“But it’s the Chofesh Hagadol” (summer vacation)!”, exclaimed my 3-year old as he demanded to watch TV when I had said no.
Sure, TV provides the most immediate entertainment for kids and in moderation it certainly has a place (as well as iPads, games consoles, computers etc etc), but in addition to a large range of summer camps (kaytanot), there is lots to go and see and do across Israel.
So here’s an A-Z of ideas, as recommended by Anglo parents and tourists, all over Israel. You can see a much larger list here.
Wishing you a really enjoyable Summer – now let’s start at the very beginning…
A is for Amusement Parks. There are some great parks to spend an entire day at. Luna Park is great for older kids, teens and adults. Superland caters for kids up to teens and is a lot of fun. And A is for Art – as well as the fun your kids can have at home with Arts and Crafts, pre-book Art sessions with the Tel Aviv Art Studio.
B is for Beach and there are plenty of them to choose from. B is also for Bamba – it’s the staple diet of Israeli kids so bring it with you and if you’re really a fan go and visit the Bamba Factory. B is also for Bees – if you want to learn more about honey making and taste some, head to Dvorat Hatavor in Kfar Tavor or M’achoray Hadvash in Kfar Chabad.
C is for Climbing – there are Climbing walls and centers all over Israel. Dov Halavan is a particular treat – indoor climbing, bungee drops for older ones, soft play, bimba-riding and juggling for younger ones. C is also for Chocolate – recommended Chocolate workshops are De Karina, Sarina and Galita. C is also for Crocodiles! Hamat Gader, at the southeastern part of the Galilee, has crocs as well as a Spa and lots of springs for all the family to cool off in. Amat Hatainim has slides as well as alligators.
D is for Dialogue in the Dark, the experiential museum where you learn about life for those who are visually impaired, very worthwhile.
E is for Eilat. Israel’s own mini-Las Vegas – in summertime, many Israelis flock there, so expect crowds as well as performances by all the Israeli kids TV stars.. Yes, it’s HOT, but it’s a dry heat and if you’re in the water, you won’t notice it as much! E is also for Environment – for a unique tour and activities on electricity, recycling and conservation, visit the Solar Garden in Binyamina.
F is for Factory Tours – as well as the Bamba Factory already mentioned, you can see how Coca-Cola is made or visit the Strauss Factory for some yummy shoko. Another fabulous tour is at the Tnuva Factory in Rechovot or the apple factory Beresheet in the north.
G is for Galil. There is so much to do in the Galil and Golan – Be sure to enjoy a swim the beautiful replenished Kinneret and enjoy great tiyulim and special tours like Merkavot Hayarden for a unique old-style horse and cart ride. G is also for Goats – get ready to milk some! For a really unique experience try the Goat Farm in Mevo Modi’im, remember to call ahead and book.
H is for Hands-on! Kids love making stuff so try out Saidels Bakery Workshops in Ginot Shomron or Soosagala Wood Workshop (home of the world’s largest rocking horse) in Kadima. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy the Metukaya Fondant workshop. And for the complete Cow-milking experience, visit Erez Chavat Chalav where you get shown it all, from udder to cup. If you’re in Zichron, try the Ptil Techelet Marine Tour, including snorkeling!
I is for Ice – yes, ice in Israel! ISkate in the Ganei Ta’arucha / Luna Park complex is a great skating rink (age 7 and up). There is also an Ice Park in Eilat. I is also for Indoor Play – for when you need the air-conditioning! Kiftzuba, on Kibbutz Tzuba, near Bet Shemesh, is a great place to spend a day (or more), with both indoor and outdoor activities for kids and teens.
J in Israel can only mean Jerusalem. Explore the city in a really fun and educational way by going on a Scavenger Hunt, available in English, Hebrew, Spanish or French. J is also for Jaffa – why not give your children a budget to buy ingredients at the market to make a meal for the family and then they can spend time cooking for you and preparing menus.
K is for Kayaks – and Kfar Blum comes highly recommended. K is also for Kings City, a great, biblical themed, amusement park in Eilat – fun for all ages. K is also for Kangeroos! Get a taste of the land Down Under by visiting Gan Garoo. Another K is for Kites at the Annual Kite flying festival (free for children) at the Israel Museum on 20th August.
