Industrial History Meets Modern Charm: Things To Do in Bethlehem PA

Industrial History Meets Modern Charm: Things To Do in Bethlehem PA


Located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem is a city where the echoes of a robust industrial past blend with the energy of modern-day attractions.

Once a major center of steel production, Bethlehem has revitalized itself by repurposing former industrial sites into cultural hubs and innovative spaces.

Just a short drive from vibrant cities like Allentown and Easton, Bethlehem offers a unique getaway that combines history, art, and entertainment.

Book your flight with Skyscanner to Bethlehem and explore the historic Bethlehem Steel Stacks, now a vibrant arts and culture center.

Exploring Bethlehem’s Industrial Past

Bethlehem’s industrial past is rooted in steel production, shaping the city’s identity.

Today, it embraces its heritage while transforming industrial sites into vibrant cultural destinations.

This legacy celebrates innovation, creativity, and community, reflecting the city’s resilience and spirit.

πŸ‘‰ Stay in a historic hotel in downtown Bethlehem, within walking distance of the Steel Stacks and local museums.

National Museum of Industrial History:


Step into the past at this Smithsonian-affiliate museum, housed in a former Bethlehem Steel building.

It’s more than just a collection of artifacts; it’s an immersive experience that transports you to the heart of America’s industrial revolution. 

Marvel at towering steam engines, intricate textile looms, and other colossal machines that powered the nation’s progress.

Things to do at the National Museum of Industrial History:
  • Explore the main galleries: Trace the evolution of American industry from its earliest days to the present.
  • Visit the blacksmith shop: Watch skilled artisans demonstrate traditional metalworking techniques.
  • Take a guided tour: Gain deeper insights from knowledgeable guides who bring the exhibits to life.
  • Attend special events: Check the museum’s calendar for lectures, workshops, and demonstrations.
  • Browse the gift shop: Find unique souvenirs and educational gifts for all ages.

πŸ‘‰ Find the best flights to Bethlehem on Skyscanner and visit the Moravian Book Shop, the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world.


Steel Stacks

Rising from the ashes of Bethlehem Steel, SteelStacks is a testament to the city’s ability to reinvent itself.

This sprawling arts and cultural campus is a dynamic blend of old and new, where industrial relics stand side-by-side with cutting-edge performance venues.

These towering structures are a powerful reminder of Bethlehem’s steel-making legacy and offer a dramatic backdrop for events.

Things to do at SteelStacks:
  • Catch a show: See a concert, play, or comedy performance at one of the many venues.
  • Browse the art galleries: Discover local and international artists in the galleries at the ArtsQuest Center.
  • Enjoy a movie at the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema: This unique cinema serves craft beer and pub fare alongside independent and classic films.
  • Explore the Bethlehem Visitor Center: Learn about the city’s history and attractions, and get tips for planning your visit.
  • Attend a festival: Musikfest, InVision Festival, and Oktoberfest are just a few of the major events held at SteelStacks throughout the year.
  • Dine and drink: Choose from a variety of restaurants and bars offering everything from casual fare to upscale cuisine.

πŸ‘‰ Book a charming bed and breakfast near the Moravian Book Shop to explore the heart of Bethlehem’s historic district.

Hoover Mason Trestle:

Hoover Mason Trestle

Take a walk on the industrial side at the Hoover Mason Trestle.

This elevated walkway, once used to transport raw materials for steel production, now offers a unique perspective on Bethlehem’s industrial heritage.

Ascend 46 feet above the ground for sweeping views of the former Bethlehem Steel plant, the Lehigh River, and the surrounding landscape.

Things to do at the Hoover Mason Trestle:
  • Take a self-guided tour: Use the interpretive signage to learn about the history and significance of the site.
  • Download the audio tour: Enhance your experience with a narrated tour that provides deeper insights into the steel-making process.
  • Relax on a bench: Pause to admire the views and reflect on Bethlehem’s industrial legacy.
  • Photograph the landscape: Capture the unique beauty of the industrial ruins and the surrounding scenery.
  • Look for wildlife: Keep an eye out for birds, squirrels, and other creatures that have made their home in this reclaimed space.

