ISRAEL21c is proud to present our updated ultimate guide to summer activities in Israel for children, one of our most popular go-to articles for visitors planning a hot-weather itinerary with kids.
We aim to help you keep children of all ages entertained, educated and cool during your stay here. After all, Israel may just be the most child-friendly destination on the planet.
This list of 32 summer activities is current as of May 2023. And it’s only a start! Have a wonderful stay in Israel and come back soon.
Beaches (of course)
The beach is the ultimate summer playground, and with 273 kilometers (170 miles) of beautiful coastline in Israel, you just can’t miss.
In summertime, the Mediterranean has an average temperature of about 30 degrees C (86 F), so it’s like getting into a warm bath.
Particularly child-friendly Mediterranean beaches:
- Shavei Tzion Beach just south of Nahariya with its natural seawater pool.
- Achziv Beach, between Nahariya and Rosh Hanikra, replete with lagoons to splash in.
- Dor (Tantura) Beach near Zichron Ya’akov, featuring natural wave breaks.
- Beit Yannai Beach on the Alexander Stream near Caesarea, which has both awesome kite-surfing and restricted turtle nesting grounds.
- Palmachim Beach National Park near Rishon LeZion with perfect sand for castles.
- Tel Baruch Beach in Tel Aviv, where there’s tons of paid parking and family-oriented cafés.
- The ever-popular Acadia Beach in Herzliya.
There are also nice beaches at the Red Sea, Dead Sea and Sea of Galilee. Fifty-two Israeli beaches are certified Blue Flag Beaches, a designation awarded for excellence in education and information, water quality, safety and environmental management and services.
Zoos, animal parks, animal sanctuaries
Jerusalem’s Tisch Family Zoological Gardens (the Biblical Zoo) hosts the world’s largest collection of animals mentioned in the Bible, as well as thousands of other creatures in natural habitats. The zoo features a train, animal-themed play area and petting zoo.
The Ramat Gan Safari near Tel Aviv combines the safari and zoo experience. Drive your car (or take a safari bus) through the open-air exhibits, then enter the zoo area for a closer look at the Middle East’s largest collection of furry and feathery friends across 250 acres.
At Gan Garoo in Nir David (Gilboa Springs) you can hand-feed kangaroos and exotic birds.
Ya’ar HaAyalim deer forest in the Golan Heights offers guided tours in an electric vehicle, pony rides, zipline, indoor games, pedal cars, a petting zoo and more.
The Israeli Primate Sanctuary near Modi’in is a refuge for 850 primates of 20 different species. Register in advance for tickets to meet the monkeys, learn about primates worldwide, and play in a Gymboree and climbing wall.
Freedom Farm Sanctuary in Olesh is an educational farm providing tender loving care to an assortment of animals rescued from research labs or from factory farms because they have disabilities making them unprofitable to the food industry.
Playgrounds and parks
A well-equipped playground is always a pleasure for kids, and those with water attractions are especially welcome in hot weather. Hit the local park as the sun goes down to help them expend some energy before bedtime.
One of the loveliest municipal parks in Israel is Park Ra’anana, a 200-acre expanse offering advanced play areas for children with and without disabilities, a boating lake, sports facilities, café, small zoo, amphitheater, observatory and hiking trails.
Tel Aviv’s vast Ganei Yehoshua Park is a child’s dream. The park includes playgrounds, gardens, boating lake, train ride, picnic areas, running and biking paths, climbing walls, soccer and basketball courts, Zapari topiary and Meymadion Water Park (see item #6) among other attractions.
If you’re in Jerusalem on a hot day, your kids will love running in and out of the huge water jets at Teddy Park across from the Old City walls. At night, these fountains are aglow with 1,800 lights and recorded music.
Anava Park in Modi’in has an adventure playground, splash park, duck pond, boating lake, café, picnic areas, biking trails, zipline and trampolining, and evening concerts in the summer.
Herzliya Park is known for its slides among the 10-and-under set. Located diagonally across from a shopping mall, this state-of-the-art accessible park offers bridges, slides, train, café, library, biking and walking paths, and other activities across 50 acres.
Disneyland they’re not, but Israel’s more modest amusement parks guarantee hours of fun for kids of all ages.
