A favourite of the Romans, whose impressive 2nd-century bath complex can still be seen, this 42°C natural hot spring 150m below sea level is great for warming the bones on a chilly winter's day. It has picnic facilities, a restaurant and snack counters. You generally need to book ahead for spa treatments. Wheelchair accessible.
The temperature of the main open-air pool is about 37°C; staying in for more than 10 minutes is inadvisable.
Kids will love the free-range peacocks, the troupe of performing parrots and the zoo, which has baboons, ibexes, ostriches, alligators (feeding is usually at 1.30pm Monday to Friday) and, in the mist-cooled petting corner, cuddly rabbits. In the warm season, kids can also frolic in the water slide–equipped splash pool (open from about May to September).
Hamat Gader, part of British-mandated Palestine, was occupied by the Syrians in 1948, thoroughly enjoyed by Syrian army officers during the 1950s and 1960s despite being in the demilitarised zone, and recaptured by Israel in 1967.
The site is 9.5km southeast of Tzemah Junction along Rte 98, which affords fine views across the Yarmuk River (a major tributary of the Jordan) into the Hashemite Kingdom.