Things to See & Do and Events

Historic Bethlehem is brimming with fun things to do and history to see and experience everywhere you go. You can start your visit with a stroll down our top 10 Main Street (Number 1 in our eyes, but Top 10 according to USA Today in 2015) which is now exclusively for walking traffic. Grab an ice cream at the Hotel B Ice Cream Parlor, sip a gourmet coffee or tea from the Flying Egg, or tuck into a delicious meal from a host of great restaurants and cafes. Next, you will probably want to explore our vibrant community, so before you venture off Main Street, stop in at the Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center on Main Street for great advice, tour information and much more.

Explore the Historic Residental District

Take a morning stroll or bike ride around the four block residential area adjacent to Main Street. Observe three centuries of homes and mansions nestled along the tree lined streets nestled between the serenity of two historic burial sites.

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THINGS TO DO

Take a stroll through the Colonial Industrial Quarter;

Just down Main Street at the intersection with Church street near the Historic Hotel Bethlehem, the Industrial Quarter is where you’ll find the Water Works, a National Historic Landmark built in 1762 by the Moravians and where municipal water was first pumped in the United States. With a lovely open lawn and trails, you’ll also find the Tannery, Blacksmith Shop, and the Luckenbach Mill. Be sure to check in at the Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites Visitor Center before you head over to the area to see if there are any events or educational programs at the Mill that will help you get a sense of what life was like in the early days of America’s birth.

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Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L Trail)

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L) is both a diverse, multi-faceted organization, and a multi-use trail spanning 165 miles from the mountains of northeast Pennsylvania through the Lehigh Valley and Bucks County. One of the trails beginnings at the bottom of Main Street along the Lehigh Valley

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Bethlehem Zen & Sculpture Gardens

Just east of Main on Church street by City Hall and the Public Library, these tranquil meditative gardens are a perfect space to reflect and renew. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in April or May, the garden’s cherry trees will be bursting with fragrant pink and magenta flowers. As you relax, enjoy the natural stone artwork in the Sculpture Garden, which are a wonderful focal point as you reflect, sip an herbal tea, or enjoy a nice pastry or picnic lunch.

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Visit Moravian College

The history of Moravian College is anything but brief—we're the 6th oldest college in America. Our history doesn’t follow a singular, linear path. Though our story does start with a singular idea and moment. It follows two schools and two winding paths that eventually meet and merge.The distance between North and South campuses, about 0.8 miles, is known as the “Moravian Mile.” As part of orientation, first-year students traditionally walk the Mile between campuses, traveling from North to South, through Historic Bethlehem on their way.

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Picnic or BBQ at Johnston Park

Set along scenic Monocacy Creek west of Main Street, Johnston’s Park features a perfect covered picnic area with tables and a public bar-b-que grill with benches perfectly situated to take in the creek views, creating the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a great book. With plenty of space for families to relax and play in the sunshine, this lovely little park is the perfect place to relax after your tours, hikes, or other adventures in Historic Bethlehem.

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Rent a Canoe, Kayak, Paddleboat or Bike

Just a short walk down Main Street toward River Street, you’ll find Historic Bethlehem River Tours and Sand Island Park, the gateway to your explorations of the Lehigh River. Offering the ultimate way to explore, you can kayak out on the river and bike along the D&L Trail to discover the history of Moravian Settlements, the hulking Bethlehem Steel plant, and much more (a courtesy shuttle is also available for your return). And for nature lovers, be on the lookout for wildlife including blue heron, bald eagles, turtles, deer, and more. Just a short drive from downtown Bethlehem, there’s also Hugh Moore Park and the National Canal Museum, where you can see one of the few remaining lock tender’s houses on the Lehigh Canal, the perennial flower garden, and take in the beautiful views. Offering a variety of tours as well as rentals of bikes, paddleboats, kayaks and canoes, as well as rail trails and towpaths to follow throughout Lehigh Valley, there’s plenty of fun ways to enjoy history and the great outdoors.

