City of Bethlehem, PA

12:00 PM

I won't lie, I only know about Bethlehem, PA because a good friend of mine (hi Sam!) grew up and has family there. I had an extra PTO day I needed to use or lose before the end of the year so I ended up taking off a random Friday in November and making the nearly 3 hour drive to check out this teeny town. My main motivation for going was a spot called The Bookstore Speakeasy (more about that later) and to be honest my "to see" list was short even after hounding people for recommendations. Regardless, it's worth a day trip there 100%. Here are my recommendations.

I started my day with seeing the SteelStacks down near the Lehigh River. A nice quick walk under them with some history about the stacks themselves. Apparently the area also doubles as a live venue and I'd love to see a concert/show there with this as a backdrop! While now rusted it opened in 1863 and was a busy factory producing the steel that built skyscrapers (the Chrysler Building), bridges (the Golden Gate Bridge), and assisted in both World Wars.


After around 3 hours of driving I was starving so popped into Cachette Bistro and Creperie on Main Street for a bite to eat. I went with a savory crepe, specifically the BLT. I thought about getting a French Onion Soup to go with it, but knowing I was planning to do plenty of eating that day I'm glad I skipped it since the crepe alone was more than enough. Very tasty, plenty of savory or sweet options! If you're not a fan of crepes they also have salads and sandwiches.

In an attempt to walk off the food I just ate I made my way to Moravian Book Shop. Founded in 1745 it's not only the oldest bookstore in America but also the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world! Selection is tiny, but I happily left with two books. Being able to say I've been to the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world was enough reason for me to go!


Multiple people told me I MUST make my way to Vegan Treats when in Bethlehem and man oh man am I glad I did. As the name suggests all of their baked goods and desserts are vegan. Don't let this unassuming building fool you, their treats are major. I honestly would go back for this spot alone. Being pointed in the direction of their soft serve flavor of the month (Pumpkin with Toasted Marshmallow) I got a cup of that, as well as two donuts to go (Boston Cream and Chocolate Glazed). Their donuts at $2.50 a piece are HUGE and absolutely worth it. The soft serve comes dispensed heavy handed and is heavenly. They rotate their soft serve menu weekly so check out the schedule on their website to see what's being served OR drool over their Instagram. (I was also very, very close to swiping one of those tiger chairs!)


I had some time to kill before my reservations at The Bookstore Speakeasy so I decided to wander around the Lehigh University campus. If you have ever wanted to feel like you've step back in time, or maybe have been dropped into Hogwarts this is the place to do it. The buildings are beautiful, the campus quiet, it's definitely one photogenic place. Pop into their library if you can, it's gorgeous.


Last but definitely not least, the moment you've been waiting for, The Bookstore Speakeasy. I had been dreaming about visiting this spot since Sam mentioned it to me. I went right when they opened (because I'm a maniac), but I do recommend making reservations. They started to fill up as I was leaving and it wasn't even late yet! I don't have too many photos of the inside because while they don't discourage photos (no flash please) it's just too dim to actually get anything visible! Plus it's truly a place that must be experienced. Housed in the same location as the original speakeasy on that site they have provided amazing food and cocktails since prohibition.

On their door is their name, and a bee. Why a bee? The bee was a symbol of prohibition where symbols were used by those in the know to find a place selling drinks under the guise of something else... i.e. a bookstore. The bee is one of few animals in nature that will drink for pleasure and in quantity, the perfect symbol for a speakeasy!

While their menu does rotate depending on the season I had the chickpea popcorn and Shepherd's Pie, both were fantastic, along with two cocktails.

And that's it! I'd love to go back to Bethlehem again and check out the things I didn't get to the first time (as well as popping back into Vegan Treats and The Bookstore Speakeasy). If you find yourself in PA definitely check out this sweet town! 


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