πŸ‘‰ Use Skyscanner to plan your trip to Bethlehem for the annual Musikfest, a large music festival that attracts visitors from all over.

Bethlehem: A Christmas City Tradition

Main Street in Bethlehem, PA

No visit to Bethlehem is complete without experiencing its enchanting Christmas lights.

Known as the “Christmas City,” Bethlehem dazzles visitors with its festive displays and heartwarming traditions during the holiday season.

Historic Moravian District: Stroll through the Historic Moravian District, where charming streets are adorned with twinkling lights, creating a magical atmosphere.

Christmas Market: Browse through a traditional Christmas market, offering unique gifts, handmade crafts, and delicious seasonal treats.

Live Nativity Pageant: Witness the story of Christmas come to life with a live nativity pageant, a cherished Bethlehem tradition.

Christmas City Stroll: Take a guided tour of the Historic Moravian District to learn about its rich history and Christmas traditions.

Whether you’re visiting for a day or staying for the whole season, Bethlehem’s Christmas lights are sure to ignite your holiday spirit.

πŸ‘‰ Find your flight to Bethlehem on Skyscanner and take a ghost tour in historic downtown, revealing the spooky side of this historic city.

Discovering Historic Bethlehem

Delve deeper into Bethlehem’s past beyond its steel legacy. Explore the charming streets of Historic Bethlehem, where centuries-old buildings and traditions transport you to a bygone era.

Colonial Industrial Quarter:

Colonial Industrial Quarter, Bethlehem PA

Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of 18th-century Bethlehem at this captivating living history museum.

Situated along the Monocacy Creek, this meticulously preserved industrial village showcases the ingenuity and craftsmanship of early Moravian settlers.

Attend seasonal events like the Historic Turkey Trot or the Harvest Festival for a truly immersive experience.

Things to do at the Colonial Industrial Quarter:
  • Take a guided tour: Learn about the history and significance of the site from a knowledgeable guide.
  • Observe demonstrations: Watch skilled artisans practice traditional crafts and learn about their techniques.
  • Explore the buildings: Peek inside the historic structures and imagine what life was like in the 18th century.
  • Attend a special event: Participate in seasonal celebrations and experience colonial life firsthand.
  • Picnic by the creek: Bring a blanket and enjoy a relaxing lunch in the picturesque surroundings.

πŸ‘‰ Find a modern hotel close to the Lehigh University campus for easy access to college events and facilities.

Historic Hotel Bethlehem:

Historic Hotel Bethlehem

Indulge in a touch of luxury and history at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem, an iconic landmark that has hosted presidents, celebrities, and discerning travelers since 1922.

Located in the heart of Historic Bethlehem, this elegant hotel exudes timeless charm and offers a truly unforgettable experience. 

Admire the hotel’s stunning architecture, featuring a magnificent lobby, ornate details, and a grand ballroom adorned with murals depicting Bethlehem’s history.

Things to do at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem:
  • Dine in style: Enjoy a memorable meal at one of the hotel’s restaurants, such as the Tap Room, 1741 on the Terrace, or the Sunday Brunch Buffet.
  • Attend a special event: Check the hotel’s calendar for holiday celebrations, themed dinners, and other unique events.
  • Explore the surrounding area: The hotel is within walking distance of many of Bethlehem’s top attractions, including the Colonial Industrial Quarter, SteelStacks, and the Moravian Museum.
  • Relax in the lobby: Admire the hotel’s elegant decor and soak up the historic ambiance.
  • Indulge in afternoon tea: Experience a classic British tradition in the hotel’s elegant tea room.

πŸ‘‰ Secure your flight with Skyscanner and walk through the beautiful campus of Lehigh University, with its notable architecture and scenic views.

Moravian Museum:

Moravian Gemein House, Church Street, Bethlehem, PA

Journey back to Bethlehem’s roots at the Moravian Museum, where you’ll discover the fascinating story of the Moravians, a religious group who founded the city in 1741.

The museum is housed in the oldest building in Bethlehem, the 1741 Gemeinhaus.

It offers insight into the lives and traditions of these early settlers.

