If there’s one place you should visit this holiday season, it’s Bethlehem. Aptly nicknamed “The Christmas City,” Bethlehem takes festive to the next level. From holiday lights and decked out trees to festive cocktails and candlelit tours, this place has Christmas covered. But let me be clear, Bethlehem is a great place to be 365 days a year.
First, let’s get the geography out of the way. Bethlehem is a pretty big place, so you may be wondering where to start. “Downtown Bethlehem” encompasses the areas of West Broad Street to West Church Street and across the Lehigh River. Here you’ll find a variety of stores and organizations that specialize in history, hospitality, art, and education. Bethlehem’s Historic District, and more specifically Main Street, is my favorite place in not only Bethlehem but the entire Lehigh Valley area. Home to colonial staples, like the Sun Inn, and popular restaurants, like the Apollo Grill, the Historic District boasts all the charm and history of a small town with the attractions of a big city.
At Christmastime, it doesn’t get much jollier than the Historic Hotel Bethlehem. Hotel B’s atmosphere is unrivaled any day of the year, but they really up the ante during the holiday season. If you go for the decorations, stick around. Try lunch in the Tap Room or enjoy dinner with a view at 1741 on The Terrace. In search of unique cocktails? Belly up to the bar and check out Hotel B’s extensive list of libations. My personal favorite, “Lost in Paris,” features Absolut Pear Vodka and champagne. Before you go, be sure to snap a photo with the Nittany Lion who spends his days on a bench outside of the hotel.
You can’t beat the sangria and small plates at Tapas on Main. In case you aren’t well-versed in Spanish cuisine, “tapas” are small portions and are best enjoyed among friends. The truffle fries are a must-have, and the flatbreads are always amazing, so order away and share, share, share! In addition to an incredible wine list, Tapas on Main features seasonal sangrias. Opt for a flight and try a few flavors before choosing your favorite.
For a more casual night out, head to Fegley’s Bethlehem BrewWorks. With a selection of expertly brewed beers and some of the best comfort food around, a visit to BrewWorks is sure to satisfy. Part of an extensive, ever-changing menu, the Appetizers at BrewWorks are amazing: Hand-Pressed Pierogies, Bavarian Pretzels, BREWschetta…the list goes on. Plus, I’m a total sucker for their seasonal brews, especially Devious Imperial Pumpkin and Blueberry Belch. Before you leave, grab a growler of your favorite and take it to-go.
There’s no better way to wrap up a date than with dessert. Visit Hotel Bethlehem’s brand new Ice Cream Parlor for a few scoops of Penn State University’s famous Creamery ice cream. (FYI, “one scoop” is a very large portion!) My fellow Penn Staters can certainly appreciate what a treat it is to be able to enjoy this delicacy so close to home. The Hotel B Ice Cream Parlor is decked out in PSU memorabilia and has 12+ flavors on hand. From classics, like Peanut Butter Swirl and Bittersweet Mint, to flavors unique to Penn State, like Alumni Swirl and Grilled Stickies, Penn State does ice cream right. Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample in order to make an informed decision. But rest assured, whatever flavor you choose is guaranteed to be delicious!
Whether you crave a romantic night out or a day of fun with friends, a visit to Main Street Bethlehem will not disappoint. Visit www.getdowntownbethlehem.com for the latest information on festivals, events, and holiday happenings. If you need me, I’ll be eating ice cream at Hotel B!
By: Jamie Bowman
74 W. Broad Street, Suite 240
Bethlehem, PA 18018