Magic Kass in Ma’aleh Adumim is great for sweltering summer days because it’s the largest indoor amusement park in Israel. There’s a roller coaster soaring 20 meters high overlooking the Dead Sea, as well as rides, bumper cars, a musical carousel, playgrounds, video game hall, Gymboree, space simulation area, performance complexes and lots more.
Luna Park in Tel Aviv, opposite Ganei Yehoshua (see above) has a Ferris wheel, bumper cars and rides such as Swan Carousel, Demon Train, Pirate Ship and Top Spin.
Superland in Rishon LeZion has two Ferris wheels, Congo tubing line, teacup ride, carousels, boat rides and a range of roller coasters, some that go through water.
Shvil Hatapuzim near Hadera is a cross between a nature park and an amusement park. Attractions include battery-operated vehicles that kids can drive through the orange orchard; climbing and ropes courses for various ages and abilities; a netted tunnel; miniature golf; mini roller coasters; treehouses; boats; an obstacle course; zipline; splash pool and waterslides (open June-September); carpentry shop; and mini carwash tunnel.
Kiftzuba on Kibbutz Tzuba near Jerusalem is especially recommended for younger children. It has a variety of carousels, trains, a pirate ship, bumper cars, indoor play area, picnic area and plenty of rides for older kids too.
Balagan at Kibbutz Yagur in the Haifa region offers rides, a carousel, a train, challenges, table games and other fun activities geared to kids ages one to 15, including children with disabilities.
Have a good splash at one of water parks dotted around the country for true summer fun. While they don’t come cheap, water parks are a special treat that are suitable for all ages, making them a fabulous family destination.
Those staying in Tel Aviv can hop over to the Meymadion in the city’s north (open Saturdays most of the year and daily in July and August) or drive a little south to Holon to check out the Yamit 2000 water park.
Pedal-boating and rowing
Strap on a lifejacket, climb aboard and cruise around in a rented boat along these relaxing waterways:
- Yarkon Park, Tel Aviv (motorboats are also available here)
- Timna Park north of Eilat
- Peres Park in Holon next to the Children’s Museum and Music Garden
- Anava Park, Modi’in
- Shvil Hatapuzim near Hadera
- Pool of Arches, Ramla (in an eighth-century underground water reservoir)
Whitewater rafting and kayaking
Jordan River Rafting in the Upper Galilee is your address for rafting and kayaking on the historic river. The route is relatively short, but there’s more fun to be had at the site, with an enormous zip-line plus paintball, archery, Jeep trips, guided hikes and a kosher restaurant.
Nearby Kfar Blum Kayaks offers a variety of routes on the Hatzbani and Banias streams leading to the Jordan, for ages 5 and up. Choose a six-person raft, kayak for two, or kayak-and-zipline option. The Top Rope Adventure Park and an overnight campground add to the site’s attractions.
Shvil Hatapuzim on the northwest coast is another spot for kayaking.
Win coolest-parents-ever accolades and take your kids to do some water sports!
A great option in Tel Aviv for English-speakers is Sunshine SUP near the Jaffa Port. Sunshine offers classes such as yoga, Pilates and meditation – all on standup paddleboards (SUP) – for all ages as well as beginner group surfing classes and rentals.
For water sports information in Herzliya, click here.
Birds, wild and tame
Parrot Park in Kfar Hess north of Tel Aviv has a wide variety of parrots from all over the world, most of them tame enough to be held and fed. The venue also includes a petting zoo, an animal feeding trail, a short film about parrots, crafts, pony rides, games and more.
Utopia Orchid Park on Kibbutz Bahan near Petah Tikva also has resident tame parrots your kids can hold and feed – as well as butterflies and an assortment of other animals along with exotic plants, plant mazes, a tropical rain forest and musical water fountain.
Urban birdwatching and bird-ringing demonstrations are great child-friendly activities at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory near the Knesset and Rosh Tzipur Birdwatching Center in Tel Aviv. Guided tours in English are available at the JBO; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dig up the past
What kid doesn’t love digging in dirt?
While you have to be at least 16 to participate in most archeological digs in Israel, Dig for a Day at Beit Guvrin National Park is geared to families – and because it’s underground, the summer sun isn’t a problem. This is an actual excavation looking for artifacts from the time of the
Maccabees. Younger children get plastic tools and older kids and adults use real excavation tools under the supervision of experts.