Explore this National Historic Landmark, a five-story log structure that served as a community center, church, and residence for early Moravians.

Things to do at the Moravian Museum:
  • Tour the Gemeinhaus: Explore the different rooms and learn about the daily lives of early Moravians.
  • View the exhibits: Discover artifacts, photographs, and documents that tell the story of Moravian history and culture.
  • Visit the Apothecary Garden: See the plants used by early Moravians for medicinal purposes.
  • Browse the gift shop: Find unique souvenirs and Moravian-themed gifts.
  • Attend a special event: Check the museum’s calendar for lectures, concerts, and other cultural programs.

πŸ‘‰ Choose a boutique inn near the Banana Factory for a culturally rich stay surrounded by local art and creativity.

Arts and Culture in Bethlehem

Bethlehem’s creative spirit shines through its vibrant arts and culture scene.

From music festivals to world-class museums and galleries, there’s something to inspire every visitor.


August is when Bethlehem comes alive with Musikfest, a 10-day music extravaganza featuring over 500 live performances.

This popular festival, one of the largest free music festivals in the nation, takes over the streets and stages of Bethlehem, offering a diverse lineup of genres and artists to cater to all tastes.

From rock and pop to jazz, blues, country, and everything in between, Musikfest has something for everyone.

You can discover new artists or catch your favorite headliners on multiple stages throughout the city.

Things to do at Musikfest:
  • Catch a headlining act: See top-tier musical talent perform on the Wind Creek Steel Stage.
  • Discover new artists: Explore the smaller stages and platzes (squares) to find up-and-coming musicians.
  • Sample diverse cuisine: Indulge in a wide variety of food and drinks from vendors throughout the festival grounds.
  • Browse artisan crafts: Find unique handmade goods and souvenirs at the artisan marketplace.
  • Enjoy family-friendly activities: Participate in kid-friendly events and performances.
  • Soak up the atmosphere: Stroll through the festival grounds, listen to music, and enjoy the festive ambiance.

πŸ‘‰ Fly into Bethlehem with Skyscanner and enjoy a unique experience at the Banana Factory, a gallery and studio space for artists.

Allentown Art Museum:

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Just a short drive from Bethlehem, the Allentown Art Museum offers a world of artistic exploration.

Housed in a beautifully renovated building, this museum boasts a diverse collection that spans centuries and continents.

Discover over 20,000 works of art, including European and American paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, textiles, and contemporary pieces.

Things to do at the Allentown Art Museum:
  • Wander through the galleries: Immerse yourself in the museum’s diverse collection and discover new favorites.
  • Admire the Frank Lloyd Wright Library: Experience the beauty and functionality of this architectural gem.
  • Attend a special exhibition: Explore temporary exhibits that delve into specific themes or artists.
  • Participate in an educational program: Learn more about art history, techniques, and current trends.
  • Enjoy a family-friendly activity: Take part in art-making workshops or interactive tours designed for all ages.

πŸ‘‰ Secure a comfortable suite near the Sands Casino to enjoy evening entertainment and luxury amenities without needing to travel far.

ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks:

Levitt Pavilion, Steel Stacks, Bethlehem, PA

At the heart of the SteelStacks campus, the ArtsQuest Center is a dynamic hub for arts, culture, and entertainment.

This multi-use facility boasts a variety of performance spaces, galleries, and even a cinema, making it a vibrant destination for all ages.

Things to do at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks:
  • Catch a live performance: Enjoy concerts, plays, comedy shows, and other events in one of the center’s versatile venues.
  • Watch a movie at the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema: Savor a craft beer and a delicious meal while enjoying a film.
  • Explore the art galleries: Discover the works of talented artists in the center’s rotating exhibitions.
  • Take a class or workshop: Learn a new skill or hone your craft in one of the many educational programs offered.
  • Savor a meal or drink at the Musikfest Cafe: Enjoy delicious food and drinks with a view of the blast furnaces.

πŸ‘‰ With Skyscanner, reach Bethlehem and spend a relaxing day at the Sands Casino, featuring top entertainment and dining.

More Things to Do in and Near Bethlehem

On campus at Lehigh University in the fall.

