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21 Fantastic Things to Do in Bethlehem (Pennsylvania)

According to John Adams, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is a curious and remarkable town.

Although this is a summarized version of this town with a population of only a little over 75,000 people, the detailed version can still be experienced in Bethlehem today.

Founded in 1741, this reputable steel manufacturing city was home to Moravian settlers.

Today, its economy is more diversified, but it still holds in high esteem this relatively little beginning.

As far as nicknames go, Bethlehem’s nickname as the Christmas city is a true depiction of the vibrant December life in its historic district.

Apart from December, Bethlehem is also an interesting place to visit all year round.

Of course, considering its age, it has a lot of museums and historical sites, and it also has enough modern and repurposed buildings to engage its visitors.

To say the least, Lehigh valley has tasted growth and is not about to stop now.

To explore the day and nightlife areas of Bethlehem; below is a quick list of where to start.

Things to do in Bethlehem Pennsylvania

1. Steel Stacks

Steel Stacks

Steel Stacks

Bethlehem works, or Bethlehem steel, as some will call it, tell an immigration story to America decades ago.

Beginning in 1904, when the steel company in Bethlehem started, these immigrants worked Bethlehem into a prosperous steel city.

Although it filed bankruptcy in 2001, the area still has exhibits of a prosperous time on display for its visitors.

Currently, its 120-acre land space features a unique live entertainment complex with arts, culture, beautiful gardens, events, and community celebrations.

Specifically, Steel Stacks which is a 10-acre campus is its educational and entertainment initiative to inspire and excite its visitors.

With nothing short of an amazing night and day life experience, it features a park., casino, museum, and more.

You can even have an up-close visit to its old mills through its walkways.

In the end, what better place to appreciate the beautiful city Bethlehem has become than where it all started?

This old steel factory site is open to visitors from Wednesday to Sunday.

Address: 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA, United States

2. Candlewood Suites Bethlehem South

Candlewood Suites Bethlehem South

Candlewood Suites Bethlehem South

This is the ideal traveler’s choice in Bethlehem to get a rewarding business or leisure stay.

As a part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, this four-story building in Bethlehem offers its hotel expertise gleaned from years of global experience.

Since it started in 2018, the pet-friendly candlewood suites in Bethlehem south have been popular for providing top-notch services to visitors fond of the indoors.

The hotel has about 10 room types to choose from, with most having more services and spaces than you will need during your stay.

Considering it offers a lot of complimentary things and activities at its price, this is your best bet for a budget-friendly location while you tour the city.

Thankfully, the hotel is within a few miles of some interesting sites in Bethlehem.

In other words, if you intend to spend your evenings touring these close sites, you will not want to be too far from home, right?

Plan your stay at the Candlewood Suites Bethlehem South today.

Address: 1630 Spillman Dr, Bethlehem, PA

3. National Museum of Industrial History

National Museum of Industrial History

National Museum of Industrial History

Still on the subject of Bethlehem’s entertaining historical site, here’s another exhibit to explore.

This Smithsonian-affiliated museum is dedicated to preserving America’s industrial heritage in Bethlehem.

Established in 2016, the National Museum of Industrial History carries out this prestigious task by displaying a significant collection of industrial machinery and other artifacts from the steel and iron, textile, and propane gas industries.

Also, by highlighting the industrial period in light of machinery and the lives of its workers, the museum annually educates and inspires thousands of visitors.

This exciting homeland to exhibits and engaging programs is located in the century-old Bethlehem steel facility in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Specifically, the museum occupies the former electric repair shop on the steel mill site, forging a connection between present-day innovations and an industrial past; the museum inspires a more prosperous future.

In the end, not only does the national museum of industrial history connect, but it also preserves inspiring memories and accomplishments.

The museum is open to visitors from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm

Address: 602 E 2nd St, Bethlehem, PA, United States

4. Burnside Plantation

Things to do in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Burnside Plantation

The history of Burnside dates back to 1748 when James Burnside bought a 500-acre piece of land from John Stephen Benezet.

