State of Israel – the country of juxtapositions. It’s overflowing with historical sites of important religious significance, yet it plays host to one of the most well-known gay pride celebrations in the world. The Red Sea, the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea all touch its land, but deserts blanket well over half its surface. It’s home to the lowest point on Earth, The Dead Sea, that can be viewed from atop a mountainside fortress. Contemporary and ancient exist cohesively, each respecting the other. It’s small, roughly the size of the United States’ 5th smallest state, New Jersey, but within its borders, you can sunbathe, take a salty float, ski, hike, immerse yourself in history and well, just read on for more. We’ll tell you why this destination that may never have been on your family travel radar should actually top the list.

For a bit of adventure: Ramon Crater

Negev Desert holds the record as home to the world's largest erosion crater, Ramon Crater, created 200 million years ago when oceans dominated the area. The heart-shaped crater forms Israel's largest national Park, Ramon Nature Reserve. For those that can stomach heights, a guided 90-minute rappelling adventure down the cliffs of the crater is available for all ages. For those that prefer to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground, Jeep tours of Negev Desert departing from Ramon Crater are also available.

Should you decide to stick around in this area for a day or two, the Beresheet Hotel is a stones-throw away from the crater. Literally. The hotel's outdoor infinity pool, that overlooks the crater and the ancient spice route, appears to drain over the edge of a cliff. If you want your kids to think you're beyond cool, you can even schedule a one-hour helicopter ride from the Tel Aviv airport. For the mini travelers, they offer free baby food (when arranged in advance) and a fully equipped, interactive room with computer games, video games, a tv and non-electronic games.

Ramon Crater
Ma'ale Ben Tur St.
Mitzpe Ramon

photo: view of Ramon Crater via Maria Chambers

Have you had the opportunity to visit Israel? We’d love to hear about your experience in the Comments below.

— Maria Chambers

This trip, including hotel stays, food and activities, was paid for by Israel’s Ministry of Travel.