Passover journeys

Get on the road and take in some family-friendly sites.

Devorat Hatavor – Shadmot Devora  (photo credit: Devorat Hatavor)
Devorat Hatavor – Shadmot Devora
(photo credit: Devorat Hatavor)
It’s been a good winter with plenty of cold weather and rain. But now Passover’s here and we’re all looking forward to getting back on the road and out in the fresh air. Fortunately there’s no shortage of places to take the family in Israel and below are some you may not have tried.
General opening hours for the sites are stated but these vary from season to season, holiday eves, Hol Hamoed and school holidays so it’s best to call ahead to be certain.
1. Parrot Farm – Kfar Hess If the parrots you’ve encountered all say “pretty Polly,” then it’s time to meet some Hebrew-speaking ones. They abound in the Parrot Farm at Kfar Hess, and if they don’t say “Shalom” to you then get Uri, the owner, who can usually be found walking around among his family of animals, to bribe them with a nut or some other tasty morsel.
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All the parrots are domesticated, raised from birth by Uri and are happy to be held and have their photos taken.
Uri’s Parrot Farm is at the end of a series of winding country roads in Kfar Hess, but it’s well signposted so you shouldn’t have difficulty getting there.
It’s a simple farm and low-key with no hi-tech gadgetry to take your mind off the cute animals he takes care of: from incubated eggs to really old parrots (some live 100 years), with some goats, a peacock and donkeys for variety. There’s also a small snack bar and an area where the kids can have fun with arts and crafts. 10 to 4, (09) 796-1957
2. The Clore Garden of Science – Rehovot The Clore Garden of Science, on the campus of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, is a unique outdoor science museum. Here you’ll find 80 hands-on scientific and nature experim e n t s , spread over 10,000 square meters of garden and lawns, just waiting for a curious child (or adult) to come along and try them out. Find out how solar energy works, how waves are made and how a rainbow forms in a puddle. You’ll see how the same principle of a water centrifuge is used whether you’re helping an astronaut get the feel of life in a space capsule or spinning lettuce to remove the water.
Discover how optical illusions work, how you get hot water from your rooftop solar water heater and how sound travels. There is also an Ecosphere in which you can see various principles of ecology at work in the controlled hothouse environment. Each activity has a clear explanation attached so you don’t need a guide to enjoy your stay.
10 to 5, (08) 934-4401
3. Hayarkon Park – Tel Aviv Hayarkon Park, a.k.a. Ganei Yehoshua in north Tel Aviv, is a great family favorite.
An oasis of wide open spaces of green with the Yarkon River running through and a big lake in the middle, it provides a welcome relief for the residents of the pulsating White City and attracts visitors from much farther afield as well. On a hot day there is nothing more refreshing than hiring a pedal boat and having fun on the long stretches of river or, if you prefer, you can take out a motorboat or relax and sail on the cruise boat. For the more energetic there are bikes to rent and plenty of paths to cycle around, and when you’re tired and hungry there’s always plenty of room to sit down, spread out your blanket and get out the picnic basket.
There are several adventure playgrounds scattered around the park with activities for all ages, and if that’s not enough, you can visit the Tzapari and enjoy all the birds, reptiles, tropical plants, swans, flamingos and other water birds on the mini lake. Most activities are open at least from 10 to 2:30. For details about individual activities, (03) 642- 2828
4. Devorat Hatavor – Shadmot Devora If you visit Devorat Hatavor, the Land of Silk and Honey in Shadmot Devora at the foot of Mount Tabor, during the week of Passover, you’ll learn a few interesting facts about bees and their connections to the Egyptians. Evidently the Egyptians learned the art of mummifying from bees, and on your visit you will discover just how bees mummify intruders to their territories. There are also other activities connected to Passover, including a chance to make a spread of honey and chocolate on matza.
You can also see how honey is made and collected and how impurities are removed. There are also many other activities for the whole family connected to bees and honey. 9 to 5, (04) 676-9598
5. Shvil Hatapuzim – Gan Shmuel Shvil Hatapuzim, as you might have guessed by its name, is situated among the old orange groves of the early settlers, halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv near Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, five kilometers east of the Caesarea interchange.
Your kids will have an amazing time on the mini roller-coaster, driving around in the battery-operated vehicles, playing in the tree houses, enjoying the carpentry shop and taking home something they’ve made themselves.
Children over eight can take an all-terrain vehicle outside the park’s borders, and for younger ones there are pedal boats and kayaks running on a safe narrow stream. They can climb on the net tower, jump on the trampolines and, for the braver older kids, there are climbing adventures above the trees as well. Plenty to keep the whole family happily occupied.
Opens at 10 a.m., 050-736-4540
6. Beit Halomotai – Givat Brenner Beit Halomotai, “the house of my dreams,” in Givat Brenner is bliss for children. A seemingly unending array of games and sports including water slides, vehicles of all shapes and sizes for all ages, climbing activities, arts and crafts, ball parks, sponge-ball showers, mystery tunnels, adventure frames, Tarzan swings, bouncy castles and pedal cars. If the kids want a break from all the physical activities there are play-stations, puzzle corners and games and activities that require more thought than action.
There’s also a 20-minute ride on the Beit Halomotai train and a petting zoo where you can meet some small animals up close. 10 to 5, (08) 944-3331
7. Hatahana – Tel Aviv In south Tel Aviv, between Jaffa and Neveh Tzedek, you can visit the newly revamped and renovated train station known simply as Hatahana. The old railway tracks and waiting rooms as well as the huge warehouses that formed the freight terminal have been turned into shops, restaurants, activity centers and outdoor performance areas. Food fairs and street entertainers perform there regularly.
Fashion and jewelry designers and mind-stretching toys and puzzles for all ages can be found next to art exhibitions and children’s craft corners. A virtual time travel experience will tell you the story of Hatahana’s history stretching back to Ottoman-ruled Palestine when Sir Moses Montefiore wanted to build a railway track to help develop Jewish industry and trade. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.