Allentown is a small city in eastern Pennsylvania. The city was famously the hiding place of the Liberty Bell during the Revolutionary War and as such has a museum with a full-size replica of the bell and murals about the its history. The city has plenty of down-home charm, with farmer’s markets, a rustic, country-style dinner theatre, and plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy the outdoors in the Lehigh Valley. Cultural opportunities also abound and include the Allentown Art Museum, the Museum of Indian Culture, and beverage experiences at the local meadery and distillery. Sports fans will find a couple of minor league teams, and families will enjoy the local amusement park, science center, and other kid-friendly attractions. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Allentown Art Museum
© Allentown Art Museum
The Allentown Art Museum of Lehigh Valley was established in 1934 by well-loved impressionist painter Walter Emerson Baum, who was born in nearby Bucks county. Baum and a group he organized founded both the museum as well as the Baum School of Art. The museum originally consisted of 70 impressionist paintings by local Pennsylvania artists and was held in the Hunsicker School. Later, the city gave the museum a permanent Federal-style house to display the collection. Today the collection mostly consists of European paintings, a collection of textiles, works on paper, and a few other significant pieces.
31 N. 5th Street, Allentown, PA 18101, Phone: 610-432-4333
2.America On Wheels, Allentown, PA
© America On Wheels
America On Wheels is a transportation museum that celebrates America’s love of all things on wheels. The museum features several galleries related to virtually every form of transportation you can imagine. You will be able to experience unique, self-propelled forms of transportation in their bicycle collection, innovative personal transportation vehicles like Segways, and huge tractor-trailers that transport goods and food across the country. The museum is very focused on education, in particular on teaching the general public about the transportation industry in an enjoyable way. There is a kid-friendly area called the Restoration Learning Center, which is designed for children up to the age of 16 to learn about the steps involved in restoring a vehicle.
5 N. Front Street, Allentown, PA 18102, Phone: 610-432-4200
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3.Da Vinci Science Center, Allentown, Pennsylvania
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The Da Vinci Science Center is a museum of science and an educational institution with a large number of hands-on and interactive exhibits related to science, technology, math, and engineering. The exhibits are designed to be fun and engaging for children younger than 12 years old. Some highlights include a preschool area called Engineers On a Roll, which is a playground combined with a learning laboratory for young visitors, a water play table, and the KEVA Build It Up! exhibit, where visitors can practice their building and design skills. Special events and programs are often on offer and include career exploration days, museum sleepovers, an inventors lab, and much more.
3145 Hamilton Blvd. Bypass, Allentown, PA 18103, Phone: 484-664-1002
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4.Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
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Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom is a combination amusement park and water park that sit in between the cities of Emmaus and Allentown. The park has a number of exciting attractions for visitors of all ages, including eight roller coasters, a variety of other thrill rides for adults, and family-friendly rides for visitors of all ages. While many of their roller coasters are modern, steel coasters, the roller coaster named Thunderhawk is a wooden roller coaster that was built in 1923. It is one of the oldest roller coasters in the world that is still in operation. The water park has several wet and wild rides, which are great for cooling off after several hours in the park.
3830 Dorney Park Road, Allentown, PA 18104, Phone: 610-395-3724
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5.Dutch Springs, Allentown, Pennsylvania
© Dutch Springs
Dutch Springs is a privately owned lake that is located just north of Bethlehem, PA. The lake is fed by a spring and is a popular commercial recreation area, with scuba diving being particularly popular. Dive facilities are available, offering a range of options including Discover Scuba courses for very beginners, more involved Introduction to Scuba Diving classes, and certification courses. There is also an aqua park, which consists of a variety of exciting inflatable attractions perfect for splashing and bouncing. Highlights include The Blob, Aqua Jump, which is a water trampoline, and inflatable “icebergs” for climbing. Admission to the Sky Challenge high ropes course is included in your ticket to the park for even more exhilarating fun.
4733 Hanoverville Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020, Phone: 610-759-2270
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6.Allentown Farmers Market, Allentown, Pennsylvania
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The Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market has long been a tradition in the Lehigh Valley area. The market has more than 60 local vendors each week who offer a wide range of goods for sale. Compared to other area markets, this particular farmers market has one of the better selections around. Items include meats and poultry from local farms, locally made deli items, homemade baked goods, seafood, and farm-fresh vegetables. There is a grocery store as well as gourmet specialty shops and an Italian market for all of your gourmet grocery needs. If you get hungry while strolling through the market, don’t worry, you won’t have to wait until you can get home and cook up your goodies. There are plenty of restaurant options, ranging from a homestyle Amish eatery to a Vietnamese bistro and everything in between.
