Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is a city that became well known throughout the country for its industrial history. For almost 100 years, the city revolved around the Bethlehem Steel plant, which made Bethlehem, PA an important part of American development and industry. The plant was permanently closed in 1995 and was transformed into a cultural center that celebrates a variety of different art forms. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.Burnside Plantation

Burnside Plantation
© Burnside Plantation

Burnside Plantation is an historic farm that was established in 1748 and has since been restored. It was the first privately owned home of James and Mary Burnside, who were Bethlehem Moravians. Today, the plantation has the farm’s original home, several barns, and a variety of out buildings. The property also has one of the country’s only horse-powered wheels that is still in operation. A variety of events occur at the plantation throughout the year, including workshops hosted by master gardeners from Penn State. There are also live cooking demonstrations and tours of the farm. The Open Gate Farm Tours are some of the most popular activities and include a variety of farming demonstrations, guided farm tours, and much more.

1461 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem, PA 18018, Phone: 610-882-0450

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2. Banana Factory Arts and Education Center

Banana Factory Arts and Education Center
© Banana Factory Arts and Education Center


The Banana Factory Arts and Education Center is an art gallery, classroom, and studio space located inside a former banana distribution warehouse. A variety of arts-related organizations share space across six different buildings. It is home to the ArtsQuests visual arts programs, 30 artist studios, three different art galleries, and a number of classrooms. The Pennsylvania Youth Theatre, offering performing arts classes to students aged 6 to 18, is located here. The artists hold an annual gallery show as well as First Friday events throughout the year, where the public can come and enjoy art for free.

25 W. 3rd Street #300, Bethlehem, PA 18015, Phone: 610-332-1300

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3.Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
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The Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts is an art museum spread across three homes from the 19th century. The museum is the state’s only museum of decorative arts and is one of only 15 such museums in the whole country. The three interconnected homes have a variety of period rooms, rotating exhibits, and galleries that showcase furniture, china, flatware, artwork, and clothing from three centuries. The museum clearly illustrates the changing style and design trends over a period of 300 years. The property also has a Scott Rothenberger-designed garden that utilizes both contemporary and traditional elements and makes for a great space for special events.

427 N. New Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, Phone: 610-868-6868

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4.Colonial Industrial Quarter

Colonial Industrial Quarter
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Bethlehem’s Colonial Industrial Quarter is an historical site that preserves the earliest industrial park in the country and is part of the larger Historic Moravian Bethlehem National Historic Landmark District. The Moravians built the site near a spring and along Monacacy Creek, which provided power for a variety of different industries that came to be based here. Initially, the buildings were small wooden structures, but within a couple of years they had built the area up to include saw and soap mills, wash houses, a grist mill, a blacksmith shop, a tannery, and a brass foundry. The buildings fell into disrepair over time and were revitalized and restored in the second half of the 20th century. Today, visitors can tour many of the buildings and ruins to learn about the area’s history.

459 Old York Road, Bethlehem, PA 18018, Phone: 800-360-8687

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5.Historic Bethlehem Tours

Historic Bethlehem Tours
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There are a number of interesting historical attractions located in Bethlehem. It’s quite possible to pick and choose what you want to see as you explore the area, but for those who prefer a simpler approach, a tour can be just what you are looking for. Historic Bethlehem Tours offers walking tours, custom tours, and special seasonal tours of historic Bethlehem. They have a number of theme-specific tour options that visit different sites around town. Some examples include the 1752 Apothecary Tour, the Christmas City Stroll, the Death and Dying Cemetery Tour, and the Colonial Industrial Quarter Walking Tour.

505 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, Phone: 800-360-8687

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6.Hoover Mason Trestle

Hoover Mason Trestle
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The Hoover Mason Trestle is a 1,650-foot elevated park that sits on the reclaimed site that was formerly home to Bethlehem Steel. The trestle was once used by a narrow-gauge railway to transport the raw materials needed to make iron from the ore yards to the furnaces. Today, it stands as a public walkway that is at the same time a museum and a recreation space. A visit to the site affords visitors the unique opportunity to get a close-up view of the blast furnaces and the gas blowing engine house. There is a visitors center on site that has information, souvenirs, and tours available to visitors.

SteelStacks, 711 First Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015, Phone: 610-297-7100

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7.Lit Roastery and Bakeshop

Lit Roastery and Bakeshop
© Lit Roastery and Bakeshop

Lit Roastery and Bakeshop is a coffee shop and bakery created by a collaboration between the Made By Lino bakery and the Monacacy Coffee Company. The shop specializes in fresh-roasted in-house coffees, pour-overs, French macaroons, and a variety of other fresh-baked items. Virtually everything is baked, cooked, and roasted in house, and they pride themselves in making especially high-quality coffee beans and coffee drinks. The coffee shop usually has approximately eight different varieties of coffee available, and they use a refractometer to adhere to quality standards. The space is a nice place to sit and spend a few hours while you enjoy some freshly made items.

