Musikfest is an annual 10-day music festival that takes place in the beginning of August. Over 1 million people visit the festival every year. All of the hundreds of concerts, save the headlining acts, are free of charge, and take place at various "platzes" set up around the historic district. Past performers include Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Clinton, Ludacris and much more. The food is top-notch (if expensive) as well, with everything from fried oreos to gyros, and there are activities for children as well. Check out the polka tent for the festival's only dance floor and the famous "Chicken Lady," a local legend.
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is a casino that has recently opened on the South Side. The under-construction casino complex will not be completely finished for a few years. The complex includes 3,000 slot machines, 89 tables, a 300-room hotel (May 2011), 200,000 square feet of retail space, over 40 stores at The Shoppes at Sands, 6 restaurants, 2 night clubs, a cineplex, 46,000 square feet of convention space, 18 meeting rooms, a concert hall, and a National Museum of Industrial History when everything is complete. The casino opened on May 22, 2009, but the rest of the complex opening is still far off.
Philadlelphia Eagles Training Camp is located at Lehigh University in South Bethlehem from July through August. Spectators can watch the Eagles practice and meet players on special autograph days. There are also activities for kids. Bring a cooler; temperatures reach into the 90s, and do not wear any other team's jersey unless you like getting heckled (or hospitalized) by notoriously rowdy Eagles fans. This is the best opportunity to see the Eagles close up, and it attracts thousands to each practice. Admission is free.
The Banana Factory is a community center for the arts located on Bethlehem's south side. What was once a banana warehouse has been renovated into space for two art galleries, classrooms and artists' studios. Offers daily guided tours and the Lehigh Valley's only glassblowing studio, and on the first Friday of every month there is an art showing. Unless you love art it's probably not worth a trip to the South Side by itself but if you're there already be sure to stop by.
SteelStacks is the area's newest venue for performing arts, a cinema, and more. It is on the former Bethlehem Steel property. Attractions include the '''ArtsQuest Center''', the performing arts center; the '''Air Products Town Square''', with over 400 free musical performances annually; '''PNC Plaza''', which will host festivals, a farmers market, and will also serve as a stage for Musikfest; and the '''Levitt Pavilion''', which will host free concerts.
Bethlehem's three largest high schools, Bethlehem Catholic, Freedom, and Liberty, all participate in the Lehigh Valley Conference, a highly competitive athletic division often ranked among the best in the state and nation. In 2008, Liberty High School won Pennsylvania's Division AAAA state championship in football. In addition to football, Bethlehem's girls and boys basketball and wrestling events are also very highly attended.
Celtic Classic is an annual festival in Bethlehem celebrating Celtic heritage. The festival is host to the U.S. National Highland Games and provides an environment filled with a wide variety of traditional elements. Included are traditional musicians, food vendors, clothing vendors, artists, and more. If you have a kilt, wear it. For the adventurous, taste the haggis, a traditional Scottish dish.
Emeril Lagasse's first restaurant in the Northeast features steaks, seafood, and signature appetizers and sides. Despite all the glitz and the big name, the food isn't exactly worth all you pay for it. Take note, if you are under 21 you will be escorted to the restaurant and from the restaurant by security, since the restaurant is located inside the Sands Casino Resort.
This local plantation affords an excellent look at rural life in the Lehigh Valley beginning in the mid-18th century. The restored Moravian homestead highlights farm life and the region's industrial development through the mid-19th century. It not only makes the past come alive but provides a showcase for agriculture and craftsmanship of the era.
This area contains a few of Bethlehem's early buildings, like the 1761 Tannery, 1762 Waterworks (a National Historic Landmark), the 1869 Luckenbach Mill, and the Miller's House Garden (an 1870 Victorian garden). The area is right along the Monocacy Creek, so it's a great place to take a walk or even fish, right downtown (if you have a license).
blue Grillhouse is an upscale-casual restaurant with an extensive wine bar, serving steaks and seafood. Located outside of Bethlehem in neighboring Bethlehem Township, it is a 15-minute drive from city center which will lead you to its strip-mall location. Don't be fooled by the surroundings; it is one of the best. Patio seating available.
The 1758 Sun Inn is a restored 18th-century inn that once hosted guests such as George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette. It has been fully restored and now offers guided tours, which provide a rich history of 1700s Bethlehem. It can also can be rented and catered for private gatherings. The courtyard also hosts a summer concert series.
