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Park Hayarkon – the central park of Tel Aviv

By: Amir Yarkoni

Park Hayarkon is kind of the "central park" of Tel Aviv. It is, along with the beach, the major urban retreat inside the Tel Aviv metropolitan, and a great place to hang out for the day. If you are a NY resident, you will surely be familiar with the sights of people doing Yoga in the morning, jogging, cycling, and having a good time in general in this "mini-nature" retreat. If you are coming with kids, there's plenty to see and do. If you are into kayaks or a relaxing motorboat cruise, there are some rental points in the park, along the Yarkon River. Just don't jump in the water!
The place gets packed on weekends. Beware! If you are a crowd-lover, you will enjoy the Sabbath (Saturday) at the park. I always like going to the park on a weekday, time-permitting when it is relatively empty, and lay down on the grass by the river bank, watching the water birds and the small parrots on the tree tops. Most these parrots used to be pets but fled and now have acclimatized to living in the "wild"….
Learn more on some of Israel's Best Parks

Geography

The Park is a wide-handed area that stretches from the neighboring Ramat Gan through North Tel Aviv all the way to the sea, in the Reading estuary. The eastern part of the park is much wider and has many open corners and all-family activity centers like picnic areas, pony riding, zafari (Bird Park – entrance fee of 47NIS), tropical garden and paddle boat rental for boating in the artificial lake. Also you can rent a bicycle and a few strange forms of carts.The western part is narrower and spans the river. It is less packed and maybe less family-oriented (except on weekends when the whole park is a one big family so to say…). In the north bank of this part there is a large sports center called the sportec, with many basketball, rollerblades courts, and soccer fields. On weekends the place is cramped with players, most of which are "regulars".

Bicycling

The park is a great place for cycling. With a network of many small trails, some paved and some aren't, this is probably the best way to explore the park. Start from the western part, near the beach and paddle eastward with the river. Go beneath a few bridges until you come across the "zafari" – a bird park. Then the river breaks right and you can turn with it and reach the area of "the seven gristmills", an ancient place for that used to be gristmill for hundreds of years. You can continue with the river eastward, bypassing the artificial lake on the left all the way to the end of the park in Ramat Gan.
Bycylers in Park hayarkon
You can come back, and then paddle to the northern part; stop and tour the large and beautiful tropical garden with high and shady canopies, genuine jungle dense vegetation, small wooden bridges and lovely ponds inhabited by geese, ducks and fish.In the area there is also a "rock garden" with a nice collection of giant rocks and cactus gardens which, you guessed right, displays cactuses.The Yarkon Park is flat in most parts, easy to paddle even with kids, with many pleasant green corners where you can stop and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

Sailing and Kayaking

Kayaks in the Yarkon - Tel Aviv
There are few rental places in the Yarkon that offer paddle boats, kayaks, and small motor boats, both in the river and the artificial lake in the north-eastern part of the park. Sailing can be a nice way to explore the river and the park. There is also a marine center in the south river bank, close to the estuary, see more in sports section

Others activities

Miniature golf

The park has a miniature golf field at the north bank of the river, near the Ibn Gvirol bridge crossing. You won't find Tiger Woods practicing there but a nice, All-family activity.

Wall climbing

Test your perseverance with a vertical wall climbing… in the sportec center there is a wall climbing facility with all the necessary gear, guidance and security measures. Cost: 50NIS per climb.

Ball games

The park offers numerous options for ball games of any kind…just bring your ball of choice and get in the action….weekends can get rough with "regulars" who tend to get territorial about "their" court… maybe best on a weekday.

Flora and Fauna

The Yarkon river, though very polluted, attracts a variety of water birds, some quite large, which seem to survive the toxic fish they are pulling out….. Israel is on the crossroads of three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe and a very important migratory station for birds that spend the winter in Africa and migrate to Europe during the spring. Among the large migratory birds you can find in the Yarkon are storks, herons as well as other smaller ones. An interesting rodent who also managed to adjust to the Yarkon eco-environment is a kind of an otter called "nutria". Originally imported to Israel for farming, which didn't work out, they found refuge in the Yarkon and are there ever since. They are usually hidden and keeping to themselves. The Yarkon is dominated by Eucalyptus trees, originally brought to Israel to help drying the swamps.

Across the road – "luna park"

Across the rokah road that bounds the park on the north, there is a recreation area called "luna park" with rollercoaster, sliders and jumpers, pirate ships, the works….

Jacky Says...

  1. Weekdays are relaxed, and you can enjoy the quietness of the open. I get bored from over-pondering though, I prefer the hustle and bustle of the weekend….
  2. The fish I picked up in the Yarkon had a funny flavor….better to give up fishing in the Yarkon!

Jacki, the Tel Aviv jack ass


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