16 Fun Things To Do With Grandchildren In Israel (Recommended By A Grandma)
Abby Hochhauser’s personal recommendations of great outings and activities to do with grandchildren in Israel
1. Brand new Museum of Jewish Music & Kikar HaMusica, Jerusalem:
The new Museum of Jewish Music is really for kids over eight or so, since each visitor gets a headset and a tablet to guide them around, but younger grandkids will tolerate it. It’s beautiful and brand new, featuring musical instruments from all over the world, from many time periods. There are a few the kids can try, as well as a couple of giant music-related video games. The signs all had English, but the on-line content was still only in Hebrew when we were there. I was told it would be available in English very soon. Many of the guides spoke some English and were very pleasant and helpful. Figure 1-2 hours to visit, depending on the kids, their attention spans and interest in music.
Behind the museum is a new area called “Kikar HaMusica” featuring at least two beautiful kosher restaurants with outdoor and indoor seating. There’s a stage from which live music concerts are performed a few times each day.
2. Gangaroo, the Golan:
Gan Garoo is a zoo which specializes in animals from Australia. It’s an especially great destination for grandchildren in Israel. There are lots of kangaroos and wallabies and you can get up close (and touch) many of them. It’s a good kid-oriented stop if you’re traveling up north, for a couple of hours or up to half a day. They have a nice shaded refreshment area where tired grandparents can take a break. Worth the price of the ice cream or sugary juice drink to get a chance to rest while kids are busy with their treats.
3. Science Museums (Be’er Sheva & Rehovot):
Most people know about the excellent Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem, but there are also excellent science museums in Be’er Sheva and at the Weitzman Institute in Rehovot. Weitzman Institute’s Science Museum is all outdoors, which could be unpleasant in extreme heat, depending on your heat tolerance level. However, it’s also very close to Chaim Weitzman’s home which is an interesting indoor outing for older grandchildren in Israel. There’s also a good science museum in Haifa which I haven’t been to.
4. IDF Museum & HaTachana, Tel Aviv:
One of our big finds was the (Tzhal) IDF Museum in Tel Aviv, near the beach. It has over 20 one story buildings (or caravans) with many military exhibits. Outside are many pieces of military equipment – mostly tanks and armored vehicles. I know nothing about such things, but they are fascinating to the grandkids. Signs tell you where and when the vehicles were used. A few of the exhibits have audio visual presentations, which give you a chance to sit down and cool off for a few minutes. I particularly liked the building featuring gifts to all the former Presidents and Prime Ministers of Israel from countries all over the world. The kids are particularly fascinated by the building which shows many items used to hide weapons from the British during the struggle for independence. I’ve recommended this museum to many tourists and Israelis and no one has been disappointed. Bring cold drinks with you – they don’t have any for sale.
Adjacent to this museum is HaTachana, the old Jaffa railway station shopping/dining area. There are only a few kosher options, but it’s a nice place to go to cool off and some interesting shops for browsing. One of our favorite spots there is the refurbished railway car where you can watch a short animated video on the history of the railroad in Israel, which feeling like you are actually moving on the train. There’s a kosher restaurant there and also a small store which sells ice cream and cold drinks which are kosher. There’s also a park right there, and across the road is the Etzel Museum which we haven’t been able to get to yet, but plan to visit when we can.
Older kids and younger grandparents can also rent bicycles in this same area and ride along the pedestrian walkway parallel to the beach. While my husband and grandson rode bikes, I sat in a lovely beach-side cafe and sipped a latte, while enjoying the scenery and taking photographs. A win-win.
5. Haganah, Lehi, and Palmach museums, Tel Aviv:
These are also very interesting destinations for grandchildren in Israel. Palmach museum is high tech and requires reservations. We’ve taken older grandchildren (over the age of 8 or 9) to the Haganah and Lehi museums and we enjoyed them – they are each good for a couple of hours, if I recall correctly.
6. The Bamba Factory, Holon:
The Bamba Factory Tour is worth a try for activities for grandchildren in Israel (family members have been there, I only found out about it recently). Givol Factory is located in the Holon industrial zone, and although it is the smallest of the factories of Osem, it produces the oldest and best loved snack – Bamba. The production lines of the factory are dedicated almost exclusively to Bamba, but also deliver Popco and Sweet Bamba snacks. The factory houses a visitor center that offers activities for children, as part of which they learn about the food industry in general and the Bamba factory in particular. Make sure to check their website and call to book well in advance if you’re planning on going during peak times.
7. Mini Israel, Latrun:
I find this mini lego version of all the major sights in the country to be an often over-looked destination for grandchildren in Israel. Last time I was there, some of the exhibits were in need of repair, but it’s a nice way to give kids an overview of the whole country. Kids, in general, enjoy miniature versions of things and some of them have moving parts. My husband hates it, but I find the grandkids are interested in the places they haven’t seen and enjoy recognizing the ones they haven’t. It’s good for two to three hours and convenient to Beit Shemesh, Modiin, Latrun, and the Monkey Park. When we’ve been there in very hot weather, they’ve had fans blowing a spray of water and there are also shaded places to rest along the way. In busy tourist times, they sometimes have additional activities, so it’s worthwhile checking on-line.
