Monday, January 26, 2015

Taking the Kids to Israel - Heading North

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Heading North  


An amazing archeological site along the sea.  The theatre and hippodrome can ignite the imagination of young visitors.  The port is interesting in itself and has some great hologram, interactive displays to engage people in the history of the place.  There is also a short movie to explain the history.  Lots of great restaurants as well.  Just up the street is the beach and aquaduct.  One of the undeveloped beaches but clean, with lots of sand and the kids can climb up and walk on the aqueduct.  You need a car to really see this area properly.  

Acre (Akko)

The underground Crusader city is fascinating.  The escape tunnels are especially interesting to children and you come out in the middle of the arab market.  Lunch at the port, right on the water is reasonably priced and appealing to kids.  

Rosh Hanikra

Right on the Lebanese border, you take a cable car down to visit the grottos carved out of the chalk cliffs.  A good visit for an hour or so.  Kids like it.

Safed (Tzfat)

A mountain top town that is the centre of Kabbalah study in Israel.  Fascinating old part of the town with synagogues that are hundreds of years old, and an impressive artists quarter.  Lots of climbing up and down here.  Not anything specifically for kids to do but a good stop.  Just getting there through the mountains is exciting.  

Kfar Tavor Marzipan Museum

Try something really different with the kids and take them to this kibbutz.  This part of Israel grows almonds which make the marzipan made here.  Families can visit the factory, see the exhibits (sculptures made out of marzipan) and best of all can take a family workshop to make their own marzipan and chocolate treats.  The visit could take 2 hours and children must be a minimum age of 3.  This site is open on Shabbat. Book ahead Tel - 972(0)4-6772111 email -  There is also a winery at this location for grown ups.

Kfar Kedem

Located near Nazareth, this park offers activities that have been practiced in the region for thousands of years. Children will be involved in activities that include the production of household staples such as milk, wool, and bread, connecting these tangible experiences with the values from the time of the Bible and the Mishnah. This site is a Jewish site (all food is kosher and it is not open on Shabbat) but they welcome and host Christian and Moslem visitors.  Activities should be ordered in advance.

The far north (Etzba HaGalil)- North of the Sea of Galilee   

This area sandwiched in between Lebanon and the Syria is a fantastic area to visit.  
Place to stay is Kibbutz Kfar Blum which has an outstanding hotel right on the Jordan River with an Olympic sized pool, gardens and a promenade along the Jordan.   

The Jordan River Promenade

Also known as Shvil Ami, or Ami's Trail. A wonderful, level, paved walkway. It runs between Kibbutz Sde Nehemia and Kibbutz Kfar Blum.   If you are staying overnight at Kfar Blum, you can access the promenade from inside the kibbutz. Otherwise, continue south to the junction with 9779 (a kilometer or so) and turn right (west). Turn right into Sde Nehemia and park in the lot. Then walk a few meters back to the main road and turn right at the corner to begin your jaunt - a one-kilometer trek that ends at the outskirts of Kfar Blum. You can run along this promenade, take a brisk walk, or enjoy a leisurely stroll above the water. Enjoy well- kept lawns, paths down to the river, and the sight of kayaks moving gracefully through the stream. The walkway is studded with biblical quotes, all connected to crossing the Jordan River.

Kfar Blum Kayak adventure park

With a rope course, river rafting (called Kayaks in Israel), a zip line into the Jordan and other kid’s activities.  This park is only open in the summer months.  Nearby, in the town of Kiryat Shemona are the Manara Cliffs.  Here there is a cable car to take you to the top of the Naphtali Ridge for a view of the whole Hula Valley.  From there you can take a cart on a concrete slide, jump on the bungee trampolines,  or rent mountain bikes….lots of kid related activities.  

Moshav Beit Hillel- the Kurlander Farm

This family farm offers tours and activities of a working dairy farm which include: milk production, feeding the cows, bottle feeding the calves, making chocolate milk. The Kurlender farm also produces organic olive oil, organic citrus fruits and pomegranates. Visits to the orchards and olive groves can be arranged. Kurlender Farm tours are held at 12:00 and 19:00.!vstc0=english

Agmon HaHula

Which is a nature preserve for the migrating birds but has other animals too.  Here you can rent regular bikes, family bikes that seat 3 or 4, rent golf carts to take you around, or take a safari bus through the preserve to view the wildlife.  For school age kids, the bike option is, in my opinion, the way to go.  Gives the kids a chance to really get out and experience natural Israel.  Lots of Israeli schools visit this site and it caters to children.  Agmon HaHula also offers an excellent night tour where you can see the birds roosting in the trees, many birds flying around (especially owls), wildcats hunting, reptiles, crabs, etc.  The night tour is followed by a fire and snacks for the family.  Highly recommend.

