo Candy in Ramat Gan offers rock candy-making workshops for ages 6 and up: [email protected] or 972-(0)52-546-8920.
- Sound and light shows
Magnificent sound and light shows offer a whole new perspective on your favorite Israeli tourist destinations, and are a fabulous way to spend a family evening.
Our favorites include the Night Spectacular show at the Tower of David in Jerusalem, She’an Nights at Bet She’an National Park and the Masada Sound and Light Show.
And as strange as it seems, make sure to dress warmly. Even in the heat of summer, Israeli nights can actually be pretty chilly!
- Sleep like a Bedouin
Hotels can get a bit boring for kids, so give them an only-in-Israel experience for a night or two: camping out Bedouin-style. The level of accommodations range from roughing it to luxury glamping.
Some options include Galilee Bedouin Camplodge in the Lower Galilee; Desert Days and Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava Valley; Silent Arrow and Desert Shade in Mitzpeh Ramon; Kfar Hanokdim near Arad; and Shayarotnear Sde Boker.
- Do some good and volunteer
Inject some added value to your vacation by doing good while being away.
Excellent options for families include boxing up food for needy families at Pantry Packers https://pantrypackers.org/schedule-a-visit/ in Jerusalem (ages four and up), gleaning crops and volunteering at a food bank through Leket or helping out at the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levinin Jerusalem (geared especially to young teens).
For animal lovers, we recommend taking out doggies for long, loving walks at Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel’s shelter in Tel Aviv(ages 14 and up).