The Gush Etzion area is located 15 minutes south of Jerusalem and is rich with history, adventure, and fun. The area has played an important role in Israel’s history and today is filled with thriving communities with many English speaking families.
The reason I like to recommend spending a “day (or two) in the Gush” is because of the variety of activities that adults & kids of all ages can enjoy; adventure, history, technology, food and art activities. I can’t list them all but here is a sample itinerary for my favorite day in the Gush.
Start your day off with some background about the importance of the Gush Etzion area in the founding of Israel, Yishuvim and kibbutzim in the area. The best place to learn about this is at the recently renovated Gush Etzion Heritage Center which uses video, 3D models, and archaeological remains to tell the story.
Once you’ve learned the history, its time to step out into the “shetach” (field) and enjoy an ATV or Jeeping adventure. Regush ATV and Jeeping can take you on an exhilarating field trip in the region of Gush Etzion and the Judean Desert. Adventures combine an off road experience led by a fascinating guide taking you to the sites where history and heritage connect. Choose between the “Path of Our Fathers Trail” and the “Natural Spring Trail”.
By now you will have started to build your thirst & appetite. The Gush Etzion Winery “BaYekev” is the place to stop. For families who want to learn about wine making, visit the vineyards and enjoy a delicious gourmet dairy meal with local wine in the heart of Gush Etzion. Their elegant dairy and fish restaurant in the heart of the winery.
Indoor and outdoor seating is available throughout most of the year. Indoor seating features a view into the winery whereas the outdoor seating has spectacular views of the vineyards. Their extensive menu offers Israeli breakfast options, cheese & wine pairings, numerous in-house baked breads, salads, fish entrees, pizzas, foccacias, and pastas.
The restaurant is kosher Mehadrin.
In the afternoon you can choose from a variety of activities that families love! Kids adults love the Biblical Bread Workshops at Pat Ba’Melach, the artisan bread bakery in Rosh Tzurim. Make pretzels, sourdough bread and more while learning about the role of bread in Biblical scripture and in Israel.
Pat Ba’Melach just opened a second branch in Efrat which is a delicious dairy Café.
Both Pat Ba’Melach locations are kosher Mehadrin.
If you prefer to learn about technology and how it relates to religious practice then don’t miss the The Tzomet Experience. Learn about the process of creating technology that can be used on Shabbat. Have you ever wondered how a Shabbat elevator works? Or a Shabbat Wheelchair? Tzomet finds the solutions.
Everyone in your group can feel like an artist at The Workshop Gush Etzion – using local wood inspired by the Lone Tree in Gush Etzion, you will learn how to use professional wood working machines to create your own unique piece of Judaica under the guidance of husband and wife team, Mandy and Jeremy Broder.
After enjoying these great activities you will be ready for dinner. The Gush offers many different restaurant options but we love to recommend the new Pat BaMelach Café in Efrat or the Hamama in Kfar Etzion.
Ready to spend another day in the Gush? Here are some more activities you will enjoy:
Deerland Attraction Park (Eretz Ayalim)
Jeeping Scavenger Hunt in Gush Etzion
Havayot Horse Back Riding Center
Caliber 3 Shooting Range
Herodian National Park
The Biyar Aqueduct Water “Mud” Hike
If you are still looking for more information or for a guide to plan your itinerary contact the Gush Etzion Tourism Board which is a great resource.
Enjoy the Gush!
Joanna Shebson is the Founder of Fun In Jerusalem.
See her bio below for more info.