Cosmopolitan Tel Aviv has its beach scene, its pulsing nightlife, its design hotels. Meanwhile, up the coast, the ancient port of Acre (Akko, in Hebrew) is still largely untouched but for the significant exception of development projects like the Efendi hotel: housed in a pair of restored nineteenth-century Ottoman-style villas (at left) and ornamented with Venetian-artisan-painted ceilings (from $320; efendi-hotel.com). New cultural institutions like the Akko Art Glass Center, a modern home for the old-world craft of glass art, have helped usher in a fresh crop of artists (who've also been increasingly drawn to the city for its cheap rents and throwback way of life). As for inventive cuisine, despite all of Tel Aviv's multicultural choices, its residents have long been making the two-hour drive north to eat at Acre's sui generis restaurant Uri Buri (11 Ha-haganah; 955-2212), helmed by the same owner as Efendi: Scallops are served in a creamy ginger-sauce-coated skillet; amberjack is prepared as a tangy ceviche soaked in fresh lime. The hummus throughout Acre (where, notably, Arabs and Jews live side by side) is made according to secret, Galilee-olive-oil-infused recipes and is arguably the best in the country.
Distance from Tel Aviv: Two-hour drive.