With the Kinneret filling up with water and the north blooming, now is a great time to spend a fun, relaxing weekend near the Sea of Galilee. It may be too cold to take a swim, but there is still plenty to do and see in the area, as well as comfortable places to stay. The winter is a great time to spend a relaxing, enjoyable weekend near the Kinneret, with choices for families or individuals at any religious level.
Kibbutz Lavi Hotel
The hotel at Kibbutz Lavi is the perfect choice for observant visitors to the area. Lavi is a religious kibbutz, and on Shabbat, the hotel keeps with that environment, providing religious services and traditional Friday night and Saturday morning meals.
Of course, the meal is not just your bubbie
's matza ball soup. Lavi has a long list of gourmet offerings from the hotel's chef, plus delicious confections from its in-house bakery. The hotel has seemingly endless options for conferences and weekend events like Bar Mitzvas and Shabbat Sheva Brachot (a post-wedding celebratory Shabbat), and can tweak its menu for those with special dietary needs beyond the hotel's strict Kashrut certifications, like gluten allergies or veganism.
The kibbutz is about 25 minutes from the Kinneret and Tiberias, but there are things to do without getting in a car, like swimming in the heated pool and visiting the sauna, which have mixed- and separate-gender hours. In addition, the kibbutz has several gardens featuring ancient farm implements, artifacts from the Second Temple period and playgrounds, hammocks and picnic tables. A walking tour of the kibbutz has stunning views of the Yavni'el Valley, Sea of Galilee, Golan Heights, Mount Hermon and Mount Tabor.
The Kibbutz Lavi Hotel also attracts crowds of Christian Pilgrims visiting the area, and is not far from the Jesus Trail, a hike through historical and biblical sites in the Galilee. The hotel also invites pilgrims to a program called "home hospitality," in which they experience a Shabbat meal with a kibbutz family and learn about Jewish traditions.Kibbutz Lavi Hotel, Kibbutz Lavi, (04) 679-9450
Ma'agan Holiday Village, Kibbutz Ma'agan
If you want a relaxing experience with a great view, look no further than Kibbutz Ma'agan. Nearly every room in the complex has a view of the Sea of Galilee, and either a porch or a patio to sit outside and breath in the fresh air.
The kibbutz is on the shores of the Kinneret, and, weather permitting, sends visitors to kayak, paddle-boat and swim in the sea or splash in the on-site water park. In addition, the kibbutz rents out bicycles all year round.
Ma'agan Holiday Village has a basic, kibbutz-style dining room, and does not have facilities for Shabbat meals, so it would not be convenient for a religious family or couple on weekends, though the kitchen is kosher. In addition, the kibbutz allows visitors to bring barbecues and grill their own meat on the lawns.
The holiday village is a short walk from Bet Gabriel on the Kinneret, a cultural center with art galleries, a restaurant and a cinema, and a shopping center with major clothing chains, cafes and restaurants.
In addition, Kibbutz Ma'agan is a five-minute drive from Daganya Aleph, the first Israeli kibbutz.
A visit to Daganya Aleph is an opportunity to learn about the history of kibbutzim. On your visit, you can stop to have a delicious, kosher lunch at "Cafe Rishonim," a restaurant in one of the first buildings in the 113-year-old kibbutz, overlooking a green courtyard and historical structures. The menu features photos and stories of the first families on the kibbutz, and the dishes are named after its founders.
For children, Daganya Aleph also has a petting zoo, with fun, exotic animals like wallabees and peacocks.Ma'agan Holiday Village, Kibbutz Ma'agan, (04) 665-4433
Bet Gabriel, Tzemah Intersection, (04) 675-1175
Cafe Rishonim, Daganya Aleph, (04) 660-8273