So you have a free day and want to do something fun but don't have any ideas? I have a great place for you, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Bethlehem is a small town in Eastern, PA about an hour and a half North of Philadelphia and if you like history, entertainment, great shopping, and even better food, Bethlehem is without a doubt the place for you.
Founded in 1741 by members of the local Moravian Church purchased land on the banks of the Monocacy Creek and was christened on Christmas Eve. In the Revolutionary War, Bethlehem served as a hospital for the patriots and a meeting place for our Founding Fathers! Throughout the next hundred years, Bethlehem grew into an industrial, educational, and social center of the local area. In the early 1900's Bethlehem Steel set up shop in Southside and grew the city into what we know today. "The Steel" as it was called by locals, employed a vast number of residents and was the backbone of the city. It was once the 2nd largest steel company in the nation, but in 1995 due to financial hardships, Bethlehem Steel ceased operations. Although the blast furnaces fell silent, the city of Bethlehem roared back to life, creating an entertainment complex on the old steel site which included a concert venue, outlet mall, casino, hotel, and more, all while keeping the rich history of Bethlehem Steel at the forefront. Today, Bethlehem is the Lehigh Valley's premiere education, cultural, dining, and entertainment destination!
Now that you know a little bit about our history, lets get down to business. You and the family are thinking of coming to our "Little Town of Bethlehem," to check us out, I would get here early because there's a lot to do! If you come around breakfast time, I'd suggest stopping at Billy's Downtown Diner for some Cannoli French Toast, or if you come on a Sunday, head over to the Hotel Bethlehem for their famous Sunday Brunch! Since you'll be on Main Street, check out the Oldest Bookstore in America and grab some Bethlehem Swag and a good book! Main Street has so many other neat shops like Grandpa Joes Candy Shop (for all of your old fashioned candy and soda needs), or Donegal Square which aims to bring the goods of Ireland and the British Isles to Bethlehem! Take a step back in time at the Colonial Industrial Quarters, right off of Main Street, to see some of Bethlehem's most historic buildings! While you're on the Northside, make sure to drive through the Moravian College campus and see the first college to educate women or get lost in all of the beautiful pre-1900s homes scattered throughout the city!
Let's head across the Fahy Bridge and see what Southside Bethlehem has to offer! Take a drive through Bethlehem's other higher learning institution, Lehigh University and check out its rich history and stunning architecture! If you're hungry stop off for a cold drink and tasty food at Molly's or The Social Still. Heading through Southside you'll see 3 tall remnants of our industrial past, the blast furnaces on the SteelStacks complex. The SteelStacks complex is a huge entertainment spot for concerts, and other events. If you find yourself there on certain nights, there may be a free outdoor concert to listen to while you're walking across the Hoover-Mason Trestle Walk. The HMT, is a great way to get up close and personal to the stacks and learn about how steel is actually made! If you still have the itch to shop, make a stop at the outlet shops at Wind Creek, and if you're feeling lucky roll the dice at the Wind Creek Casino! While you're on the Southside be sure to check out the National Museum of Industrial History or lace up your skates at the Steel Ice Rink!
To end your Bethlehem trip, head back to Main Street and head over to my favorite restaurant, The Sun Inn for some great cocktails and even better food. The Sun Inn was a meeting place for Revolutionary War hero's like Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and even George Washington! The Sun Inn has hearty dining options and be sure to have a taste of their colonial beer selection! If you're looking for more trendy dining options, head over to Tapas on Main or The Melting Pot. Why not stay for a few more drinks and some nightlife right? Bethlehem Brew Works and McCarthy's Red Stag Pub has a huge selection of great drinks and bar food! Venture back over the Fahy to Southside and head into TallyHo Tavern or Essence Hookah Lounge for a good time as well! For a perfect end to your Bethlehem Day Trip, take one last stroll on Main Street and catch a glimpse of the Bethlehem Star atop of South Mountain!
I hope you enjoyed your day in Bethlehem and we hope to see you again soon! Come back around the holidays and check out why our nickname is "Christmas City USA," or in the summertime to jam out at the nations largest free music festival, Musikfest!
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