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9 Bucket List Musts for Jordan

What to do in Jordan with kids.
Petra offers a bucket list must do for your trip. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Jordan’s adventure makes it a destination kids will remember for a lifetime. Best suited for well-traveled tweens and teens, Jordan offers families camel rides, movie sets to explore and Arabian glamping with amazing views of the Milky Way. Read on for what to do in Jordan with kids.

What to do in Jordan with Kids

Ride a Donkey in Petra
Ride a Camel across the Desert
Go Bedouin Glamping
Float in the Dead Sea
Take a Scenic Cruise on the Red Sea
Stand in the River Jordan
Enjoy a Middle Eastern Mezze Feast
Barter with a Merchant in the Souq
Take a Turkish Bath

Ride a Donkey in Petra

Ride a donkey. What to do in Jordan with kids.
Take a unforgettable journey up 1,000 steps on the back of a donkey. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Petra is more than the Treasury, the rock-carved façade that Indiana Jones stumbled upon in the The Last Crusade. It’s a whole city carved out of rock.

Conserve your energy and take a donkey up the nearly 1,000 steps to visit the magnificent Monastery as it glows in the afternoon sun. With an experienced guide leading the way, the donkeys climb the steps with a sure-footed hoof. Give Petra at least a day to explore and best in two days.

Ride a Camel across the Desert

Take a camel. What to do in Jordan with kids.
Take a camel to see the sun rise over the Wadi Rum desert. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After Arabian glamping, wake before dawn for a camel caravan. Travel like the Bedouins have for over 10,000 years. After climbing into a traditional saddle, camels stand up and glide across the desert sand that swallows everything.

After riding though the soundless desert, reach the point where the sun peeks above the horizon. The desert sunrise rivals a beach sunset.

Go Bedouin Glamping

Take a 4×4 across the Wadi Rum desert, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Pass camel caravans while exploring the epic landscape featured in the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

After watching the sun set over the desert, head to a Bedouin desert camp for a traditional Zarb, an underground BBQ with lamb,chicken and vegetables. While savoring your feastgaze at the Milky Way overhead. Retreat to a goat hair tent, outfitted with beds and showers.

Float in the Dead Sea

What to do in Jordan with kids.
A float in the Dead Sea offers a unique experience as you float high in the water. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

A trip to Jordan isn’t complete without a float in the Dead Sea. With its salinity more than ocean water, my body floated high. No swimming required though paddling helps to navigate.

I recommend reserving a room at one of the luxury resorts that ring the Dead Sea’s shore. Spend a few days enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the Dead Sea along with Jordan’s amber sunshine.

Take a Scenic Cruise on the Red Sea

Red Sea. Where to go in Jordan with kids.
Sail the Red Sea to snorkel with some of the best diving in the world. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Red Sea boasts one of the top spots in the world to snorkel. So take a scenic cruise to get to the coral reefs in the Aqaba Marine Park.

The Gulf of Aqaba boasts 1,000 different species of fish and 200 different types of coral. Snorkelers can see Red Sea Clownfish, Common lionfish along with several varieties of sea urchins.

Stand in the River Jordan

River Jordan. What to do in Jordan with Kids.
Stand in the River Jordan as the faithful have before you. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Make a Christian pilgrimage to the spot where John the Baptist baptized Jesus of Nazareth. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this area remains holy for Christians world-wide.

Jordan is a Muslim country though a percentage of its population is Christian. During my visit, pilgrims performed baptisms in the River Jordan. Walk through the Saint John the Baptist churches located next the river.

Enjoy a Middle Eastern Mezze Feast

Eat at Mezze. What to do in Jordan with kids.
Enjoy the foods of Jordan, like hummus and flat bread. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Jordan food is similar to the Greek cuisine available throughout North America. During my visit, I sampled a variety of dishes and Greek food is one of my favorites. Restaurants serve communal dishes so diners can serve themselves.

Flatbread is served at every meal. And vegetarian options are available with ease.

Traditional Dishes of a Middle Eastern Mezze
  • Hummus
  • Falafel
  • Tabbouleh
  • Shawarma
  • Shish Kebabs, chicken or lamb
  • Moutabel, similar to Baba Ghanoush
  • Manakish, or Arabic pizza
  • Zarb
  • Baklava made with pistachios
What to do in Jordan with kids.
Sip coffee with a Bedouin and learn about the importance to Middle Eastern culture. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Grab a cup of coffee where coffee originated. Then learn the importance of sharing a cup of coffee in the Middle Eastern culture. People discuss major life decisions over coffee. And guests are welcomed with coffee.

Visit a traditional Bedouin tent to learn how the beans are roasted, ground and brewed into coffee over a small fire. Sometimes brewed with cardamom, coffee is served in small cups and guests can ask for another cup.

Alcohol is rare except at hotels catering to Westerners though try a non-alcoholic cooler. I love the lemon-mint cooler that reminded me of a mojito.

Jordan, a peaceful kingdom in the Middle East, packs in the adventure for families with bucket list experiences like 4x4 desert tours, camel treks and climbing 1,000 stairs on the back of a donkey. Read on for all the best for your trip to Jordan.

Barter with a Merchant in the Souq

Shop keepers eye their visitors with sideways glances waiting for buyers to find a souvenir. After finding the perfect scarf, ask for the price.

In an age-old art merchants barter with buyers in amazing English. I winced at the first offer and immediately got another. Still persistent, I put down my item and walked away. Success. I got my desired price.

Take a Turkish Bath

Find a Hamman, or Turkish Bath, for a ritual brought to the Middle East by the Romans. After disrobing, I relaxed in a series of hot steam rooms, each hotter than the previous one.

Then my masseuse guided me to a bathing room where I climbed onto a stone-topped table. She poured soapy water infused with moisturizers then took a loofa to my skin. After scrubbing my skin vigorously, she revealed a newer, softer me.

After rinsing I enjoyed a massage before returning to the steam room. I recommend this after a long day of hiking and best enjoyed with a group of friends.

How to Prepare for Jordan

If it’s your first trip to the Middle East do your research. I’ve pulled together a list of resources and a packing list that worked for my trip.

Know Before You Go

  • Riding donkeys and camels is for experienced riders,not advised for small children or nervous riders.
  • Most Dead Sea floaters slather themselves with mud and enjoy a full-body mud mask. Pack some water shoes that won’t slip off and an old swimsuit since the mud can stain.
  • Bring an empty bottle and grab some River Jordan water from the font to take home as a souvenir. I recommend attaching a water label.
  • Turkish baths are for adults only.To enjoy it, bathers need to be comfortable with nudity. Some baths cater to women during the day only and request a female masseuse.
  • Make the best bargains at the end of the day. Have a price in mind and offer the correct amount in local currency.

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