Nahal Senir National Park

is a fun family hike, through the Snir River. The Snir river, also known as the Hatsbani river, is the longest of the Jordan river tributaries. The walk takes you through the water, over stones and tree roots, past waterfalls and rushing water in the Snir river. The water can reach your knees, and parts of the trail require the use of handholds. The handholds ensure that you don’t slip, and are not difficult at all.  The hike is 1.5 hours long, at an easy pace.  This is a great hike and almost no tourists are here, mainly Israeli families.  

Tel Dan National Park- Dan Springs and the biblical city The Tel Dan Nature Reserve

is a kind of wonderland: Streams flow everywhere into a wild river and tall trees provide welcome shade even on the hottest summer afternoon. Although the size of the reserve is about 120 acres, it features three varied trails, one of which is partially wheelchair-accessible. The trail passes along streams, the river, and through a shady tangle of trees. Farther along the trail is a flour mill that operated until 1948, and the ruins of the Canaanite city of Laish, which was captured by the tribe of Dan during the period of the Judges. With trail names like ‘The Garden of Eden’ and the Pistacchio Tree Lookout, this is a wonderful place for kids to explore.

Banias National Park

The Banias Spring emerges at the foot of Mount Hermon and flows powerfully through a canyon for 3.5 km, eventually leading to the Banias Waterfall, the most impressive cascade in Israel.  A stepped path near the spring climbs to the Banias Cave. Remains of a temple built by Herod the Great stand in front of the cave. After Herod’s death, his son Philip inherited this area, and in 2 BCE Philip founded his capital near the Banias Spring, calling it Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi became an important Christian pilgrimage destination as the place where Jesus asked the disciples who people said he was. A 45-minute loop trail passes Roman- and Crusader-period sites. The marked trail to the waterfall takes about 90 minutes. About 150 m along that trail, it crosses the Govta Stream under a Roman bridge. It continues to the hydroelectric power station and the reconstructed, water-powered Matroof flour mill, where Druze pita with labaneh (goat cheese) is for sale. The walk to and from the waterfall does take 3 hours and at the waterfall there is a trail that ‘overhangs’ the river.   You can do the shorter walking trail from the springs (45 minutes) return to the parking lot and then drive to the waterfall entrance and do the overhang trail (the trail is built into the side of the rock and is suspended over the water in places) there and see the falls.  There are ice-cream and snack shops located at the parking lots of both entrances.  

Nimrods Castle

The fortress was built around 1229 by Al-Aziz Uthman, nephew of Saladin. Today, visitors can explore the excavated and restored portions of the fortress. The entrance is from the east, and the first section contains "secret corridors" — winding staircases and underground water cisterns with some of the original plaster still visible. The central part, which is accessible by a path within the fortress, contains the remains of a Keep surrounded by large rectangular towers. In the western section, there are the remains of a fortress within a fortress, which was protected by its own moat and drawbridge. This is the oldest part of the castle, which was built first.  The park entrance is located on Route 989 between Kiryat Shmona and Mount Hermon, about thirty minutes east of Kiryat Shmona.  Really fun for kids to explore and magnificent views of the valley.

Ramot Ranch

Situated 3 kilometers above Moshav Ramot overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Ramot Ranch has spectacular views of the Golan Heights. Ramot Ranch is the largest riding establishment in the North of Israel. The  Appaloosa horses are exceptionally well trained and are absolutely appropriate for beginner riders.  The ranch offers a wide variety of activities for individuals, families and larger groups.  Excellent reputation for trail rides and accommodating children.  The sunset trail ride overlooking the Kinneret is something very special.  