Another great dig for kids: the Temple Mount Sifting Project in a scenic pine grove at the meeting point of Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives, not far from the Hebrew University campus. You can find real buried treasure here among rubble from the Temple Mount. Book your English-led sifting date online here.
Every summer, families head to Mitzpeh Ramon in the Negev Desert — one of the best places anywhere to observe the night sky — to watch the spectacular Perseid meteor shower.
This occurs when the Earth crosses the path of the Swift-Tuttle comet, causing huge clouds of ice and dust particles to break loose from the comet and burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.
In 2023, the meteor shower will be active between July 17 and August 24, peaking in mid-August.
The town turns off all its lights to heighten the visual effect and offers a variety of organized events. But you can just take the kids and some air mattresses and camp out to watch the sky show.
For an astronomy tour in English any time of year, contact Seu Marom (which also offers a very cool tour of the desert with ultraviolet lanterns to discover the hidden world of scorpions).
Float at Israel’s national parks
Israel’s national parks are not all about hardcore, sweaty hiking – quite a few of them have amazing water sources for some serene floating.
Our top pick would have to be Gan Hashlosha National Park (the Sachne) in the Beit She’an Valley, which is basically a collection of natural swimming pools surrounded by spacious lawns. And while it’s pretty packed in summer, it’s not to be missed.
Another great water-filled attraction is the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve near the Dead Sea. Visitors can choose from a range of hikes to suit all levels, although in the height of summer we’d recommend sticking to the easiest, most watery ones.
Under the sea
There’s an amazing world of fish in the Red Sea. In Israel’s southern resort city of Eilat, visitors can watch the colorful fish and corals through the enormous windows of the Underwater Observatory at Coral World Marine Park. The park also has a shark tank where you can watch the staff feed and interact with the sharks.
Additional places to observe the undersea world in Eilat are Coral Beach Nature Reserve, which offers wading pools, an observation bridge, and opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Glass-bottom boat tours are available at Coral World and at the Eilat Marina. These tours sell out fast in summer, so be sure to book in advance.
Swim with dolphins
Another awesome watery place for kids (and adults) in Eilat is the Dolphin Reef. Visitors can choose between observing the dolphins from the rocking pier, snorkeling with them or going diving alongside them.
Age and health limits apply for each of the different activities, so make sure to choose the one best suited to your family before jumping in.
Located at the northwestern tip of Israel, the marine caves at Rosh Hanikra are well worth the journey.
After taking a short cable-car ride to sea level, walk around the stunning grottoes and learn all about their fascinating history. Families with older kids can rent kayaks nearby and explore the site from a more aquatic point of view.
When the weather is sweltering, there’s no better way to stay cool than to go underground to Israel’s fascinating tunnels.
A guided tour of the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem (available in several languages) allows visitors age five and up to explore really cool hidden segments of the Temple Mount retaining wall — the most significant remnant of the Second Temple, destroyed approximately 2,000 years ago.
Close by in the City of David heritage site is the 2,700-year-old Hezekiah’s Tunnel, a 1,750-foot (533-meter) manmade water channel rediscovered in modern times. Choose between two underground routes, one dry and one knee-high in water. Kids age five and up can join, but the wet tour has a minimum height requirement.
Grab a flashlight, bathing suit and water shoes and head over to the Mey Kedem archeological site in Alona Park near Caesarea, open May through August. The visit starts with a short movie about the Roman water canal system (available in English) followed by a guided tour of the 280-meter tunnel that was part of a water system during the Roman and Byzantine periods. The water can get as high as 70 centimeters (27.5 inches) so it’s not for little children.
The Templars Tunnel in Acre (Akko) is a 150-meter-long part of a seaside fortress built by the Templars, a military-monastic Christian order in the 12th-13th century. Discovered in 1994, the tunnel once served as a strategic passageway from the palace to the port. You can combine your tunnel trek with a visit to the 18th century Turkish bath. Recommended for ages three and up; kids under five admitted free.
Exploring Israel’s famous caves is another great option for escaping the scorching summer sun.
Located throughout the country, visitor-friendly and accessible caves offer cool respite and a fun opportunity to learn more about nature, geology and history.
Zedekiah’s Cave under the Old City of Jerusalem was an active stone quarry during First Temple days. Today it’s a fun and fascinating place filled with legends and mysteries… and so large you can even hold an event there.
