Walking for fitness seems to have conquered the whole country, and Israel's walking capital might very well be Ra'anana, where everyone – male and female, young and old, religious and secular – seems to be on foot. The seemingly endless Ahuza Street that crosses the city from the eastern border with Kfar Sava to the western border with Herzliya is especially popular among walkers.

Ra'anana, or the "pearl of the Sharon" as it’s sometimes called, is a strong contender for the perfect suburb. It's close to Tel Aviv (but not too close), urban but with a rural feel, full of life during the week but sleepier on weekends. There's public transportation but no major traffic routes pass through the city, which helps to maintain the sense of peace that envelops the city on weekends and national holidays.

During the 1990s there were still agricultural fields in Ra'anana. Most have been transformed into fields of houses, but to the credit of city planners and the municipality, no huge skyscrapers have been built (so far), and the level of construction in the city is relatively low, maintaining Ra'anana's rural character. The proliferation of public parks and gardens and the myriad trees and plants to be found in every communal corner of the city all contribute to the sense that this is a place where a village once stood.

Attractions and activities

Ra'anana park– Located near the western entrance of the city, this park is its main attraction and its most verdant area. But don’t let all the green grass fool you – here there's a big emphasis on saving water, with an innovative monitoring system that effectively manages irrigation. The system uses special sensors that report on factors like temperature, humidity, wind speed, soil conditions and rate of evaporation, helping to efficiently calculate the amount of water needed. The park offers a variety of activities and pleasant ways to pass the time: spacious lawns, plenty of trees and shaded areas, paths for pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers, a petting zoo, unique playground fixtures, a special area for barbecues, sports fields, an artificial lake with a solar-powered boat (romantics can also pre-order a trip on a gondola), a café and a pizza stand (also open over the weekend), and even a gallery.

Crazy roller– Ra'anana also has a center for rollerbladers and skaters with several ramps for you to choose from. Entry costs NIS 10-15 per day, and inexperienced skaters and those wishing to brush up on their style and technique can take lessons. Equipment is available for you to rent and take out for a spin around the park.  If you're lucky, you might even be able to see the professionals performing some remarkable feats on the ramps.

Ra'anana riding club– As well as taking walks in the park or a bike ride to Herzliya you can treat yourself to a romantic horse ride for two (also suitable for individuals). This riding club offers a 50-minute trip with an experienced guide through rural areas. You won't have to cross any roads, and helmets and riding boots are provided. Ra'anana riding club (052-6987779/052-5987789)

Park Haverim– the best free option for children in Ra'anana is this large, inviting playground, equipped with special facilities you don't necessarily see everywhere. Some are also accessible for visitors with special needs, such as swings you can lie on horizontally (for those who find it difficult to sit upright unaided), and a carousel and a slide that have wheelchair access. Even the colorful maze's fun pathways have been designed to allow wheelchair access.

The Sportech– Another free option is this sports facility, located at the corner of Weizman and Sderot Hanesiim. Here you'll find basketball courts, football fields, ping pong tables, shaded benches and lawns, child-friendly facilities and gym equipment.

Nightlife and eating out

The local nightlife scene is perking up and offers some alternatives to nearby Herzliya. The scene is mainly concentrated in the industrial zone near the north-eastern part of the city, past Weizman Street, and far from residential areas, making it an ideal location.

Sheinkin Bar, which can claim credit for reviving the city's nightlife, has been serving alcohol and food for over two years. They even have their own eponymous brand of beer on tap. The place is spacious but designed to provide an intimate atmosphere. Smokers have an outdoor seating area.  Sheinkin Bar, Hayetzira 5

Edison – This established restaurant is the top choice for many locals. It manages to adapt itself to families flocking in on Saturday afternoons and then elegantly and professionally accommodates the couples who arrive for romantic dinner dates later that evening. The place is well designed and inviting, with a large bar and six beers on tap. The menu has a small selection of dishes, but they are all varied and well executed. It’s no wonder that several of our friends from Ra’anana call this place their “home restaurant.” Edison, Ahoza 282

Makom Balevis another great option for foodies. This café-restaurant is reminiscent of the days gone by when the city was still a green village. It offers breakfasts, business lunch deals, romantic dinners, salads, meats, a variety of starters and the rustic atmosphere of the Galilee. You can even eat next to a trickling stream and enjoy the produce from their organic garden. Pardes Meshutaf 5, 09-7741575

Kipa Adouma & Falafel Shop – When it comes to street food, the most established Ra’anana institution is Kipa Adouma, which has been around for years. Vegetarians can head to Falafel Shop, which, in addition to the classic version, offers variations with goat cheese, a Mediterranean version with eggplant, pesto, and Bulgarian cheese, and spicy Mexican chili. Kipa Aduma, Ahuza 88 / Falafel Shop, Ahuza 81