Hamat Gader

(meaning "hot springs of Gadara") is located in the Yarmuk River valley, 7 km. east of the Sea of Galilee. There are several mineral springs in the valley, with waters of up to 50ยบ C.  These hot springs dating back to Roman times are wonderful for the spirit and the body.  The water is very hot in some places.  The pools have massage beds and waterfalls right in them.  Also at this location is an alligator and crocodile farm and collection of exotic birds.  Great visit for a family.  This place was a hit with the groups of teens when we went here.

Hatzbani Nature Tours

Jeep tours, ranging from 2 hours up to 2 days. The tours include crossing rivers, tours in the Golan Heights over the basalt soil on the western Golan slopes, through the abandoned Syrian posts, visiting waterfalls and observation of the Hula valley below. Sunrise tours from the small hours, sunset tours and night safari following the wild animals. It is possible to have meals with picnic baskets, set up a campfire picnic, sing along, staff management activities, games and navigation competitions with secret codes.
There are several companies that offer similar services and advertise at the hotels in the north.  

Har Bental

This site in the Golan Heights gives children a chance to get the idea of how close other countries are.  From this overlook you see right into Syria, including the city of Kuneitra in the distance.  By turning around, they can see across the Hula valley to Lebanon.  The site itself was a strategic military location with hard fought battles taking place here.  The bunkers are still here and accessible.  Kids will enjoy exploring the underground labyrinth of the bunkers and the above ground trenches.  Whimsical sculptures line the entrance to the site, all made of tank parts.  There is a coffee shop and washrooms on site and often locals are selling fresh fruit at the roadside. This is a must-see site for anyone visiting the Golan.

Katzrin Park

Located near Katzrin, this site features a reconstructed synagogue and village from Talmudic times including a house furnished with domestic artifacts of the period.  An explanatory film is aimed at children.  Lots of room to explore and learn.  Well worth a visit.  

Derech Hapri (the Fruit Way)

This factory is situated on Kibbutz Merom Golan on the northern side of the Golan Height. It offers a 45 minute tour of the apple packing factory, great for the whole family! Note that they are only open Sunday through Thursday and you must call to reserve a place 04-6961988.  In addition to Kibbutz Kfar Blum (evening children’s activities in the summer months), Kibbutz HaGoshrim (evening children’s activities during the summer months and indoor pool in the winter) and Kibbutz Giladi also have hotels.  In addition there are many bed and breakfast style places called zimmers. They are available in many price ranges.  Check first to ensure they take children, some of the bed and breakfast places (especially in Rosh Pina) cater to couples.

Taking the Kids to Israel - Tel Aviv

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Here are the great places to visit with your kids in and around Tel Aviv while on the trip to Israel.


Show up on a beach, pick a chair and umbrella.  Someone will come around and sell you a ticket for the rental for the day.  The price is about 8 shekels for a chair and 4 shekels for an umbrella, though these prices can change.  The young teens cleaning off the chairs and setting up the umbrellas often work for tips. Beaches have washrooms and food and drink outlets as well as showers.  Strong undertow in the water, kids need to be close to adults.  Bring a little net or jar as little fish come right in shore.  No swimming in late June or first 2 weeks of July due to the Jellyfish.


Fun for the kids to explore the alleyways and galleries hold interesting displays even for children.  The visitors centre presents the history of Jaffa in a cartoon style film in the first part of the exhibit, appealing to children and with holographic images in the second part.  Older children will enjoy it and will get an understanding of the location.  The Ben Zion David shop, right off the main square, is a Yemenite jewellery workshop and store. They have an exhibit that shows the emigration of the Yemenites to Israel and has artisans making the jewellery right there which is really interesting (not so much a museum as a workshop with information and explanations).  Boat rides from the port along the Tel Aviv beaches can be fun for kids.  The flea market is really downscale with all kinds of junk.  Fun place for a scavenger hunt or for kids to explore.  


Newly redone northern port filled with restaurant, activities, entertainment, all along the sea.  Huge boardwalk where kids can run and play.  Sand pits where kids congregate.  Indoor playground here at Dyada which is tons of fun for climbing and exploring-no adults allowed in they watch through the glass.  Ice cream shops and on Saturdays a market, also great for kids.

Ramat Gan

Safari Park with lots of animals.  The original zoo in Israel now on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.  This is a place for kids and they can practise reading the names of the animals in Hebrew!

