Park Gilo Heaven For Kids

In Park Gilo, a shady forest alongside the residential neighborhood of the same name in southern Jerusalem, Jerusalemites nearly yearround will pack up the kids, break out the portable barbecue grills and take the opportunity to spend the day outdoors.

The smells of grilling chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and the sounds of conversations and children shouting in Hebrew, English, Yiddish, Arabic and French indicate just how widely used the park is by Jerusalemites of all types.

Shady wonderland

Park Gilo is one of Jerusalem`s lesser known attractions, mostly due to it`s location off the beaten track, away from the city center. There are separate playgrounds for babies/toddlers and older kids, a smooth rollerblade track and a wire climbing structure unlike anything I`ve seen anyplace else.

There`s also a tennis and basketball court, and a stunning walking track overlooking the Malcha neighborhood and the Gilo forest. To the west, the panoramic view of the Jerusalem hills overlooks the Refaim Valley and the Jerusalem-Bet Shemesh train line.

“I can`t say we come here all the time,” said Malkiel, a transplanted New Yorker who has lived in the German Colony neighborhood for nearly a decade, “but we come a lot. Especially in summer, it`s one of the shadiest spots around, and my three kids spend hours climbing, jumping, swinging and just having a good time.

Speaking during an easy game of catch with nine-year-old son Aviad, Malkiel said the park is often a destination for family cookouts, picnics or hikes, and said the extended family was only too happy to set out for the park when the early morning fog burned off Wednesday morning. Aviad was too busy playing football to speak to Go Jerusalem.

My five-year-old son, Idan, a native of Jerusalem, gave a slightly more energetic description of the afternoon`s activities: “I went on the big slide and climbed up again and saw you standing down there kicking the football with Gilad (his older brother). Then I ran around and around and around and wanted to play with the other kids. Can I have a drink, please?”

That about sums it up.

– Andrew Friedman

Directions to Park Gilo: From Pat Junction, travel south on Ya`akov Pat St., name will change to Dov Yosef St. after the first traffic light). Continue up hill towards Gilo neighborhood, then right at top of hill onto Haganenet St. Haganenet runs straight into the park.

From Hebron Rd.: South towards Bethlehem, then right on Rosemarin St. (last turn before Bethlehem, follow signs to Gush Etzion). Straight on Rosemarin, will turn into Haganenet St., and leads straight into Park Gilo.

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