Experiential art and history
Israel is said to have the highest rate of museums per capita in the world, so that means there are plenty of museums to visit all over the country.
We’ll start with these recommendations and then go on to science museums.
- Family Tuesdays at the Youth Wing of the Israel Museum includes free admission for kids and activities for the whole family, such as a recycled art workshop for ages 3–7, every hour between 4 and 7pm.
- The Israeli Children’s Museum in Holon is organized into six separate areas of exploration and discovery for kids of different ages, from 2½ to 11 years. Children over the age of nine can tour separate museums on the campus that simulate what it’s like to be deaf, blind or elderly.
- Lunada Children’s Museum in Beersheva for ages 1 to 12 gives children an amazing hands-on experience of culture, art, the solar system, communication, money and food.
- The Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh is part zoo, part natural history museum, and completely educational and fun. It showcases the animal world of the Bible with a fascinating array of live and non-live exhibits.
- The Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem has undergone an extensive renewal to make it more accessible and engaging for children (even those in strollers or wheelchairs) and will celebrate its grand opening on June 1. Hands-on interactive multimedia exhibition rooms combined with authentic artifacts from all time periods make Jerusalem history come alive.
- Children under 18 get in free to the Nahum Gutman Museum in Tel Aviv, where they can discover their inner artist and attend workshops with instructors who speak English.
- The Tel Aviv Museum of Art offers an audio guide for families in English as well as special tours and shows geared for kids and their parents.
Israel is a powerhouse in the field of science, so it makes sense that the country also boasts awesome, hands-on science museums for youngsters.
- Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem
- MadaTech National Museum of Science, Technology and Space in Haifa
- Carasso Science Park in Beersheva
- Technoda Interactive Science Museum and Science Park in Hadera
Adjacent to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, the Israel Aquarium puts visitors on a path of discovery focused on understanding and preserving the aquatic habitats in Israel – the Mediterranean Sea, The Red Sea, and Sea of Galilee and Dead Sea.
Ice skating in summer in Israel? Sounds impossible, but this is a great way to get some relief from the heat. Rinks generally have a minimum age limit of six.
Try one of these:
- One Ice in Tnuvot, near Netanya
- IcePeaks in Holon, south of Tel Aviv
- Canada Centre resort in Metula
- Ice Mall rink in Eilat
If you want to keep your kids active and cool, try one of Israel’s many indoor climbing centers:
- uClimb bouldering gyms in Rehovot and Jerusalem
- VKing in Tel Aviv and Ra’anana
- The Bloc Climbing Center in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
- Monkeys Climbing Gym in Netanya
- iClimb Boulderland in Tel Aviv (Yarkon Park), Jerusalem (Teddy Stadium), Rishon LeZion, Kibbutz HaOgen, Haifa and Kfar Saba, for ages six and up; some locations also have Funtopia, geared to children as young as four.
Bounce it out
Another fun and fit option would be one of the many iJump trampoline centers across the country. Just slip on some socks and bounce away – you too, parents! Not only is jumping up and down on a trampoline good for an hour of massive fun, it’s also a good workout for almost every age.
Crafting or painting a piece of pottery is a great activity that lasts forever because the result comes home with you.
Some of the kid-friendly, English-friendly studios in Israel include the following (call to book ahead and inquire about minimum ages, usually five or six):
- Clayla Tel Aviv
- Color Café, Tel Aviv
- JClay Studio, Jerusalem
- Hadara Hands-on-Clay Workshop, Jerusalem
- Clay is My Art – Ceramics by Lesley, Ness Ziona
- Keramkli, Beit Shemesh
Tel Aviv Port
The Tel Aviv Port is one of the non-stop city’s main entertainment hubs for all ages. There’s a carousel, playgrounds and sandpit as well as the Levant Fair featuring a dancing musical fountain and light show.
The port has trendy toy and clothing shops for kids, and cafés that cater to families. And it’s adjacent to the beach, making for a fun and mesmerizing spot to watch the waves or jump into them. Bring your sand toys or buy some here!
Located in Alon 20 minutes east of Jerusalem, Genesis Land (Eretz Bereshit) puts families inside the story of Abraham and Sarah. Wearing biblical-style clothing, you ride a camel to their tent and enjoy refreshments with actors portraying the ancient couple known for their hospitality.
