The charms of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania are no surprise to those of us who live here in the Lehigh Valley. This city of 75,000 people boasts a unique and fascinating marriage of old and new: from its historic Moravian district and its 275 year-old bookstore, to its vibrant downtown restaurant scene and its popular world-class casino.
Now, a whole lot more people are about to find out just how charming Bethlehem is.
The city was recently ranked among the “Most Charming Towns and Small Cities in Pennsylvania” by TravelMag, a prominent online magazine that specializes in helping readers discover off-the grid destinations from around the globe.
“Pennsylvania’s Christmas City is more than a winter wonderland,” reads the article, which was written by Michael C. Upton. “Bethlehem is a city where historic meets modern, drawing visitors for all over the world.”
The full article can be read here.
“Bethlehem is known for its rich colonial and industrial history, and our ongoing economic and cultural renaissance promises a future as bright as the city’s past,” said Mayor Robert Donchez. “The article by TravelMag highlights just a few of the many things that make Bethlehem special and demonstrate what is truly possible for people who live, work, and visit here.”
The article highlights two distinct parts to Bethlehem: the Northside and Southside.
The Northside, as TravelMag notes, is known for its historic buildings with 17 historic sites dating back to the 1700s. The Bethlehem Moravian’s built the first waterworks in the American colonies in 1754, creating a municipal water system, the core underpinning of community and economic development.
“The Lehigh Valley’s economic history is most often associated with heavy industry and manufacturing, Bethlehem Steel and Mack Trucks,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “Often overlooked is the region’s impressive history of innovation and entrepreneurship that has led to business growth and development for centuries.”
TravelMag also highlights Behtlehem’s Southside neighborhood, which has transformed into an arts and culture hub anchored by such spots as Lehigh University and the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, a once abandoned Bethlehem Steel plant that has been redeveloped into a 10-acre arts and culture campus.
“The 230-foot-tall furnaces—manicured and preserved—now serve as a stunning backdrop for concerts and special events,” the TravelMag article states.
The Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, National Museum of Industrial History, Southside Greenway, Bethlehem Skatepark, ArtsQuest Levitt Pavilion, PBS39 Media Center, and Hoover-Mason Trestle are among just a few of the other attractions in Southside Bethlehem.
Bethlehem is also the host each year of Musikfest. Presented by ArtsQuest and started in 1984, it offers 500-plus music and art performances over 10 days each August, making it the largest free admission music festival in the U.S.