The Carmel region is full of surprises

When people think of Zichron, they usually picture the quaint pedestrian walkway that was built in the town’s heyday in the 1990s. Luckily, the area is once again picking up speed.

The Carmel region (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
The Carmel region
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
The Carmel offers a number of exciting places to visit, and one of the most interesting is the town of Zichron Ya’acov, one of the first Jewish communities built in modern- day Israel.
When people think of Zichron, they usually picture the quaint pedestrian walkway that was built in the town’s heyday in the 1990s. Luckily, the area is once again picking up speed. The town is ideally located halfway between Haifa and Netanya, and many new developments have recently been built there, including the Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel.
In addition to functioning as a hotel, the Elma is dedicated to the arts. The building of this beautiful structure, which overlooks the beach and the surrounding fields, was finally completed this year after eight years of planning, construction and conservation. It is, in and of itself, an incredibly artistic architectural creation. It used to be the old Mivtahim convalescent home.
The original structure, which in profile resembles a harmonica, was designed by award-winning architect Yaakov Rechter in the early 1970s, according to the vision of arts patron Lily Elstein. The name, Elma, is the acronym of the words Elstein, music and art.
Guests can feel Elstein’s love for art the moment they walk in the front door of the hotel. At the entrance stands a huge, breathtaking statue of a man, and everywhere you look you’ll see paintings on the walls. The hotel, which sits on a 28-acre plot, features 95 rooms and suites, a gourmet restaurant, two pools (one outside and one covered), a performance hall, a concert hall and three galleries.
Everything there feels luxurious. Guests can enjoy the beautiful landscaping, the sunset over the sea, the scrumptious meals prepared from local ingredients, and the constantly alternating musical performances.
Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel, 1 Yair Street, Zichron Ya’acov.
Price: starting from NIS 1,350 per night.
On your drive up, I recommend stopping at the Technoda Museum in Hadera. Yes, you read correctly – Hadera. This city, which usually does not attract much tourism, is home to one of the best museums I’ve ever been to in Israel. Around for over 30 years, it is a science center with exciting activities for the whole family.
The center’s aim is to give children with limited resources the chance to learn about science and medicine, and how they affect our lives. All proceeds are channeled back into the community.
Throughout the summer, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, a program called “Crazy Nights in the Park” takes place at Technoda, in which children are invited to carry out experiments. In addition, there’s a planetarium (additional cost), which simulates the stars as they light up the night sky.
The Technoda museum in Hadera, a science center with activities for the whole family (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
There is also the Arrow Center, which offers programs at 11 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays for three- to seven-year-olds; it teaches about technology and inventions that have changed our lives.
The guides dress up as famous inventors.
One, dressed as Thomas Edison, teaches the children about electricity and how light bulbs work. Others teach about printing, microscopes and cinema.
Price: NIS 48 Planetarium tickets are NIS 25, and Arrow Center tickets are NIS 35 (parents are free) It may be September already, but it’s still pretty hot, so another great option is to spend some time in the water. There are two water parks in this area, but I recommend Alona Park at Mei Kedem.
The park, which is near Binyamina (just past Moshav Amikam), is home to an amazing 300-meter water tunnel hewn in the stone more than 2,000 years ago, in the days of King Herod. Visitors can walk through the tunnel (the water reaches up to your knees), which was part of an engineering system designed to supply water to ancient Caesarea.
After walking through, visitors are invited to watch a short video explaining how the tunnel was created. The water source is nearby springs. I recommend bringing flashlights and wearing shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet.
The guided tour (including the movie) lasts about 50 minutes. During the week, a new group enters the tunnel every 30 minutes. Price: NIS 24 for adults and NIS 18 for children over 5 years old
If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, I suggest Havayat Harochvim (Riding Adventure) at Beit Oren.
Run by Dora and Ilan Peleg, Havayat Harochvim offers a variety of activities, including horseback riding, Tomcars, a zipline, paintball, target shooting and archery. Guests are also welcome to stay overnight in one of the 19 tents or caravans on the property.
The Pelegs offer an all-inclusive deal (three meals, all activities and entrance to the pool) for between NIS 1,490 and NIS 1,600 for a family of two adults and two children. Horseback riding costs NIS 100 per person, and a 60-minute guided ride for four people in a Tomcar costs NIS 360.
The Riding Adventure at Beit Oren (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Of course, no day is complete without a nice place to eat. Zichron offers a few good restaurants for tourists, as well as a few that are not so great. Adama offers quality and home-style cooking that uses local ingredients. It’s open all week long (and therefore is not kosher), and offers an incredible variety of beef dishes.
Adama also offers guided tours of Zichron, as well as live acoustic guitar concerts on Thursday nights. The restaurant is open daily from noon until the last customer leaves, and is located at 8 Ma’aleh Harishonim in Zichron.
Adama restaurant (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Location: The Carmel region.
Length: Full day, with option to stay overnight in tents or at a hotel.
Difficulty: Easy, appropriate for families, including walking in water.
Directions: Drive north on the coastal highway and turn right (east) at the exit for Zichron Ya’acov. After you pass the Fureidis Junct ion, turn right into Zichron.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.