As many of you know, Noam and I were born and raised in Israel so traveling there is like going back home. Still, going back with my kids is always a new adventure since we love finding new places for the little ones to enjoy and taking them back to where Ima and Aba (mommy and daddy) used to hang. Since many of you have asked for my recommendations for first-time visits to Israel, I’ve compiled a list of our top 5 things to do for family fun.
Visiting Tel Aviv is no-brainer since it is a cosmopolitan city with tons of activities, museums and shops for kids and adults alike (also the BEST food!), but I wanted to give you some insider options that are unique and worth a trip outside of the city. I hope you guys enjoy these places as much as we do!
1. Camping. The weather in this country is ideal for camping trips. We love Kibbutz Amir in the Golan Heights up north. These NYC kids absolutely love being outside all day and it’s a great way to meet other families. Yuli and Ori made friends with other campers and they all play together in the picturesque campground. Also, there is nothing like cooking your own food in nature! We prepared traditional Israeli shakshuka (eggs in spicy tomato sauce) all on a burner - such a cool experience. (All ages, about a two hour drive from Tel Aviv)
2. The Underwater Observatory Marine Park, Eilat. This park is a must! You can see all kinds of fish (over 800 species!) from the underground tunnels that put you face to face with the sea. The observatory is a tower situated in the middle of the sea, without any fences or cages, offering a rare view of the Red Sea and the marine life in the Gulf of Eilat. This includes sharks! Scary for me, but amazing for the boys. (All ages, about a four hour drive from Tel Aviv or a 45 minute flight
3. Dead Sea. This attraction sounds obvious, but floating in the water is just about the coolest thing for little ones. I took the boys 2 years ago... Seeing their faces as their bodies “magically” float is priceless. (All ages, about a 2 hour drive from Tel Aviv)
4. Elite’s Chocolate Factory. In my opinion, this should be number one since chocolate is my favorite. We visited the famous Israeli chocolate brand two months ago during our last visit and the kids still talk about our experience to this day. You’ll have a total I Love Lucy moment as you stand on the production line and see all of the candies, chocolates and wafers being made. At the end, you get to visit my version of heaven: a room filled with chocolate for you to taste and it’s stocked with my childhood favorites like Mekupelet and Pesek Zman. If that isn’t enough, they send you off with a goodie bag of even more treats. (Ages 6 and up, in Nazareth Illit; about a one hour drive from Tel Aviv)
5. Zoological Center Tel Aviv Safari. This isn’t your average zoo. You can drive up and get super close to all of the action. We saw the most majestic animals like zebras, lions, and giraffes - and they some of them even pay a little visit to your car window! They come up so close you can almost pet them, which was obviously a thrill for Romi and the boys. (All ages, about a 20 minute drive from Tel Aviv)
Aside from having a ton of amazing kid-friendly things to experience, Israel is truly an amazing destination for everyone in the family. Our last weekend in the country was spent at U Boutique Kinneret By Fattal Hotel Chain , a beautiful accommodation near the Sea of Galilee.
This was a chance for our family to slow down and enjoy each other after a few weeks of non-stop adventures. The hotel is positioned by a fresh-water lake and the food alone is enough to make a trip there - so delicious and unique. We had freshly milled tahini at breakfast, carpaccio for dinnert and some of the best Israeli shakshuka and grape leaf I’ve ever had. The best part of this hotel is that everything you need is there waiting for you. beautiful pool, fitness activities, outdoor bungalows and total relaxation for me and Noam.
Check out my instagram for more photos of this getaway and inspiration for your next trip to my favorite travel destination.
I can’t wait for all of you to fall in love with Israel! Now, where to next?!