Lehigh Valley's picturesque landscape of rolling hills and greenery offers a satisfying escape. The region's rich history, from its Moravian community dating back to the early 1700s, to a high-stakes concealment of the Liberty Bell, and an industrial steelmaking past, ensure this nook of Pennsylvania has dozens of stories to tell. Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and Nazareth all have their charm and cater to travelers with a wide range of interests. Your getaway can be as artsy or outdoorsy as you'd like.
Historic Moravian Bethlehem is a National Historic Landmark District. Walking tours here provide insight into Colonial history—guides don 18th-century garments to show visitors around. They outline the core beliefs of the Moravians, who advocated for equal health care and education for all and fostered a multiracial community at a time when it was far from the norm. At the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, you can learn how the Liberty Bell was hidden in an Allentown church during the Revolutionary War.
Downtown Allentown has quite an appealing vibe. Head here if you'd like to sample food at ethnic restaurants between shopping and exploring the historical arts district. The Frank Lloyd Wright Library at Allentown Arts Museum is worth checking out, and Mack Trucks Historical Museum showcases classic vehicles. The Zion's Reformed United Church of Christ, where the Liberty Bell was hidden, is also here in the heart of the city.
The National Canal Museum at Hugh Moore Park is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and shines a spotlight on an era of river navigation and towpath canals. It offers 45-minute-long wheelchair-accessible and mule-drawn canal boat rides, and you can learn about boat building. You may want to check out nearby Lafayette College which started holding classes in 1832 and was founded by Secretary of War, James Madison Porter. Easton is full of murals, wall poems, and sculptures, and you can view examples on a colorful public art tour.
Nazareth is scenic and restorative. A two-mile family-friendly hike of the Henry's Woods Loop in Jacobsburg State Park will have you walking through old-growth forests and snapping pics of Bushkill Creek. Bring your dog and fishing equipment. The Ken Lockwood Gorge and Mauch Chunk Lake Park are cool spots for mountain biking.
The iconic Bethlehem Steel Corporation closed in 2003 after almost a century and a half of manufacturing. The company's steel was strong enough to build New York City's Chrysler and Empire State buildings, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and ships featured in the world wars. The original plant is now home to SteelStacks, an entertainment and arts district where you can catch musical performances, Oktoberfest, and other seasonal events.
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is so much fun, with 64 rides, including 6 rollercoasters, 19 water rides, and yummy funnel cake. It often draws comparisons with Knoebels, a free-admission amusement park. Queues can get long, especially outside rides like Wild Mouse, and the Snoopy area is a hit with little ones.
The food in Lehigh Valley doesn't disappoint. Globally inspired food halls, gourmet grocery stores, farmers' markets, and restaurants nominated by the James Beard Foundation add to the culinary texture of the region. Restaurant weeks are a great time to try new eat-out places. According to analysis from OpenTable, Hampton Winds, Aman's Artisan Indian Cuisine, and The Flying Egg are some of the best restaurants in the area.
The Easton Farmers' Market on the riverfront at Scott Park is the longest-running open-air market in the U.S. and sells pickled, fresh-brewed teas, baked goods, crab cake sandwiches, and fresh produce from the local farmlands. Lehigh Valley Mall is the area's premier mall with a VR cafe for gamers. The Outlets at Wind Creek is a bargain hunter's dream, and for artisanal jewelry, ceramics, and more, Mercantile Home is excellently curated.
But this nook of Pennsylvania is also known for antiquing, so if you love sustainability and the fine art of finding vintage hidden gems, hit up the Easton Antique Emporium, Renninger's Antique and Farmers' Market, Weil Antique Center, and Zionsville Antique Mall.
ArtsQuest's Banana Factory Arts Center is 63,000-square foot space in Bethlehem's South Side with studios, galleries, classrooms, a youth theatre, and more. Kids and adults can learn new skills like glassblowing, photography, and First Friday celebrations. Look up Maciek Albrecht's MaGiK Design Gallery in Easton for whimsical art, and if you're moving to the area for a short while, consider signing up for the Arts Project at Penn State Lehigh Valley, which lets community members take non-credit arts classes. Various annual arts festivals dot the calendar, and for fans of the performing arts, the State Theatre for the Arts, Allentown Symphony, and Touchstone Theatre are just some of the local venues with robust scheduling of music and plays.
Whether you're keen on tubing along the Delaware River, paddling the waterways, or rafting the whitewater rapids, Lehigh Valley holds up its end of the bargain. The Lehigh River is popular among kayakers of all abilities. Leaser Lake is a good place to go SUPing, and you can practice surfing at The Ledges. Road biking trails include the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, and the Ironton and Nor-Bath trails. You'll find technical mountain bike trails at South Mountain Wildlands Preserve.
Lehigh Valley is an American Viticultural Area (AVA). It's one of five in the Keystone State with the right climate and conditions for happy vines and wine grape growing. Local beer microbreweries also offer tours and food menus. Take in the countryside views, play lawn games, and hold your hand a safe distance away from a vineyard fire pit.
MusikFest is a special event held at SteelStacks in August. It's the largest free music festival in the country and is headlined by well-known acts. The festival attracts thousands of visitors from far and wide. Then there's Christkindlmarkt, a Christmas Market full of Yuletide fare, including handmade gifts galore and ornaments from the German company, Käthe Wohlfahrt. This market could rival many of those held in Europe and draws high attendance figures too.
The Hoover Mason Trestle opened as a tourist attraction in 2015 to shed light on the area's industrial past. Take a walk here and learn how the railroad transported materials to the intimidating blast furnaces at the Steel Stacks. This tourist attraction is accessible to those with mobility issues.
If you're looking for a slam-dunk attraction for young kids, Crayola Experience is a bright splash of creative fun and can easily fill up four hours of an itinerary. Melt crayons to make shapes, bring drawings to life with tech, mould modeling clay, and get all the coloring therapy you could ever need while the young ones have a blast.
Lehigh Valley buzzes with life after dark, offering a diverse array of nightlife. The Lehigh Valley Ale Trail is a highlight for beer lovers, featuring top-notch bars and pubs. For an upscale experience, Corked Wine Bar and Steak House in Bethlehem provides a New York-style vibe with live DJs and a wide selection of wines and craft beers. In warmer months, Level 3 at Melt invites guests to its rooftop bar for hand-crafted cocktails and a chic atmosphere.
Broadway Social in Bethlehem transforms from a daytime eatery to a trendy nightclub known for its house-infused liquors and vibrant DJ sets. The heart of the nightlife is at Windcreek Bethlehem Casino and Vision Nightclub, offering a mix of gaming and dynamic club experiences, including Cirque Saturdays.