Israel with Kids (and Grandparents, Too!)
Holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Israel is home to religious and historic sites, as well as nature, the arts, and great beaches.
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This is a holy city for Jews, a hub of Lurian mysticism (a branch of Jewish mysticism conceived by the 16th-century Rabbi Isaac Luria). Stroll along the lanes of the Old City and to see some of its many synagogues, its unique artist’s colony, and historic cemetery. The highest city in Israel, Safed sits perched above the Galilee. The birthplace of Kabbalah, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai fled from the Romans to Safed in the year 70 to study the hidden truths of the Torah under divine inspiration--his burial place can be found in the nearby Mt. Meron. Many artists have flocked to the spiritual old town, where cobblestone paths lead to medieval synagogues and art galleries.
Nazareth & The Galilee
Throughout history, Nazareth has been a major site for Christian pilgrims traveling to visit Jesus’ hometown with its Basilica of the Annunciation, dedicated in 1964 during the first-ever Papal visit to the Holy Land. This is the traditional site of Mary being told by the Angel Gabriel she would give birth as a virgin. The rock-cut grotto that is at the heart of the church is believed to have been the home of Mary. The basilica was built in 1969 over Crusader and Byzantine remains. It is adorned with mosaics and other representations of Mary donated by Catholic communities the world over, each reflecting its own cultural traditions. Nearby, the Sea of Galilee (the lowest freshwater lake on earth) is surrounded by a lush oasis of eucalyptus, oak, and olive groves.
This city is important city for Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Baha'is. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Acre (Akko in Hebrew) promises visitors an emotional journey to a glorious past and a one-of-a-kind experience. An ancient and wondrous city, Akko boasts many remarkable sites, including remnants of the Hellenistic-Roman period and structures from the Crusader and Ottoman periods. You’ll also encounter the underground Crusader city, Khan al-Umdan, the Turkish Baths, the Bahai Temple, the Ramchal Synagogue, and more. Much more than a historical and archeological marvel, Acre also has colorful Oriental markets, museums, beaches, and water sports facilities, a fishermen’s port, marina, restaurants, hotels, and annual picturesque festivals.
Tel Aviv is another can’t-miss spot. There are the family-friendly beaches (yes, Israel has amazing beaches); the Shuks (marketplaces), including Sarona and HaKarmel; and Tel Aviv’s oldest neighborhoods, including Neve Tzedek, which has museums, galleries, and restaurants. You’ll find amazing dining options here.
In the Negev Desert, you and your family can have a unique and unforgettable experience, by riding atop a camel, or if you’re truly adventurous, you can go rappelling at Ramon Crater. Kids and adults can learn a lot about ancient artifacts and the expansive history of the destination by partaking in an archeology dig.
An article like this can only scratch the surface of all Israel offers and all you can experience there. No matter what your interest (from adventure to culture) and how old you are (from young kids to grandparents) you’ll find plenty of experiences for the whole family in Israel.