I’ve traveled all throughout Pennsylvania, and one of my favorite places to visit is the Lehigh Valley city of Bethlehem. This vibrant city features a fascinating history and has emerged from the loss of its main industry to become a charming and vibrant city.
Based on my travels through the area, I decided to share a few of my favorite things to do in Bethlehem, PA. Whether you love history, outdoor fun, or are simply looking for a way to relax, there’s a lot to love about this part of the Lehigh Valley.
Here are a few of our favorite things to do in and around this great destination.
National Museum of Industrial History
Located inside the once-abandoned electrical repair shop for Bethlehem Steel, the National Museum of Industrial History offers a fantastic overview of the industries that shaped the Lehigh Valley and the surrounding region.
The museum highlights the region’s steel-making history, as well as the silk and propane industries. There’s also a section that showcases giant engines designed for the 1876 Centennial exposition in Philadelphia.
Bethlehem is known as Christmas City USA, so it should come as no surprise that there are many great things to do during the holiday season.
One of the highlights is the Christmas markets that can be found throughout the city. The many shops in downtown Bethlehem, PA, also come alive during the season and are great for finding a perfect gift for everyone on your list (or yourself).
America on Wheels
America on Wheels is a great museum dedicated to the transportation history of the region. Located five miles west of Bethlehem, the museum is one of the best things to do in Allentown and is worth the short drive to visit.
The museum focuses on over-the-road transportation throughout the country with a focus on the car industry in the Lehigh Valley. Exhibits include a gas-powered car built in 1889 by Henry Nadig, one of the first gas-powered cars ever constructed.
There is also a great exhibition on the once-locally-made Mack Trucks, though those with a serious interest in the subject will want to head over to the nearby Mack Trucks Historical Museum.
While the Bethlehem Steel Plant on the edge of downtown might no longer be producing steel, it has been turned into a focal point known as the SteelStacks.
The Hoover-Mason Trestle is an elevated train track that has been turned into a walking path alongside the stacks. From here, you can get great looks into this former steel mill and learn about the history of the site. While the path isn’t long, it’s one of the more interesting historical walks in Pennsylvania and one of the most interesting things to do in Bethlehem, PA.
If you are looking for things to do with kids near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Crayola Experience is a great destination.
Located in nearby Easton, the Crayola Experience is sadly not a factory tour. However, it is an interactive art destination for kids that is sure to inspire the budding artist in us all. Kids (and adults) can try their hand at a variety of coloring activities, create their own crayons, and much more.
Historic Hotel Bethlehem
The Historic Hotel Bethlehem is located in the heart of the downtown area and has been greeting visitors since it was built by Charles M. Schwab in 1922. Since then, it has hosted four Presidents, Winston Churchill, the Dali Lama, Shirley Temple, and many more well-known visitors.
While it is one of the top places to stay in all of eastern PA (Check current prices here), it’s also a neat spot just to pop into and enjoy the displays and shops in the public areas.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs
If you love baseball, you won’t want to miss a Lehigh Valley IronPigs game during the summer months.
The IronPigs play their games at Coca-Cola Park and are the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Since the players here are one step below the Major Leagues, the quality of the baseball is very good, but the atmosphere is still intimate and the prices reasonable.
The IronPigs season runs from April through early September each year and is definitely one of my favorite things to do in the Lehigh Valley.
Fegley Brew Works
Fegley Brew Works is a Lehigh Valley brewery that has two locations: one in downtown Allentown and one in downtown Bethlehem.
Their location in Bethlehem is located right along Main Street and located inside a beautifully decorated historic building. Dine and sip their delicious drinks with their brewing equipment nestled near your table.
I’ve had a chance to eat and drink at Fegley’s on a few different occasions and have always been impressed with the quality of their food and beers.
Moravian Historical Society Museum
Bethlehem and many of the surrounding communities were founded in the 18th century by the Moravians. To learn more about them and the history of the region, head to the Moravian Historical Society Museum in Nazareth, PA.
The museum is located in a building that dates to 1740 and features many fascinating displays on both the impacts of the Moravians as well as non-preachy information about their beliefs and how they worship.
If you want to learn more about the culture of Bethlehem, this is a great spot to visit.
Lost River Caverns
Head underground to explore the beautiful Lost River Caverns in Hellertown, PA.
Lost River Caverns is named for the small stream that passes through the cave with no known above-ground source or outlet. However, there’s more to see here including beautiful geologic shapes, flowstone, florescent rocks, and more.