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Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas at Steelsteaks

Enjoy the spacious, comfortable stadium-style seating of these modern theatres. If you’re visiting Thursday – Saturday, stock up on your favorite snacks and menu items until 5 p.m. from the Mike & Ike Bistro menu; available all day on Sundays. Located within the ArtsQuest™ Center on the SteelStacks™ campus, you’ll find the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas. Whether you are looking to take in a matinee, a Saturday Late Night Series, or a rare independent or foreign film, you’ll be doing it in style at one of two screen cinemas. The Bistro Bar is also available servicing with multiple options of domestic and imported beers and wines.

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Sand Island Park

With peaceful walking and biking trails, picnic tables located throughout, and a playground for kids, Sand Island Park is bracketed by the southern section of the D&L Trail and Lehigh Canal, as well as the Lehigh River. For sports enthusiasts, bring your racket to play a couple of sets on the recently refinished courts or you can also indulge in a little fishing.

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Explore God’s Acre

As perhaps a gentle and less stark name, Moravians from the Mother Congregation at Herrnhut Saxony in Germany named their burial grounds God’s Acre, which the Moravian settlers in Bethlehem also adopted. For the 2,617 Moravians, as well as converted Native Americans and African-born Moravians whose final resting place in Historic Bethlehem’s God’s Acre, their passing was accompanied by a solemn procession with music played on a trombone. Taking a tour is a great way to learn more about the fascinating history of the Moravians and their unique customs.

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AT CHRISTMAS

The Holiday season is always a joyous and festive time of year for Historic Bethlehem and 2020 will be no exception. However, our traditional events are currently tentative, and some may be modified or rescheduled to assure the health and safety of our residents and visitors. For now, below is a sample of our traditional celebrations, but be sure to check back for updates.

Live Advent Calendar

December 1-23rd at 5:30pm. The Historic Bethlehem Live Advent Calendar, the only one of its kind in the country! The Live Advent Calendar will open at the 1810 Goundie House at 505 Main Street and continue nightly through December 23rd. Shops, restaurants, and community organizations of the Historic Distirct will provide a special treat to Live Advent visitors crowds of up to 300 each night. Visitors will enjoy a festive 10-15 minute program. Be sure to get there early! The Live Advent Calendar is sponsored by merchants of the Downtown Bethlehem Association (DBA), a council of the Lehigh Valley Chamber, in conjunction with Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites (HBMS)

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Clash of the Carols

The competition will take place over three Saturdays in December from 12 PM – 4:30 PM, in the Sun Inn Courtyard. Each week, soloists from different age groups and various choir group sizes will compete to be named best in their category by a panel of acclaimed judges, as well as a People’s Choice winner.

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German Style Huts on Main Street

Visit charming, holiday-themed wooden huts that are filled with unique holiday gift ideas! While you take a look at our unique vendors, stroll our festively decorated Downtown and visit charming retail shops, gourmet restaurants, and historic Moravian museums.

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Christmas Putz at Central Moravian Church

Since 1937, Central Moravian Church has been offering a putz for the City of Bethlehem. A putz is a large Christmas nativity scene with recorded narration.The Putz is open, free of charge to the public in Nitschmann Hall, the lower level of the Christian Education building from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.

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Hotel Bethlehem Self Guided Christmas Tours

Start off in the main lobby, built in 1922 in the midst of the “Roaring Twenties”. Take a journey back in time as your explore the Corinthian columns and replicas of the original lighting fixtures hung overhead. Swing by The Tap Room, festive with holiday spirit and oversized lighted ornaments, a nice pause for a Hot Toddy before continuing on your way to the Lobby level.

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Christmas Tours by Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

Enjoy a variety of tours downtown to learn about the history, Christmas activites and more hosted by Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites!

 

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Christkindlmarkt

It’s in this age-old tradition that Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem was established in downtown Bethlehem in 1993 by ArtsQuest. Started to complement the Christmas City’s existing celebration, the event has grown steadily and is now considered one of the premier holiday attractions in the Northeastern United States.

 

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City Christmas Tree on the Plaza

Join the City of Bethlehem on the Friday after Thanksgiving for our Annual Tree Lighting every year to turn the lights on for the town's Christmas tree!

 

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