If you’re taking your children to Israel this summer and wondering how to keep them entertained, educated and amused, you’ll be happy to know that Israel has a fabulous array of child-friendly and exciting activities for the whole family to enjoy during the summer, both indoors and out.
Use this list of 32 top summer activities from ISRAEL21c to plan an unforgettable summer of fun with children of all different ages.
- Head for the beach (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 summer, 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 stretches: Shavei Tzion Beach near Nahariya with its natural seawater pool; Achziv Beach in the North, replete with lagoons to splash in; Dor (Tantura) Beach in the Carmel, featuring natural wave breaks; Beit Yannai Beach near Caesarea, which has both awesome kite-surfing and restricted turtle nesting grounds; Palmachim Beach 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; and the ever-popular Accadia Beach in Herzliya.
Thirty-six Israeli beaches are certified Blue Flag Beaches, a designation awarded for excellence in education and information, water quality, safety and environmental management and services.
- Try surfing, dudes
Win coolest-parents-ever accolades and take your kids to do some water sports! Israel’s lengthy shores mean that water sports can be enjoyed up and down the country, and there’s bound to be something to suit your taste.
Our recommendations: Try surfing in Tel Aviv or SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) in the beautiful Havatzelet Hasharon beach near Netanya (Hebrew website). Your kids will love you forever (okay, for the day).
- Talk to the animals
Jerusalem’s Tisch Family Zoological Gardens – popularly known as 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. Kids can ride a train around the grounds and enjoy an animal-themed play area and petting zoo.
The Ramat Gan Safari 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. During the summer months, Gan Garoo has a Dinosaur Maze after dark.
At Afrikef Monkey Park in Kfar Daniel near Modi’in run by the Israeli Primate Sanctuary Foundation, your kids will love watching the monkeys and can also enjoy a petting zoo and other activities.
Families can tour Ya’ar HaAyalim deer forest in the Golan Heights with a guide in an electric vehicle, and enjoy pony rides, zipline, indoor games, pedal cars, a petting zoo and more. You can even camp here overnight.
- Hit the playgrounds and parks
A well-equipped playground is always a pleasure for kids, and those with water attractions are especially welcome in hot weather. Kids in Israel tend to stay up late, so 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.
- Visit the amusement parks
Disneyland they’re not, but Israel’s more modest amusement parks guarantee hours of fun for kids of all ages.
Luna Park in Tel Aviv, opposite Ganei Yehoshua (see #3) has a Ferris wheel, bumper cars and rides such as Swan Carousel, Demon Train, Pirate Ship and Top Spin. The iSkate rink (see #17) is inside the park.
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; kayaking and pedal boats; an obstacle course; zipline; splash pool; 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.
A small Luna Park in Holon’s Peres Park is conveniently adjacent to the Israel Children’s Museum complex. There’s a carousel and train for toddlers and a roller coaster and pirate ship for children 5 and older.
- Make a splash at a water park
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, or drive a little south to Holon to check out the Yamit 2000 water park. Another firm favorite is the Shefayim park a little further north (Hebrew-only website) and Luna Gal on the shores of Lake Kinneret (Hebrew-only website).
- Go pedal-boating
Strap on a lifejacket, climb aboard and pedal a rented boat for four or five passengers along these relaxing natural or manmade lakes:
Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv (rowboats and 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
Optimist in Sdot Yam near Caesarea (this one is on the Mediterranean rather than a lake.)
- Whitewater rafting and kayaking
Jordan River Rafting in the Upper Galilee is your address for rafting and kayaking on the historic Jordan 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.
In the Lower Galilee, Rob Roy at Kibbutz Kinneret offers canoeing or kayaking on the Jordan and activities such as raft-building and touring in an electric Klub-Car.
Over on the Mediterranean coast in Sdot Yam near Caesarea, your family can go whitewater kayaking at Optimist. This company also offers sit-on-top kayaks geared to family recreation.
- Meet sea turtles
Children ages five and up can learn all about brown and green sea turtles – and the dangers they face and how to protect them — at the Israel Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Mikhmoret. A tour of the Rescue Center and its hospital can be combined with a tour of nearby Beit Yanai Beach or Alexander Stream.
On summer nights at Achziv National Park near Rosh Hanikra, sea turtles make their way up the beach to lay their eggs and the earliest ones start hatching. Kids can find sea anemones, urchins, crabs and even little octopi among the rocks at this excellent beach. There’s also a playground and café here.
- 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 still not to be missed.
Another great water-filled (and, unfortunately, people-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.
