1 HOT CHOCOLATE
At Sarina Chocolate, visitors can see cocoa trees growing, find out all about chocolate and even produce their own edible designs.
Limor Drucker, a former teacher, acquired the skills of a chocolatier during a six-year stay in Frankfurt, Germany and now runs the centre.
“I think we’re the only place in Israel to have a hothouse with cocoa trees,” says Drucker, who gives workshops in English as well as in Hebrew, to groups of anything from two to 80 people.
Sarina Chocolate is under kashrut supervision. When you taste it, you will be over the moon – which might inspire you to proceed to Planetanya.
2 SPACE PLACE
At this planetarium, projected graphics and special films (available in English as well as Hebrew) give visitors a sense of looking out into space. There are also lectures, again in both languages, as are the guided tours of the science garden and the Japanese garden here.
The science garden has five themed areas, where the young and young-at-heart can test the laws of physics via interactive exhibits. The Japanese Zen garden displays the country’s gardening methods, its pools, bonsai trees and rocks. Guides talk about the garden, Japanese culture and the history of the planetarium.
Planetanya hosts lectures and joint activities with the Israel Astronomy Association and includes a games corner, with mind-sport games and nostalgic brain teasers.
3 TECHNO LOGICAL
The family-friendly science exploration can continue, slightly north of Netanya, at Givat Olga. At the Technoda Science and Technology Education Centre here, attractions include a large outdoor science park with user-friendly displays. Solar energy enables boats to cruise on a lake and activates water fountains; heat energy lights a fire and wind energy operates a weather vane. There are gigantic musical instruments to help you learn about sound — and a whole section on aviation.
Other highlights of Technoda include an interactive indoor science museum and an observatory with an enormous telescope. If you are planning to visit the institution, get in touch in advance, to find out the schedule.
The centre runs many special events and, during my most recent visit, had a Masterchef activity, where families went around stations wearing lab-coats and found out about the scientific processes in food preparation, such as fermentation. Along with the interactive science quiz held in the auditorium, it made for an entertaining and interesting day.
4 PARROT FASHION
Havant Hatukim (Parrot Farm) is just outside the city. This is the place to see and hold parrots and get an insight into the lives of these colourful birds, from eggs onwards. The parrots in the farm are used to visitors, so they are very friendly. There are also plenty of other creatures to admire, including sheep, goats and peacocks.
As well as showing off the animals, on some days Havant Hatukim runs special family activities.
5 FOREST ADVENTURE
You would not guess it when you stand in Netanya city centre, but you are actually only 20 minutes from a rainforest. At the 10-acre Utopia Orchid Park on Kibbutz Bahan, there is an indoor tropical rainforest and large outdoor gardens.
There are approximately 20,000 orchids in the park, including tens of different species, some of them very rare. You can wander past waterfalls and pools, spotting fish, birds — including parrots — and tens of thousands of tropical plants, some of which are carnivorous. There is also a butterfly garden, for insights into the life cycle of these colourful creatures, and an animal park with goats, deer and other species.
6 ADD WATER
In hot weather, make the most of Shefayim Water Park, with pools and slides to suit an array of ages and swimming abilities.
They include the Caribbean Beach area, for ages two and up, where fountains play in time with music and lighting and a pool is decorated with cute fish and much more. At the other end of the daredevil spectrum are the Kamikaze Slides, designed for those who love extreme challenges.
7 FLIGHT FANTASTIC
For a really memorable activity near Netanya — if you are brave enough — you can get a bird’s-eye view of the city, by paragliding — a Netanya craze.
Dvir Paragliding offers the experience in the summer — but you can enjoy the same perspective all year round on a 20-minute flight with an instructor in a Flying ATV. This two-seater aircraft is powered by an engine with a parachute used as a wing.
The ATV may be a more achievable family option. While small children may not paraglide, they can take a flight in the ATV from age five.