8. Tnuva Factory tour, Rehovot and the Golan:
We did this a few years ago and it was a lot of fun. There is one in Rehovot, but I think we went to one further up north (info here, but only in Hebrew). The 90-minute tour of one of Israel’s largest dairy production facilities takes visitors through the story of milk from cow to carton. You’ll view the process from a multisensory “Milky Way” simulator and watch the real-time shop floor. The tour includes an interactive quiz game about cows and barnyards, a Comics Wall showing the chain of events from milking parlor to breakfast table, and a film demonstrating the equipment used for cooling and quality control. There’s a tasting at the end.
Check for availability of tours in English before you go. It was still interesting and worth it for me as an English-speaker, even though the tour was in Hebrew, but probably better for kids who understand at least some Hebrew. We went in August and all the kids there were accompanied by grandparent.
9. The Israeli Children’s Museum, Holon
The Israeli Children’s Museum in Holon is all activity-based, making it a really fun destination for grandchildren in Israel. There are many different programs, each of which is interactive and must be reserved in advance, for different ages of kids. Many programs have English tours available, but less frequently, so English-speakers should plan ahead. The most well-known activities there are “Dialogue in the Dark,” where participants experience what it’s like to be blind, and “Invitation to Silence,” recreating the experience of deafness. We have done some of the other activities there such as “Dialogue in Time,” which was enjoyed by everyone. From the museum website: The exhibit allows a unique peek to the world of “old people” and creates an intergenerational dialog that breaks all stereotypes and clichés on aging, through experience and games.
10. The Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem:
I think many tourists may skip the Bible Lands Museum because it looks so small an unimportant standing next to the Israel Museum. However, it is a very interesting place and they frequently have kid-oriented exhibits and/or activities during the summer and holidays.
11. Eretz Israel Museum & Planetarium:
We’ve visited the Eretz Israel Museum & Planetarium with our kids years ago and have visited with grandkids several times. There are many building with interesting exhibits. There is also a lot of open space, some with shade, so kids can also run around. Currently there is also an outdoor dinosaur exhibit, which I haven’t personally checked out. In addition, the museum probably has special summer activities for kids.
12. Cinema City, Jerusalem:
I frequently recommend to tourists that they visit Cinema City in Jerusalem. Most people don’t seem interested in going to the movies while on vacation but it really is a novelty because all or most of the snacks in the theater are kosher. There are also many kosher restaurants, snack bars, and ice cream stores right there. To me, the best part is the roof which has a huge exhibit called City of the Bible, which is a “life size biblical story park, where you can see famous stories of the Bible depicted in a life size exhibit”. It’s really good, though, for all ages and includes a life size Noah’s ark with animals. Update: The ‘City Of The Bible’ exhibit has closed
Here are a few other destinations for grandchildren in Israel that I’d recommend:
13. DeKarina chocolate factory has a tour and workshop. They are located in Golan Heights, in Ein Zivan. We are going there next week. Tried once before but it was all booked. (There’s also a chocolate workshop from Galita nearer to Jerusalem in Moshav Tzuba, next door to a large kids activity/water park. Both places are great fun.) You need to book a workshop in advance, but grandchildren love it there. They offer a range of workshops for all ages, making different projects out of chocolate. Even little ones can make chocolate animal pops. All the workshops take place in the same room, so you can have grandchildren of all different ages working on different chocolate projects in the same room. (All chocolate is kosher Rabbanut Israel)
14. Saidel’s baking workshops in the Shomron is a wonderful 3-hour baking workshop where you learn about different types of bread or pastry, enjoy making them and then most of all, eat them! We are going there on August 8 but other family members have been there for Chanukah donut making and had a great time. We’re going to a pastry making workshop.
15. The Biblical Museum of Natural History, in Beit Shemesh, is a good place for kids of all ages (and adults) for a couple of hours. It’s a “unique institution that is part zoo, part natural history museum, and part Torah education center. It showcases the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects of Scripture, as well as related zoological topics from the Talmud”. You’ll see an interesting movie about animals and birds in Tanach, handle a lot of animals and animal parts (such as a range of shofarot), and younger grandchildren will enjoy the small petting zoo at the end.
16. Police Heritage Visitor Center tours, in Beit Shemesh, are a free and fabulous outing for a couple of hours. Check their opening times since they aren’t open every day. No advance booking required – just turn up. Everyone I know has gone there – with or without kids – and had a great time. (I haven’t gone but my family has.)
Another couple of activities for grandchildren in Israel which might be novelties for tourists from outside of Israel (and probably outside the big Jewish areas in the US) are:
1. Waffle Bar restaurant (branches across the country) because you can have waffles for dinner & another for dessert
2. Many candy stores with pick & mix bars where you can give the kids 10 or 20 shekels and a bag or basket and let them go to town!
Still looking for more ideas? Visit LoveLoveIsrael to search thousands of activities, hikes and destinations in Israel for grandchildren, grandparents, and everyone in between.
Abby Hochhauser is a mother to 3 sons, mother-in-law to 3 daughters-in-law, and grandmother to 9 adorable grandchildren. A former computer programmer and technical writer, Abby and her husband followed their children from Edison, NJ to settle in Israel in 2014. Abby loves her book club, volunteering at her grandchildren’s school, and reading to kids.