Tourist Tip #293 / Kiryat Sefer Park, a Peaceful Green Patch in the Heart of Tel Aviv

After several years of stormy social protest, this oasis finally opened, offering visitors a quite place to congregate and contemplate.

On the TV show "Parks and Recreation," comedian Amy Poehler plays Leslie Knope, an optimistic over-achiever and deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department in Pawnee, a fictional town in Indiana. Knope would no doubt be delighted to learn that, like Pawnee, Tel Aviv residents have a special place in their hearts for the city's public parks, which usually get far less attention than its sizzling beaches.

For those who aren't interested in sun and sand, try taking a bottle of wine, a blanket and a book, and stretch out on the grass of one of Tel Aviv’s delightful public parks. One pleasant option is Kiryat Sefer Park, which opened just recently in the heart of Tel Aviv, following several years of stormy social protest. Veteran residents, backed by a number of environmental organizations, went to war against the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality’s plans to construct high-rise apartment towers on an empty 3.25-acre area bounded by three streets: Saadia Gaon, Amram Gaon and Yehuda Halevi. Not only did the local residents win their fight for a park to be built on the site, they took an active part in its planning, design and construction.

Like other public parks in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, at Kiryat Sefer Park you can find free outdoor gym equipment and a dog run, where man's best friends roam free. But there is also an ecological pool for wildlife, a stream that gently bubbles over concrete steps, tables for communal get-togethers, exquisite creeping vines and fountains. Kiryat Sefer Park provides a peaceful respite for adults, children and nature lovers looking for a beautiful green patch among Tel Aviv's urban pollution.

The park’s central location also makes it easy to bring over coffee and sandwiches any time day or night from any number of nearby cafes and 24/7 grocery stores. And if the greenery, the quiet and maybe even the wine put you in the right mood, you might want to pay a visit to the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, which is located only a few steps away and offers a daily selection of top-notch films in its five auditoriums (Tel Aviv Cinematheque, 2 Sprinzak St.; Tel. 03-606-0800).

David Bachar