Whether you’re an Anglo-Israeli parent facing the Chofesh Hagadol or taking a well-earned vacation in the Holy Land, we all need ideas to keep the families busy and happy during the hot Israeli summer.
Here are a list of the Top Ten recently asked-questions by the LoveLoveIsrael community with answers to help you make the best of summer days in Israel!
1. Where can we cool off in fountains?
Jerusalem: Teddy Kolleck Park — operating hours this year are 10, 12, 14:00, 16:00 (water only) 20:00, 21:00, 22:00 (water, lights and music). Each time it is on for 30 minutes. Free, fun but slippery and hot so be careful. Make sure you check their Facebook page for any changes or updates.
Hod Hasharon: Splash pad right by Chetzi Chinam. 20 shekel entry. Great for children up to around 8 years old. Small enclosed area. Parents highlight — a people dryer so your car won’t get wet! Also it’s next door the Sharonim mall which houses the free Minicity with cute fun activities for children such as a mini gym, mini supermarket and mini cafe.
Ramat Hasharon Park has a free water playground. Great climbing equipment alongside a free water park area for guaranteed fun. The water is OFF between 13:00-16:00 so keep this in mind when planning your visit.
Rishon Letzion Park: Great (free) park — plenty of shade and great for the under 10 years age range. Sprinkler area. On all day EXCEPT between 14:00-16:00
Zichron Yaakov Sensory Park: New, fun, modern, well equipped park with sprinklers. Free.
Netanya: Sprinklers in Kikar Ha’atzmaut right near the steps down to Sironit beach. On usually all day. Free. Special summer evening fountain show at 21:00.
Tel Aviv Port: Sprinklers near behind Shilav. Usually on during the day/evening. No changing facilities, but great for cooling off.
Park Eucalyptus, Beit Shean: Located in Shchunat Eliyahu, it’s the second main road in the city. If you come in from No. 90, turn left at the second roundabout and drive down the road till you hit a huge roundabout and it’s on your left….There is a fun playground and of course lots of water fun. Note: Closed on Sundays.
Ashdod: Big Fashion Mall. Great sprinkler area, a ropes course (has a fee) and Babylon arcade nearby too. As well as a mixture of great kosher and not kosher eateries.
Park Ashdod Yam runs a water show in the evenings that is fun to check out if you are nearby.
2. I’ve heard that there’s a new trampolining site. Tell me more!
You’re talking about iJump — This is a fab, cool trampolining haven suitable for all ages 3+. Clean, new and well-staffed…but remember to take care of yourself and bear in mind other people’s space when jumping. Great exercise. An hour of energetic fun.
Try and fill in their online health form before you go to save time and it is recommended to call first to check it won’t be full of Kaytanot (summer camp) children.
3. What are the summer-specific big attractions in Tel Aviv?
The Lego Park is sweet enough. It takes place at Ganei Hata’arucha (Exhibition Grounds in Tel Aviv) and basically includes a lot of Lego free play, a few gentle rides suitable for 3-8 year olds. Well worth it as a change from a Gymboree (the price of a discounted ticket), but definitely not worth paying full price for. Shufersal supermarket store card (regular or credit card) offer vouchers and check the Lego Park site for other ways to get discounted tickets.
Alongside Lego Park is TrickArt. This is a series of beautifully drawn large-scale images that you get to feature in. It is set up so that you follow the exhibit round. They have helpful hints as to where is best to stand when taking photos and how best to pose. Recommend bringing cameras or certainly a camera phone…and again try and get hold of the discount prices.
The Shark Exhibit is also stationed in Ganei Hataarucha and has had reasonable reviews. Better for older children.
You may be able to get combined tickets for a couple of these exhibitions — A great indoor option to get out of the heat and out of the house.
4. Is the Disney Summer Festival – Frozen – Cars – thing any good?
This is the hyped up event for this summer — a Disney extravaganza. It opens next week…come back to this article after Friday 30th July for an inside look once we’ve checked it out for you!
5. What is this Escape Room Craze? Which one shall I go to? — there are so many!
You must have heard about this year’s in-thing — The Escape Room. These rooms are cleverly planned out to challenge you to solve a mystery as quickly as you can.
You are locked in a room with up to 4 others and have an hour to get out…thrilling, exhilarating and intelligent, this is a great activity for teens and adults (most recommend age 10+). They run all day and well into the night – so book your slot and try a few for an original idea of fun with friends. At the moment you can find them in Jerusalem – for example The Jerusalem Puzzle Quest, Tel Aviv – for example Brain-It, Zichron Yaakov and Ashdod. A full list can be found here.
6. Have you been to The Sorcerer’s Night yet?
This is a magic show in ENGLISH in a lovely café in Jaffa. Everyone that has been here can’t stop raving about it.
Book yourselves in for a unique night of laughter and good (kosher) food – Sunday nights. Great for teens and adults. A special treat for family occasions. Want to go and support a great charity as well? Beit Issie Shapiro is holding an exclusive show in October to raise money for children with special needs. Click here for more on that show.