Moravian Book Shop
The Moravian Book Shop is located in downtown Bethlehem and is the oldest bookstore in the United States (and possibly the world).
This store sells all manner of books from both popular new pieces to rare and hard to find books. The interior of the store also features a gift shop with a variety of wares, including popular Moravian stars. There is also a brewery and a deli inside if you need a quick snack or meal while browsing the store.
National Canal Museum
Located east of Bethlehem near Easton, the National Canal Museum offers a fascinating look at the history of canals in the region.
There is a museum that features both great signage for those interested in learning the history of canals as well as a ton of great interactive elements for kids or adults that want to have a bit of fun.
Outside, an authentically recreated canal boat offers rides along a small section of the old Lehigh Canal. The boat is still steered just as it used to be done 150 years ago and is even pulled by mules.
Ringing Rocks County Park
Ringing Rocks County Park is located about 30 minutes from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but this incredibly strange place is definitely worth the drive.
At this park, the rocks in the boulder field ring like a bell when struck with a hammer. Hitting different rocks offers different sounds, and some even try to play various songs using just the rocks.
If you happen to visit when water levels are high, the park is also home to High Falls, the tallest waterfall in Bucks County and likely the closest waterfall to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
If you drive down here, you might also want to explore our favorite things to do in Bucks County.
Moravian Museum of Bethlehem
Located in downtown Bethlehem, the Moravian Museum offers a look into the history of this community and how it grew from a small religious village into one of the largest cities in Pennsylvania.
The historic buildings here date back to the mid-18th century and give visitors a chance to learn how the Moravians lived and about their beliefs.
There are also several buildings throughout the downtown area where visitors can see how artisans lived and worked in Bethlehem hundreds of years ago.
Weyerbacher Brewing Company
Weyerbacher opened in 1995, making it one of the oldest craft breweries in the state. Since then they have crafted some delicious beers, and a stop at their tasting room gives you the chance to try many of them for yourself.
If you want to learn more about their beer, Weyerbacher also offers free tours on Saturdays and Sundays.
Of course, they are just one of the many fantastic Lehigh Valley breweries, so make sure to check out a few others during your visit.
Every August, Bethlehem comes alive with the country’s largest free music event: Musikfest.
Held throughout town and at the SteelStacks in the shadow of the former Bethlehem Steel mill, there are more than 500 performances during this 10-day extravaganza. With so many performances, you are sure to find something that matches your musical taste.
In addition to the free concerts, there are also paid concerts held nightly featuring some of the biggest bands in the world.
Martin Guitar Factory Tour
If you are looking for things to do near Bethlehem, PA, a drive out to the Martin Guitar factory should be on your list. C.F. Martin Guitars is the world’s oldest guitar manufacturer and has been handmaking guitars in Nazareth, PA since 1838.
Today, some of the world’s best guitars are still made in this small Pennsylvania community, and visitors come from all over the world to take the free tour of the factory and to gaze at the artifacts in their museum.
Lehigh and Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum
The Lehigh Valley has a rich railroading history and that history is kept alive at the Lehigh and Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum.
Visitors to the museum can walk amongst three different train lines that have been incredibly recreated featuring local landmarks from throughout eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Thanks to the incredibly intricate displays here, this is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Bethlehem, PA.
Unfortunately, the museum has very limited hours, but this is definitely a spot not to miss if you can make it to their monthly open houses or during the holiday season.
Lehigh Valley Heritage Center
The Lehigh Valley Heritage Center in Allentown tells the story of Lehigh County and its impact on the world.
This historical society museum features thousands of artifacts from the county’s history and offers a great overview of how the region was settled and how the residents here lived their lives.
If you want to learn more about the history of the region, this is a spot definitely worth visiting.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Located on a bluff overlooking downtown Bethlehem is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
During the Revolutionary War, Bethlehem served as a major hospital center, even once treating the Marquis de Lafayette for wounds he suffered in the Battle of Brandywine.
Unlike Lafayette, however, many of the wounded who came here did not survive. As many as 500 of them were buried in a mass grave on this hillside. To honor their sacrifice, one of the bodies was reinterred under a plaque honoring the unknown soldiers that are buried here.
Historic Covered Bridges
The Lehigh Valley is home to many historic sites, but if you are looking for a great way to explore the countryside, taking a covered bridges tour is a great choice.
There are a total of six historic covered bridges in Lehigh County, while Northampton County is home to one. Touring these seven bridges takes you to some of the most beautiful spots in the region and offers the chance to really see the heart of the Lehigh Valley.
Do you have a favorite thing to do in Bethlehem, PA that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below.