Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Go here: You don't have to travel far to learn Bethlehem's Moravian history. The story of its founding by Christian missionaries in the 18th century echoes underfoot on cobbled streets and from austere limestone buildings scattered throughout downtown. The town, one of three that make up Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, is rich in history and culture, from the museums to the suspended Star of Bethlehem, from the well-preserved churches to the antique shops. Take a walk down restaurant row or Main Street, tour the Burnside Plantation, or sign up for a walking tour of a steel mill. The city's Colonial roots are never more apparent than at Christmas, its name having been given to the community on Christmas Eve 1741 by its first Moravian settlers.

Stay here: Hotel Bethlehem, 437 Main St., 800-607-2384. In the heart of downtown Bethlehem, the Hotel Bethlehem is in an ideal location for those looking to explore the town. The hotel takes pride in its history, even claiming the residence of 18th-century friendly ghosts around the premises. Rooms start at about $129.

Eat here: The Apollo Grill, 85 West Broad St., 610-865-9600. Named "best overall restaurant" by Lehigh Valley Magazine for nine consecutive years, The Apollo Grill has long been a local and tourist favorite. The menu has a variety of salads, soups, appetizers and desserts, in addition to steak and fish options. Reservations are recommended.

Don't miss this: Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, 66 West Church St., 610-691-6055. Learn the history of Bethlehem's founders with a visit to the "largest 18th-century log building in the United States." The museum includes a church, apothecary and school.

The annual Christkindlmarkt was voted among the top holiday markets in the world by Travel+Leisure magazine. The German-style tented outdoor market features aisles of handmade arts and crafts, holiday music and German and Austrian food.

Get here: Take Interstate 95 North to Interstate 495 around Wilmington. Return to I-95 North, heading toward Chester, Pa., and exit to Route 476. Follow 476 until it meets the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Continue north on the turnpike (Northeast Extension-Route 476) to exit 33, which leads to the Lehigh Valley. Follow Route 22 east to the Bethlehem exit.

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