Things to See in Israel with Kids: Review of Ideas for a Family Vacation in Israel
What places are worth visiting with children in Israel? There are such options as a crocodile nursery, the Dolphin Reef, an alpaca farm, a camel ranch, an ice palace, parks with suspension bridges, water parks, attractions, museums, and ancient fortresses. This family vacation review encompasses the Central, Northern, and Southern regions of Israel, that offer relaxation options year-round.
Family Vacation in Tel Aviv and Central Israel, Entertainment and Sightseeing with Children in Tel Aviv
At Luna Park in Tel Aviv, visitors can find attractions for kids of all ages: the smallest of children enjoy going for rides on merry-go-rounds and playing in the “soft zone” with a ball pit. Toddlers can go for a drive at the AutoCity or on go-carts. Schoolchildren are allowed to board roller coasters and the whole family can go for a ride on the Ferris wheel with a view of the entire city.
At the Meymadion Water Park in Yarkon Park, visitors can go for a swim and ride down some slides. For the youngest children there is a shallow “paddling pool” and a play area, for all other guests, there is a wave pool and a swimming pool. The sports area offers to play basketball and beach volleyball, and the recreation zone offers relaxation in lounge chairs, and picnics areas.
At the Eretz Israel Museum visitors can learn about the history of Israel in great detail. A collection of archaeological findings, dishes, coins, and decorations is assembled here. Part of the exposition is dedicated to Baron Rothschild and his investment in the establishment of the Israeli state. The other is dedicated to the development of postal service in the country. It is also possible to visit an ancient bazaar here, as well as the Bread Courtyard, with ancient instruments that people used in the making of bread – from growing the grain and collecting the harvest to grinding the flour and baking it.
The works of Rubens, Renoir, Picasso, Dali, Chagall, and other classical and modern painters are presented at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The museum offers special programs for families with children. For instance - the Enchanted Tuesdays, with games and workshops. It is also possible to purchase fun guides for children, which takes kids on a creative “search” missions around the exposition.
In each of the ten airsheds of the Israel Defense Forces History Museum, history is told from the first war for independence up to today. Exhibited outside is a collection of tanks, artillery, and armored vehicles; military ammunition, uniforms, and weapons are displayed inside. The museum has strict admission rules: visitors need a passport to get in, and taking photos of the exhibits is prohibited.
The Tayelet Promenade invites visitors to hang out at a restaurant with a view of the sea, go for a walk, or ride a bike along a sandy beach. The Charles Clore Park has playgrounds for kids and a water zone with fountains. The Yarkon Park, located in the center of Tel Aviv, has memorials and a stone garden situated amongst its tropical trees, there is also the Meymadion Waterpark, an aviary with birds, some playgrounds for kids and sports. It is also possible to rent a boat or a bike in the park. The Tel Aviv University Botanical Garden offers visitors to go for a walk around the greenhouse on suspension bridges, which are hung up at the height of the tree branches. Guests can pass through various nature zones, from desert, to the Mediterranean shore, to rainforests.
Those who are fond of taking walks down narrow alleys with really old houses and cozy restaurants are recommended to set off to the Old Jaffa or Neve Tzedek district. In the Mitham Hatachana cultural center, visitors can find themselves at a 19th century railway station, watch street artists perform, sit in a retro café, and buy some souvenirs.
The Ramat Gan Safari Park in the outskirts of Tel Aviv invites visitors to look at animals in their natural environment. In one part of the park, visitors can see animals in enclosure and reservoirs, while the other park offers car or bus safari through the savanna with lions, rhinos, ostriches, antelopes, hippos, and zebras. The park organizes special tours as well, for example morning or late night safaris. For children there is an outdoor playground and it is possible to rent strollers or segways for the whole family to go around the zoo.
Attractions for the whole family can be found to the south of Tel Aviv, at Rishon Lezion. The Superland Theme Park offers roller coaster rides, merry-go-rounds, and a Ferris wheel. The Hai Keif Zoo has tigers, crocodiles, flamingos, and a petting zoo with domestic animals. The Can B’Ivrit city park has a pond, fountains, bike trails, playgrounds, and a picnic zone. Letters from the Hebrew alphabet are “scattered” all throughout the park, so children can play detectives and learn at the same time.
Visitors are invited to come swim and ride down slides at the Shefayim Waterpark between Tel Aviv and Netanya. The park has three pools with fountains and 22 water attractions from low-sloped multislides to slides with extreme drop-offs as well as a playground for small children and a meadow for picnics.
Located in Holon (10 km from Tel Aviv) is the Israeli’s Children Museum. Here, kids aged 2.5 to 4 years old, accompanied by magical creatures, go on a tour searching for friends. Children between 4 and 6 set off on a journey “back in time”, and children aged 6 to 8 - get to go for a walk in the Magical Forest. Kids 9 years old and up, as well as adults, are invited to experience how deaf and blind people sense the world around them. Visitors aged 10 and up have the opportunity to join the “Dialogue with Time” program, which is conducted by guides aged over 70. Tours are held both in English and Hebrew.
