Road Trip Destination: Bethlehem, Pa.
By Mark Kanny
Published: Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, 8:57 p.m.
Old and new nurture each other in Bethlehem in northeastern Pennsylvania.
On Oct. 17, Historic Moravian Bethlehem was designated a National Historic Landmark District by the National Park Service. The city's contemporary commercial and cultural life led to its being named one of the 100 best places to live in the United States by Money Magazine.
Bethlehem was founded in 1741, and christened Christmas Eve that year, by members of the Moravian Church, which had purchased a 500-acre tract where a creek flows into the Lehigh River. It lies between Allentown and Easton in the Lehigh Valley.
The city's industrial prominence began in the 18th century, and continued most strongly until the 2001 demise of Bethlehem Steel, at one time the second-largest steel company in the United States. Now the old site has been turned into SteelStacks, a commercial and entertainment development that includes Christkindlmarkt, a holiday shopping festival, and a Sands Casino and Resort. Bethlehem is home to Lehigh University and Moravian College, America's sixth-oldest college. Its population is about 75,000.
Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bethlehem's holiday-shopping festival, called Christkindlmarkt, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It will bring together more than 200 vendors from 20 states who set up in large heated tents — where musical entertainment and dining supplement the shopping.
Items for sale include handcrafted jewelry, hand-carved wooden Santas, stained-glass stars, hand-knit clothing and specialty-food products.
This year's festival, which runs from Thursdays to Sundays through Dec. 23, also includes Make Your Own Glass Ornament Sessions, where people work with glass artists to create hand-blown ornaments, and Breakfast with St. Nick for children to get their pictures taken with him.
Details: 610-332-3278 or www.artsquest.org
Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University
For a broad range of cultural appeal, the Zoellner Arts Center offers three concert halls and a two-story art gallery. It is home to the university's music and theater departments.
In addition to university performing groups, the center has presented Tony Bennett, Garrison Keillor, Lily Tomlin, Natalie Cole, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and the New York Philharmonic. Dance groups have included Momix and David Parsons Dance.
Details: 610-758-2787 or www.lehigh.edu
Colonial Industrial Quarter
Industrial ingenuity in colonial Bethlehem is perhaps best exemplified by the 1762 Waterworks, a National Historic Landmark, because it was the first municipally pumped water system in America.
The Historic Bethlehem Partnership preserves the Colonial Industrial Quarter, which also includes a 1761 tannery, 1764 springhouse, a reconstructed 1750 Smithy and several mills.
The partnership, which works in association with the Smithsonian Institution, also operates the Moravian Museum, and Burnside Plantation.
Details: 610-882-0450 or historicbethlehem.org
A year-round nonprofit organization celebrating the arts and culture, ArtsQuest will present its second annual Christmas at Steelstacks this year to supplement Christkindlmarkt.
Holiday attractions include Christine Andreas, Celtic Tenors, Clay Aiken, the Von Trapp Children, a musical review called “Christmas 1944,” Sarah Ayers and Friends and the Second City's Dysfunctional Holiday Revue.
ArtsQuest hosts many festivals during the year, the biggest of which is the 10-day Musikfest in the summer. It presents art exhibits throughout the year at its home in the Banana Factory — where salsa dancing classes are offered every Friday night.
Details: 610-332-3378 or www.artsquest.org
Sands Casino Resort
A satellite of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., this casino and resort opened in 2009 in part of the old Bethlehem Steel complex.
The casino includes slots and gaming tables, and a poker room. The six restaurants include Emeril's Chop House and an outpost of New York City's Carnegie Deli.
Entertainment includes nightly touring acts, in addition to performers at the moderately upscale Vision Bar, where business casual dress is the norm.
Details: 877-726-3777 or www.pasands.com
Bethlehem's rich colonial-era history is evoked at the Sun Inn, now a museum with a restaurant. Built in 1758, the Sun Inn's guest book includes many Revolutionary-Era figures — not only George Washington but also John Hancock, John Adams, the Marquis de Lafayette and others.
The building was expanded many times in the 1800s, but restored to its original design in 1982. The first floor looks as it did in 1760, with a guest living room to one side and an antique kitchen in the back. The restaurant on the second floor offers a farm-to-table menu inspired by 1700s traditions. The top floor, originally four bedrooms with four beds per room, is used for storage.
Details: 610-866-1758 or www.suninnbethlehem.org
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