by: Joanna Shebson, Fun in Jerusalem
With TBEX approaching and lots of family travel bloggers expected to join the conference, I want to share some of my favorite family activities in Jerusalem. As an incredible family travel destination, Jerusalem allows families to experience so many different aspects of FUN.
Asking me to choose the top ten activities is like asking me to choose which child I love the most, therefore I decided to share Jerusalem’s top family experiences that I highly recommend.
FUN at the Museum
Jerusalem is home to many of Israel’s most well known museums, and each museum has special kids’ activities.
The Youth Wing at the Israel Museum is showcasing their current exhibit, “Wire(less) Connections”, giving kids a chance to explore the concept of connections through mazes, ropes, and activities. Don’t miss the Recycle Workshop at the museum which encourages unique creativity.
The Jewish Music Museum gives families the opportunity to see unique instruments and hear music from different cultures all at your own pace with a museum ipad.
The Museum for Islamic Art offers the best hands on art workshops in the city (workshops during school holidays).
The Bloomfield Science Museum is always fun with interactive exhibits you can touch and play with, including tractors, agricultural technology and a water exhibit during the summer.
The outdoor Ein Yael Living Museum takes visitors back in time to meet craftsmen from the time of the Roman rule. Choose from a list of hands on workshops including pita baking, weaving, pottery and mud house building. (Open to the public during school vacations or with private reservation).
FUN in Nature
Set in the hills, with temperate weather, Jerusalem is the place for families who love to explore nature.
The Jerusalem Hills have great family hikes marked by the National Parks Association that can lead you to natural springs and incredible lookouts.
Take a family bird watching course at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, a popular spot for bird migration.
Spot the gazelles gazing at the Valley of the Gazelle (Gazelle Park), set in the center of the bustling city.
Explore the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and the Discovery Trail where kids can learn about earth, water, and plants.
FUN with Food
In the last few years Jerusalem has become a “food lovers” dream and that’s not just for adults. Kids can enjoy a cooking workshop and tasting tour of the city’s market, Mahane Yehuda, and learn about its’ history at the same time.
Kiddie chefs can partake in a cooking workshop with a local Jerusalem chef using the freshest local ingredients from the market.
By far the favorite activity for families of all ages is the Galita Chocolate Workshop in Kibbutz Tzuba, where families can decorate chocolate, build with chocolate or create their own truffles. Tasting is recommended!
FUN with Extreme Sports
Kids love a challenge and it is usually a great way to entertain kids with lots of energy.
Take your family rappelling (known as snappling) in Gei Ben Hinom overlooking the Old City Walls. Challenge Tours offers snappling fun for all ages – even kids as young as 4 can rappel with a guide!
During the school holidays, the city arranges for tourists and locals to rappel down the actual Old City Walls.
Experience Outdoor Training (ODT) activities and a Jerusalem Ropes Course at Ammunition Hill.
Enjoy a Jeep ride through the Jerusalem Hills and out into the neighboring desert landscape. Hidden Valley Tours allows visitors to see Israel ‘off the beaten track’. Jeep trips can stop at Bedouin tents, and baking fresh pita on the way is a MUST DO activity!
If your teenagers have a drivers license, they can drive an ATV in the beautiful hills while your younger kids come along for the ride.
FUN with Games
Games have become the best new way to interact with a city – its inhabitants and its history, and Jerusalem is no exception.
Challenge your family to a Jerusalem Scavenger Hunt in the Old City, Yemin Moshe or Mahane Yehuda. Each family member chooses their role as the storyteller, photographer, teacher or guide. There are a number of Scavenger hunt tours, including Israel ScaVentures, offered in the city.
Enjoy a quiet indoor activity as you work together to solve the clues and puzzles to “Escape the Nazir” at Jerusalem Puzzle Quest, one of the city’s most popular escape rooms.
Jerusalem offers sports enthusiasts a great opportunity to participate or to be a spectator. Take a bike tour of the city (ages 12+) or rent a bike and ride along the many bike paths that take you into Park Jerusalem.
Do you prefer a modern form of transportation? Take a ZuZu Segway Tour (age 14+ or 100 lbs+) over the Bridge of Strings and into the bustling city.
If your preference is a spectator sport, then make sure to buy tickets to a Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball Game. This is an inexpensive way to meet the locals and cheer on the hometown team (wear red) at the new arena. You may even spot Amar’e Stoudemire on the court!
FUN with Art
The beautiful landscapes and history of Jerusalem inspire many local artists. Take a “behind the scenes” tour of a local studio like Nadav Art, a 3rd generation Jerusalem artist.
Visit Yvel, one of Jerusalem’s most well know jewelry factories. See an inspiring video about how Yvel has become such a strong brand in the jewelry market and watch the artists as they create the masterpieces that may be worn by Hollywood actors or by you.
Engage with the best the Israeli art world has to offer on the Artist’s Lane at Hutzot Hayotzer (meaning The Creator Steps Out). Artists fill the area, showcasing and selling their creations in silver, embroidery and Judaica and so much more.
FUN at the Shopping Malls
Some families love to shop and see the local mall scene. In Jerusalem there are many options to choose from.
For a popular outdoor entertainment mall, visit The First Station a completely reimagined historic train depot now offering some of Jerusalem’s best restaurants, a kids entertainment zone and bike rentals along a longbike path.
If you prefer a more upscale experience, visit the outdoor Mamilla Mall, a sprawling luxurious open-air promenade outside the Jaffa Gate, which connects the Old City to the new city.
If you are in the mood for a movie, bring the family go to a one-stop entertainment extravaganza at Cinema City, which is also a great place for shopping and to find a delicious meal. Make sure to check that the movie you want, is showing in English.
FUN at Night
Jerusalem is most definitely a city that doesn’t go to sleep early. You will find families out at the local restaurants and activities long into the evening.
The most exciting family night activity is the Night Spectacular light show at the Tower of David Museum. This magnificent light show in the Old City tells the compelling story of the history of Jerusalem for all religions, using sound and light on the ancient stones. (Dress warmly in the winter.)
The Israeli music scene is showcased at Zappa Jerusalem, a restaurant/bar and concert venue that I would feel comfortable taking my kids to. Enjoy dinner and a show in a no smoking environment.
Bring your family to the Mahane Yehuda (the Shuk) at night when the food and vendor stalls close and become a gallery of street art. There are lots of great restaurants and even a Shuk Gallery Hunt you can enjoy with your kids.
Jerusalem’s ongoing calendar is filled with festivals offering nighttime events. The Light Festival (June) and Artists Festival (August) are my two favorites.
After all of this family fun, you may need a chance to slow down and let your kids run around the park. There are outdoor parks across the city for you to enjoy for FREE.
There is a bike path that leaves from First Station and takes you to an incredible park for kids of all ages just below the Biblical Zoo and Ein Yael.
For a more traditional Jerusalem experience visit the Jerusalem Monster Slide Park in Kiryat Yovel and slide down one of the three monster tongues.
As you can see Jerusalem is a city offering a large variety of experiences involving fun for families. With a strong focus on family, the city is constantly growing with more tourism options. Have a great time and we know you will want to come back soon!
Joanna Shebson is the Founder and FUN Expert at Fun In Jerusalem. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband and three kids and loves to inspire family fun. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org