Founded on Christmas Eve in 1741 by a small group of Moravian settlers and christened “Christmas City, USA” in 1937, Bethlehem turns its gaze toward the past year-round guided tours and museum exhibits. The 10.9-mile Heritage Trail snakes through 80 historic stops, including two National Historic Landmarks, Victorian-era homes, and the nation’s oldest gift shop. On historic walks, guides lead tour groups through the now-defunct site of Bethlehem Steel, the city’s oldest cemeteries, and the 1762 Waterworks, known as the first municipally pumped water system in the country. The Kemerer Museum Of Decorative Arts is one of only 15 of its kind in the country. Located inside the 1741 Gemeinhaus, the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem curates a collection of exhibits about the town’s settlers, including their missionary work, education system, and medical techniques.
Blue Mountain Vineyards owners, Joe and Vickie, are pinot pioneers. Beginning with a 5-acre experiment in 1986, they discovered that the soil of the Lehigh Valley does a fine impression of French terrain, making it suitable for growing the grapes of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and other European varietals. Since then, they've expanded to a 50-acre plot, where they now produce wines that have won awards from the Fingerlake International Wine Competition and Appellation America.
Panoramic views of the Blue Mountains overlook scenic terraces at the vineyards, where grapes spring from soil that soldiers roamed during the Revolutionary War. Tastings, concerts, and other events fill the winery's glass-flanked deck, spilling onto an outdoor patio surrounded by ponds as tranquil as a silent lullaby. Visitors admire the vines during tours, and they can also adopt their favorites to preserve the vines' flavorful histories.
Since 1987, the aerial specialists at U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team have used hot air balloons to whisk passengers away on a safe and enjoyable journey that serenely floats over historic farms, villages, and forests. With this deal, you get a ride on one of the U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team's flights, including a journey over Amish Country, Brandywine Wyeth Country, Dutch Country, or Valley Forge (Bucks County flight is not included). Lofty travels begin at the launch site where voracious voyagers can assist with the inflation of their balloons, each of which has been maintained and inspected for optimal performance in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Schuylkill River Outdoors outfits guests with tubes and rafts before sending them off to take tranquil, relaxing jaunts downstream. Customers can choose from three different aquatic sojourns—a brief, one-hour float, a two- to three-hour trek, or a five-hour marathon—to complete at their leisure. During trips, tubers and rafters can take time out to wade in the shallow waters or invent backstories for the wild turkey, ducks, and bald eagles they may encounter along the way. Multiple islands populate the gently flowing waters of the Schuylkill River, providing a convenient spot for explorers to stop to picnic or skip rocks. Schuylkill River Outdoors recommends that customers bring along their own snacks and drinks, sunscreen, bathing suits, and a pair of water-friendly shoes as footwear is mandatory.
A champagne toast signifies luxury, but Air Ventures provides an even more luxurious amenity—champagne toasts conducted while floating in midair. Customers sip from bottles of bubbly while on one of the company’s hot-air-balloon rides, which float over Chester County’s rolling hills, glistening lakes, and historic estates at either sunrise or sunset. The rainbow-hued balloon’s trips range from one-hour jaunts to flight packages with overnight inn stops. After their airborne adventures, passengers take home a souvenir picture of the balloon, which they can supplement with downloaded shots of their own tour.
Crystal chandeliers, stained-glass windows, and Austrian drapes adorn Abigail's Tea Room, where guests savor freshly brewed tea and finger foods inside a three-story Victorian manor house built in 1883. The tearoom hosts up to 50 diners for lunch, as teas pair with a seasonally changing selection of salads, sandwiches, and quiches. During high tea outings, attendees nibble snacks delivered on Victorian china and a tiered luncheon server while sipping tea decanted from pots with intricate floral patterns. Afterward, visitors can stock up on tea gear in the gift shop, browse the Gilded Age Hat Gallery's cranial accouterments, or unsuccessfully try to hook up their iPods to the parlor's gramophone.