Palmach Museum

An experiential museum where the viewer follows the path of a group of Palmach soldiers as they come together, train and fight for the land of Israel.  Must reserve in advance as admission is by group entrance only. Very moving for adults, living history for kids.I would not recommend this museum for children under age 8 due to the subject matter, they need to follow the conversations and historical information.  

Park HaYarkon

Huge park in northern part of Tel Aviv.  Has climbing wall, innovative playgrounds, boat rentals for the small lake, Zafari (small bird zoo), and lots of space to run and play.   There is a water park on the east side of this park, Meymadion Water Park with slides and the usual water park activities.  It is open daily June-Aug and on weekends and holidays in Sept-Oct.  Call in advance for hours and prices  03-642-2777.  

Beit Hatfutsot Museum of the Jewish People A-B-See-Do (A-Ba-Ga-Da in Hebrew) exhibit.  

This interactive exhibit opened in 2011 and continues to be in such high demand that people must order tickets in advance (03-7457808).  It presents the Hebrew language in an entertaining and unusual way with climbing walls, slides, stairs and ramps alongside word-slot machines, computer games and more.

Around Tel Aviv  

The City of Holon

Holon prides itself on being a City for Children.  There are numerous playgrounds in the area.  Most activities advertised will be in Hebrew so if you plan on seeing children’s shows, check first on the language if your children don’t speak Hebrew.  

Holon Children’s Museum

An experiential exhibition…. Dialogue in the Dark is an experience without sight using only hearing, touch, smell and tastes.  The age range is minimum of 9 to about 14+ but older teens and adults will also really enjoy this.  There are several other exhibits catering to different age groups from age 2.  The exhibits challenge the imagination and the child experiences many emotional and cognitive insights while having a really enjoyable experience.  This museum requires reservations.  It is considered one of the most innovative and best children’s museums in the world.  Phone-972-3-5592080

Yamit 2000

Year round water park located in Holon. It has 20 extreme water slides, a variety of swimming pools (indoor wave pool, an Olympic pool and toddler pool), a pampering spa and  activities. There are extreme indoor heated slides for winter time as well.  

Clore Garden of Science

An outdoor museum in the heart of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot just south of Tel Aviv. Eighty hands-on activities challenge visitors to forget what they think they know and open their minds to understanding the world around them.  Great for a wide range of ages.

Mini Israel

Just outside of Tel Aviv, a park which is kind of kitchy but you can’t possibly do all the sites in Israel and this park has everything in one place in miniature.  Fun for kids to run around and check out all the moving parts.  Kids can get a perspective on all the different types of places (churches, mosques, synagogues, cities, beaches, desert) even if they haven’t gone there.  If you do this at the end of a trip, kids will recognize the places they have been and can relate to it.


This is right near mini-Israel and has an outdoor tank display.  The good part is that the kids can climb and explore.  No need to learn about the history of each tank here, though Dad’s might be interested, but a good spot to get up close to military.  Good stopping point especially if you are going to Mini Israel.

Taking the Kids to Israel - Masada and Dead Sea

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Are you planning to take your kids to Israel? Here are the places you can consider visiting with your whole family around Masada and Dead Sea.


Really an iconic place and it would be hard to go on a holiday to Israel and bypass this location.  It is about a two drive from Jerusalem descending through the desert the entire way.  Along the way children will see the Bedouin with their tents, goats and camels.  You can stop at the gas stations where a camel owner will offer exceptionally expensive opportunities for the children to sit on the camel (and maybe extra if you want to take pictures).  They never lack for customers!  When arriving at Masada, you get entry tickets which includes the way you go up.  You can climb up the snake path, not recommended after 10am during the summer (and often closed due to heat in the summer months).  You can take the cable car up and down.  You can climb up and walk down.  You can climb up the Roman Ramp side but you will need to drive through Arad to ascend this way which is quite a bit further.  There is a very good museum with the artifacts that were found on top of the mountain on display.  It would hold limited appeal to younger children but older children could appreciate the significance.  There is an extra charge for this.  At the top the must sees include:  The Northern Palace- no climbing over railings here!!!  A scary but safe descent to the different levels.  Very exciting for kids.  The synagogue, because we are Jewish and it is Israel after all.  The store rooms, officer rooms and bath house (near the Northern Palace), The Western Palace, and near the back of Masada, the water cistern that you can descend into.  This is a great place for kids to see with the light shining through the ceiling.  I recommend walking along the entire walls. The views of the desert can’t be matched.  Kids will see how the Dead Sea is receding.   If you find a quiet spot, you may see the gerbils and mice come looking for crumbs that visitors left behind.  Bring plenty of water, sun hats and sunscreen here.

