Spread out your red checkered blanket and relax
The beautiful, sunny weather in Israel can be enjoyed throughout the year and nature reserves populate the country (about 300 of them!). If you are staying close to Tel Aviv, Hayarkon Park is the perfect outdoor space to explore and enjoy your picnic, at any time of the day. The park is 1,160 square miles and the Yarkon River runs through the area for 11 miles. Each year, Hayarkon Park welcomes sixteen million visits. Hayarkon Park is located between Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, closer to the North of Tel Aviv. It is easily accessible by bus and car, parking can be found along the side streets leading up to the park.
To work up an appetite, small motor boats, pedal boats, and row boats dot the water and are available for rent. If water sports are not your calling, there is a bird safari called “Tsipari” located on the east side of Hayarkon. Ducks and swans swim in the water and this is considered the largest bird park in the Middle East. There is also a small petting zoo with different types of animals ranging from reptiles to deer to even wild turkeys. If you are visiting with children, you can find playgrounds throughout the area and six gardens in the park. Most notably, the Rock Garden is one of the largest in the world, covering over ten acres. On the northern bank of the river, near the Ibn Gvirol Bridge on Rokach Boulevard, there is a mini golf course.
For the more adventurous, bike and running trails circle the water and lead into shaded areas with manicured lawns and tropical plants. You can rent a bike or golf cart (for a more leisurely experience) or bring your own. Dogs are welcome throughout the park and there are specific closed areas for dogs to run free and play. Within the park, there is a “Sportek” consisting of a climbing wall (standing over 45 feet tall), trampolines, bungee jumping, basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields, and skateboarding ramps. There is also a music stadium which houses top artists, including performances by Elton John and Queen this past year. If the weather is unbearably hot during your visit to Hayarkon, not to worry! Cool off at the Meymadion Water Park, one of Israel’s largest water parks. Meymadion contains green spaces, water slides, beach chairs, a lazy river, a large wave pool, and regular swimming pools. Please keep in mind that the water park is only open for Israel’s hotter months – April through October.
Now, let’s talk the most important aspect – food! Throughout the park, lawns are available to sit and arrange your picnic. There are also benches and tables around the area and grills for cooking up some delicious meals. To prepare for the picnic, you could head over to the local grocery store or for a more authentic experience, visit the “shuk” or marketplace in Tel Aviv. There are two main shuks near Hayarkon Park: Shuk Hanamal and Shuk Hacarmel. Shuk Hanamal is found nearby at the Tel Aviv Port boardwalk and was created in 2010. This shuk was inspired by food markets in Europe (such as La Boqueria in Barcelona) and follows the slow food model, selling local produce and products. These fresh items range from jams to coffee to meat or seafood. The shuk is open Monday through Saturday and on Fridays, a farmers market operates in the parking lot next door. The Carmel Market is the older shuk, established in the 1920’s while Tel Aviv was becoming an urban center. A little more rustic and loud, Shuk Hacarmel is exactly the image of a marketplace: vendors yelling prices, tourists haggling, and colorful fruit, candy, and vegetables lining tables. This shuk also offers jewelry, home goods and accessories for your perfect picnic. No matter the ingredients, eating in Hayarkon Park is bound to make for a great meal with the scenic views and surrounding nature.
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