L is for LEGO – not just fun to play at home! Visit the Art of the Brick exhibition in Tel Aviv until the end of August for lego displays with some hands-on activity at the end.
M is for Museums – check out a list of the best ones in Israel here. M is also for the Maccabiah – why not take your children to watch their favorite sports at various places around Israel.
N is for Niyar, meaning ‘paper’. Paper-making is a fun activity for little ones – visit Tut Niyar in Zichron for an authentic outdoor experience or the Hadera Paper Factory runs a fun tour, focusing on recycling and you make paper too.
O is for Oranges – located in beautiful orange groves is Shvil Hatapuzim. It’s a mini water park for younger ones, but also has outdoor play, shaded picnic areas, kayaking runs and rides, great for kids up to tweens.. O is also for Olympics! Israel’s Olympic history is celebrated and commemorated at the Olympic Experience in Tel Aviv- a really well assembled interactive museum that combines film and activities, led by a guide – sessions in English as well as Hebrew.
P is for Post Office – have you ever wanted to go behind the scenes there? What do you mean, no? The Post Office Visitors Center is for over 8’s.
Q is for Quack! Feed the ducks for free at many parks and go to the Duck Farm at Barvazim B’Kfar. Q is also for quiet – which you will probably next experience at the end of August when the kids go back to school…
R is for Roladin, Israel’s delicious bakery, who open up for public tours in Kadima. R is also for Ramat Hanadiv – the Rothschild Gardens in Zichron Yaakov – a stunning location where there are often family activities and also hikes available.
S is for Science. Israel boasts excellent Science museums: a visit to Jerusalem’s Bloomfield Science Museum is a must. Be prepared for crowds but there is a lot to do. Madatech in Haifa is also great. For some outdoor science fun, the Weizman Institute is worth a visit and they are hosting a great looking Dinosaur exhibit over the summer. S is also for Space – check out the new Space Mania exhibition, taking place during July.
T is for Tiyullim. There are simply too many great hikes to mention here. Tel Dan in the North is a family friendly hike with a choice of routes ending up with a cool water pool, there’s Einot Tzukim near the Dead Sea and Ein Prat near Jerusalem to name just three.
U is for the Underground Bullet Factory at the Ayalon Institute – located between Nes Tziona and Rechovot – during the British mandate, it was used to fool the British that it was a kibbutz when it was really a secret ammunition factory – fascinating for older children.
V is for Vineyard – take a vineyard tour and get ready to get your feet dirty as you crush grapes to make wine at the Vineyard Experience at Kibbutz Shalabim. A fun and inexpensive day, it’s also educational.
W is for Water! And let’s face it, during the heat of Israel’s summer, being in water is the best. Big Water Parks include Meimodion, which has huge water drops, inflatable boat rides and is suitable for young & old kids as well as adults and there’s also Park Nachshonit. The Island is smaller but has lots to do, with a shallow pool, nets to climb on, a haunted tunnel and more – it’s located at the top of the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv and kids love it. Park Hamaayanot in Nir David has electric carts for hire and bikes, as well as fabulous outdoor water areas. Recommended swimming pools – and there are many – include the Shoresh Hotel Pool and the Gordon Pool in Tel Aviv.
X marks the spot for archaeological sites around Israel. There are many but we highly recommend the sound and light show at the archaeological site of ancient Bet Shean – truly bringing the history alive as you tour the site at night.
Y is for Ya’ar Ayalim – rope-climbing in the Golan, trampolines, animal petting and deer.
Z is for Zapari – located in Ganei Yehoshua in Ramat Gan, this is a really engaging experience, for kids of all ages – snakes, performing parrots, soft play – you can spend quite a few hours there. Z is also for Zoo – Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo is pretty vast and the Petach Tikva Zoo is particularly good for younger children. For a more petting zoo-type experience, go to Zanzibar near Ra’anana.
And once you’ve completed this list and had a wonderful summer with your kids, Z is also for some rest because you deserve it! Zzzzzzz…..