Ein Gedi

This nature reserve (Nahal David) has it all.  An oasis in the desert, kids will experience stark, bleak landscapes and steps later be walking through a tunnel of elephant grass.  There are numerous ibex which are fairly easy to see.  Rock Hyrax, an endangered species, are quite plentiful here.  They like to sun themselves on the rocks.  Rumour has it that there are still leopards in the area though tourists don’t see them as they are very shy of humans.  Wear your bathing suit under your clothes and bring a towel.  As you follow the stream through the park, the water collects in pools where people swim (there are no swimming signs everywhere, which everyone, including the army, completely ignore).  The walk from the main entrance to the upper waterfall is about half an hour uphill.  Spectacular.  There are several much longer hikes available in the area.  You need to be prepared for them and they should not be done during the heat of the day during July and August.Maps are available at the entrance (which also has a snack bar).  

Floating in the Dead Sea

Ein Gedi has a public beach, just across the street and down 300 meters or so from the entrance to the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve.  The water has receded quite far from the original set up and there is a drop of a meter or more to get into the water.  The ground here is very rocky.  I would not recommend with smaller children.  There are change rooms and bathrooms (for a fee) and outdoor showers.  There is a very good restaurant on site (bus stop kind of place).   Another option is Mineral Beach.  Very basic but indoor showers, lockers, towel rental, chairs to use at the waters edge, mud buckets, and a snack bar.  Access to the water is fairly easy here. This is a better option than Ein Gedi Beach for families with children.   The Dead Sea is not for swimming in.  This is sometimes hard for children to understand.  They must not get the slightest bit of water in their eyes or mouth as it is really painful.  That means no splashing or playing in the water.  For kids, a better option is to use a spa facility.  Many hotels allow ‘day visitors’ to their spas.  This would give you access to a sand beach with guide rails into the water, a freshwater swimming pool for splashing and playing in, sulfur pools, locker and towel rental, showers with soap and shampoo, playground and shaded areas.  Well worth it and can make it a real experience.  The Ein Gedi Spa is popular but it is not very clean (though I understand it is much improved as it has gone through a renovation in the spring/summer of 2012), you have to take a shuttle to the water’s edge and it is hard to keep a family together here.  On the positive side, it is close by Masada and Ein Gedi, not too expensive, has a fresh water pool with shaded area, and mud tubs for doing the slather thing.  Good for people with teens!  For those with younger children or older travelers, using the services of one of the hotels is better:  Lot Hotel (one of my favourites), Crowne Plaza or another hotel that is right on the beach (be careful, some are not on the beach directly), are best bets.

Overnight in a Bedouin Tent in the Negev

A truly wonderful experience for families with older children.  The Bedouin run a couple of locations for tourists.  They cook wonderful meals, explain their culture and take visitors on camel treks.  Evenings are spent around bonfires with only the sounds of the desert as entertainment.  These locations are very popular with birthright groups so sometimes are crowded with young people from around the world.  Tents are communal sleeping up to 100 people.  You sleep on the ground and it is comfortable but definitely a camping experience.  There are communal bathrooms with showers which are kept surprisingly clean. One location is Kfar Hanokdim.  This location also has cabins with ensuite bathrooms and air-conditioning for rent.  A bit remote from the Bedouin experience but great for people with younger children. They also have accommodation called Sukkahs, which are somewhere between a tent and a cabin and have the whole family sleeping together but in a private space.  This is particularly good for large families or those that find sleeping in a tent with 100 strangers just a bit too awkward.  This location also has many activities you can book including full day of activities themed for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Another option, further into the heart of the Negev is Mamshit Camel Ranch

Mizpe Ramon

This spectacular area in the Negev desert is on the edge of a Machtesh or crater.  The crater was caused by erosion after the area was covered with silt from a prehistoric sea.  The entry into the makhtesh has steep walls doing down into a canyon like landscape.  The opportunities for activities with teens is endless.  This is desert country so a guide for activities is recommended.  There are 4 and 8 hour jeep tours of the makhtesh, mountain biking, hiking, rappelling, visiting the local Bedouin families, ecotours, star gazing, night barbeques, etc.

