From walking on nature trails to zip lining to fun museums and zoos, Israel is a family-friendly place where parents and children can bond over Israel’s heritage and present-day natural beauty. Organizing a family vacation takes some work but if you do your homework, your family will reap the results in terms of fun and happy memories. Here are some great, off-beat places to visit to provide some R&R and fun activities for your family while you visit the Holy Land:
The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens (also known as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo) in Jerusalem features the wildlife that is featured in the Hebrew Bible and several endangered species (like the Asian lion, cheetah, Nile crocodile, Persian fallow deer and Golden Lion Tamarin) in addition to the usual monkeys, elephants and petting zoo. The zoo (pictured) is the most popular tourist destination in Israel, so be prepared for crowds, especially during the holidays. The zoo opens daily at 9 a.m. (10 a.m. Saturdays) and you should allow three hours minimum.
The Ein Yael Active Museum features a Roman road, the Song of Songs plantation, ancient agricultural equipment, period actors, hands-on craft activities, and a petting zoo. It’s geared to locals but children from all over the world will enjoy keeping busy with the activities offered at this museum.
Liberty Bell Park features a replica of the Liberty Bell (in case you haven’t seen the original in Philadelphia) and has walking paths, playgrounds, basketball courts and picnic facilities. Festivals and art and sports events are often held here, too. There’s roller skating, a puppet theater and a giant slide called The Monster in Kiryat Yuvel. Enjoy a cup of coffee while the children run around!
Deer Land Park, just outside of Jerusalem, is open year-round, and has the world’s second longest zip line. Your kids and you will experience the biggest thrills of your life as you zip nearly a half mile 40 stories over a lush valley. There’s also a shorter zip line for younger children.
The Malha Mall is Jerusalem’s largest shopping center and features 250 stores, ranging from Toys R Us to H&M to Mega. The mall’s so large that it even has its own synagogue, play area for toddlers, an animal petting corner and a food court.
Why not take the family to see a European-style football match? The Teddy Stadium is near the Malha Mall and three football (soccer) teams use the stadium, so there’s bound to be teams competing with each other when you visit.
Kibbutz Tzuba has a large hotel with 64 suites, well-marked hiking and cycling paths and there are guided walks to historic and archeological sites, including the Cave of John the Baptist. There’s also a family entertainment center with inflatable tubes that the kids can use in water, an arcade, bumper cars, a kids’ train, a huge maze, foam-ball cannons and more. For adults, the Tzuba Estate Winery, which is located in the Judean Hills, continues the tradition of wine-producing since Biblical times. The winery has guided tours, wine tastings, and examples of ancient wine presses.