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8.Moravian Museum of Bethlehem

Moravian Museum of Bethlehem
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The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem is a historical landmark that features several buildings from the 1700s. Tours of the buildings are available, and tour-goers will learn a great deal of information about the town’s early settlers and its history. The Gemienhaus is one of the highlights of a visit here. It was built in 1741, making it the oldest building in Bethlehem. Today the five-story log home contains a museum that tells the stories of the Moravians who founded the town. The large, multi-purpose building also has the distinction of being the largest log building from the 1800s in the entire country. The site also has a drug store from 1752 as well as other interesting 18th century buildings.

66 W. Church Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, Phone: 610-867-0173

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9. National Museum of Industrial History

National Museum of Industrial History
© National Museum of Industrial History

The National Museum of Industrial History is located in the former location of Bethlehem Steel, which was historically an industrial powerhouse. The museum is an Smithsonian-affiliated institution that is dedicated to preserving and displaying industrial artifacts as well as educating the public about the nation’s industrial history. The museum has a number of different exhibits that represent the propane gas, textile, and steel industries as well as a nice collection of industrial machinery that was loaned to the museum by the National Museum of American History. There are four main exhibits, each of which showcase a different part of the nation’s industrial past and the way that these industries have impacted the state and the nation as a whole.

602 East 2nd Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015, Phone: 610-694-6644

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10.Nuts About Ice Cream

Nuts About Ice Cream
© Nuts About Ice Cream

Nuts About Ice Cream is a premium ice cream parlor that makes homemade ice cream in-house. They specialize in exotic flavors of ice cream, sorbets, and yogurt. The recipes are based on family recipes that have been passed down through generations of the family and influenced by the Joshi family’s travels across the world and education at the Penn State Dairy School. Their flavors include traditional favorites like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, but the real stars are the more exotic and one-of-a-kind flavors like chocolate raspberry truffle, cardamom kulfi, and saffron pistachio. If you are missing your Nuts About Ice Cream fix when you get home, don’t despair, they will deliver your favorites straight to your address.

1124 Linden Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, Phone: 610-861-7733

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11.Fegley's Brew Works

Fegley's Brew Works
© Fegley's Brew Works

Fegley’s Brew Works is a brewery and pub that provides a warm brick-walled environment to enjoy microbrews, burgers, and happy hour. Since it opened in 1998, the Brew Works has quickly become a popular bar and restaurant among locals and visitors alike. The restaurant is family friendly and offers services for special events and catering. The restaurant is quite popular and often has a long wait. Favorite menu items include the Fegley’s beer battered fish and chips, the Brewers’ grain-fed burger, and their loaded nachos. For drinks they offer a variety of their own brews as well as local mead, local spirits, and other cocktails and wine.

559 Main Street #101, Bethlehem, PA 18018, Phone: 610-882-1300

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12.SteelStacks

SteelStacks
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SteelStacks is a cultural center that contains both indoor and outdoor venues spread across a 10-acre campus. The center occupies the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant, which has been renovated as a space for the community to celebrate arts, culture, education, and fun. More than 1,000 concerts are held here each year, in addition to several different annual festivals and a large number of private and public events. The space is named after the tall “stacks,” which are the five blast furnaces that were used by Bethlehem Steel for several decades. A visit to SteelStacks is encouraging because it is an example of disused industrial space being transformed a vibrant and beautiful part of the community.

101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA 18015, Phone: 610-297-7100

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13.Billy's Downtown Diner

Billy's Downtown Diner
© Billy’s Downtown Diner

Billy’s Downtown Diner is a small, local diner with locations in Bethlehem, Allentown, and Easton. The diner serves basic diner meals with a bit of flair. You’ll find all of your classic favorites on the menu alongside quirky dishes like pink-lemonade pancakes and omelets with mango. It is a favorite among locals and visitors alike for its unfussy atmosphere and reliably delicious food. The menu includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and a variety of beverages including coffee drinks, tea, lemonades, and hand-spun milkshakes. There are vegetarian and healthier options available for those who are careful about what they eat.