Till getting a spot on the national register of historical places in 1990, the land passed through many buying processes, each time smaller than before.

One such notable period is its time as the fourth plantation in the Moravian farming system.

Although it uses the word plantation, there is no evidence of slave workers at any point on this site.

In fact, the word was just a way for its German-speaking owners to refer to a farm producing crops for the community.

Its preservation initiative started in the mid-1980s when a Gertie Fox-led group of environmentalists petitioned the county to save what was left of this farm.

Currently, it is a 6.5-acre land space of pristine plantation and historical gardens in the heart of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

It also features a farmhouse, summer kitchen, and barns on site.

The Burnside Plantation welcomes visitors every day from 8 am to 6 pm.

Address: 1461 Schoenersville Rd, Bethlehem, PA, United States

5. Banana Factory Arts and Education Center

Banana Factory Arts and Education Center

Banana Factory Arts and Education Center

Let loose your inner talent for making unique creations here in Southside Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Starting as a vision of Jeff Parks, the Banana Factory Arts and Education Center is a grassroots organization benefitting the entire Lehigh valley.

Formerly a banana distribution warehouse, this 3 story complex now features art galleries, a studio, classes, and much more.

Repurposing the historical building into an artistic hub was a step in the direction of using visual art as a tool for education.

Interestingly, some of the exhibits in its galleries make their debut here before taking a tour outside.

Providing hands-on activities at its glass-blowing facility, Olympic digital imaging center, and clay studio, the center encourages fun and engaging time for its visitors.

If you will prefer to be an observer from afar, you don’t get left out as there are also demonstrations to entertain you.

In essence, being a center for creativity through various mediums, the center serves as a platform for a community of like minds.

The center is open every day from at least 8:30 am.

Address: 25 W 3rd St #300, Bethlehem, PA, United States

6. Monocacy Park

Monocacy Park

Monocacy Park

Since the history of this park will always refer to the historic Illick mill, it comes as no surprise that the park starts behind the mill

In 1939, land bought from the Illick’s mill in 1907 was used to create a recreational park called the Monocacy Park.

This recreational park features restored and constructed stone structures, trails, pools, and much more.

In fact, constructing the park by the work progression administration and the civilian conservation corps is a scenic way to keep that history valuable and preserved.

Also, Monocacy park has its notable creek and waterfall in good form and on display.

Hence, whether you want to have a solo day out of self-reflection and inspiration or a fun family day out of picnicking and hiking, this is the place to go.

Interestingly, you can leave your mark at the park with a love lock of your own.

Plan a visit to the Monocacy park any day from 7 am to 9 pm.

Address: 100 Illick’s Mill Rd, Bethlehem, PA, United States

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7. Apollo Grill, Bethlehem

Apollo Grill, Bethlehem

Apollo Grill, Bethlehem

Nothing stays thriving for over 23 years and counting without having some well-kept secrets.

Fortunately, you don’t have to dig too deep for the founding secret of the Apollo Grill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Its current owner, Rachel Griffith, started as its assistant manager 13 years prior to owning the restaurant in 2017.

Since then, she like others before her uphold the value of quality service and community building.

In fact, the Apollo grill staff family runs a healthy work environment that results in their crowd-pleasing menus much to the city’s delight.

Located on broad and main streets, the American bistro is popular for its large variety of appetizers and other interesting menu options.

With no limitation to food options, Apollo grill also features a full bar.

Befitting a theme of casual yet upscale, the welcoming interior décor speaks volumes about a refined and cozy dining experience.

Based on popular opinion, you cannot fully explore the Lehigh valley without a visit to the Apollo grill.

So, plan a visit to the Apollo grill today.

Address: 85 W Broad St, Bethlehem, PA, United States

8. 1810 Goundie House

1810 Goundie House

1810 Goundie House

According to its name, it is an 1810  construction made by one of Bethlehem’s early brewers.