The Promenade Shops is an outdoor mall and "lifestyle center." The stores are located just south of Bethlehem in a wealthy suburban area. The stores cater to an upscale taste and budget, with stores such as Coldwater Creek, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers and Fresh Market. The complex also contains restaurants and a movie theater.
Courtyard by Marriott Bethlehem Lehigh Valley / I-78 is a new hotel in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with deluxe lodging and suites, indoor swimming pool, wireless Internet access and meeting space. Located at the Route 33 and Freemansburg Ave. interchange, close to Interstate 78.
An interior designer's dream come true, the Kemerer Museum is dedicated to the history of decorating. There are various rooms dedicated to periods in history, with textiles, china, paintings and more. The Victorian gardens on the ground provide a welcome spot to relax.
Saucon Valley Country Club is a world-class golf course just south of the city. The club's courses have been named among the best in the state, and the Old Course played host to the 2009 U.S. Women's Open. Inquire within for information on tee times and greens fees.
The Tally-Ho's motto is "We try to be all things to all people," and they cater to locals, Lehigh students, and everyone else at this charming pub. While anyone is admitted at the Tally-Ho, this place is best if you are drinking shots. Lots of them.
For those interested in learning a bit about the history of Bethlehem, or the Moravian people or faith, this should be a stop on your tour. It's housed in the oldest building in Bethlehem, the 1741 Gemeinhaus. It's only open on the weekends, however.
A small, indoor shopping mall located at the corner of Main Street and West Broad Street. It features local crafts and stores, such as Aardvark, Franklin Hill Vineyards, and The Blue Cactus. Parking is available via a parking deck or on the street.
One of Bethlehem's city parks, Illick's Mill Park offers ice skating (seasonal), pool (seasonal), the Bethlehem Municipal Golf Club (see above), a driving range, baseball fields, and a nature trail that runs along the Monocacy Creek.
Dutch Springs is an water/adventure park located on a 50-acre lake. It offers scuba diving, an Aqua Park filled with large inflatable objects, rock climbing and more. There are campgrounds on-site and they host picnics and parties.
Christkindlmarkt is a holiday market, named among the world's best, open on weekends during the Christmas season. Handmade arts and crafts are for sale, as well as German and Austrian food, a celebration of the town's heritage.
If you're on Main St., you'll probably walk by here. A nice little place to stop by with a few rotating exhibits, but not a destination itself. Beer enthusiasts take note though - Goundie was the town brewer back in the day.
Dinette and Barstool Village serves home and business owners with over 350 stools on display, a wide selection of tables, chairs, bars, islands, hutches/buffets, all in plenty of woods, metals, and fabrics to choose from.
Starter's is a sports bar on the South Side that serves much more than typical bar food. A great place to watch the big game (most TVs in the Lehigh Valley) or to bring kids (with a huge two-floor game room).
Westgate Mall is an indoor shopping mall, hosting anchors Bon-Ton and Weis Markets. It features over 40 stores and services. It is, to put it lightly, undercrowded, and probably not worth your time.
The Dairy Store, sometimes called "The Cup" is the hot spot for ice cream, with 80 years of history and over 25 flavors. Lines can get long in the summertime, but it's well-worth the wait.
Asian fusion is what's on the menu at Edge, a great place for a swanky dinner date. Or, grab a martini at the lounge. Located inside the Liberty Place building at Broad and Main Streets.
The Brew Works is an industrial-themed restaurant with its own microbrewery on site. Serves standard American fare, but with a German influence, such as Wiener schnitzel and sauerkraut.
Moravian Book Shop is the oldest bookstore in the country, open since 1745. They sell mostly books, but also souvenirs and Moravian stars, which are popular during the Christmas season.
Rose garden Park is on 8th Ave and offers playgrounds, a bandshell where the Music in the Park concerts are held, and the DAR House, a replica of the first log cabin built in Bethlehem.
The Sayre Mansion is a quaint former mansion that has been refurbished into a 21-room bed-and-breakfast in the city's Fountain Hill section. Meals are included in the room rates.
Opened in 2007, this hotel is one mile from Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE). Complimentary airport shuttle available. Hotel features an adjacent restaurant and lounge.
Celebrated at the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, this festival includes Russian food and beer, arts and crafts, and desserts. Admission is free. Held September 10–12, 2010.
Godfrey Daniels is a non-profit, member-supported listening club on the south side. The acts focus on folk, but jazz, early rock-and-roll, and blues are also sometimes offered.
Public golf course within the city. For those looking for just a round on the links on the cheap, the city course will do the trick. Also see Saucon Valley Country Club below.
