Fun Jerusalem For Families! Kid Approved Tips!
Fun Jerusalem For Families!
Thanks for coming back to my Israel planning series! In this edition, we’ll be discussing fun Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is filled with a tremendous – almost overwhelming – amount of history. But also, tons of public art, beautiful parks, museums, and lots of family nightlife. This post will please visitors of any age with a wide variety of interest levels and attention spans.
Your Personalized DIY Israel Tour
Since everyone’s ideal Israel tour looks different, I’ve broken out our trip into seven posts (they’ll be linked each week as they’re published):
- Head To Israel: Super Unique Country-Wide Tips To Plan The Best Israel Tour For A Young Family
- Jerusalem Area
- Tel Aviv Area
- The North and Galilee Region
- The South and Negev Region
- Israeli Food Across The Country
- Unique Family-Friendly Israel Hotels
Do My Visits In The 90’s Count As Part Of Fun Jerusalem History?
This was my third trip to Jerusalem, so I felt like I had a head start in planning a fun Jerusalem tour. My goal was to entice my kids with super cool sites so they would be interested and enjoy themselves. With that said, I loved showing them my repeat highlights. However, it was even more exciting to find new places for us to explore together.
The Kotel And The Kotel Tunnel Tours
At the top of my list – and the first site we visited – was The Western Wall (aka Kotel) and Kotel tunnels. I was both here and not here in the 90’s, as the Kotel tunnel tours were not open yet to the public. I was SO excited to see these tunnels – more aptly an underground ancient city. They were absolutely incredible! Of all the fun Jerusalem sites we visited, this was the top winner. It was so amazing to see the exact hole where the original explorer descended. Thus beginning the unearthing process of this ancient wonderland of hidden treasure. The Kotel tunnel tours are a MUST for your trip and something you should book in advance.
Mitzvah Ceremony At The Kotel
Not only were the tunnel tours part of our fun Jerusalem itinerary but expanding on that we had a “Light In The Heart” Bat Mitzvah ceremony for our daughter under the Kotel as well! Since we planned a Bat Mitzvah in New York before our trip we wanted a ceremonial service in Israel. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation (located at The Western Wall Plaza) arranged it all for us.
In this ceremony, we were guided by one of their hosts about the meaning of becoming a Bat Mitzvah as well as lighting the candles and reciting important prayers. Next, my daughter decorated two candle holders, one to keep and one to donate (through the foundation) to a Holocaust survivor who was unable to have a Bat Mitzvah. The Foundation offers many service choices including a complimentary Mitzvah at the wall if you’re looking for something more traditional.
The Holocaust history museum and garden – Yad Vashem – is an important stop on your Jerusalem tour. Since my boys (6 & 9) were too young for entry, we walked around the beautiful grounds while my husband and daughter (13) toured with a private guide provided by the museum.
Jerusalem Old City Tour And New City Tour
We toured the old and new cities of Jerusalem with a private walking tour guide. Since we’re history lovers it was great to have someone dedicated to our every question and interest in both parts of the city.
Our new city tour included Mount Herzl and the Machane Yehuda Market. Since Israel is a country built on the backs of its heroes it was remarkable to visit the military cemetery with a guide who brought the soldier’s stories to life.
Lastly, we closed out the day (the best way!) by learning about a melting pot of diverse cultures through our bellies. Even better, both sites are easily accessible by the light rail!
Tower Of David Museum
The Tower of David Museum – with its beautiful overlook – was a favorite from my previous trip to Jerusalem. Not only does it have some incredible ruins but it’s home to a huge model which my kids loved. Additionally, as a little fun nod to my first visit – if you look up from the lobby rotunda you’ll find one of Chihuly’s glass-blown sculptures which remains from the exhibit I saw in the 90s.
We absolutely loved the Ramparts Walk. This historic and adventurous walking path (in the wall!) above the old city was such a unique fun Jerusalem experience and one of our favorites. The walk begins in the moat around the Tower of David Museum and continues around each quarter offering a birds-eye view. The stone path is filled with plaques, statues, and even some walkways as narrow as your arms!
Shabbat In Jerusalem
Celebrating Shabbat in Israel is pretty special, even more so in Jerusalem. We were lucky to visit with family over a handsomely prepared meal as our kids clicked over the universal dialog of Legos and foreign language curse words. It was beautiful to see them get along so well and share this special evening.
Fun Jerusalem Family Night Life
Much like any big city, walking around Jerusalem at night showed us a different, illuminated perspective. We loved discovering new areas, shops, and tasting a variety of desserts. Be sure to check out the Tower of David’s Night Spectacular, First Station, and experience the Machane Yehuda Market “after dark”.
As a college student, I remember Ben Yehuda Street being the nighttime hot spot. I loved revisiting and finding the same energy (and stores!) of my youth. Even better, my daughter bought an IDF sweatshirt at the same location where I bought an IDF T–shirt twenty-five years ago!
The Most Fun Jerusalem Hotel!
We couldn’t have found a more perfect place to stay for our five nights in Jerusalem than Abraham Hostels Jerusalem. I fell in love with their website and vibe, and couldn’t wait to see it translated in front of me. For more details, check out my upcoming family-friendly hotels in Israel post.
Food In Jerusalem
The food in Israel is amazing. We tasted new spices and vegetables and agreed to try anything put in front of us. In Jerusalem we loved Piccolino, Hatzot, Hummos Shel Techina, and Adom. For more details, check out my upcoming Israeli food post.
Fun Jerusalem Day Trips
On our first Jerusalem day trip, we joined Tourist Israel’s group bus trip to Ein Gedi, Masada, and the Dead Sea. Ein Gedi was incredible and it was fun to experience terrain (and waterfalls!) we don’t usually see on our hikes around Long Island. Additionally, Masada was fascinating for both the story and the landscape as well as the unbelievable technology that existed thousands of years ago. Finally, like all families traveling to the Dead Sea, we were excited to get the obligatory floating family picture for our scrapbook.
The next day we hired a private driving tour guide and headed South. We started at the super cool Caliber 3 counter-terrorism class and continued to the absolute highlight of our trip – Dig For A Day’s archaeological dig. At this dig, we uncovered real pieces of history in underground caves from the time of Chanukah. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done and can’t recommend it enough.
You can also visit these fun Jerusalem day trips from Tel Aviv or on your way north or south. For more details, check out my upcoming Tel Aviv, The South and Negev Region, and the North and Galilee Region posts.
The Jerusalem area is jam-packed with everything one could want for a fantastic family destination. I guarantee you will have fun, learn, spark interesting conversations, eat delicious foods, and return home with the best memories of this remarkable place! Plus, if you’re named Ben there are a LOT of good photo ops!
*I put together our Israel trip itinerary and then reached out to certain attractions and business owners to work together. All opinions above are my own. No compensation was received for my opinions. In some cases, a discount or hosted experience was provided in exchange for my honest review.
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