Situated on the Lehigh River among the gentle rolling hills and charming countryside of eastern Pennsylvania, Allentown is the third-largest city in the Keystone State. The commercial and cultural hub of the Lehigh Valley, Allentown has won numerous national awards for its redevelopment and transformation. The city also preserves its pre-Colonial, Early American and industrial legacy. Along with verdant parks, nature trails and picturesque surroundings, Allentown boasts heritage architecture, unique museums and popular festivals. Boasting the slogan “City Without Limits,” Allentown is a year-round destination with a variety of activities and four distinct seasons.
Along with national chains, Allentown offers visitors an assortment of family-owned eateries featuring authentic ethnic cuisine. Diners have a choice of Japanese, Lebanese and Mexican dishes as well as Jamaican-, Dominican- and Puerto Rican-inspired fare. Allentown restaurants range from casual budget-friendly establishments to upscale fine dining for a special night out. The fertile surrounding farmland makes it easy for chefs to obtain fresh local ingredients.
Start the day at Billy’s Downtown Diner where locals enjoy Greek specialties and twists on classic favorites. A casual, yet upscale setting is the backdrop for lunch at the Bay Leaf that offers new interpretations of American, Asian and European dishes. To experience the quintessential American burger joint, head over to Bell Hall situated in a historic building in the heart of the city. At the end of the day, Centro delivers a menu of the finest Northern and rustic Italian cuisine. Sample stone-fried pizza, pasta and traditional desserts as well as seasonal house specialties. Guests can enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine like hummus dip, kabob wraps and savory lamb with mushroom stew at the Aladdin Restaurant.
Lehigh Valley farmer Frederick Leiser was America’s first applejack distiller. The region continues to celebrate this heritage with its collection of wineries, distilleries and craft brewers whose artisan concoctions are infused with local ingredients to create unique flavors. Local Allentown breweries offer tours, tastings and a range of food menus to accompany their signature India pale ales (IPAs), stouts and lagers.
In addition to nearby breweries like Two Rivers Brewing and the Weyerbacher Brewery, Allentown has local beerhouses. These include HiJinx Brewing, the Allentown Brew Works and the Colony Meadery whose innovative meads, an ancient drink made from fermenting honey, feature an uncompromising quality and flavor. While the Allentown Brew Works reflects a Pennsylvania Dutch influence, HiJinx Brewery serves up handcrafted porters, IPAs and Belgian-style wheat beers.
Things to Do in Allentown
Home to several buildings listed on the National Historic Register and the only sculpture honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Allentown offers visitors a range of cultural and leisure activities.
Featuring a room designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley displays a collection of works, including European Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces. Visit the Liberty Bell Museum to learn local history and see where this symbol of America was safeguarded during the Revolutionary War. Automotive enthusiasts can explore the collection of cars, trucks and motorcycles at the America on Wheels Museum. Children will enjoy the hands-on displays at the Da Vinci Science Center. Other cultural attractions in Allentown include the Civic Theatre and Symphony Hall where patrons can attend an assortment of live performances.
Allentown is home to two minor league sports teams. While the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs are a Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are associated with the Philadelphia Flyers. Outdoor sports enthusiasts can kayak on the Lehigh River, hike portions of the nearby Appalachian Trail and during the colder months enjoy several ski runs in the nearby mountains. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom offers a variety of amusements and thrill rides.
Other popular things to do in Allentown include attending the Mayfair Festival of the Arts during the Memorial Day weekend and the Great Allentown Fair held annually in late August or early September just before Labor Day. The fairs offer food and live entertainment in addition to a variety of shows and displays.
The city offers visitors a wide range of inns and hotels as well as bed-and-breakfasts with accommodations designed to fit every taste and budget. Many Allentown hotels are conveniently located near major thoroughfares for easy travel to various attractions. Guests can also opt to stay in downtown boutique hotels housed in historic buildings offering wonderful city views.
The Benner Mansion accommodates guests in an award-winning 1914 Italianate Palladian-style home just off Allentown’s Victorian-era Millionaires Row. Visitors can also choose modern layouts and amenities provided by hotels like the Renaissance Allentown, Staybridge Suites and Wingate Hotel. Along with concierge service, these modern accommodations may offer complimentary Wi-Fi, fitness centers and on-site dining. The properties are just minutes from golf courses, wineries, breweries and various outdoor activities.