As an ambitious and enterprising young man, this German-trained brewer settled in Bethlehem in 1803.

After only 5 years in this new land, he had made enough money and family to desire to buy a house.

Unfortunately, after drawing lots, Goundie was denied his dream house in the city.

Fast forward to 1810, the young brewer built a house like no other at the time for himself in Bethlehem.

Unlike the German stone-style buildings that were popular at the time, this was a brick American federal-style building.

Notably, a distinctive feature of this 2-and-a-half-story building where Goundie lived with his other 7 nuclear family members was the connecting beehive oven fireplaces.

Two years later, the thriving brewery was moved from behind the single brethren’s house to his property.

By the 1830s, the brewmaster dropped his proverbial crown and diversified to pursue privatized industries.

In 1852, he sold the house, and since then; it has been a different thing to its different owners.

Currently, the house is a restored 1810 American federal-style building serving as a museum.

In conjunction with the historic Bethlehem visitor center, the museum features a programming space, exhibits, and more.

Plan a visit to tour the 1810 Goundie House from Tuesday to Sunday.

Address: 501 Main St, Bethlehem, PA, United States

9. Lehigh & Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum, Inc.

Lehigh & Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum, Inc.

Lehigh & Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum, Inc.

This is one place you will appreciate for its excellency in preservation and its ability to bring back nostalgic memories.

Depicting the railroad areas in and around Bethlehem, Lehigh, and Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum is a scenic model.

Moreover, its operational signal system governing all the train traffic makes an experience at the museum more realistic and engaging.

As a labor of love and with attention to detail, it is a beautiful recreation of not only the railroad but also Lehigh valley itself.

Hence, the 7,000 square feet museum feature scenes from the 60s and 70s modeled from scratch using photo references.

In fact, visitors get to explore Bethlehem’s interesting old and existing landmarks here in a miniature version before visiting them.

Needless to say, from 1997 when the museum started till now, it has become more than just a depiction of winding railroads and picturesque representations.

Currently, it is the tech preservation site of the proud train heritage of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Whether you are a die-hard train fan or a casual viewer, this is an entertaining place with some interesting memorabilia to remember it by.

Address: 705 Linden St, Bethlehem, PA, United States

10. Colonial Industrial Quarter

Colonial Industrial Quarter

Colonial Industrial Quarter

Along the banks of the Monocacy, this is a 10-acre site of historical buildings on America’s earliest industrial park.

Established by the colonial Moravians, the Colonial Industrial Quarter features 1748 to 1869 ruins and reconstructions.

To meet some basic necessities of life, the early Bethlehem traders and craftsmen chose the area for its accessibility to potable water and power supply.

Starting with small log structures, this Moravian community slowly but steadily turned this area into a heavy industrial area.

By the late 1740s, larger stone buildings replaced these log buildings, which greatly increased productivity.

Unfortunately, by the 1950s, this place became an area of torn-down and abandoned buildings.

Today, the colonial industrial quarter is a restored and preserved part of the historic Moravian Bethlehem national historic landmark district.

Visitors to the area can visit its nice trails, observe some interesting demonstrations and even attend some events and festivals.

Moreover, despite being so historically rich, it is a budget-free tourist destination.

Plan a visit to the park from Thursday to Saturday from 1 am to 6 pm.

Address: 459 Old York Rd, Bethlehem, PA, United States

11. Molinari’s, Bethlehem

Molinari's, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Molinari’s

Get transported over thousands of miles behind the warm doors of this Italian restaurant in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

With a vision to serve authentic Italian delicacies, the owner Molinari started a restaurant in 2011 at Southside Bethlehem.

Staying true to seasonal and local ingredients that give the freshest taste, Molinari’s serves eye-popping and lip-smacking creations.

In fact, featuring homemade pasta, seafood, gelatos, sorbets, and wood-fired pizzas, this restaurant defines culinary art.

