State of Israel – the country of juxtapositions. It’s overflowing with historical sites of important religious significance, yet it plays host to one of the most well-known gay pride celebrations in the world. The Red Sea, the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea all touch its land, but deserts blanket well over half its surface. It’s home to the lowest point on Earth, The Dead Sea, that can be viewed from atop a mountainside fortress. Contemporary and ancient exist cohesively, each respecting the other. It’s small, roughly the size of the United States’ 5th smallest state, New Jersey, but within its borders, you can sunbathe, take a salty float, ski, hike, immerse yourself in history and well, just read on for more. We’ll tell you why this destination that may never have been on your family travel radar should actually top the list.

Hang with the cool kids: Neve Tzedek

Be sure to carve out at least half a day to stroll the streets of Neve Tzedek, a place so cool even Gal Gadot (aka Wonder Woman) calls it home. It was the first Jewish neighborhood built outside of the ancient city of Jaffa, a ‘burb alternative to the hustle and bustle of city life. If hipster had been a label in the 1800s, this is where they would’ve congregated, as it became a favorite of creative types. Roughly 20 years in, Tel Aviv started taking shape and Neve Tzedek slowly fell into disrepair. So much so, the area was deemed virtually uninhabitable in the 1960s and scheduled for demolition in favor of high rise apartments. Luckily that never panned out, as many of the buildings were placed on preservation lists and it’s been in revitalization mode since the 1980s. The result is a lively neighborhood with quaint winding streets lined with boutiques, a market and cafes spilling onto the sidewalks. Graffiti is a welcome art form in this area of Israel, so enjoy its colorful beauty as you stroll.

Online: touristisrael.com

Have you had the opportunity to visit Israel? We’d love to hear about your experience in the Comments below.

— Maria Chambers

This trip, including hotel stays, food and activities, was paid for by Israel’s Ministry of Travel.