With a population of more than 74,000, Bethlehem is one of the larger cities in Pennsylvania. Interestingly, Bethlehem actually stretches into two counties, making it part of Lehigh and Northampton. The split is uneven, and most of the town’s population resides in Northampton County.
Geographically, Bethlehem is situated in the scenic Lehigh Valley. In fact, it is one of the valley’s premier destinations due to its size and amenities. Major industries in Bethlehem include health care, education, insurance, railway transportation and tourism.
History of Bethlehem
Prior to European exploration, the Lehigh Valley was full of indigenous settlements. Bethlehem was founded by European Moravians on Christmas Eve in 1741. This was primarily a missionary community to reach out to the Native Americans in the name of Christianity, and the name was chosen for its religious significance. Remnants of this colony are still standing, and you can visit the Congregation House, Old Chapel and other historical structures.
The settlement continued to grow, soon expanding beyond its religious mandate. By 1762, a water-works was built in Bethlehem, and it was the first of its kind in America. George Washington even visited Bethlehem, and you can learn about his story by visiting the Burnside Plantation, which was turned into a museum in 1998.
Many of the trendiest Bethlehem restaurants are located in the south part of town near Lehigh University and the Sands Casino. A local favorite is Apollo Grill, which features an eclectic menu of American cuisine. Although this restaurant is often crowded, quality food and attentive servers keep people coming back.
For fine dining, many people enjoy 1741 on the Terrace. This restaurant is located in the heart of the downtown, and it has a gorgeous dining room with plenty of natural lighting. It is a popular choice for brunch, and it is also a great backdrop for a romantic meal.
There are plenty of other options to consider. The Bayou is moderately priced with a Cajun menu. Tapas on Main is a great destination for Latin American and Mediterranean cuisine. The People’s Kitchen, The Twisted Olive and Bolete Restaurant and Inn are more great dining locales in Bethlehem.
For something refreshing to drink, Bethlehem has you covered. There are a number of Bethlehem breweries, which offer their own local craft beers for your consumption.
The Bonn Place Brewing Company is particularly popular thanks to the passion of its owners and bartenders. Lost Tavern Brewing is another excellent venue with a scenic patio for the warmer months. The Weyerbacher Brewing Co. is known for its large drink servings, and you are sure to drink your fill during a stop. Yergey Brewing is renowned for its tasty beer, which is reasonably priced and served by friendly staff. Better still, the menu rotates frequently to feature different brews, which means you will have to visit more than once.
Things to Do in Bethlehem
Bethlehem is home to the National Museum of Industrial History, which chronicles the rise of industry as an important factor in America’s economic and cultural landscape. For another glimpse at Bethlehem’s industrial past, stop at Hoover Mason Trestle. This historical site is preserved to give you a closer look at steel production.
Another important site is the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem. This museum documents the early days of European settlement in the Lehigh Valley with interactive displays and artifacts.
Bethlehem also houses distinctive art galleries. The Banana Gallery is a common favorite due to its unusual exhibits and frequent demonstrations. Other galleries include the SteelStacks and the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts.
For modern excursions, you may like the shopping options available in Bethlehem. Christkindlmarkt is a popular street market. Other shopping venues include Westgate Mall, Lehigh Center Shopping Center, Stefko Boulevard Shopping Center and more. The Sands Casino also enjoys vibrant popularity with its opportunities for gaming, shows and other recreation. Clearly, you have plenty of things to do in Bethlehem.
There are a variety of hotels in Bethlehem, representing a variety of price points. You can pick Bethlehem hotels based on your specific desires. For example, if you want a modern venue with lots of amenities, Hyatt Place Bethlehem is a great choice. For something with a bit more character, you might choose the Historical Hotel Bethlehem. This property has a rich history, but it has been updated for the needs of modern visitors. There is also a luxurious hotel at the Sands Casino. If you want easy access to the airport, Comfort Suites University or Homewood Suites by Hilton Bethlehem Airport are excellent destinations.