You’ve already gone to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa; now it’s time to explore the lesser-known gems of some of Israel’s smaller cities and towns. Let’s start with a city located north of Tel Aviv, called Ra’anana.
Perhaps these days you’ve just heard of Ra’anana, as it is the original residence of the current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Ra’anana is located at the heart of the Sharon Plain in Israel’s Central District. The name means “fresh” in Hebrew. It is also sometimes referred to as the “Pearl of Sharon.” It seems to have all the elements of an ideal Israeli suburb. It’s not too far from Tel Aviv. It may be a city but still has a rural feel – busy and full of life during weekdays but sleepier on weekends and holidays.
If you love the outdoors in particular, you’re going to enjoy your stay in this enchanting little city. Ra’anana is among the best places in Israel for families with children, and you may be surprised that such a small city has so many things to offer.
(Rehov Yerushalayim 7 Derech HaPark)
Ra’anana prides itself on having one of Israel’s most beautiful parks. Situated at the western entrance of the city, Ra’anana Park is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. It is a very large park that offers many activities other than sightseeing, picnicking, and relaxed strolls. It can get quite crowded on weekends and holidays.
Ra’anana Park has vast spaces of greenery, a few different playgrounds, a basketball court, soccer areas, barbecue areas, a skating and rollerblading path, walking and biking paths, a zoo, and an amphitheater. In the heart of the park lies a lovely little lake aptly called “Swan Lake” because there are actual swans swimming in it, apart from the reference to Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet. Visitors can rent kayaks or solar-powered gondolas to go boating on the lake. And when they’re hungry, they may want to check out the park’s lakeside café or pizza stand.
Art is everywhere in this vast park. You may stumble upon an art piece on almost every corner. Some of the featured art installations are paired with drum pallets. Each visitor can use the drum pallets to strike onto each art piece, creating tunes with them.
(Derech HaPark 4)
Ra’anana has become a favorite place for skateboarding and rollerblading enthusiasts. The Crazy Roller is a skating park fully equipped with paths, ramps, and slides, equipment for rent – enough to make any skater drool. Whether you’re a pro showing off your skills on the ramps or a newbie practicing a few flips, the Crazy Roller welcomes skaters of every skill level. Lessons are also offered for beginners.
(Ha-Yetsira Street 2)
If you don’t feel like skating but still crave a rush of adrenalin or want to burn calories, Sky Jump is the perfect place to do it. It’s a trampoline paradise, especially for the kids and kids-at-heart. Jump as high as you can – and the feeling is pretty exhilarating.
Sky Jump is the perfect place for families looking for an exciting way to spend time together, but it’s also open for everyone, of course.
Before you jump, make sure you wear special jumping socks. You will also have to sign a health declaration. In addition to the main jump area, there is a special kids’ area for the younger jumpers (three years old and under), accompanied by their parents or guardians. There’s also a shop for drinks and snacks.
(Ha-Yetsira Street 13)
Looking for a great escape in Ra’anana? Located not too far away from Sky Jump, Inside Out is another great place to check out. But instead of flexing your muscles (although you may do lots along the way), you will end up flexing your wits and senses while still getting a helluva fun out of it. These brain-teasing puzzles will really test your abilities. Each of Inside Out’s three escape rooms has its own unique challenge and is guaranteed to bring loads of fun and action. So, if you’re the type who thinks out of the box, you will certainly love the challenges there.
(Sderot HaNessi’im 1)
If you need a good outlet for energy after a long day of meetings or want to stay in shape while vacationing in Ra’anana, get your game on at Sportek. This vast sporting facility, located at the corner of Weizman and Sderot HaNessi’im, has almost everything you’re looking for. It has basketball courts, tennis tables, gym equipment, a football field, and even kid-friendly facilities. The shaded benches provide patrons a place to rest and relax after an intense game or workout.
HaMishkan (Music and Arts House)
(HaPalmach Street 2)
For a bit more culture to your Ra’anana holiday, HaMishkan is home to many of Israel’s incredible talents. The venue hosts an excellent selection of concerts and live musical and non-musical plays to choose from. It also hosts other concerts, cultural events, and activities for the children. In addition, some classes are being conducted in the venue, which is a great opportunity for the public to learn art, music, and culture.
(HaMelakha Street 2)
No visit to any urbanized area would be complete without going to the mall, even if you’re only there to cool yourself from the sweltering Israeli weather. Renanim Mall is a two-story shopping center, first opened in 1998. It has approximately 200 businesses in operation, including 180 stores and 20 restaurants and coffee shops. There’s also a bowling alley if you want to try to make a strike. Like most malls, Renanim Mall has a grocery store for all your necessities.
Where to eat in Ra’anana?
Fortunately, there is a slew of dining options in Ra’anana of decent variety – kosher and non-kosher, vegetarian and vegan, gluten-free, or all-meat. Most of the top restaurants in Ra’anana serve Israeli, other Mediterranean, American, and Italian cuisines. And for the coffeeholics, there are also several cafés and coffee shops dotting the city.
Jem’s Beer Factory, which has attained a cult-like status in Israel, has a pub and bar here in Ra’nanana. When in the city, you should not miss a visit to Jem’s – it will surely be a unique beer experience.
Here are some of the recommended restaurants, cafés, bars, and other food establishments in Ra’anana:
- Pastaria Pasta Bar (Ahuza Street 184) – Italian, kosher, vegetarian-friendly
- Bleecker Bakery (inside Raananim Mall, HaMelakha Street 2) – bakery, café, Israeli, kosher
- Sara’s Place (Ahuza Street 88) – Israeli, American, kosher
- Jem’s Beer Factory (Brenner Street 6) – beer, kosher
- Café Brenner, formerly Espresso Bar (Brenner Street 6) – coffee, Middle Eastern, vegetarian-friendly, vegan options, kosher
- Buckaroo (Zarhin Street 13) – American, grill, BBQ, kosher
- Hummus Tanami (Ahuza Street 133) – fast food, Israeli, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, vegetarian-friendly, vegan options, kosher
- Holy Bagel – (Ahuza Street 158) – café, fast food, American, vegetarian-friendly, kosher
- Pazzo – Pizza Party (HaYetsira Street 5) – Italian, kosher
- Brasserie Kazan (Ahuza Street 71) – meat, fish, Italian, vegan options, kosher