The Best Places to Visit in Bethlehem, PA

Moravian Book Shop, Bethlehem, PA
Bethlehem’s Moravian Book Shop, the oldest bookstore in America.

Bethlehem, PA might not be where Jesus was born, but that hasn’t stopped the city from embracing their name–and the Christmas spirit. Bethlehem is a nice half-day trip from my town, an excursion that requires less planning ahead than a trip to Philadelphia or New York. Watching (too many) Hallmark Christmas movies put me in the holiday spirit and I knew a trip to this little town would satisfy my urge to do something cute and Christmas-y.

When we were about halfway to Bethlehem, my dad and I realized we had very different ideas of why we were going to Bethlehem. I had pictured us wandering through the old town Main Street and the little wooden shacks that remind me of a traditional European holiday market–to me, this was Bethlehem’s Christkindlemarkt. My dad broke the news to me…he had visited the town just weeks before and there were no shacks to be found. Beyond that, he shared that the Christkindlemarkt is expansive and indoor. While I’m sure that the market is amazing, it just wasn’t what I had in mind. We decided to head into the old town area in hopes that my seemingly imaginary shacks truly did exist.

Our first stop was S. D. Feather, a funky furniture store where we previously purchased a bike-inspired coffee table (my dad is an avid cyclist). The shop also sells fun decor like globes with quotes lettered on them. Unfortunately, the shop was closed–probably the best for our wallets.

After a few more steps, the shacks came into view: my memory hadn’t deceived me…but they are only open on the weekend. Instead of heading over to the old Steel Stacks to visit the market, we decided to meander down Main Street.

The Foo Foo Shoppe, with it’s deceivingly feminine name, offered everything from backpacks shaped like the head of a snow tiger to “animals in jumpers soap” (only two in stock!) to an entire wall of rubber ducks.

The Attic, a small consignment shop, offers clothes for women and men. Although I didn’t purchase anything this time around, I always try on at least one article of clothing while I’m there!

Finally, we made our way to the end of the street: Moravian Book Shop. The bookstore claims to be the oldest in America, established in 1745. It’s easy to get lost in the expansive store. Each room feels like you’ve entered a completely different store. While about half of the store is dedicated to books, there are also rooms filled with home goods, Christmas decorations, dog treats, and a café.

After our shopping (well, window shopping–we made it through without a single purchase!), we decided to grab some dinner. I was too hungry to make a decision, a fairly common occurrence for me, so my dad picked Fegley’s Brew Works. The restaurant was packed! We waited a long time for our food, but as soon as I bit into a piece of the roasted garlic and vegetable flatbread, the wait was completely worth it. The hand-pressed pierogis also impressed, doughy and flavorful.

December might be the best time to visit the “Christmas City” with seasonal tunes piped out into the streets. However, the small town keeps it’s charm year-round…and a summer visit means you can sit outside to eat!

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