1825 W. Chew Street, Allentown, PA 18104, Phone: 610-432-8425
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7.Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, Allentown, PA
© Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum
The Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum is one of the largest historical society-run museums in the country. The museum has six galleries spread across approximately 13,000 square feet of exhibits in their 30,000-square-foot museum. The museum also has a very nice collection of resources in their historical research library, which can be used by visitors and professionals who are performing research. The heritage museum has both permanent and temporary exhibits that display artifacts, photos, documents, and other items related to the region’s history. The exhibits cover the time before Europeans settled the area all the way up to the present.
432 Walnut Street, Allentown, PA 18102, Phone: 610-435-1074
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8.Lehigh Valley IronPigs Minor League Baseball
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The Leigh Valley IronPigs are a Minor League team that plays baseball in the International League. The team plays at Allentown’s Coca-Cola Park, and sports fans who visit the city may want to catch a game at the park. The full game schedule is available on the team’s website. The stadium also offers tours of the park, whereby visitors get to see the action behind the scenes. The walking tours take about 60 minutes and stop at the IronPigs and visitor’s clubhouses, dugouts, suites, club level, press box, and more. Tour reservations are required in advance, and personalized tours are available for groups of 10 or more.
1050 Ironpigs Way, Allentown, PA 18109, Phone: 610-841-7447
9.Lehigh Valley Phantoms Minor League Hockey
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The Lehigh Valley Phantoms is the area’s Minor League hockey team. The team is affiliated with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and plays in the American Hockey League. Since 2014, the team has played their games out of the PPL Center, which is a modern, multi-purpose arena. They consistently sell out of tickets to their games, so if you are hoping to catch a hockey game during your visit, you should plan ahead. The arena has quality concessions, including Tim Hortons, Chickie & Pete’s, and other concession stands throughout, so you will be well fed throughout the games.
701 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18101, Phone: 610-224-4625
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10.Liberty Bell Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania
© Liberty Bell Museum
The Liberty Bell Museum, or the Liberty Bell Shrine Museum, is located in Zion’s United Church of Christ, which was the hiding place for the bell during the American Revolutionary War. The museum features exhibits related to the Liberty Bell itself and includes a replica of the bell. There are also exhibits related to the topics of freedom, liberty, and patriotism as well as artifacts from local history. The museum is also home to Pip the Mouse, which is a puppet icon from local pop culture who performed in the holiday show The Mouse Before Christmas, which was a favorite among local children.
622 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18101, Phone: 610-435-4232
11.Little Lehigh Park, Allentown, PA
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Little Lehigh Park is a local historic park with recreational facilities and beautiful scenery sitting just behind the Queen City Municipal Airport and conveniently accessible from I-78. Recreational facilities include multi-use trails, a bridle path, fishing, and a disc golf course. The park is also the home of the Little Lehigh Fish Hatchery, which visitors can visit to learn about how fish grow and develop as well as to participate in feeding fish. A fly fishing store nearby offers fishing gear and training in how to fish. The Museum of Indian Culture is also located at the park and is open on weekends.
Lehigh Parkway E., Allentown, PA 18103, Phone: 610-437-7757
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12.Mack Trucks Historical Museum
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The Mack Trucks Historical Museum is located at the Mack customer center and features a variety of antique trucks that have been restored for the public to enjoy and to preserve history. They also have a number of vintage models and a collection of Mack memorabilia. Guided tours of the museum are offered several times a day, depending on availability. Large groups must make a reservation. There is also an archive at the museum for visitors who have questions about specific Mack trucks that were produced throughout history. The museum is only open a few days a week, so check the schedule on their website before visiting.
2402 Lehigh Pkwy S. Allentown, PA 18103, Phone: 610-351-8999
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13.Merchant’s Square Model Train Exhibit
© Merchant’s Square Model Train Exhibit
The Merchant’s Square Model Train Exhibit is a sprawling toy railroad display located in the Merchant’s Square Mall. The display features more than 40 model trains as well as a lake with real water and special effects such as thunder, rain, and lightning. There are also more than 30,000 lights incorporated into the model, and the exhibit has 30-minute model train shows several times a day. The trains represent several railroad logos from around the region and the country. There is a lot to see in the exhibit as it is quite detailed. Some of the other most exciting elements include a ski area with operating rides and ice skating, operating amusement parks, a drive-in movie theater, and a number of hand-crafted, from-scratch buildings with impressive details.
