Though New York becomes its own winter wonderland during this time of year (and this one will be a particularly frosty, flakey, and slushy one), sometimes you want a holiday getaway too! And the aptly-named Bethlehem, PA, also known as Christmas City U.S.A, is the perfect Christmas town to get in the spirit!
Home of the first-ever Christmas tree in the United States in 1747, now this eastern PA city has fully embraced its holiday history, becoming a December destination every single year.
You can expect everything from a window decorating competition to a magical Christmas village lining its very streets! Here’s a taste of just what this magical Christmas town entails:
- The Christmas Village: Downtown Bethlehem’s streets literally transform into an enchanting Christmas market through December 24! Charming wood huts filled with unique holiday gifts line the sidewalks, where you can find everything from gifts from local artisans to gourmet foods to pet treats to local wine. Thursdays – Sundays, November 9 through December 24.
- Tree Lighting Ceremony: The 2023 Christmas City Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Bethlehem’s Payrow Plaza along with hot cocoa, a visit from Santa Claus, and a lineup of exciting entertainment. November 24 | 5 p.m.
- Ice Rink: Shred on the Ice Rink which will be even larger than last year! And when you need a break you can head to the food and beverage area attached to the rink. Throughout the season the rink will be hosting events for all ages, including themed nights, sporting events, and more. November 21 – January 15
- Live Advent Calendar: Every evening shops, restaurants, and community organizations from the Historic District will provide a special treat to Live Advent visitors. It’s the only live advent event in the country. December 1 – December 23 | 5:30 p.m. nightly
- Holiday Cocktail Trails: Ring in the holiday season early with the annual Historic Bethlehem Holiday Cocktail Trails! Purchase a passport which will serve as your ticket to visit stores and restaurants throughout Historic Downtown Bethlehem for various delicious holiday cocktail samples. November 11 & November 18 | 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
- Storytime with Santa: Children will read stories with Santa, enjoy snacks, and work with Santa’s elves on a craft. December 2 & December 16 | 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Find out even more about this magical place on their website here
Driving from NYC is easiest (and the trip will take anywhere from 1.5-2 hours depending on traffic). You can also get there by train, but it takes multiple transfers and closer to 3.5 hours.