Family Time in the Holy Land
By Caren Osten Gerszberg
Opportunities for outdoor play abound in Jerusalem—you just have to know where to find them. While parents kick back on the grassy lawn at Teddy Park, kids of all ages, Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, splash around in the fountains that spout water every hour on the hour beginning at 8 a.m.
Across from the Old City’s Jaffa gate and named for Jerusalem’s longtime mayor, Teddy Kolleck, the park has a free sound, light, and water show each night.
At the crossroad between the Old City and Jerusalem’s modern neighborhoods, First Station—a recently renovated railway station from the Ottoman period—has become the city’s bustling hub for shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.
Rent bicycles or go-karts and take a spin along “Train Track Park,” a bike and pedestrian path that lines the old railway and is dotted with benches and trees.
Test your climbing skills on the cliffs of the Hinnom Valley, just below the Old City walls running south from the Jaffa gate. Fun In Jerusalem Tours will arrange the ropes and guides—your family will rappel down, and rock climb up—for a heart-pumping adventure with Mount Zion in sight.
Here are three other Jerusalem gems and how to make the most of them:
> Activity: Old City Scavenger Hunt
The Scoop: You’ll get set up with a mission pack and clues that take you to from place to place around the Old City. Explore the routes with maps, all while taking in 3,000 years of history.
Don’t Miss: Sign up for the Old City Scavenger Hunt with Israel ScaVentures, an adventure where you’ll encounter the places, people and events that helped weave the tale of Jerusalem. Stops include the ancient sites such as the Cardo, or the Street of the Pillars, and the Broad Wall.
Tip: If you have older children, a Segway tour is a great way to see the Old City. “Using modern technology to explore the ancient streets brings the city alive for teenagers,” says local travel blogger Joanna Shebson.
> Activity: Jerusalem Rampart Walks
The Scoop: This narrow walking path, accessible via the Jaffa, Damascus, Lion’s and Zion gates, offers an aerial view into the Old City and its Jewish, Christian, and Muslim neighborhoods below. There are some steep stairs to navigate along the way.
Don’t Miss: Heading north from the Jaffa Gate, meander past the Christian Quarter and along the Muslim Quarter, where you’ll get a clear sighting of the Dome of the Rock. Bring some water and, if you can, binoculars to see why the walls played such a vital role protecting the Old City.
> Activity: Subterranean City of David
The Scoop: This is your chance to walk in the tunnels where conquerors invaded and citizens fled, and see the hidden spring where kings were crowned. The City of David, just outside the Old City’s Dung gate, is an archeological site dating back to King David and the Bronze Age. Today, this archeological park houses ruins from biblical times as well as recent discoveries from new excavations.
Don’t Miss: Walk through the 1750-foot Hezekiah’s Tunnel, engineered as an aqueduct to supply ancient Jerusalem with water during a looming siege. Water can range from ankle deep to waist height, so bring water shoes and a change of clothes.
This piece was written by Caren Osten Gerszberg. Connect with her on Twitter @CarenOsten.