Visit This Small Eastern US Town For A Picture-Perfect Winter Holiday Vacation

Christmas is certainly a special time for creating memories with those dear to us. Taking a trip during this season can make the opportunity for bonding all the more abundant. If you're looking for somewhere cozy, unique, and full of celebration, what better place to visit than a town named after a key location in the main Christmas story? Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is as festive as its name. Located just 50 miles from Philadelphia, the town has been named Christmas City USA for decades, according to Discover Lehigh Valley. See for yourself why it's worthy of such a grand title.

When Christmas time rolls around, the 75,000 population town transforms into a dream for holiday lovers. You'll find storefronts adorned with festive lights, restaurants decorated to the nines, as well as a plethora of Christmas trees on display in the streets. Additionally, from mid November to late December, you'll find several holiday themed activities, ranging from live events to Christmas markets. If you're trying to escape somewhere festive, look no further. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is just the magical Christmas town for you.

Christmas markets galore

Located along 1st street near Lehigh River is the world-famous Bethlehem Christmas market, better known as Christkindlmarkt. Taking inspiration from Europe's historic holiday markets, this one-of-a-kind festive experience features over 50 vendors selling everything from handmade wooden decorations to homemade candies and sweets. Along with its numerous gift displays, the market also sells unique European food offerings, such as German ridergulasch, bratwurst, and strudel. As one reviewer on TripAdvisor wrote. "[...] You could easily spend the whole day there shopping around." Since the market is only open on weekends, keep in mind that it can get crowded, so plan accordingly and go early if you want to avoid the crowds. If you've had your fill of shopping, head over to the SteelStacks Ice Center to enjoy some ice skating. The 50-by-120 foot rink is open to all ages from late November through January, and features a view of the town's gigantic steel plant, as well as a Christmas tree display.

Meanwhile, over in the Monrovian historic district, you'll find the Christmas Huts on Main, which emulate the traditional German Christmas market. Transport yourself back in time by strolling down main street and taking in the wooden Weilnacht huts, which were designed by an award-winning architect. 

The festive fun doesn't stop there, either. The town's Live Advent Calendar draws plenty of crowds every year. Historic Bethlehem explains how it works: the crowds come to the Goundie House and a singular member knocks on the door. A local opens the door and proceeds to pass out little trinkets and treats. This is a great activity if  you plan on bringing family to the town.

Exploring the city and where to stay

If you're looking for a great way to explore the city, look no further than a traditional horse-drawn carriage ride. This unique attraction lets you and up to 8 other people take in the twinkling lights and decor throughout the downtown area from the comfort of your own private coach.

You can even opt to add an audio tour so you can learn about their historical significance of the buildings you pass by. This makes for a romantic date or a wholesome family adventure.

When you're in Bethlehem, PA, even your hotel stay can be brimming with holiday spirit. The Historic Hotel Bethlehem, which is rated number one by US News, is a gorgeous place to stay during the holidays with all of its elaborate light and tree decorations. If you want someplace cozy with an antique feel, The Sayre Mansion Inn is perfect. It has a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor and all the amenities of a modern hotel, but with old-warm, historic charm. 

For those making holiday plans and looking for a destination the whole family can enjoy, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is just for you. Make some merry memories by taking in the lights, festive sites, and the town with the best Christmas spirit.