1901 South 12th Street, 2/F, Allentown, PA 18103, Phone: 610-797-7743
14.Museum of Indian Culture, Allentown, Pennsylvania
© Museum of Indian Culture
The Museum of Indian Culture is a non-profit museum that exists to preserve and display the history of the region’s native peoples, specifically the Lenape and other Northeastern Woodland peoples. The exhibits include a wide variety of artifacts, cultural items, objects that would have been used in trade, tools for farming, and interactive exhibits where guests can try their hand at starting a fire, throwing spears, and more. The museum’s Inter-Tribal Room has a variety of interesting Indian artwork from throughout North and South America. The museum also offers numerous educational programs both at the museum and in other places where visitors of all ages can learn about Native American cultures and history.
2825 Fish Hatchery Road, Allentown, PA 18103, Phone: 610-797-2121
15.Pines Dinner Theatre, Allentown, PA
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The Pines Dinner Theater is a country-style playhouse that serves dinner while you watch their productions, which range from live musicals to comedy shows, all performed on their rustic stage. The meals served consist of hearty, home-style fare served by staff who pride themselves on being friendly and welcoming. Guests report that the food and beverages are both quite tasty. The theatre is located on the property of the Allentown Fairgrounds and often hosts special shows and dinners for holidays. Their space can be used for special events as well. Check out their website for the current schedule and ticketing information.
448 N. 17th Street, Allentown, PA 18104, Phone: 610-433-2333
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16.Trout Hall, Allentown, Pennsylvania
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Trout Hall is a historic house museum occupying the oldest house in Allentown. The home was constructed sometime in the late 1760s and is made out of stone. It was built to be a summer home for James Allen, the son of William Allen, who founded the town. Today, it is home to a library as well as a museum operated by the local historical society and holds artifacts from the American Revolutionary War period. Visitors interested in that time period as well as those curious about historical architecture will find a visit here to be quite worthwhile.
414 Walnut Street, Allentown, PA 18102, Phone: 610-435-1074
17.Wildlands Conservancy, Allentown, PA
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Wildlands Conservancy is a non-profit organization that purchases and operates natural areas for the purpose of preserving nature. The organization operates several nature preserves in the area out of their headquarters in Emmaus. The reserves also provide popular recreation areas for the community. They host a number of programs, including bike and boat adventures, summer camps for children, scout programs, and more. There is a water trail on the Lehigh River that is suitable for kayaks, canoes, and other small boats. The trail is 72 miles long and has a number of access points to put in and take out.
3701 Orchid Place, Emmaus, PA 18049, Phone: 610-965-4397
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18.Colony Meadery, Allentown, Pennsylvania
© Colony Meadery
The Colony Meadery is a mead production facility that offers tours. The meadery uses precise techniques honed over many years to produce bold flavors and precise levels of fermentation and smoothness. As visitors tour the production facility, which is located inside a renovated Mack Truck factory, they will learn about all of the steps involved in making mead as well as unique aspects of this particular meadery. There is also a tasting room on site, which can be visited as part of a tour or as a standalone option. The tasting room offers flights of mead as well as small bites and sandwiches. You can also purchase bottles of mead to take home.
905 Harrison Street #115, Allentown, PA 18103, Phone: 855-632-3669
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© Kilimanjaro Distillery
Kilimanjaro Distillery produces quality small-batch spirits inspired by ingredients from around the world. The distillery is operated by father-daughter team, Kishor and Niky Chokshi, who hail from Tanzania and have spent a great deal of time traveling and living all over the world. The distillery offers tours 5 days a week of their 4,000-square-foot production facility, where interested visitors can learn about the history of the distillery and the process of producing their artisanal small-batch spirits. The distillery produces a rotating variety of spirits, and many of their products are available for purchase in their shop.
995 Postal Road, Allentown, PA 18108, Phone: 484-661-2488
20 Best Things to Do in Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Allentown Art Museum, Photo: Allentown Art Museum
- America On Wheels, Allentown, PA, Photo: America On Wheels
- Da Vinci Science Center, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Photo: Da Vinci Science Center
- Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Photo: Courtesy of Ritu Jethani - Fotolia.com
- Dutch Springs, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Photo: Dutch Springs
- Allentown Farmers Market, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Photo: Courtesy of liderina - Fotolia.com
- Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, Allentown, PA, Photo: Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum
- Lehigh Valley IronPigs Minor League Baseball, Photo: Courtesy of WavebreakMediaMicro - Fotolia.com
- Lehigh Valley Phantoms Minor League Hockey, Photo: Courtesy of Dmitry Grushin - Fotolia.com
- Liberty Bell Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Photo: Liberty Bell Museum
- Little Lehigh Park, Allentown, PA, Photo: Courtesy of kirollos - Fotolia.com
- Mack Trucks Historical Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Dan Kosmayer - Fotolia.com
- Merchant’s Square Model Train Exhibit, Photo: Merchant’s Square Model Train Exhibit
- Museum of Indian Culture, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Photo: Museum of Indian Culture
- Pines Dinner Theatre, Allentown, PA, Photo: Courtesy of emiphoto111 - Fotolia.com
- Trout Hall, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Photo: Courtesy of jeanClaude - Fotolia.com
- Wildlands Conservancy, Allentown, PA, Photo: Courtesy of rohane - Fotolia.com
- Colony Meadery, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Photo: Colony Meadery
- Kilimanjaro Distillery, Photo: Kilimanjaro Distillery
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Leonard - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Liberty Bell Museum
Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania within the Zion’s United Church of Christ facility, the Liberty Bell Museum is a nonprofit organization and public museum celebrating the history of Pennsylvania’s role in the American fight for independence and commemorating an iconic American landmark.
