Israel's best spots for family fun in the sun
Find the perfect balance between relaxation and fun with these family-friendly summer activities.
Beautiful sights paired with countless activities make Israel a fun and exciting summer destination for people of all ages. Gorgeous coastlines, diverse wildlife and historic ruins draw families outdoors – while safaris, beaches and water parks keep things interesting. Sure, Israel is home to some very cool hotels, but there are plenty of reasons to get the family out and about. Here are just a handful:
Photos: Avital Pinnick/Flickr
Every August, Jerusalem becomes a destination for artisans of all kinds during the festival known as Hutzot haYotzer. Entertaining performances are met with beautiful handmade items — plus, the festival has a dedicated children's area.
A truly unique experience, Dolphin Reef allows visitors to interact with dolphins as these intelligent creatures swim freely in their natural ocean habitat. Young ones can climb up on a floating pier and watch the dolphins play, and older kids and parents have the opportunity to participate in guided swims and dives. Other features include a Children's Activity Center, Relaxation Pools and, for the photographer in the family, an Underwater Photography Center.
The biggest water park in Israel spans 24 acres and includes thrilling slides, tubing, a wave pool and even an Olympic-size swimming pool. More than just splashy fun, the park also has complexes dedicated to racing and paintball.
Boasting the largest collection of animals in the region, the Zoological Center Tel Aviv lets visitors experience "Africa in the heart of Israel" by observing 1,600 animals. The animals roam in herds, much like they would in the wild, in 250 acres of gorgeous natural scenery.
Photo: Rostislav Glinsky/Shutterstock
Situated among a spectacular coral reef, the Underwater Observatory Marine Park allows visitors to catch a glimpse of the life brimming under the Red Sea - both above and below the surface. Families can explore on their own or get a private guide to give them a behind-the-scenes tour of the park and its laboratories.
With its breathtaking scenery, Apollonia National Park in Herzliya is an opportunity for adventure. The ancient remains of a Roman villa and thousand-year-old Crusader fortress overlook the Mediterranean sea just 30 minutes outside of Tel Aviv. With a rich history dating back more than 2,000 years, this location has been home to Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Muslims, Crusaders and even the Egyptian sultan Baibars. In July and August, the park hosts concerts on Fridays at sunset.
If any park in Israel "has it all," it's Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv. With water activities, a 45-feet-tall outdoor climbing wall and unique gardens, there is something for everyone. The park also hosts major concerts throughout the year for those lucky enough to score tickets. The Rock Garden and Tropical Gardens each feature intricate ecosystems. Rent a bike and ride the trails, take the kids to the petting zoo or hop in a paddle boat for a relaxing evening.
For those who are interested in a peaceful tour of the eucalyptus grove or the more adventurous types who are looking for a white water adventure, the Jordan River is an attraction like no other. Activities along the river include zip-lining, bicycling and paintball.
Photo: Mark Nakasone/Flickr
The cable car travels down a 210-foot, 60-degree decline into the gorgeous grottoes of Rosh Hanikra, white chalk cliffs that fall along the border with Lebanon. The two-minute ride offers a beautiful view of the coast and then takes you into the caves, where you can explore and soak in the mesmerizing natural beauty of the grottoes.
Photo: Protasov AN/Shutterstock
Head to the beaches of Tel Aviv for a day of relaxation, kite flying, surfing - or kite surfing, like the thrill-seekers shown above. This handy guide details all of Tel Aviv's beaches, including the best kid-friendly coasts.
Each summer in Tel Aviv, "Laila Lavan," or "White Night," takes over the city for just one night. Families can let loose at the silent disco, and there are activities and performances aimed specifically at children – this event isn't just for the night owls. Most of White Night's activities are free, and some nearby businesses and restaurants stay open late.
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