Ileana Irizarry

Ileana Irizarry didn’t know anybody in the Lehigh Valley when she moved here from Michigan. But that didn’t last long.

Ileana moved to Allentown as the city was in the middle of its downtown renaissance, from new restaurants and bars, to apartment buildings and hotels, to its wide range of events and concerts at the PPL Center hockey arena.

“What surprised me the most is how fast it’s growing since I’ve lived here,” she said. “Where I came from we didn’t have the markets, the parks, the events. I used to be more of an introvert, but since I’ve moved here I’ve definitely become more of an extrovert and have made lots of friends right away.”

Ileana found no shortage of things to do here. For drinks, she could check out The Vault, with its authentic Hess crystal chandeliers and stained-glass ceiling, or maybe The Fritz, a speakeasy hidden away in the historic halls of the Lehigh Valley Trust Building.

For food, she could swing over to The Hamilton Kitchen & Bar, or the locally-sourced American fare at The Dime. Or, if you’re more in the mood for wings or a slushie, Queen City BBQ is the place to go.

Allentown isn’t the only place in Lehigh Valley with thriving downtown nightlife.

The city of Bethlehem has not just one, but two downtown districts. Down at Broad and Main Street, visitors can find Lehigh Valley institutions as Hotel Bethlehem, Fegley’s Brew Works, and the Moravian Bookshop. Across the river in Southside Bethlehem, there’s the Wind Creek Bethlehem casino, Southside Greenway, the Bethlehem Skatepark, the ArtsQuest Center at Steelstacks, and more.

Meanwhile, the city of Easton has gradually evolved into a true foodie destination, with dozens of exciting restaurants and bars, from Sette Luna, River Grille, and Mesa Modern Mexican, to Colonial Pizza, Porters, and Third & Ferry Fish Market.

When she first arrived in Lehigh Valley, she started attending some of the social events regularly hosted by Strata Flats, the beautiful new apartment complex with world-class amenities located across from Allentown’s PPL Center.

Before long, she was meeting new people, enjoying rooftop parties, and even attending Friendsgiving events.

And Ileana wasn’t the only one who felt right at home in Lehigh Valley. Her dog Chloe loved their apartment together, she loves the local dog park, and she loves running down the Allentown Artswalk in the heart of the downtown neighborhood.

“It’s very dog-friendly here,” Ileana said. “My quality of life has definitely grown in the Lehigh Valley. I feel like this place has really opened up my social life.”