If you’re visiting Israel with kids you’ll find that they enjoy most of the famous attractions just as much as the adults like Jerusalem’s Old City, the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. However there are some attractions that are specifically geared towards children and will please them even more!
Israel’s most famous children’s museum offers a number of tours through the museum suited to various age groups ranging from 2 to 11 years old. Each tour follows a specific theme: For 2.5-4 year olds there is A Trip with Yanshul (owl-cat) where visitors learn about friendship. This age group can also take the Following the Butterflies tour which takes kids into a world of reptiles and introduces them to Zig Zag, a reptile character who doesn’t want to grow up. For 4-6 year olds there is the Journey to Restore the Kingdom of Time. This route introduces kids to the cycle of life. 6-8 year olds go into the Magical Forest on a journey led by a mischievous elf where kids learn about emotions and feelings. The 8 to 11 age group have a tour route called Aliens. The most famous of the museum’s experiences is Invitation to Silence for kids over 9 years old. The entire tour is conducted in silence and introduces kids to the world of the hearing impaired. The tour is led by deaf and hearing impaired guides. Dialogue in the Dark is similar to Invitation to Silence but deals with the world of the visually impaired. This tour is led by blind or visually impaired guides. Dialogue with Time deals with old age and is led by guides over 70 years old. All of these tours must be booked ahead of time.
Safari Park and Zoo
Israel has a number of zoos but the only safari park is in Ramat Gan. At the Safari Park Ramat Gan there is a section where animals can be seen in their “natural” environment as visitors drive through on a “safari” and there is also a conventional zoo. The Safari also has special tours at night and in the early morning. Another interesting Israeli zoo is the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem. This zoo features animals which are mentioned in the Bible.
Weizmann Institute Clore Garden of Science
This is a very kid-friendly museum completely outdoors and hands-on. Kids can learn about scientific principles by experimenting with sound, water, vibrations and weights. The interactive museum is in the heart of the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. It challenges visitors to question their perceptions and enhance their understanding of the laws of nature and science. There are nearly 80 hands-on exhibits to demonstrate principles like solar energy, gravity, waves, sound and more. Also within the 10,000m² facilities there is a geodesic dome – an ecosphere where ecology is taught through demonstrations about microclimates and plants.
This is a zoo completely devoted to Australian animals and specifically kangaroos. Kids can get up close and feed the animals. They will see kangaroos roaming around freely and will be able to meet Cassowary, flying foxes, koalas and other Australian animals and birds. Gan Garoo also offers overnight camping in the park, a bush maze, aborigine cultural shows and tours through the park.
Go back in time to the Biblical Era in the heart of the Judean Desert. This is the land where the Biblical Patriarchs lived. Visitors are met by Abraham’s manservant Eliezer who tells you about his homeland and lifestyle. You are then invited to put on typical 1st century smocks and head coverings before setting out on a short camel ride down to Abraham’s tent. Having dismounted your camel you will be invited into Abraham’s tent for some fresh dates, nuts and water before helping to make pita bread on an open fire. All of this happens in the most stunning desert landscape. The attraction also offers workshops, special meals for groups and desert camping.
At Kfar Kedem the whole family can take part in hands-on, interactive activities like making bread, pressing olives for oil and cheese making as it was done in ancient times. Visitors are given 1st century smocks and head coverings to get in the mood and make the experience more authentic. Then you can go on to take a donkey ride, visit the pastures and see how wool is made and making the traditional olive oil and pita bread. Kfar Kedem (ancient village) is set in the lush Galilee countryside not far from Nazareth and visits must be booked in advance.
Nazareth Jesus Village
Just outside Nazareth at Nazareth Village a 1st century village has been completely recreated. This attraction is geared towards Christian visitors who want to get insight into the life Jesus might have led in Nazareth. The staff are in 1st century costume and there are people demonstrating traditional crafts and chores. Visitors are given 1st century-style clothing to wear so they complete the picture of an ancient village as they walk around the site. You can see inside a typical Biblical era home, take part in various day-to-day 1st century activities and learn about the lifestyle of the villages. As part of the experience visitors will learn about Jesus and his teachings and see Biblical stories come to life. You can add a Biblical meal to your tour to complete the experience.
The ancient city of Acre (or Akko) was an important port city for thousands of years. Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Mamluks and Ottomans all left their mark here. You can explore the ancient Knights’ Hospitaller Fortress, walk through hidden underground tunnels used by the Templars, see an ancient Turkish bath house and an enchanted garden. There are a number of set routes through the Old City of Akko retracing the footsteps of Napoleon, the Ottomans, Crusaders and others. Kids will love the many passages and secret rooms beneath the ground. Above ground there is a bustling market among the ancient houses and through the cobbled lanes. At the end of the market street you will reach the old port where there are short boat excursions and restaurants.
Kids will love going down in a cable car into a 200 meter network of passages through white limestone caves as the sea laps up against the edges of the caves. Through the openings in the caves you can see the sea which reflects the white cave walls and takes on a gorgeous turquoise hue. There are legends of pirates using the caves to store their loot and many stories of how these caves served various armies in the past.
Jerusalem’s Time Elevator takes you on a journey through 3,000 years of Jerusalem’s history. The 4D experience is exciting and educational. Visitors get 3D glasses and watch a 3D movie while experiencing special effects like moving chairs, wind and splashes of water. Some of the important historic events covered include the destruction of the 1st century Temple, the Roman conquest and the birth of Christianity.