Who Knew that Ashdod was a City of Parks?
I have managed to surprise myself. I always knew that Ashdod was a city with a beautiful beach and boardwalk. I always knew that Ashdod had a museum about the Phillistines, which had been on my to-do list for a very long time (check √ 😊), but I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I would regret not visiting sooner because of its parks. I visited four parks in addition to the museum and am happy to present all of them to you.
The whole trip takes place within the 9 km strip of beaches and parks running from the Port of Ashdod in the North to the Marina of Ashdod in the South so everything is nearby.
Trip Agenda Options:
Lachish River Park
Etgarim (Lachish) Park
Ashdod Yam Park
Giv’at Yonah Park
The Corinne Mamane Museum of Phillistine Culture
Lachish River Park
No matter which additional places you visit, the public park ‘Lachish River Park’ is a must because it is a beautiful nature reserve and offers several simplistic joys. The park is built along the bank of the Lachish river that flows into the sea. You walk/bike/bimba the 2-3 km strip that is the length of the park, along the riverside and can stop to feed the fish, turtles and otters if you’re lucky enough to see them (I wasn’t) and you can actually reach the mouth of the river and continue to the beach with all of its fun activities. During your walk, on the other side of the river, you can see some of Ashdod port’s activities and from time to time catch sight of a freight trains moving things around. In addition, Ashdod’s municipality has placed some wildlife animals in big cages along the way so you even get a free mini-Safari tour as a bonus. Three are benches and a few statuesque benches along the way, great for resting and memorable photos so don’t miss them.
If you park in the Wazed parking lot of ‘Lachish River Park’ (free dirt parking), you actually enter into the middle of the walking strip. A turn to the right (North), takes you to where the animal cages are located. If you walk all the way up to the end, you reach the parking lot of ‘Etgarim Park’, which is one of the additional options below. If you turn left (South), the walk leads you to the mouth of the river.
Additional Options - Part 2
There are a number of combinations that you can do. I’ll discuss them as I present each park.
This is the only park with a paid entrance fee, since it is a mini-adventure park. It borders with the Lachish River Park and even has a door leading out to the Lachish walkway, although it’s kept locked. I call it a mini-adventure park because it doesn’t have train rides or a ferris wheel. What it does have is a lot of sports activities and games such as: wall climbing, rappeling, omega rides, car racing, a shooting gallery, a pool with games and fountains, a small animal pen, a pita baking tent, a game tent for small children, a midday show and more. Although there are levels of wall climbing, rappelling and omega rides for older children, you should call in advance to make sure they are open and available because most of the activities are for younger children, preferably up to 10. If you want to include this park in your visit (easily spend half a day), I would start with it and then go to the Lachish River Park.
Although this park does not border with Lachish River Park, it is a terrific park and worth driving to because it is a playground paradise. The park has a regular playground, a large basketball court with several baskets placed around the periphery, a skateboarding court, a man-made lake with rowboats and pedal boats, a street workout section, large musical instruments for small children, picnic tables and more. This park is also a great place to end the day because on one side of the man-made lake there is a fountain with an audio-visual display that starts after dark. There is a sign nearby with the hours so check it without telling the children.
If you have younger children and you’re not interested in the Etgarim Park, my suggestion is to start the day at Lachish River Park and if possible, have an educational break at the Phillistine museum followed by the Ashdod Yam park.
The only reason to visit this park is if you wish to see a spectacular view of the coastline from the port to the direction of the Marina. It’s a nice spot for a romantic walk, not a must-see for kids even though it is a small grassy oasis in the city and has a cute statue of the prophet Yonah/Jonah and the Whale (I can’t believe I’m mentioning him twice in two weeks). Tradition has it that Yonah was buried under this hill (in Hebrew, ‘Giva’ means hill). There is also a lighthouse on top of the hill and during the British Mandate, it was used as a lookout post to prevent illegal Jewish immigrants from entering the country. Giv’at Yonah is located within a two minute drive from Etgarim and Lachish River Parks so all three are close by and on the North part of the coastline strip near the port. The relative proximity, can enable a quick photoshoot against the view before heading back. The Ashdod Yam park is on the South side of the strip near the Marina.
The museum is small, compact and beautiful. You can cover the majority within an hour and learn all about the Phillistines who emerged from the ancient greeks. The Bible mentions them as coming from “Caphtor” (i.e. Crete) in Amos 9:7. By the 13th century BCE, many of the Aegean cities had been destroyed (there are a few theories as to why) and some of the refugees landed on the shores of Canaan. The Bible mentions five Phillistine cities Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gat, Ekron and Gaza. The museum presents archeological findings from the whole coastline and provides a full narrative of the Phillistine people, their history, how they made a livelihood, their gods of worship etc. The tour itself is self-guided with a headset and includes several interactive features. Don’t miss the ‘Samson’ feature. The kids will love it!
There are different options depending on who you’re with. If it’s a trip with small children, both the Etgarim Park and the Ashdod Yam park have stalls that sell a Shnitzel&Chips (French Fries) for about 30 NIS so that can take care of lunch.
If you’re doing a more grown up tour, you can enjoy finer dining. Starting from the Marina in the South, there is ‘Corsar’, which has a Mediterranean menu. Nearby are additional Mediterranean type places called ‘Vox Restobar’, ‘Café Puzzle’ and a Georgian restaurant called ‘Petra’. All have views of the sea. Near the Northern part of the strip, but not as close to the sea are some very good seafood restaurants: ‘Idi’, ‘Espania’ and ‘Pescado’. For my Indian readers on the Northern side there is also ‘Namaste’.
Two hotels are located relatively near Lachish River Park are ‘Sur la Mer Boutique Hotel’ and ‘West Boutique Hotel’. Another option also on the coastline, but half an hour South of Ashdod Yam Park is ‘Leonardo Plaza Hotel’.
The options above can either fill up one active day from morning to night or can fill up four days (visit one park in the morning and go to the beach in the afternoon).
This is what it looks like on the map:
Now, all that is left, is for you to come and enjoy the beautiful parks in Ashdod. If you do, let me know which you liked best.
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