Optional workshops at Genesis Land for all ages include making your own pita, pottery or mosaics; learning about desert life in ancient times, including an encounter with sheep, homing pigeons and water-drawing; olive-oil pressing; and desert brick-making. Children ages eight and up can participate in an ancient Hebrew writing workshop and children 10 and up can try their hand at shepherding.
For overnight guests, Genesis Land offers a large hospitality tent or a desert B&B with jacuzzi. Mid-week meals can be arranged in Abraham’s tent.
Chocolate and candy workshops
Making sweet treats is fun for the whole family any time of year, and especially on broiling-hot days when you want an indoor air-conditioned activity that doesn’t involve malls or movies.
Book your yummy experience in Israel at any of these locations (most have kosher certification) and bring an insulated bag to take home your chocolate goodies in good shape.
- De Karina Chocolate Boutique Factory and Visitors Center in the Golan Heights
- Galita Chocolate Farm on Kibbutz Degania Bet near the Sea of Galilee and on Kibbutz Tzuba outside Jerusalem
- Sarina Chocolate, in Moshav Ein Vered near Netanya, has a visitors’ center with a greenhouse growing cocoa trees
- Shulman Chocolate Museum on Kibbutz Dafna in the Upper Galilee; chocolate-making workshops in English can be arranged for groups of 15 or more
- ToMo Candy in Ra’anana offers rock candy-making workshops for ages six and up
Sound and light shows
Magnificent sound and light shows offer a whole new perspective on your favorite Israeli tourist destinations and are a fabulous way to spend a family evening.
Our favorites include:
- “The Night Spectacular” and “King David” at the Tower of David in Jerusalem
- “She’an Nights” at Bet She’an National Park
- “Masada From Dusk to Dawn” at Masada National Park
As strange as it seems, make sure to dress warmly. Even in the heat of summer, Israeli nights can actually be pretty chilly!
Do some good and volunteer
Inject some added value to your vacation by doing good deeds – no need to speak Hebrew.
Families can arrange a morning activity packing food for the needy at Pantry Packers in Jerusalem (ages four and up).
Leket Israel, the national food bank, invites families to glean vegetables and fruits for the needy at its Rishon LeZion farms or sort and pack the produce at its Logistics Center in Gan Haim near Kfar Saba. Click here for information.
The three options below are all led by native English speakers.
Citrus & Salt in Tel Aviv accepts kids as young as four in most of its classes; co-owner-chef Aliya Fastman, the mother two toddlers, says children especially enjoy the Israeli and Italian menus “because there is a lot of fun dough to work with.”
Saidel Jewish Baking Center in Ginot Shomrom offers a three-hour summer baking workshops called Breads of the Beit Hamikdash (ancient Temple). This combination of hands-on baking and learning is open to anyone over age six, in groups of up to 28. You’ll bake authentic versions of the ancient shtei halechem (two loaves offering), korban toda (thanksgiving offering) and lechem hapanim (showbread).
Tour a kibbutz
Many of Israel’s iconic collective villages offer tours of interest to the whole family.
Kibbutz Ein Gev in the Galilee runs a half-hour train tour (for ages three and up) passing by the dairy barn, banana groves, date plantation and kibbutz structures including the communal dining room and school. Along the way, passengers can get off the train to further explore the sights and tastes.
Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava desert offers one- to two-hour activity tours in its Center for Creative Ecology including a mud activity, a make-your-own mini garden activity, and a fun stop at the ecological playground.
Children five and up can participate in the Bio-Tour at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in the Jordan Valley. They’ll see how the kibbutzniks live, how they use donkeys and barn owls as natural pest controllers for their organic fields, and see the beneficial insects and bumblebees bred on the kibbutz for farms across the world.
Caesarea Harbor National Park
At archeology-rich Caesarea Harbor National Park, your children can splash through the ancient Roman aqueducts and frolic on the beach, and have a fun experiential history lesson at the multimedia “Caesarea Experience” time travel show inside a rebuilt Crusader fortress.
Highlights include a virtual tour of the city as it was in Roman times, and personal “meetings” with figures from different eras, such as King Herod, Louis IX, Rabbi Akiva, Baron Rothschild and Hannah Senesh. In the port there are special events for families most weekends.
ISRAEL21c staff writer Yulia Karra contributed to this article.