Great cities are often defined in part by their public spaces: New York’s Central Park; London’s Hyde Park, Paris’s Luxembourg Gardens. And if you’re not familiar with it, add to the list Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park (also known as Park HaYarkon), an almost 1000-acre expanse of lawns, gardens, sports facilities, concert venues and lakes.
Oh and did we mention the aviary, water park, miniature golf, puppet theater, historic flour mills, and fortress?
Where to begin? Well, you might start in the eastern part of the park, which features the rock garden, one of the largest of its kind in the world. Wander (if you’re so inclined) the trails in the 10 acres, where rocks mingle with more than 3500 species of plants.
Palm trees more your style? Check out the tropical garden with its rainforest climate and exotic orchids.
For the sports enthusiasts in your group, bike on over to the Sportec, a sports center that features a climbing wall, soccer fields, basketball and rollerblade courts, and more. You can also just stay on your bike (rentals are available)—it’s a great way to explore.
For the history buffs, lead the way to Binary Bashi; no, not a complex mathematical equation, but an Ottoman-period fortress, built in the 16th century on top of the ancient mound of Tel Afek. You can see Yarkon springs as well as the British Mandate Pumping Station—water was once channeled to Jerusalem from there.
Of course, you don’t have to bike, climb, or gaze at a pumping station to have a good time (although do feel free to indulge). With endless green lawns, the Yarkon River flowing by, and the occasional waterfowl sighting, plopping yourself down with a blanket and a picnic basket may be all the entertainment you need. You can always come back another day.