Off the Typical Trail of Tel Aviv Travel: 5 “Hidden Gems”

Food, Hotels, off the beaten path, Things to Do, What's New — By susannaleonard on August 4, 2010 at 7:22 am

In a land with Israel’s history, one doesn’t need to travel far to find hidden gems. Tel Aviv, however, is relatively new, being formed only 101 years ago when the historic city of Jaffa got too big. Tel Aviv’s history, though, is full of interesting human stories, and amazing, little-known places to visit while in Israel.

1. The American Colony:

In the south of Tel Aviv lies a quaint area of 32 dunam(less than 8 acres) left relatively untouched, other than a modernization in 2002, from the late 19th Century when a pilgrimage of Americans from Maine came to Israel. The land is between Florentine and Jaffa, replete with wooden homes that take you back to a place less Israel, and more Abe Lincoln, than one would expect in Tel Aviv. Unfortunately, the Americans were plagued with a series of misfortunes and on the whole did not remain in Israel. They were replaced by the German Templars who purchased the colony. The Maine Friendship House is open every day to visitors wishing to see this small, yet important part of Israel and America’s history. Upcoming renovations seek to transform the American Colony into a “unique historical environment”. But if you worried you won’t make it to Israel before renovations begin/end, don’t fret. 70% of the original buildings will remain. Some in-depth background of The American Colony is important before traveling and this blog tells a picturesque story of a group of Americans who went on a journey to the Holyland.


2. Azrieli Observatory

View from the ground UP

A 360 degree view of Tel Aviv and surrounding areas awaits youon the 49th floor of Israel’s tallest building. It’s open all week from 9:30am-6pm(in winter) and until8pm(in summer), but you should call beforehand to make sure there are no private events going on. People are often married at the Azrieli Observatory because the view is so incredible, and it is unlike anything else in Israel, truly a hidden gem.

View from the Observatory

The 2C restaurant bills itself as “feasting at the top of the world”  and who can blame them? Part of what you pay for is the scenery, but don’t feel like you have to work a month of overtime for a meal there. Sometimes I just go for drinks and an appetizer and watch the sun go down. But if you are willing to pay, the restaurant is kosher, is Mediterranean and, I’ll tell you, it smells and looks fabulous. Perhaps one day, a sugar daddy will take me there for more than just tapas. Expect to pay 150-250 shekels per person at night, and 79 per person for the business lunch.

3. Suzanna

Capturing the feel of Suzanna

Situated as the entrance to the Suzanne Dellal Center, Suzanna is a restaurant that makes you feel like you’re at home. It’s affordable with a lot of options for visitors or natives who want to experience excellent Moroccan-style food. There are many restaurants to choose from, but for you money’s worth head to Suzanna’s and when you’re done with dinner, head upstairs to the roof for some amazing conversation, respite from the heat and cheap drinks. During the winter the courtyard is closed in, so you can sit outside and still be comfortable. Try the sample platter or the bream, both are incredible. The ambiance is totally Neve Tzedek, which means that it’s a mix of old world style and new world chic.

4. Duplex 18

Better than any Hotel

Not just another place to stay in Tel Aviv. If you’re looking for the ultimate experience Duplex 18 will exceed your expectations. The company describes the building as “a stylish boutique apartment”. Duplex 18 is the top 2 floors of a Bauhaus building erected in 1937. With the great influx of German immigrants to then Palestine in the 30’s, Bauhaus architecture left it’s mark on Tel Aviv.

The city has maintained the beautifully crafted buildings and one can even take a tour on the Bauhaus architecture of Tel Aviv. While the outside is 1937, the inside is 2010. There are panoramic views of the city, the inside has “sleek white interiors and wooden floors” and are decorated with piece from Jasper Morrison, Patricia Urquiola and Flos, to mention a few.

With the amenities of home, decorated by top designers, Duplex 18 is certainly special in any city, and we have it right here in Tel Aviv. Situated in the Bauhaus quarter, one merely needs to take the elevator down and exit the building to find stylish cafes, restaurants, galleries and boutiques. Or, if one prefers the rooftop terrace, the sunset or sunrise is breathtaking.

5. Bible Museum

The Old City Hall

The last item on the list is not one you can stumble into from the street, unless your stumbling takes you up three flight of stairs. On the third floor of the Municipality Building on Rothschild Blvd, the Bible Museum awaits you. There are two sections, “The Bible in Art” and “The Bible in Print”. The first houses paintings, sculptures, and ceramics that feature the Bible. The second are selections of commentaries on the Bible and Apocrypha, history books, geography and archaeology books, as well as books on biblical criticism, and more. Exhibits are constantly changing, but one annual event is “Israel’s Painters Paint the Bible”.

Something you might see at "The Bible in Art"

One other tradition is that children from the non-orthodox elementary schools receive their first Bible at the Bible Museum. Here you can sit in on a lecture or bible study from local and foreign experts. The Bible Museum is unique to Tel Aviv, with enough exhibits to even keep kids interested, and yet, most people have no idea that it exists. Here you can see reproductions of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as a model of the Temple, plants and flowers of the Bible, examples of what priests wore in the days of the Temple, archaeological artifacts, coins and jewelry, and other biblical related items of interest. In addition the Bible Museum, the Dizengoff House has other important historical significances which you should explore when you visit the Bible Museum.

Tags: different, hidden gems, museums, restaurants, something special, tel aviv, to do

    1 Comment

  • Adam says:

    Susana is excellent! Had dinner there a few weeks ago. Loved the atmosphere sitting under the giant tree there.


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