The Yamit 2000 Water Park is located in Holon as well. It features slides and pools of all kinds - from a rainbow multi-slide to a “freefall slide”, from a “paddling pool” and a wave pool to an Olympic swimming pool. The kids’ pool with a play slide is shielded by a tent from the sun and the spa complex has a Jaccuzi and saunas. It is also possible to play soccer, basketball, and squash at the complex, where a separate gym is also open for children.
Suitable for a family visit in Rehovot (20 km southeast of Tel Aviv) is the Clore Garden of Science with interactive outdoor exhibits. Visitors are invited to go for a ride on a skating simulator, play a stone xylophone, start a fire using mirrors, see how waves are formed, and feel what it’s like to walk on the Moon. Also located in the outskirts of Rehovot is the Yavne Waterpark with an indoor water complex for the whole family, outdoor slides (up to 15 meters high), pools with fountains, and a spa zone with a Jacuzzi and sauna.
On a trip to the Dead Sea, families with children might want to stop by the Ein Gedi National Park, where they can visit a botanical garden with a broad collection of plants, take a walk along a creek toward the Waterfall of David, see the ruins of an ancient temple, and climb up to an observation deck with a view of the Moab heights and the sea. It is also possible to get a good look at the sea from the Masada Fortress, with the King Herod palace, saunas, a synagogue, and other ancient buildings. It is possible to get to the top of the cliff on foot (walking), or take the cable-railway.
Family Attractions in Haifa: a Family Vacation in Northern Israel
Any visitor of the Israel National Museum of Science can become a scientist physicist. In the water part of the exhibition, guests can start up all kinds of mills and mechanisms that pump water. In the Archimedes Court, visitors look for the fulcrum in order to turn the world, burn a ship using mirrors, and play tug military triremes. Kids and parents can also swing on swings there, ride a bike on a suspended rope, lie down on a yoga bed made of nails, and figure and how an electric motor works. Regular visitors always get to see something new: the museum renews its temporary thematic exhibits twice a year.
The Castra Cultural Center with stores, creative workshops, and exhibition halls is located to the south of Haifa. On the building’s façade, visitors can see the world’s biggest mosaic, based on Biblical motifs. At the archeological museum, visitors learn about the ancient city of Castra, and at the Puppet Museum - about the history of the Jewish people. In the workshops, visitors can either work on their own projects, or watch the craftsmen and artists do their jobs.
Those interested in active leisure should visit the X-Park. The place offers a number of outdoors activities: rock climbing and rope park courses with an 80-meter zipline, paintball, and a skate park with ramps.
The Haifa Educational Zoo offers visitors to see lions, a white tiger, grizzly bears, monkeys, and snakes. There is also a petting zoo with ponies, lamas, rabbits, and other tamed animals. There is a schedule for going inside cages with lemurs and predatory birds. The zoo has two entrances and it might be a good idea to start tour from the upper entrance, gradually going down the slope.
The Baha’i Gardens are generally a point of interest for families with kids, visitors can walk down the staircase with a thousand steps and visit the various levels of the garden with fountains and ponds. On the Louis Promenade with a view of the Baha’i gardens and the bay there is a small playground for kids and a port. To catch a panorama of Haifa from the Mount Karmel National Park, visitors have to climb on foot, by bike, or in a cable-car. The Nesher Park has walking trails, it is also possible to walk along the tree tops on two suspension bridges here, and set up a picnic.
On the Mediterranean coast not far from the Lebanese border, it is possible to visit the caves of Rosh HaNikra. Down in the caves, a 400-meter gallery is open to tourists, which can be reached by cable car. The history of the caves is told by a light and music show, and on Saturdays (in the warm time of year), a tour train runs along the waterfront. It is also possible to ride a bike or an electric car here.
It is possible to take a dip in a hot spring at the Gan HaShlosha National Park (Sahne), near the town of Beit She'an. In a cascade of three natural pools, the water stays warm year-round. It is also possible to stand under a waterfall and have a picnic here. The park has an archaeological museum, a mini-zoo with kangaroos, koalas and parrots, and several playgrounds for kids.
In the northern part of the Golan Heights, it is possible to visit the Mivtzar Nimrod fortress, and explore some archaeological excavations. The ruins of medieval fortifications with narrow openings for shooting arrows, water tanks, hidden staircases, and a citadel with a drawbridge have been found here.
The Hamat Gader Tourism Complex is situated at Golan Heights. Its visitors can bathe in the warm springs, swim around in the outdoor pool with a waterfall and water cannons, go fishing at the pond, and cook the day’s catch in a restaurant near the water. Visitors can also go on a mini safari, and find themselves in an environment with deer, emus, raccoons, meerkats, pythons, and baboons. At the crocodile farm, it is possible to go over a wooden bridges, looking down at basins with gavials, alligators, and 200 more toothed reptiles from all over the world. Parrot shows are also organized at the park, and the petting zoo, kids can hold rabbits and hamsters, pet and feed deer and goats.
The Australian Gan Guru Park invites visitors to look at koalas, kangaroos, cassowaries, flying squirrels, and parrots of various colors. Swimming in the basins are black and polar bears, while kangaroos of four different species live in a large enclosure. Visitors are allowed to feed the kangaroos (a food dispenser is located at the entrance to the zone). The park has a playground for children with several labyrinths, one of which is situated in a cave.