The Liberty Bell, which serves as one of the most iconic landmarks of American independence and history today, was originally commissioned for creation in 1752 by the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly. Constructed by London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the 12-foot bell, which weighs more than 2,000 pounds, was cast with a reference to the Biblical Book of Leviticus and was famously cracked upon its initial ringing once it arrived in Philadelphia. Though the bell was initially used to call legislators to order and to announce civic meetings and proclamations, it is assumed to have been famously used in July of 1776 to announce the reading of the country’s Declaration of Independence. Though its historical accuracy has been called into question, an 1847 short story about the bell’s ringing following the vote for independence brough the bell’s reputation to national historic attention. During the American Revolutionary War, the bell, along with 10 other similar structures, was taken down from its public display and hidden at Allentown’s Zion’s Reformed Church, in order to prevent it from being stolen and melted down by British forces for cannon casting. In 1778, following the end of British occupation of America, the bell was restored to its public display in Philadelphia.
In 1962, proposals for a museum commemorating the Zion’s Reformed Church’s role in the American Revolutionary War were introduced by members of the Allentown community. Though the church facility was nearly lost in the late 1960s as the result of proposals for the construction of Interstate 178, civic opposition resulted in the cancellation of the freeway project and the preservation of the church as a historic museum facility. The church’s underground area was excavated in preparation of museum creation, exposing its original foundations and the area where the Liberty Bell had been stored during its hiding.
Today, the Liberty Bell Museum recognizes the significance of the historic American landmark and the role of Allentown and the Zion’s Reformed Church in preserving it during the American Revolutionary War. The museum is operated as a nonprofit organization, offering a variety of exhibits and public programming related to American independence and civic history. It also serves as the official headquarters for the Allentown Flag Day Association organization, the oldest incorporated civic organization of its kind anywhere in the United States.
The church itself serves as a living history museum exhibit, listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its role in American civic history. As Allentown’s first church facility, the church was used as a refuge area during conflicts with indigenous tribes prior to American Declaration of Independence, and later served as a hospital facility during the Revolutionary War and a gathering site for official proclamation readings and civic events. Regular church services are held at the facility weekly, with special historic commemorative services offered quarterly.
Exhibits at the museum include an exact replica of the Liberty Bell, which is offered as a hands-on exhibit that visitors may ring. The city’s own liberty-style bell, which was cast in 1769 and served a similar civic purpose to the Philadelphia bell, is also on display, along with a variety of permanent exhibits related to the American Revolutionary War, the First Defenders, and the American colonial period. A rotating exhibit also showcases artifacts related to Lehigh County civic and social history, and a child-size Conestoga wagon replica is offered for play for young visitors.
The museum is also home to several other large historic artifacts of note, including a handpainted mural by artist Wilmer Behler recounting the hiding of the 11 bells during the Revolutionary War. The Pip the Mouse puppet, acquired by the museum in 2003, serves as an iconic pop culture landmark of the Allentown community, formerly used in a holiday puppet show at Hess’ department store between 1962 and 1995. The popular Mouse Before Christmas character became a popular fixture among local advertising and marketing campaigns and gained a reputation as a beloved children’s holiday favorite character throughout the late 20th century. Following the department store’s closure, props and pieces from The Mouse Before Christmas were donated to local community theater organizations, and the mouse puppet was donated to the museum in 2003.
Ongoing Programs and Education
A variety of public special event programming is offered at the museum, including periodic historic reenactment events related to American independence and the Revolutionary War. A lecture series is offered at the museum showcasing topics on American and local civic history, held as part of the city’s Third Thursday event series. Full reenactment presentations of The Mouse Before Christmas are presented at the museum throughout the holiday season, and a Pip’s Pals Club offers family special events and discounts on museum gift store merchandise.
622 Hamilton St, Allentown, PA, Phone: 610-435-4232
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