Starter's original location on route 378, just over the South Mountain. Offering sports bar atmosphere and pub fare. Also has another location at the Bethlehem Golf Club.
The Apollo Grill has been consistently rated as one of the Lehigh Valley's top restaurants. They serve contemporary American cuisine, and reservations are recommended.
This seasonal tour runs throughout December on Thurs., Fri., Sat., and Sun. at 5:30PM, 6:30, and 7:30PM. Tour includes a display of the Christmas City by bus.
Deja Brew is Lehigh U's local coffeeshop, frequented by students and staff alike. Penn State fans, watch the football game here; the owners are die-hard fans.
Potts' (pronounced "Pott-zees") is, as anyone in Bethlehem will tell you, probably the best hot dog in the Lehigh Valley. The dogs are super cheap too.
Don Shula's famous steakhouse is located at the Promenade Shops. Great for beef and football lovers, but otherwise a "pay-for-the-name" sort of place.
Sand Island Park is located along the Lehigh River and offers playgrounds, hiking trails, basketball and tennis courts, and plenty of room for fishing.
A student favorite, the Goose offers delicious subs at great prices. Make sure to look at the various "specials" posted on signs behind the counter.
The Wise Bean is a very relaxed coffeehouse downtown. It's a great place to get some work done; they'll even pop in your favorite CD if you ask.
Hotel Bethlehem is downtown Bethlehem's largest hotel. Its prime location means it fills up quickly in the wintertime, so book well in advance.
Hyatt Place is a new addition to Downtown Bethlehem. It is located only 2 blocks from Main Street, at the corner of North and Guetter Streets.
Located down the street from Moravian College's football field, steak sandwiches and subs offer an inexpensive postgame (or anytime) meal.
Italian restaurant. Don't let limited parking, limited seating, and a not-so-pretty neighborhood fool you; the food here is worth it.
Anna Bella's has some pretty darned good Italian food on the outskirts of town. The pizzas are recommended, and they do takeout too.
Located on the West Side, just a few blocks west of the Downtown area. Offers breakfast and lunch in a "Brooklyn Diner" type setting.
Lehigh Pizza is one of many Bethlehem pizzerias, but it is one of the best on the South Side. Located next to the Banana Factory.
A pub remodeled from a historic inn. Monday night is Wing Night, featuring 40 cent wings. Good bar food. Great place for a drink.
The new, 750 ft. long skateplaza offers BMX riders and skateboarders a safe place to ride. Located across from the Sands Casino.
Located on the South Side near Lehigh University, this family-run Mexican restaurant is known for guacamole and tortillas.
Cleo's has the largest selection of handcrafted jewelry in the area. Cleo's was voted best unique gift shop in the Valley.
The Lehigh Valley Home Show features builders and other home improvement ideas. It runs annually from April 3 to April 5.
The The Blueberry Festival is held each July and features a classic car show and various products made from blueberries.
Held on the last Saturday of the month, May–August. Local artists and musicians line the sidewalks during each ArtWalk.
Steelgaarden is a lounge located inside the Bethlehem Brew Works, with a large drink menu and six beers brewed onsite.
Tours begin at the Banana Factory and highlight the churches, architecture, and multiculturalism of the South Side.
The Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show runs from March 31-April 3, 2011. It is an annual display of over 200 vehicles.
Features facials, waxing, a color bar and products from Somme Institute, Davines, and USpa, and other accessories.
Looper's is a golf-themed, business casual upscale bar with cigar and wine bars, and over 150 martinis available.
Tickets are $10 to get you into this party, bringing the beach to Bethlehem. Held July 9, 2010 from 5:30-8:30PM.
If you're just looking for a hole-in-the-wall to grab a beer near Main St., Ripper's is probably your best bet.
The Steel Ice Center houses daily public indoor ice skating on the South Side, along with open hockey sessions.
The Star of Bethlehem on top of South Mountain is lit year-round. It is visible from most parts of Bethlehem.
Carlos's features Puerto Rican cuisine at a budget price. Located on the West Side, 2 blocks from Allentown.
For the best local bands, The Funhouse Pub is the place to go. Located a block down from Lehigh University.
Nawab is one of only a handful of local Indian restaurants. Eat in at the buffet, or takeout if you prefer.
Confetti Cafe is a traditional cafe featuring soups, lunch and dinner entrees, and 28 flavors of ice cream.
Located on the South Side, MachPiccu brings a piece of Peru to Bethlehem with this authentic restaurant.
Starfish serves up seafood like no other spot in the Valley, as evidenced by its many local awards.