Kayaking on the Jordan River and other waters of the Upper Galilee is suitable for families with children older than 5. For example, preschoolers can explore the Hatzbani river, and after - have a picnic in a special rest area. It is recommended to always inquire about the age limitations when booking a tour, because the speed and the power of flow can vary due to weather conditions.
The Shonit Waterpark is located in Atlit, to the south of Haifa. The recreation zone by the swimming pool has a wooden floor and lounge chairs. Visitors can ride down some water slides, kids have the chance to swim in a separate zone with shallow pools and mini-slides, and the beach of the Shonit Complex is situated in a natural lagoon.
On the shore of the Kinneret lake, there are several family entertainment complexes. The Luna Gal Waterpark, located in the north part of the lake, has some extreme and low-sloped slides, a swimming pool, and a large kids “paddling” pool with slides. At the Gai Beach Resort Hotel Water Park in the southern part of the Kinneret, there are 7 slides and pools with artificial waterfalls, picnic zones, and a private beach. At the Ganei Huga Camping, located 20 kilometers to the South of the Kinneret lake, visitors can swim in three ponds and pools with inflatable slides and other attractions for kids, zip into the water on the Omega zipline, and set up a picnic in the shade of trees.
To the north of the Kinneret lake is the Hula Lake Park. Guests of the park can observe pelicans, cranes, hawks, and other birds from the observation decks and pedestrian trails throughout the entire reserve. Visitors can discover the park on foot, on bikes or electromobiles, or go for a ride on a guided tour bus (tours are conducted both in Hebrew and in English).
The Shvil Hatapuzim Park is located halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv. In the winter, visitors can help harvest oranges here, and make fresh-squeezed orange juice on special tables. In the summer, guests can ride kayaks, swim in the pool, and have water battles on water gun towers. Open year round in the park are craftsmen workshops, trampolines, rock climbing walls, tree houses, and high-up rope courses. Children over 8 years old are also permitted to a special platform, where they can ride electric tractors.
A Family Vacation in Eilat and Southern Israel
The inhabitants of the Red Sea are best observed at the Marine Park Underwater Observatory. On the other side of the glass walls, visitors see sharks, manta rays, eels, and giant turtles swimming by. In the 4D theater it is possible to watch a movie about nature; there are also live feeding shows, and shows of opening oyster shells with pearls. There is also the opportunity to climb up to a tower with an observation deck.
The Dolphin Reef is a must see place for those, who want to get a glimpse of dolphins in their natural environment. The dolphins are not taught to perform tricks here, they can even swim out into the open sea. Standing on the wooden footbridges, visitors can see the dolphins really close up and even pet them. It is also possible to go scuba diving and watch the sea creatures swim under water. Guests of the park can relax in a shoreside café, which offers a view of free roaming peacocks.
The King’s City Theme Park is built in the form of a huge castle, and its visitors can travel back in time: they get to meet ancient Egyptian pharaohs at a 4D attraction, ride boats around the King Solomon’s Waterfalls, and search for a way out of the underground Caves of the Old Testament. In the Cave of Illusions people play with magnets and holograms, roam around a mirror labyrinth, and swing on swings in the “warped” hall with uneven floor and walls. There is a special kids park for small children, and the indoor complex has trampolines, video games, and cars.
In Eilat, families can go for a walk in the Gan Binyamin Central Park, which has a musical fountain and a skate park. In the outskirts of Eilat, the Timna National Park offers walking trails in the rocky desert, and a catamaran rental at the lake. At the Coral Beach Nature Reserve, it is possible to go scuba diving, and check out the bright fish and other sea inhabitants.
The Ice Space Eilat ice skating rink welcomes skaters all year round. Even on the hottest of days, the complex has an ice sculpture exhibition, an ice slide, and an ice bar. Nobody has to shiver from the cold though, since the Ice Space hands out warm clothing to visitors at the entrance.
It is possible to turn into a guest of the Bedouins at the Eilat Camel Ranch. The ranch offers camel rides, visitors can see how the Bedouins live, visit their tents, and try their food. The Alpaca Farm in Mitzpe Ramon, located halfway between Eilat and Jerusalem, guests can pet and feed lamas and alpacas, set off for a ride on a lama or a horse, or have a picnic in the desert from a basket, carried by a lama.
The Negev Zoo is located even closer to Jerusalem, in the city of Beersheba. The zoo is a home to hundreds of species of animals, birds, and reptiles. There is also a small museum of effigies and skeletons here, and creative workshops are organized for children. In the petting zoo, kids can pick up and pet rabbits, hamsters, and other domesticated animals. Treats for feeding the zoo residents are sold at the entrance.
Photos: facebook.com/eretzmuseum, facebook.com/hatachana.co.il, facebook.com/yamit2000, madatech.org.il, facebook.com/zoohaifa, facebook.com/hamatgaderil, facebook.com/gaibeachhotel, facebook.com/coralworld, alpacas-farm.com, parktimna.co.il, familywithkids.com.