Seven Ideas for Enjoying Tel Aviv with Children
16 March, 2015
Famous for its white silhouette and for being the city with the largest collection of buildings inspired by the Bauhaus (over 4,000), it is also renowned for its Mediterranean light, its multicultural, cosmopolitan milieu and its high standard of living. However, what is not so well known is that young Tel Aviv, founded in 1909, is a fantastic family resort where both the young and old can have a lot of fun. Why? The high birthrate – over three children per family – has prompted a large number of children’s facilities to be built in the city. Here are some ideas:
1. Kids might get bored with stone, the major feature of the old port of Jaffa, founded in 700 BC, which forms the original nucleus of present-day Tel Aviv. But you’re sure to win them over if you tell them it was here that Noah’s ark came to rest when the Flood subsided. This maze of well-preserved, winding streets has been exquisitely restored as part of a complete makeover. It throngs with craft shops, art galleries, cafes and artists’ studios, including the rehearsal premises of Mayumaná, a group known for its unusual way of making music using non-musical objects, such as rubbish skips, recycled objects, etc. If you start hearing weird sounds while out strolling there, they are obviously engaged in a full-blown rehearsal. Before leaving, make sure you take some amusing photos of Jaffa, like hugging the “hanging” olive tree or in front of the whale that swallowed Jonah. If you happen to be out walking at dusk, have a look at Tel Aviv’s skyline and the fishermen seeing out the day on the wharf.
2. Jaffa is the site of a pleasant Tel Aviv promenade, the Tayelet.The walk, which stretches for fourteen kilometres, starts at the old, millenary harbour and crosses Tel Aviv in a northbound direction. It can be done on foot, or by jogging, skating, skateboarding or cycling – municipal bicycles can be hired all over the city. All you need is a credit card, and that’s it! Don’t worry if you get tired of pedalling – we recommend a stop-off at one of the cafes opposite the beach, or having an ice-cream while seated on one of the benches along the promenade, where you can sun yourselves and soak in the atmosphere.
3. Tel Aviv is a coastal city with beaches where you can enjoy the warm Mediterranean climate. They are clean and lively and provide all the services – changerooms, showers, playgrounds and swings! All designed for soaking up the seaside, as here they can boast of over 300 days of sun a year. The family favourites are two in particular – Metzitzim, in the north, perhaps the beach of choice among locals, and the Jerusalem beach, which affords a perfect view of the Jaffa skyline. For interest’s sake, Hadatiyim is the beach where religious people go, while Hilton beach is preferred by surfers and homosexuals. To get into the swing of things, buy some typical wooden racquets called markot and get ready to spend hours playing on the beach.
4. A stroll down the Rothschild Boulevard is a must. Make sure to stop off at number 45, the domain of the Max Brenner Chocolate Bar. This is the Mecca of chocolate in all its shapes, colours and textures and their prices are well worth paying. The menu is so tantalising and so mouth-watering that the whole family is sure to give in to the temptation at any time of day.
5. Talking of food… somewhat less traditional are the products to be had at the Carmel Market, the best place for imbibing exotic flavours and aromas and discovering fruit, vegetables, sweets, multi-coloured spices, fresh fish, meat hanging from gigantic hooks and prepared food unrecognizable for many westerners. Strange aromas, sounds from voices and electronic devices, music and hubbub mingle in the air. Of course, the question most often heard is – What is this? Startled expressions at the new flavours are guaranteed, as are the smiles on realising that you can also find sweets in Israel! Even though they are a bit strange. But, don’t leave Carmel without tasting a pomegranate and orange juice… Mmm!
6. The Ramat Gan Zoological Center is a locally popular nature reserve where you can see exotic animals like giraffes and lions in the semi-wild. The park tour, measuring one square kilometre, is done by car, as if on a short safari. Be warned, though – the size is deceptive. The circuit is so well designed that it seems bigger than you imagine. If you don’t have your own car, you can hire one.
7. Hayarkon Park is a replica of New York’s Central Park in all respects, including appearance and size – it stretches over four square kilometres. We recommend taking a bicycle ride along the riverbank and having a picnic and, for dessert, a game of cricket – a popular game in Israel. There is also a lake where you can hire a boat, several ponds with ducks and even a climbing wall where you can try out your skills as a rock climber.
A place worth visiting with the family! Check out our prices here.
Text and images by Nani Arenas
16 March, 2015