Fireworks are shot off from Sand Island Park on July 4th, the end of Musikfest, and New Year's Eve.
The Sands features the '''Molten Lounge''', '''St. James Gate''', '''Coil''', and '''Infusion'''.
One more in the chain that features Wi-Fi and drive-through service as well as tables inside.
JP McGrady's is a popular bar for Lehigh students to grab a drink; expect crowds on weekends.
Tours run Nov 26-Dec 30. Sights include 18th century buildings and other historic sites.
Tulum is good for Mexican eats on the cheap, and they also have many vegetarian options.
Cactus Blue has been voted as one of the best Mexican restaurants in the Lehigh Valley.
September 18, 2010. Hop-on and off the Bethlehem Loop and enjoy refreshments and music.
Morningstar Inn is a 5-room bed and breakfast located in Bethlehem's historic district
July 23–25, 2010. Stores feature many discounts and bargains during this 3-day event.
One of the best diners in Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley, located in Center City.
Carries a collection of olive oils and vinegars that you can taste before you buy.
This Moravian Chapel was the second place of worship in Bethlehem's colonial era.
Local church festival featuring authentic Greek food. Held September 16–19, 2010.
Tours begin at the Visitor's Center and highlight the important historic sites.
A deli located inside the Plaza Mall that has coffee, tea, and deli sandwiches.
Francisco's Salvadoreño Restaurant features Salvadoran food at a lower price.
Held Saturdays and Sundays in October, 2010. Hour-long ghostly walking tour.
This flea market, held July 25, 2010, features many items at a small price.
Features celtic jewelry, music, food, and other Irish and British items.
One of the few locations in the county, based on the New York original.
Authentic Mexican cuisine including fajitas, burritos, and enchiladas.
Very inexpensive Chinese cuisine. Exceptionally fresh and delicious.
Small neighborhood Chinese restaurant with good but inexpensive eats.
A great place on the South Side to read and drink a cup of coffee.
Newer nightclub where such artists as Jason Derulo have performed.
Carriage rides last about 15 minutes and run from Nov 27-Dec 30.
Your Welcome Inn is the local scene/dive bar, close to downtown.
Located in Center City in the newly built East Broad Building.
A great cafe on the South Side to find a light, casual meal.
If you are looking for a dive, this is definitely the place.
Ironic name, located in one of the worst areas of the city.
Fantastic buffet and hibachi at an inexpensive price.
The Greek Isles Cafe has an extensive all-Greek menu.
Recognized as the country's oldest Moravian Church.
Sandwiches as well as a Russian and Ukrainian menu.
Features moderately prices Mediterranean cuisine.
Located in Center City, just east of Main Street.
Simple bar known for their roast beef sandwiches.
Changed names from Reflections Gentlemen's Club.
Simple breakfasts and lunches. Limited seating.
Known for steak sandwiches and cheeseburgers.
Europa Barbeque features Portuguese cuisine.
Popular chain of fondue restaurants.
The town was originally settled by a small group of Moravians (a persecuted Protestant religious group from modern-day Germany and Czech Republic) led by Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf in 1741. Bethlehem was founded on Christmas Eve and named for Jesus' birthplace, Bethlehem, Israel – presumably because it was mentioned in the Christmas carols that were sung by the Moravians.
During the Industrial Revolution, Bethlehem Steel became one of the largest steel companies in the world; its principal rival at the time was Andrew Carnegie's U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh. San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge was built from Bethlehem steel, as were many of New York City's skyscrapers. Through two world wars, Bethlehem's steel was strategically vital for shipbuilding. By the early 1980s, local coal and steel makers were struggling as prices were undercut by imports; in 1982, Billy Joel sang "Out in Bethlehem they're killing time, Filling out forms, Standing in line" in a popular tune named for nearby Allentown. In a pattern typical of the US rust belt, huge factories built for economies of scale when times were good were being out-manoeuvred by smaller, more modern competitors with lower costs and more advanced technology. By 2001, the factories had closed; the bankrupt company was disbanded in 2003.<!-- http://www.mcall.com/all-bethsteel-c1p1-story.html through http://www.mcall.com/all-bethsteel-c8p15-story.html is a good description of the industrial history -->
Today, the city has a population of about 73,000, and is a thriving with a beautiful historic district, many cultural events, two colleges, an industrial museum and a large casino/entertainment complex.
The official Visitor's Center is in the Historic District at 505 Main St., offering general information along with walking tours, literature, and the general gamut of tourist office services.