Tourist Tip #112 / Ein Hemed National Park

Right off the highway, Ein Hemed national park is an idyllic glimpse of the past and a perfect pit stop for restless kids.

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Bringing your children to Israel may be a dream come true, but taking them on long road trips is still, well, what it is. A place to stop and let off steam can save the day, literally.

When things are about to boil over, the Ein Hemed national park, right off Highway 1, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is a great option. While the kids romp around on the grass, you can get a little historical tourism in.

Ein Hemed is the Hebrew version of the Latin name Aqua Bella (“Beautiful Water”), which may have been given to the area by medieval famers because of the nearby springs that watered their orchards.

The remains of a farmhouse from the time are nestled in the small wooded valley that is the park’s centerpiece. The people who built the farmhouse were among the same folks who brought us the Crusades, and they fortified it with tall, thick walls to keep their enemies out. One of those walls still stands over 30 feet high. You can have fun exploring what is basically a small castle. In one of its two arched halls, you will see a huge ancient olive press.

The walk to the farmhouse is just 500 yards through the valley. With or without kids, Ein Hemed is a worthy destination on its own, or as part of a day trip including the nearby Castel National Park and town of Abu Ghosh, with its churches and Middle Eastern restaurants. If you’ve had your fill of Middle Eastern food, you can put together a picnic lunch at markets in Abu Ghosh or, a few kilometers in the other direction, the community of Mevasseret Zion.

The remains of an ancient farmhouse are a highlight of the park.Credit: Moshe Gilad

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