Taking the Kids to Israel - Jerusalem

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Are you planning to take your kids to Israel? Here are the places you can consider visiting with your whole family in and around Jerusalem.

Jerusalem highlights

City of David

Starting with the 3D movie on the history of Jerusalem and ending with the underground walk through Hezikiah’s tunnel is fascinating for all ages.  Though the tunnels water can be waist high on smaller children depending on the time of year.  Water is flowing and cold but children from age of 7 should manage easily.  Wear shoes that can get wet, the walk through the water takes about half an hour. There is a dry tunnel next to the wet tunnel for those who can’t go through the water.  You need to bring a flashlight or buy one in the shop before descending.  It is a steep climb back up the hill, a shuttle is available for a few shekels if kids are too tired to make the climb or for the more adventurous, climb back up to the entrance through the Roman Road and old sewer channels, opened to the public in 2012. The entrance is on the right hand side when you come down the stairs after walking through Hezikiah’s Tunnel. It is not nearly as steep as climbing back up outside.  Children from age 7 should be able to handle this fairly easily.  This site is definitely not stroller accessible and you should not have a baby in a back carrier through the tunnels. It is extremely difficult to carry a babe in arms in this area

Jerusalem Zoo

In the middle of the new city, lots of room for kids to run and explore.  Exhibits originally were biblical animals but now many represented.  Not the most sophisticated zoo in the world, but a good afternoon with kids.  

Jerusalem Bird Observatory

Bird watching- doesn’t sound too exciting or too ‘ Jerusalemish’  but this is a hidden gem. One hundred and forty birds have been identified as either living in or migrating through Jerusalem.  Next to the Knesset is a bird sanctuary with blinds where you can observe.  Naturalists are banding birds almost every day.  For a schedule and to book a visit or phone 0523-869488.

Israel Museum Youth Wing

The Israel Museum is huge and can be overwhelming for children.  The youth wing offers programs and outstanding interactive exhibits (everything is in English).  Check their website ahead of time to ensure you are arriving when programs are running.  In addition to the youth wing, the outdoor sculpture garden offers children a chance to experience art in wide open spaces.  Great to give them a camera here and challenge them to catch the meaning of the piece.  Also on this site is the Shrine of the Book.  It would be best for kids to know in advance what is in this building and what they can expect to see, otherwise it could be a little dry.  Exhibits tend to be at a height which is above eye level for smaller children.  I would not recommend the Shrine of the Book for children under 14.  The model of Jerusalem is interesting for adults, not so much for kids but they can run around it and find the Temple mount, gates in the walls, etc.

Bloomfield Science Museum

An interactive museum especially for kids focusing on science fields in which significant research is being done in Israel.  The museum is closed on Sundays.  For more information: Tel. 02-6544888.  

Temple Mount Sifting Project

An opportunity for the whole family to get involved in a real archeological dig.  Debris from Temple Mount, which was dumped in the Kidron Valley when the Moslems excavated Temple Mount to build a mosque, is being sifted for artifacts.  You are guaranteed (not in the literal sense) to find many items though you are not permitted to keep any.  Reserve ahead, when you arrive you will receive an orientation film and explanation of what is being done and what has been found so far.  Then off to the mud and water to find small objects which are buried in the debris and which each family sifts through on screens.  To participate in the two hour project you pay a fee.  To arrange participation call: (972)-(2)-6268700  or visit the website
You will be working with mud and water so it might be a good idea to bring along a change of shirt for younger children.

Ramparts Walk

There are two walks along the top of the walls that surround the old city.  The first walk goes from the Jaffa gate to the Dung gate and passes the Armenian and Jewish Quarters.  It is the easier of the two.  It has stairs and offers those that suffer from vertigo a bit of a challenge as it is quite high and often has a single railing on one side.  Perfectly safe though and kids can do it quite easily though the steps are uneven.  Interesting way to see ‘over the walls’ all the things you can’t see from street level.  The other walk is from the Jaffa Gate to the Lions Gate.  A longer and  more difficult walk (more stairs, less even) this side overlooks the Christian and Moslem quarters.  Tickets are available by the Jaffa gate.  