10 E. Broad Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, Phone: 610-867-0105

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14.Wind Creek Bethlehem

Wind Creek Bethlehem
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The Wind Creek Bethlehem casino is located within the Wind Creek Bethlehem, which is a four-star casino hotel. The casino is quite large, covering 150,000 square feet, which is approximately the size of three football fields, and you’ll find quite a lot under one roof here. Gaming options include more than 3,000 slot machines in the casino as well as nearly 40 live poker tables in their popular Sands Poker Room. The 180 live table games will give you plenty of blackjack, craps, and roulette action. Hotel rooms here will cost you a pretty penny, but the proximity to the games and entertainment makes it worth it.

77 Sands Blvd, Bethlehem, PA 18015, Phone: 484-777-7777

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15 Best Things to Do in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania



Attraction Spotlight: Banana Factory Arts and Education Center

Located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Banana Factory Arts and Education Center is a complex of six buildings hosting a number of cultural organizations, including ArtsQuest, the Pennsylvania Youth Theatre, the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and Santa Bannon Fine Art.

History

The history of the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is closely intertwined with the Bethlehem Steel corporation, which served as the basis for the city’s economy for more than seven decades in the 20th century. Following the increase of competition from foreign steel companies, the company experienced a series of layoffs in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The company’s downsizing, combined with the emergence of suburban malls, caused the city’s SouthSide and Moravian Districts to experience a downturn in economic development, leading to a number of vacancies within the city’s downtown area. A number of cultural redevelopment endeavors were embarked upon by the Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee in the 1980s to revitalize the city’s downtown, including the development of the annual Musikfest event, which led to the formation of the Bethlehem Musikfest Association nonprofit organization in 1993.

In 1996, the BMA embarked on an effort to create a cultural center in the city’s downtown district aimed at a youth educational audience. A vacant former banana distribution warehouse located on the city’s SouthSide was selected as the location for the complex, and funding was secured to purchase the facility throughout the donations of local philanthropists. Following major renovations to the facility, the Banana Factory Arts Center was opened to the public in 1998, offering studio, gallery, and classroom spaces for several regional arts organizations. In 2000, the BMA rebranded itself as ArtsQuest and extended its facilities into an adjacent former auto parts store, expanding the complex to encompass an entire city block. Throughout the mid 2000s and early 2010s, a number of additional facilities were added to the complex, including the Olympus Digital Imaging Center and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s arts center.

Organizations and Programming

Today, the Banana Factory Arts and Education Center complex encompasses an entire city block in the city’s SouthSide district, featuring six renovated historic buildings, including the original former banana warehouse building. The complex is home to a large number of regional arts organizations, with a specific focus on arts programming geared toward youth and children. Gallery exhibitions, public performances, outreach initiatives, and educational and special event programming are presented by the Center, which serves as the anchor of the city’s revitalized downtown cultural district.

The Banana Factory’s artist in residency program provides artist studio space for up to 30 artists at a time, with rent subsidization providing affordable living and work conditions. All artist-in-residency participants are offered the opportunity to participate in the organization’s annual group show and First Friday events, as well as space on the complex’s featured artist wall. Communal work and discussion are encouraged among artists in residence, and public workshop programming is presented periodically at artists’ discretion.

Several art galleries are located within the complex, including the Banko Family Community Room and Gallery, a multipurpose venue that showcases five annual exhibitions of works by regional and national artists. The Crayola Gallery offers a multipurpose gallery and creative space with rotating exhibitions, and a Hallway to the Arts bridges the two facilities with unique art exhibitions. The Olympus Digital Imaging Center, opened in 2005, is the only freestanding permanent digital classroom in the United States officially sponsored by Olympus America, offering digital imaging workshop stations for student and teacher use as part of public programming and open drop-in time. The R.K. Laros Ceramics Classroom and Photography Darkroom also provide community spaces for pottery and photography work.

Fine art is showcased at Santa Bannon Fine Art, which opened at the complex in 2013. The Center is also home to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley, which offers art therapy to young cancer patients, and the Pennsylvania Youth Theatre, a nonprofit performing arts organization that presents musicals and plays throughout the year for acting, dancing, and singing students. A variety of public art is also showcased at the facility, including the Mr. Imagination Bus Shelter, Susan Small’s A Joyful Noise, and Karel Mikolas’ Homage to Humanity.

A wide variety of public art programming is presented at the Center, including arts courses and workshops for students of all ages hosted by ArtsQuest. Courses focus on multidisciplinary arts such as drawing, painting, fiber arts, ceramics, mosaics, and jewelry and glass work and are offered for participants of all skill levels. STEM-focused summer art camps and teen intensive workshops are also offered on a periodic basis, and an Arts Education Fund offers outreach programming to local schools and community groups to supplement shrinking arts and arts education funding nationwide. Public special events hosted at the complex include the monthly First Friday open house community celebration, the SouthSide Arts and Music Festival, the InVision Festival, and the ArtPop contest, which gives local youth and professional artists the chance to be featured on local billboards.