- See some stars during the Perseids Meteor Shower
Every August, families head to Mitzpeh Ramon in the Negev Desert — one of the best places anywhere to observe the night sky — to watch the spectacular Perseids 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 2019, the meteor shower is expected to peak on August 13, though some associated shooting stars should be visible each night from July 23 through August 20.
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.
Mitzpeh Ramon’s “Starman” Ira Machefsky will be offering a family-friendly star tour during that time in conjunction with a tour of the nearby Alpaca Farm, in English and Hebrew. Click here for details.
- Take a look under the sea
There’s an amazing world of fish in the Red Sea. In Israel’s southern resort city of Eilat, visitors of all ages 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, where they depart three times a day for a two-hour tour.
- Swim with dolphins
Make childhood dreams come true and head down to Israel’s south to swim with everyone’s favorite marine mammal.
At the Dolphin Reef in Eilat, visitors can choose between observing the dolphins from the 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.
- Watch the birds
One of the best places to see birds and other wildlife is Agamon HaHula, a Galilee park you can tour by foot, bicycle, golf cart or guided safari wagon. While the peak times for birdwatching are the fall and spring migration seasons, summer is a quieter time at Agamon HaHula and you can take cool sunrise, sunset and night tours to observe animals such as night herons, spur-winged lapwings, barn owls and bats, as well as water buffalo, coypus and turtles.
For urban birdwatching and demonstrations of bird ringing, we heartily recommend the one-acre Jerusalem Bird Observatory nestled between the Knesset and the Wohl Rose Garden. Activities great for kids include night hikes, nature movies and nature crafts. The birdwatching station is open 24/7.
- Marvel at Rosh Hanikra grottoes
Located at the most northwestern tip of Israel, the marine caves at Rosh Hanikra are more than well-worth the journey.
Visitors take a short cable-car ride to sea level, where they can walk around the stunning grottoes and learn all about their fascinating history. The brave of heart can also rent kayaks nearby and explore the site from a more aquatic point of view, but this probably should be left to families with slightly older kids.
- Explore Israel’s tunnels
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 hidden segments of the Temple Mount retaining wall — the most significant remnant of the Second Temple, destroyed approximately 2,000 years ago. The subterranean space includes interactive models of the Temple and archeological findings such as large stone arches, water pits and an ancient aqueduct.
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 is for kids who meet a minimum height requirement.
Grab a flashlight, bathing suit and water shoes and head over to the Mey Kedem archaeological 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.
- Go caving
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.
Our top pick for a fun family day out is the Beit Guvrin National Park near Jerusalem, where visitors can easily spend a good few hours wandering underground, learning about ancient wine- and olive-press ruins and having an all-around good time.
- Row the Pool of Arches in Ramla
Feel like soaking up some history without working up a sweat? The Pool of Arches is the attraction for you.
Located in the central city of Ramla, the underground water reservoir was constructed in the 8th century CE by the Muslim Abbasid ruler Caliph Harun al Rashid. Originally used to provide water for residents of the city, nowadays visitors can cross the cool, dark pool by rowboat. Perfect.
- Strap on your ice skates
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.
In Tel Aviv, iSkate offers 500 square meters of real ice in a roofed, air-conditioned structure at the northeast corner of Luna Park (see #10). Skates, knee and hand guards are included; professional instructors are available.
South of Tel Aviv, check out the IcePeaks rink in Holon.
- Climb the walls
If you want to keep your kids active and cool, try Israel’s many indoor climbing walls.
uClimb bouldering gym near the Rehovot train station is run by brothers Micha and Ram. This large facility offers classes for kids and climbing for children with special needs. Information: email@example.com or 972-(0)8-936-3455.
The Bloc bouldering/climbing gym in Jerusalem: firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-(0)2-539-8991.
Monkeys Climbing Gym in Netanya: Info@Monkeygym.co.il or 972-(09)-788-9933.
iClimb Boulderland has locations in Tel Aviv (Yarkon Park), Jerusalem (Teddy Stadium), Rishon LeZion, Kibbutz HaOgen, Haifa and Kfar Saba, for ages 6 and up. Some of these locations also have Funtopia, geared to children as young as 4. See the website (Hebrew only) for contact information for each location or contact Boulderland.email@example.com.
- Bounce it out
Another fun and fit option for a day out involves plenty of jumping up and down – on massive trampolines.
A great option is to try out one of iJump’s many locations across the country. Just slip on some socks and bounce away – you too, parents! Not only is jumping up and down on a trampoline for an hour of massive fun, it’s also a good workout for almost every age.