Sound and Light Show at the Tower of David

A fascinating (for adults) artistic rendition of the history of Jerusalem.  For kids the technology and music, seeing the walls come alive will certainly hold their interest.  Really good evening activity.

Jerusalem Time Elevator

This is one of those really touristy places that kids really like.  Expensive in comparison to other activities but a break from the heat and a presentation of Israeli history, that while shallow, the kids enjoy.  New at this site is a show that also gives the history of India.  This is like a DisneyWorld ride and you sit in a seat that bounces you all over.  Adults may want to take a gravol in advance! Discount if you buy your tickets online.

Yad LaKashish

This center is a workshop for elderly in Jerusalem who are in need.  They work to produce crafts which are for sale at their site.  Visiting the workshops is great.  Children will see the seniors doing a variety of crafts including making jewellery, metalworking, making paper beads, ceramics, etc.  The seniors enjoy the visitors though many don’t speak English.  Groups and individuals are escorted through by young women working for the organization that will show you around and explain what people are making.  Later the children could buy inexpensive (or some expensive) souvenirs in the shop.  Call ahead to reserve a tour and mention that you have children.  The workshops are only open in the mornings.  From within Israel, (02) 628-7829  

Jerusalem Parks

Liberty Bell Park on King David and Keren Hayasod has playgrounds, playing fields and is a place where families of all backgrounds spend time together.  Great place for a picnic.  Across the street is a park that stretches all along King David Street.  Here kids can play in a whimsical fountain on a hot day, discover a Roman aquaduct entrance, find the Herod Family tombs, get up close to the windmill, see the overlook of the old city and have plenty of room to run and explore.

The Ein Yael Living Museum

Geared for elementary aged school children, is set in a terraced hillside opposite the Biblical Zoo, Ein Yael aims to preserve ancient crafts and agricultural techniques. Although billed as a "museum", Ein Yael is a hands-on, outdoor attraction, where children can create ancient handicrafts in small workshops scattered throughout the terraces. There are workshops in basketweaving, pottery, paper-making, fresco painting, mosaics, wine-making, wheat harvesting, olive pressing, and more. These workshops are operated on a continuous basis, so you can wander around the site without worrying too much about scheduling your time. The workshop leaders speak Hebrew, English, and Arabic.   Wear sturdy sandals or shoes. The main paths are paved, but many of the workshops are in unpaved plateaus connected by steep stairways or dirt paths.  Ein Yael is only open when school is not in session -- i.e., Saturday (Shabbat), Chol HaMoed Passover, Chol HaMoed Sukkot, Shavuot, Chanukkah, and the summer. In addition to the regular attractions, there are special activities for the holidays (e.g., olive oil making for Chanukkah, mud brick-making for Pesach, etc.). There is a very small snack stand, and water and popsicles are sold at the front office. Other than that, no food is sold in Ein Yael. However, ample picnic tables are scattered throughout the site. Most visitors bring coolers of food and beverages.  The website has hours and directions

Outside Jerusalem  

Beit Guvrin National Park – Dig for a Day Program 

This is a great family activity outside of Jerusalem on Tel Maresha in Beit Guvrin. The Dig for a Day program gives kids a chance to be part of an archeological  dig that is taking place underground in caves.  It runs three hours. The activity includes: digging, sifting, pottery examination and touring the National Park of Beit Guvrin with a very exciting crawl through unexcavated cave systems. Wear clothes that can get dirty and closed shoes, and bring water to drink. This is a real hit with teens. I would recommend for children over the age of 7 (minimum age to participate is 5).  Call for reservations and times. 02-586-2011 or email  In addition to Tel Marisha, Beit Guvrin National Park also has some fantastic other sites.  The Bell Caves are a series of manmade caves that were quarries.  This is a great place for kids to explore.  The caves are huge so no crawling required here.  You need a car to get to this part of the park but it is well worth visiting and ‘off the beaten tourist track’.

Genesis Land

A themed park with hands on activities for families.  The main activity is lunch in Abraham’s tent, recreating Abraham’s hospitality.  There are camel rides, goats and sheep to pet, pita baking, mosaic crafts, parchment writing, and even jeep rides.  Advance booking is required.   Kitchy for adults, but fun for families and children for whom the activities are geared.  Genesis Land is located outside of Jerusalem on the highway towards the Dead Sea.