7. Looking for fun, easy water hikes — where is good?
In this heat there is nothing nicer than a splash of water in nature. The problem is that this makes them very popular. Don’t forget to get to these places early to really enjoy them and to get a good parking space! Remember to bring plenty of water to drink too!
There is an easy shady hike near Yokneam (free) which is probably the closest one to Netanya for all those of you based there. It is called Ein Hashofet. You can even take a stroller.
Majrasa is a hit for all ages — basically it is a walk wading through a river. It can be a bit deep so you will need to keep an eye on young children. Recommended to bring them rings or armbands to swim down the river. It’s quite short but great wet fun (National Park). There is a dry route alongside the river but not always in view of the river.
Tel Afek is another favorite. It is near Rosh Haayin/Tel Aviv which is great if you are based in the center. There are cute streams to play in and a fortress to explore (National Park).
Einot Tzukim is also popular with young families and is not too far out of Jerusalem. It is a group of natural pools that you can explore and swim in. Not much of a hike but you will get nice and wet and you can also bbq there. (National Park)
If you are more adventurous and don’t mind the drive, Tel Dan is a great hike for all ages (National Park) — challenging enough for the older children, yet laid out well so it is manageable for confident little ones age 3 up. Very beautiful and a freezing water pool at the end. You don’t have to get wet on this hike but it is super refreshing if you do!
It’s worth investing in a Nature and Parks Card to get hugely discounted and mostly free entrance to all Israel’s National Parks and Nature Reserves.
8. Is the Namal Water Show spectacular?
You may have seen this well publicized summer event on Facebook. At Tel Aviv Port in the evenings you can watch a water show. There are very short shows running without lights at 18:45, 19:15 and 19:45 and then slightly longer with lights every half hour from 8:15 pm. My contacts tell me it is nice to see if you are there…but certainly not worth the journey specifically for this. The water sprinkler area (where children can play freely in the water) also lights up in the evening) and is a fun way to cool off.
I highly recommend visiting the Tel Aviv Port in any case — bring bikes (or hire them there), scooters etc. and enjoy the sea breeze, the fabulous playgrounds, water fountains, fun shops, cafes and ambiance. For young children there is Artland and Diada has a Gymboree. Be warned that it will be very busy in the holiday period so parking might not be much fun.
A Mentos candy concept store has just opened up from 3 pm on weekdays (10 am Fridays)…Oh and there’s also a special Magnum kiosk from 4 pm where you can choose your toppings…yummy!
9. I need some FREE activity ideas — please inspire me!
If you take a moment and look around, there are many free activities out there. One special free type of activity is by doing Chessed — good deeds — such as volunteering. This is a meaningful way to pass some time and help others as well.
Book your whole family or a group of friends into Pantry Packers in Jerusalem and form a production line packing up rice for the poor, book a tour of Yad Sarah who have just opened their educational tour.
You can also start Chessed from the comfort of your own home. Do this with your children, or get your teens to organize a group of friends to get together — and make beautiful parcels out of shoe boxes and fill them with goodies to be sent to children’s homes around the country. Contact Spoonful of Hope for further details. This is my daughter who invited her friends to her birthday party to do this! Everyone loved it!
There are also many factory tours which are free or very low cost but do require booking well in advance. Free tours include the Nesher Cement factory (you know, that amazingly strange looking factory you pass on Kvish 6 near Modiin?!).
Other ideas you may not have thought of are; a tour of the Knesset – great educational tour for all ages, the Bamba factory — great for the over 5 year olds (although this gets booked up quickly), the Naot factory for anyone interested in shoes, and the Herzl-Lililnblum Bank of Nostalgia. These are all free and fascinating and there are others too if you click here.
Of course there are also all the amazing playgrounds to visit — in Raanana, Herzliya, Kfar Saba, Zichron Yaakov, Modiin to name just a few in addition to the splash areas listed above. I recommended avoiding the heat of the day for these places!
The highlight for many of you during the summer is the great free ‘MiniMall’ at Sharonim mall in Hod Hasharon. With a mini supermarket, salon, gym and more it’s great fun. Try to avoid the crowds by getting there early!
10. We are thinking of spending a bit more on a really special family day out. What can you recommend?
Israel knows how to do experiences and many of us were fortunate to even do some of these years ago as kids ourselves — well, now is your chance to do them again and relive it all with your families or groups of friends. Our top recommendations are:
Kfar Kedem in Hoshaya near Tzipori. Set in the mishnaic times you will learn how they used to live — you will milk the goat, make pita bread and ride donkeys like the Rabbi’s in our history. Great fun for all ages.
For quality time with your children splash out at the family run carpentry workshop SoosVeagala making wooden toys from scratch. You even get a ride on their huge ‘Guinness book of records’ rocking horse.
A unique experience uncovering hidden treasures at Beit Guvrin is Dig for a Day. You will get dusty and dirty but you won’t want to stop being an archaeologist for a day!
As it just gets later into the night, I think i will stop writing now although there is so much more I could add. I will just save some ideas for next time!
Have a great Summer and be sensible in the sun!!
Check out www.LoveLoveIsrael.com for loads more recommended ideas and be sure to comment about your own fun Israel experiences!