At Ganei Yehoshua (Yarkon Park) you’ll discover that the great outdoors is only a few minutes’ drive from downtown Tel Aviv. Stretching for hundreds of acres along the tranquil Yarkon River, the park has hidden beauty spots where you’d never believe the busy city is so close.
This is especially true in the eastern part of the park where you’ll find some very special gardens: the Rock Garden and the Tropical Garden.
Israel is well known for its amazing variety of, well, everything, and the Rock Garden, one of the largest of its kind in the world, gives ample expression to Israel’s geological diversity A poet has certainly been at work on the sign-posted explanations for the various kinds of rock. In this beautifully designed setting, lowly limestone, for example, becomes “a gift from the sea” and granite “a message from the depths,” to name only a few of the treasures on display from nature’s sculpture studio. Wandering the trails in the 10-acre enclosure you’ll find the rocks interspersed with some 3,500 species of plants, including over six acres of cacti, many of them beautifully flowering. One trail leads to a scenic view of the Yarkon Park’s lake.
Across from the Rock Garden, is the five-acre Tropical Garden where a wooden walkway shaded by towering palm trees takes you its own tiny lake where swans glide and fish frolic. The rainforest-like micro-climate is the perfect home for the huge variety of orchids and vines you’ll see along the way.
Around the corner from the Tropical Garden is a bike-rental center. Regular two-wheelers are available, along with tandem bikes as well as “family bikes”– high, four-wheeled contraptions where two peddlers take the front with one or two seats behind them. Helmets are also available.
With the breeze in your hair, ride your bike over to another of the park’s attractions, Seven Mills, a heritage site that straddles a narrow point of the Yarkon, where historic flour mills that ran on the stream’s power have been restored, and ducks and other water-loving birds abound. On the way, you’ll pass the lakeside paddle-boat rental station.
Ganei Yehoshua is also home to one of Israel’s largest water parks (complete with water slides, a wave pool and a toddlers’ pool), and a bird sanctuary and petting zoo.
If you’re ready to for an active break from the city’s famous galleries and museums and to work off a few calories after eating and drinking well at Tel Aviv’s famous restaurants (and if there are youngsters who have been promised a chance to let off steam), start your Yarkon Park experience at the western part of the park at Sportec, an outdoor center with a 45-foot high climbing wall, whimsically known as “Olympus,” basketball and rollerblading courts (rollerblades and balls are for rent) and trampolines.
Hours of some attractions vary.
For more information call the park at 03-6422828 or 03-6990307 or visit www.park.co.il.