An added bonus: your kids will be so wiped out, you’ll be able to enjoy some adult time in the evening.
- Go visit a museum
You’ve got their bodies moving, now it’s time to get their brain cells moving too, and nothing does that better than a museum. 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.
Activities at the Youth Wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem include “Selfie in the Israel Museum,” a photography route in the Art Garden that ends up on Instagram; a family tour using the museum Map with a game and a quest in the Shrine of the Book, the Art Garden and the Exhibition Galleries; art and recycling workshops; and an animated “Time Travel” film telling the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Israeli Children’s Museum in Holon is where children (and their parents) can learn about diverse issues such as coping with shyness and dealing with change through wonderful, interactive exhibits and activities. It also has special hands on exhibits for older children that showcase what it feels like to be deaf, blind or old.
Lunada Children’s Museum in Beersheva is geared to ages one to 12 and gives children a hands-on experience of culture, art, the solar system, communication, money and food.
Among other Israeli museums of interest for kids are the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh; the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem; The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot; and the Nahum Gutman Museum in Tel Aviv, where they can discover their inner artist.
Read on for information about the fantastic science museums in Israel.
- Get some scientific stimulation
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.
We recommend the 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; Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa (ages 10 and up); and Clore Garden of Science at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
- Indulge in indoor star gazing
A planetarium is a great place to learn all about the heavens from the comfort of an air-conditioned space. And on cool nights, you can observe the sky outdoors. Click here for possibilities across Israel.
The planetarium at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv offers a range of kid-friendly shows where your little ones can learn all about stars, planets and astronauts. English-language performances are available but need to be booked in advance. Combine your visit to the planetarium with a general tour of the museum, and you’ll get a great day’s worth.
- Head for 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 Yerid Hamizrach mini amusement park and playground for toddlers to tweens.
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!
- Travel through time at Caesarea Harbor
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 Travel Through Time 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.
- Dig up the past
What kid doesn’t love digging in dirt? While you have to be at least 16 to participate in most archaeological 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 isn’t pretend; it’s 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.
- Cool down with ice cream
Once upon a time, ice cream in Israel was a sad affair – vegetable oil-laden and too brightly colored scoops of generic flavors. Luckily, those days are long gone.
Nowadays, high-quality stores and vendors can be found across Israel. Your kids can find their regular favorites but the more adventurous ones will want to try local specialties such as Bamba and watermelon. Don’t be shy about asking for a taste before you choose. And if they’ve had enough sugar for the day, most shops also offer fruit shakes.
- Feed a sweet tooth
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: 972-(0)4-699-3622.
Galita Chocolate Farm on Kibbutz Degania Bet near the Sea of Galilee (972-(0)4-675-5608) and on Kibbutz Tzuba outside Jerusalem (972-(0)2-534-7650).
Hagit Lidror in the Western Galilee offers a raw-food chocolate workshop: firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-(0)052-646-4884.
Sarina Chocolate in Moshav Ein Vered near Netanya, has a visitors’ center with a greenhouse growing cocoa trees: email@example.com or 972-(0)77-525-5370.
Sweet’n Karem in southern Jerusalem’s Ein Karem neighborhood encompasses a factory offering daily workshops, a handmade chocolate and gelato shop, and the Chocolate House bed-and-breakfast: 972-(0)77-446-0160.
Shulman Chocolate Museum on Kibbutz Dafna in the Upper Galilee is a unique museum about chocolate-making (all displays and videos have English translation). Workshops in English can be arranged for groups of 15 or more: firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-(0)54-590-2198.
- 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.
And as strange as it seems, make sure to dress warmly. Even in the heat of summer, Israeli nights can actually be pretty chilly!
- Sleep like a Bedouin
Some options include Galilee Bedouin Camplodge in the Lower Galilee; Desert Days and Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava Valley; Silent Arrow and Desert Shade in Mitzpeh Ramon; Kfar Hanokdim near Arad; and Shayarot near Sde Boker.
- Do some good and volunteer
Inject some added value to your vacation by doing good while being away.
Excellent options for families include boxing up food for needy families at Pantry Packers https://pantrypackers.org/schedule-a-visit/ in Jerusalem (ages four and up), gleaning crops and volunteering at a food bank through Leket or helping out at the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin in Jerusalem (geared especially to young teens).
For animal lovers, we recommend taking out doggies for long, loving walks at Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel’s shelter in Tel Aviv (ages 14 and up).