History Lesson

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Tel Aviv has a rich and fascinating history. Much of the architecture has been declared an UNESCO heritage site, meaning that - along with the many local museums and monuments - touring this city is a dream for history buffs. There are plenty of hotels with an impressive pedigree, but The Rothschild is perhaps the finest. This stunning mansion was once owned by the Baron de Rothschild, a wealthy benefactor of the city whose name can be found in many places, including the charming Rothschild Boulevard.

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One of the best places to get a sense of Israel's history is the Beit Hatefutsoth Museum of the Jewish People. About a 15-minute drive from your hotel, you can arrange a private car to the museum with the front desk, which will have a number of drivers on call. The museum is housed in a collection of buildings on Tel Aviv University campus and is large enough to occupy your entire morning, so be sure to give yourself a few hours. Don't miss the reconstructions of ancient buildings that have been painstakingly created in miniature.

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You may feel like walking after a morning indoors, so take a pleasant 45-minute stroll along the river through Hayarkon Park, Tel Aviv's own Central Park-like oasis with several heritage sites worth stopping for including historic flour mills. The final destination is Tel Aviv Port, a sea-side complex in what was once a shamble of old warehouses. This is a fantastic place to shop for anything from vintage jewelry to fresh fish. Lunch will be at Kitchen Market, one of the best seafood restaurants in town with unparalleled water views. Everything on the menu is good, but be sure to start with a selection of mezze - small plates of Middle Eastern dips and bites.

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After lunch, you can either stroll south down the Tayelet boardwalk or hop on the 599 bus to Allenby station. Both methods will bring you to Independence Hall, the official site of Israel's inception as a state. Inside, a small museum covers key aspects of the country's history, while outside is the striking Founders Monument and Fountain, a large concrete block carved with the names of Israel's founders. Both of these are on Rothschild Avenue, which in itself is a fascinating urban space with a lot of history.

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The next stop on your tour is HaTachana Railway Station, once a major transit hub serving the entire region. Today the station has been restored to its former glory including antique rail cars, refurbished terminal buildings and old factory structures.  Most of these are open to the public, providing a glimpse into the life of Tel Aviv over the last century. The complex is large, over 40 acres, and there's plenty to explore including exhibitions of contemporary art, shops selling local goods and a number of cafés.

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For a light dinner, stop in at Cafe Bialik, a neighborhood joint with a relaxed feel that's perfect for blending in with the locals. Take the time to linger over coffee and watch people strolling by. A cheaper dinner option is right down the street at Tchernikovsky Sabich, where you can take a pita to go and catch the sunset at Jaffa Port, one of the oldest ports in the world and home to a number of ancient structures.

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Next stop is Gilda Bar for after-dinner drinks in a friendly drinking den that regularly hosts low-key LGBTQ events. If you're in the mood for something more upbeat, walk 15 minutes north to Apolo for some shots and dancing. This gay club isn't exactly high-end, but it's always a good time. Be sure to get back to your room early enough to rest up for tomorrow when you'll be touring the ancient cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.