Outside of a few cursory mentions in Billy Joel’s song “Allentown,” Bethlehem, a sizable ex-steel town in northeastern Pennsylvania, is rarely in the limelight. Which is bummer, because this quaint little industrial town has a lot to offer to just about anyone in who wants to get off the beaten track.
In contrast to the images of rust-belt, post-industrial sprawl that this factory town may conjure, today’s Bethlehem has a much more gentrified feel to it, especially in its historical district. A quaint little collection of red brick shops, and Paris style sidewalk cafes, Historical Bethlehem is a great place for anyone with artistic, historical, or culinary persuasions.
If you’re interested in an art gallery crawl, you can line up a whole slew of galleries back to back, and run the gamut of local artist while keeping your walking distance less than a mile. Check out The Snow Goose Gallery, the Banana Factory, and the Yaralov Gallery , to explore a neat and highly varied survey of local artists, all within blocks of the historical district.
For those who prefer to their art to be edible, don’t fear- Bethlehem offers just as much culinary novelty as it does artistic innovation. Whether you’re in the mood for Mama Nina’s high class Italian, would rather wind down to the home brewed-delights of Bethlehem Brew Works, or want to keep it eco- friendly at Vegan Treats Bakery, there are limitless opportunities for delectable dining within Bethlehem’s historical district.
Rich and Varied History
If, one the other hand, you’re more of a history buff, you’ll be delighted by the variety that this unique city has to offer. From the recently restored Hotel Bethlehem, a classy Historical District hotel now verging on it’s hundredth birthday, to the less glamorous relics of the Bethlehem Steel Mill, you can cover many facets of 19th and early twentieth century history with just a short jaunt around the city.
All in all, it’s a bummer this little gem doesn’t get more attention. Just a one hour straight-shot from Philadelphia, and a slightly longer (and more traffic ridden) excursion from New York City, Bethlehem Pennsylvania makes for a great day trip for a good number of east coaster’s, and is definitely worth the drive.