25 W 3rd St #300, Bethlehem, PA, Phone: 610-332-1300

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Attraction Spotlight: National Museum of Industrial History

Located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the National Museum of Industrial History is a Smithsonian-affiliated museum presenting exhibits related to the historical industrial businesses of the Pennsylvania region, including the steel, iron, textile, and propane gas industries. The vision for the National Museum of Industrial History dates back to the late 1990s, when a museum facility was proposed for the preservation of America’s industrial heritage, with a particular focus on artifacts related to the steel industry.

History

The museum project was sidelined temporary throughout the mid-2000s due to legal issues connected to the mismanagement of funds connected to a $17 million public fundraising campaign, but in 2014, the project’s organizing group was cleared of wrongdoing allegations by the United States Attorney General and given approval to continue with museum construction and development within a two-year window. Though the plans of interpretive planner Rosalind Remer had been structured to be completed within a three-year window, construction was fast-tracked under the supervision of museum design project manager Aaron Goldblatt. A former electrical repair shop at the site of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s historic steel mill was acquired as the future site of the museum and renovated with a $4.5 million grant by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and an agreement between the Smithsonian Institution, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and the museum’s overseeing organization was established for the installation of museum exhibits and collections, which included more than 100 machines donated from the Smithsonian’s 1876 collection. In August of 2016, the museum was officially opened to the public in a dedication ceremony featuring keynote speeches from National Museum of American History Director John Gray and United States Representative Charlie Dent.

Permanent Collections and Exhibits

Today, the National Museum of Industrial History is housed within the former Bethlehem Steel plant building in a facility formerly used as a concert venue and historical walking path site. As a public museum facility, the museum is dedicated to forging connections between the nation’s industrial past and future and educating the public on the history and innovations of the steel, iron, textile, and propane gas industries. The Museum is a Smithsonian-affiliated institution and receives financial support and artifacts on loan from the National Museum of American History.

More than 200 industrial artifacts are displayed within the museum’s exhibit, with many artifacts of note as the first-produced, last-produced, or longest-operating examples of their type of technology. Major artifact collections have been donated or loaned by the National Museum of American History, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and silk manufacturers Scalamandre, Inc. Artifacts on note on display include machines presented at the Centennial International Exposition in 1876, including a variety of engines and pumps. The first and last pieces of steel and Class-A armor rolled at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation are also displayed.

The museum’s Machinery Hall exhibit focuses on items from the 1876 Philadelphia World’s Fair, including 21 loaned artifacts from Smithsonian Institution collections. A 115-ton Corliss steam engine is displayed, formerly used for water pumping for the city of New York, along with a crane produced by Milwaukee’s Pawling and Harnischfeger Company and a Bethlehem Steel H-beam. An Iron and Steel exhibit is dedicated to the history of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, showcasing historic company artifacts such as worker training equipment, uniforms, and time cards. An interactive map exhibit also allows visitors to trace the impact and distribution of Bethlehem Steel products throughout the United States during the company’s operations.

In the Silk Gallery Hall, the story of women and children workers at the Lehigh Valley Silk Mills is chronicled, with historic artifacts on display such as bobbin trays, line shafts, and looms. A Jacquard loom used by Long Island’s Scalamandre Silk Mill is displayed, famously used to produce fabric utilized in interior design at the White House up to the presidency of Bill Clinton. A Propane Gallery focuses on the technologies of the American Gasol Company and its founder, Allentown chemist Walter O. Snelling. A climb-aboard hot air balloon is displayed within the exhibit, along with a collection of historic laboratory items and a display detailing American propane usage during World War II. A Rotating Exhibit Gallery also showcases a variety of exhibits connected to American industries and historic events.

Ongoing Programs and Events

In addition to standard visitor admission, the museum offers regular guided tours for visitors on Saturday afternoons for an additional fee, exploring museum exhibits with a docent and elaborating on artifact significance and history. Group guided tours are available by appointment, including curriculum-incorporated field trip opportunities for elementary and secondary school students. Add-on workshops are available for student groups, and Badge Day programs are offered for scouting groups looking to complete history and engineering-related badges. Public special events include celebrations for American-history-related holidays and an annual student summer camp. The museum’s facilities may also be rented for private special events, including cocktail receptions, team-building retreats, and business functions.

602 East 2nd Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015, Phone: 610-694-6644

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