I don’t know about other parents out there but now that the slightly traumatic gan settling-in process is behind us and the endless dropping off and collecting kids to school/gan/afterschool activities continues, I am more than happy for family time again and can’t wait for the Sukkot holiday.
I came to Israel from the UK with my family six years ago, and apart from the other trials of making aliya, I found it difficult to figure out where to take my children on days out. I knew this country was full of fabulous experiences and activities, but even if I did find somewhere interesting to visit, I was always wary to take my young children somewhere that I didn’t know for sure would be suitable.
All those questions… Is it age-appropriate? Is there shade? Is food available? What clothes are suitable? From my search for answers grew the idea of creating a community of parents and grandparents — of olim and tourists alike — with children of any age who enjoy family days out. Everyone contributes their experiences about places they have visited, asks their questions and answers others so that we can make informed decisions about places to go, and gain as much useful information as possible to ensure a fabulous day out.
A key issue that came up among parents in our Facebook group recently was how these days out can become expensive. One of the most amazing things about Israel, however, is that a great day out does not need to cost a lot of money. So I thought I would find out what’s on this Sukkot (and all year ’round) that won’t break the bank. (A full list of recommended days out, both free and paid-for, can be seen on the website)
1. National parks — Small cost (but free with park membership). The most highly recommended ones from our group are Apollonia in Herzliya (there’s even a lovely activity booklet in Hebrew that you can download from their website for older children to do at the ruins) and Ein Hemed – this year they have circus events and workshops going on over Hol Hamoed.
2. City parks — the most highly recommended being Park Herzliya with its fantastic huge slides and cycle tracks, Park Raanana with a small zoo, great playgrounds and lake, and Park Anabe in Modiin with it’s boating lake (boats are not free).
3. The Modiin International Circus Festival is offering free street performers and activities as well as priced events over Hol Hamoed.
5. Rabin Lights Power Station (Hadera) — A free tour including a bus ride right out onto the pier to see how electricity is made. You need to book for this but there are no age limits, although it will be appreciated on different levels by all ages.
6. The weather is also now perfect to visit Israel’s glorious beaches! Especially recommended are Palmachim beach, Dor beach and Sironit beach which has easy access with a car and for wheelchairs and strollers. Achziv Beach in the north is also a favorite and Herzliya 9 beach has a new elevator.
7. Your local fire station — The families who did this during the summer said it was one of their best activities. Pay a friendly visit and many fire stations — as long as they are not too busy — are more than happy to show your family around the station, including (if you’re lucky). putting on the whole fireman’s outfit, climbing up into the fire engine, hearing the siren and using the hose.
8. Shopping malls often run activities during the holidays, and Platinum Park in Rishon LeZion has had good recommendations (although not on a busy day) as has the mini supermarket and mini gym in Ramat Hasharon’s Sharonim Mall. Cellcom is promoting its “iPad Center” during Hol Hamoed Sukkot, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the Dizengoff Center.
9. The Egged Museum — check their site for opening times, but children will enjoy climbing in buses reflecting 70 years of bus transport in Israel.
10. Tiyulim/Hikes — There are so many to choose from, and this is where recommendations come in very handy. Our top recent recommendations are for Ein Sataf near Jerusalem, which includes water and a cave; Nahal Snir in the North — “a good adventure”; the Einot Tzurim water tiyul near the Dead Sea; and Nahal Alexander if you’re looking for an easy hike in the center.
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy the gorgeous weather, the family time and the beauty of celebrating together in Israel.