Since the nation’s supply of mushrooms can majorly be traced to Pennsylvania, it is no surprise that it is a huge mushroom culture at Molinari’s.

Hence, if you are in dire need of a second opinion to make a final opinion on mushrooms, welcome to the Molinari’s.

Today, this restaurant satiates a developing fancy for Italian cuisine and wine.

Also, its upscale style of interior décor provides an intimate atmosphere to share this good food with loved ones.

Address: 322 E 3rd St, Bethlehem, PA, United States

12. Illick’s Mill

Illick's Mill

Illick’s Mill

The historic grist mill was built in 1856 as a vernacular stone building with a heavy timber frame interior.

Its initial size of 3 levels on a 34 by 40 feet land space was expanded in the 1880s by an additional level and 20 feet.

While in operation, the grist mill ran on the hydro energy it got from the Monocacy creek in the Monocacy park.

The creek itself is a high-quality fishing cold water location and a 20-mile limestone tributary to the Lehigh river.

According to its timeline, this grist mill creek along the Monocacy creek was built by a father and son in 1856 to operate as a flower and feed company.

13 years later, the mill was sold and 10 years later; it was resold to transfer its ownership to William Edward Illick.

By 1885, a younger Illick generation operated the mill which was closed in 1902.

Renting out the mill, this property became the Monocacy milling company, which was a successful wheat and corn mill.

By 1950, the mill was not in operation and its pieces of machinery were even almost completely sold.

In 1965, the building was repurposed into a music venue and a teen hangout for Lehigh valley teenagers until 1973.

It reopened again as a theater for stage productions in 1978 to close again in 1983.

Later on, it reopened as a haunted house for different periods between the 1980s and 2000.

Functioning as an environmental education center, it was in use again between 2009 to 2014.

Currently, the mill is under the management of the city’s public property department.

Plan a visit to the historic site any day, any time.

Address: 100 Illick’s Mill Rd, Bethlehem, PA, United States

13. Historic Bethlehem River Tours

Historic Bethlehem River Tours

Historic Bethlehem River Tours

While exploring Bethlehem and its surrounding areas on land can be adventurous, have you imagined the view of these same places from the Lehigh river?

If you haven’t, that is the more reason why you will enjoy starting your tour of the city from this angle.

Historic Bethlehem River Tours is a recreational kayak paddling of the Lehigh river through historic Bethlehem.

As a daytime tour destination, it provides 3 hours of fresh air, sunshine, and leisure float.

As a guided tour, the tour route features iconic structures like the steel stacks, the D&L canal and towpath, and the dam.

Also, this is a scenic, green way to learn about the Moravians and Bethlehem as a whole.

Hence, it is the perfect way to combine a love for nature and a love of tourism and adventure.

For safety reasons, kayaks used during the tour are recreational kayaks built to minimize your worries while on water.

Plan a tour of the Bethlehem river any day except Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Address: 240 River St, Bethlehem, PA, United States

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14. Sky Zone Trampoline Park, Bethlehem

Sky Zone Trampoline Park, Bethlehem

Sky Zone Trampoline Park, Bethlehem

As far as your endurance can carry you, this trampoline park has enough bouncing, flipping, and jumping for you.

Since launching in 2004, it has been bringing joy to kids, teenagers, and fitness enthusiasts in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Originating as a trampoline course for playing team sports, that wild concept never really took off.

Interestingly, its visitors eventually inspired its rebranding into an indoor trampoline park.

Like any succeeding business, Sky Zone Trampoline Park has every intention of staying relevant in this newfound niche.

In fact, its new business model to dominate the world is a three-word mantra; awesome, healthy, and fun.

To achieve this, it quickly began to recognize new ways to adapt and evolve according to this new business model.

In addition to trampolines that connect fitness and sports to fun, the park also has obstacle courses.

Hence, no matter what shape you are in when it comes to exercise, there is something here for you.