Bethlehem’s allure extends beyond its industrial heritage and cultural attractions. Here are a few more gems worth exploring:

Lehigh University:

Take a stroll through the picturesque campus of this prestigious university, admiring its historic buildings and lush greenery.

Catch a Lehigh sporting event or simply soak up the collegiate atmosphere.

Lost River Caverns:

Embark on an underground adventure at Lost River Caverns, a natural wonder filled with stunning rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites.

Guided tours take you through the caverns’ winding passages, revealing the mysteries of this subterranean world.

Wind Creek Bethlehem:

For a thrilling and entertaining experience, visit Wind Creek Bethlehem.

This expansive resort features a casino with a variety of games, excellent restaurants, live shows, and a luxurious hotel.

Even if you don’t gamble, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy at Wind Creek.

πŸ‘‰ Opt for a cozy lodging option close to the Christmas market during the holiday season for a festive and convenient experience.

Where to Stay in Bethlehem

Hotel Bethlehem

Finding the perfect place to stay in Bethlehem is easy, with options ranging from historic charm to modern convenience.

Hotel Bethlehem:

For a truly luxurious and historic experience, there’s no better choice than the Hotel Bethlehem.

This iconic establishment, featured in our previous section, offers elegant accommodations, exquisite dining, and impeccable service.

Historic Bethlehem Hotels and Inns:

If you’re looking for a more intimate and distinctive stay, you might want to consider one of the charming historic hotels or inns in Bethlehem.

These properties provide a peek into the city’s past while offering modern amenities and personalized service.

Some popular options include the Sayre Mansion, and the Bethlehem Inn,.

Modern Hotels:

If you’re looking for modern hotels near popular attractions like SteelStacks and the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, Bethlehem offers a range of contemporary accommodations in convenient locations.

You might consider staying at the Hyatt Place Bethlehem, the Courtyard by Marriott Bethlehem Lehigh Valley/I-78, or the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Bethlehem.

πŸ‘‰ Book through Skyscanner for a trip to Bethlehem and taste your way through the city’s Christmas market, one of the best in the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bethlehem PA

Main Street, Bethlehem, PA
What is Bethlehem PA known for?

Bethlehem is best known for its rich industrial history, particularly as a major steel producer with Bethlehem Steel.

However, today it is a vibrant city with a thriving arts scene, cultural attractions, and historical sites.

How far is Bethlehem from Philadelphia?

Bethlehem is located approximately 55 miles north of Philadelphia. By car, it’s about a 1-hour drive depending on traffic.

Is Bethlehem a walkable city?

The Historic Bethlehem and the SteelStacks area are highly walkable, with many attractions located close to each other.

However, some attractions, such as the National Museum of Industrial History and Wind Creek Bethlehem, may require a car or taxi to reach.

What is the best time to visit Bethlehem?

 Bethlehem is a great place to visit throughout the year, with something to offer in every season.

If you want to experience Musikfest, the city’s famous music festival, make sure to plan your visit for early August.

The holiday season is also a magical time to visit, with the city’s festive decorations and Christmas markets.

What are some unique things to do in Bethlehem?

For a truly unique experience, consider taking a stroll across the Hoover Mason Trestle to enjoy panoramic views of the old steel mill.

You can also explore the underground world at Lost River Caverns, or step back in time at the Colonial Industrial Quarter, a living history museum showcasing 18th-century life.

πŸ‘‰ Discover a family-friendly hotel near Musikfest venues to minimize travel time and maximize fun during the festival.

Ready to Experience Bethlehem’s Unique Charm?

Church Street, Bethlehem, PA

Bethlehem, PA, is a city that seamlessly combines its industrial heritage with a modern, creative spirit.

You can explore the remnants of its steel-making past and immerse yourself in its vibrant arts and culture scene.

Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, a foodie, or just seeking a unique getaway, Bethlehem has something for everyone.

Start planning your trip to Bethlehem today and discover the many ways this city seamlessly combines the old with the new.

πŸ‘‰ Find your flight to Bethlehem on Skyscanner and take a ghost tour in historic downtown, revealing the spooky side of this historic city.

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