Drive Time From Downtown: 4 hours, 40 minutes
Warmed by a Euro-style Christmas Market and studded with great little restaurants, Bethlehem, Pa., is a natural destination for holiday celebrations. Founded in 1741 by German-speaking Moravians on the day before Christmas, this eastern Pennsylvania town in Northampton County knows, in the words of Charles Dickens, how to keep Christmas well.
The city’s world-famous Bach Choir performs its Christmas concerts Dec. 13, but events kick off just after Thanksgiving with the Christkindlmarkt, an open-air shopping fair with 100 artists, and at the Star and Candle Shoppe at downtown’s Central Moravian Church, a grand place of worship since 1802. Learn the history of these Pennsylvania pioneers on downtown walking tours led by guides in period costumes, then stroll to bistros such as Apollo Grill, Starfish Brasserie or 1741 on the Terrace, located at the elegant Hotel Bethlehem.
Secular additions to the traditional celebration include a PeepsFest, starring holiday versions of the locally made marshmallow chicks by Just Born Candy, and two new nightclubs, Molten Lounge and Coil Bar, at the glitzy Sands Casino Resort.