At the sky zone trampoline park, kids overcome challenges through deductive reasoning and creative guidance.

Also, you can spend the whole day having fun in the arcade area.

Plan a visit to the sky zone trampoline park in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania any day.

Address: 2285 Schoenersville Rd, Bethlehem, PA, United States

15. The Bayou, Bethlehem

Things to do in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

The Bayou, Bethlehem

Creative southern American comfort food does not come more packaged in Bethlehem than here.

Opened in 2014, the bayou stands as a thriving fine dining location with a modern twist to classic New Orleans cooking.

Impressively, the bayou’s interior provides the much-needed ambiance to complement the unique tastes available in food and drink.

As a matter of fact, the Bayou is popular for its expertise in craft beer, high-quality food, and cheerful service.

With an interest in making the bayou as a relatable place as possible, its menu features food options, paying homage to nostalgia.

One such dish popular among its 80s and 90s folks is its signature cheesesteak.

Hence, this is a perfect place to hang out with childhood friends and relive fun memories while in Bethlehem.

Also, it is the ideal place to make new memories with friends and family while enjoying their shareable food plates.

Plan a visit to the Bayou today.

Address:702 Hawthorne Rd, Bethlehem, PA, United States

16. Historic Archibald Johnston Mansion

Historic Archibald Johnston Mansion

Historic Archibald Johnston Mansion

The mansion is located in Housenick park.

Built in the early 1920s, this mansion was home to the family of Archibald and Estelle Johnston for 25 years.

Although he was a trained mechanical engineer working at the Bethlehem steel company, he swiftly rose up the ranks after his marriage.

The wife of his youth was a Borhek and the daughter of the owner of the Brown and Borhek lumber company.

This solid alliance, in addition to his strong people skills, first gave him his advantage in a sales role at Bethlehem steel and later as the company’s executive and Bethlehem’s first mayor.

Shortly after concluding his only tenure as mayor in 1923, he and his wife moved into this mansion that had been designed by architect Curtis Lovelace.

Sooner than later, Johnston’s passion for engineering and wealth saw him transforming the surrounding area and fields.

His creations included a network of roads, a productive and self-sufficient network of homes, a fish hatchery, a lily pond, and a reinforced mill.

He also designed his own beautiful and unique landscape and added recreational opportunities for his two children.

Plan a visit to the Historic Archibald Johnston Mansion any day from 7:30 am to 5:30 am.

Address: 3811 Christian Spring Rd, Bethlehem, PA, United States

17. Sun Inn Preservation Association, Inc.

Things to do in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Sun Inn Preservation Association, Inc.

Without a doubt, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has hosted many dignitaries from different eras at different times.

These dignitaries like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and more who traveled to stay here had good remarks at the end of their stay.

One notable place that influenced these positive farewell remarks was the Sun inn.

Built by the Moravians in 1758, the inn was a popular spot for excellent food, hospitality, and comfortable accommodation.

Today, the inn combines its restaurant, distillery, and museum aspects to portray a historical past its visitors can engage with.

It features a guest parlor, a gallery highlighting the history of distilling, a colonial kitchen, and other Moravian artifacts.

Since the inn was the first place of lodging to offer a private suite in the new world, it also features its Martha Washington suite.

Hence, visitors to the inn get to enjoy true and famous Bethlehem history in its glory.

In addition to that, the inn still operates as a micro-distillery producing colonial-style spirit and a dining venue.

Plan a visit to the Sun inn through the Sun Inn Preservation Association Inc. today.

Address: 556 Main St UNIT 2, Bethlehem, PA, United States

18. Wildlands Conservancy Bike and Boat Adventures 

Wildlands Conservancy Bike and Boat Adventures 

Wildlands Conservancy Bike and Boat Adventures

Adventures at Bethlehem are not always on land or in water, it can be both.

In fact, sometimes, it is below sea level.

At the wildlands conservancy bike and boat adventures, participants are encouraged to engage with urban wilderness and connect with nature.

Starting from the sand island, visitors get to show off biking skills for four and a half miles to the canal park.

At this point, visitors also get to explore the Lehigh river for another four and a half miles back to the starting point.

Interestingly, this daytime land and river tour is not only a refreshing experience of the outdoors but also an enlightening underwater biology experience.

Little wonder both first-timers and regular-timers here agree on one thing- this is a unique experience you want to relive.

Without a doubt, Wildlands Conservancy Bike and Boat Adventures provide a great way to appreciate different aspects of the outdoors in Bethlehem.

Address: 210 River St, Bethlehem, PA

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19. Single Sisters’ House

Single Sisters' House

Single Sisters’ House

This is a typical example of German-style architecture built in Bethlehem during colonial times.

In 1744, the building was constructed by the Moravian settlers as a choir house for single brethren.

Featuring red brick arches over windows and herringbone-patterned doors, this is the first building in Bethlehem, built out of limestone in German style.

Along came growth and development in the community and in 1748, 21 single sisters and 29 young girls made this place the new Single Sister’s House.

Its 3 floors served as craft and work spaces and sleeping dormitories for the sister since the building provided them with a chapel and kitchen.

Eventually, two additions were made to the house on its north and east sides to accommodate its growing number of occupants.

Centuries down the line, the building now hosts historic, educative tours and women’s programming.

Interestingly, the centuries-old building is still called home by some single and independent women in Bethlehem.

Address: 50 W Church St, Bethlehem, PA, United States

20. ZEST bar+grille

Things to do in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

ZEST bar+grille

Does a meal taste better when you have it in a beautiful outdoor space?

Bethlehem’s Southside Zest Bar+Grille is just the place to answer that.

In 2019, the creators of the grille 3501 opened this rooftop bar+grill in the heart-of-the-art district of the city to deliver a unique dining experience.

As such, Zest bar+grill feature an ambiance of trendy interior and metropolitan vibe second to none in the Lehigh Valley.

From its dining area, its visitors get an uninterrupted view of iconic Bethlehem locations from different angles.

Hence, you can plan your tour of this side of the city while having anything from their delicious menu options.

Interestingly, their menu, which changes seasonally, caters to different dietary preferences.

Also, their bar menu features some unique in-house cocktails you might have never thought of.

In other words, if you are adventurous with your food and adult beverages, this is the place to show it.

Plan a visit to Zest bar+grill today.

Address: 306 S New St, Bethlehem, PA, United States

21. Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino and Resort.

Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino and Resort.

Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino and Resort.

To match luxury living in bigger cities, Bethlehem presents this member of the wind creek family of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Featuring Vegas–style gaming, enjoyable dining options, classy shopping, and entertainment experiences, this is a popular comfort choice in Bethlehem.

Specifically, its casino feature about 3, 000 slot machines, and its event center and outlet mall inspire delightful splurging ideas.

Also, its pool, fitness center, lounge, dining options, and more ensure guests have a variety of world-class options during their stay.

With about six different room types to choose from, most rooms have free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV, private bathrooms, and more.

Located in the iconic Lehigh valley area, the Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino and Resort, show off Bethlehem’s interesting and inspiring past.

This clean 4-star resort is also in close proximity to other interesting entertainment centers in Bethlehem.

If by now you have not noticed, the wind creek Bethlehem casino and resort thrives in the business of finding more ways to make memorable stays.

Address: 77 Wind Creek Blvd, Bethlehem, PA

 

Final Remark

Much like the food and bar menu in Bethlehem, some interesting things to do in Bethlehem are also seasonal.

However, you cannot go wrong with a visit to this beautiful city any day.

Whether you decide to start your tour on land, water, or both, there is much to do, learn and see in Bethlehem once you step out.

The question is what will you be starting with from our list above and what will be your favorite?

Safe Travels!