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.
Propelled by an affinity for fresh air, the family that helms Hispaniola Cycling fosters the same free-spirit mentality in its guests who embark on the outfit’s bike tours, which include cycles and helmets. Hispaniola’s guides are experts on the local topography, calling upon their respect for Mother Nature and a healthy fear of her mood swings to guide groups for spins around town or weekend jaunts through Valley Forge and along the Schuylkill River Trail. They can also expand fitness with wellness tours and camaraderie with corporate tours that follow custom routes around worksites, kick-starting employee heart rates a midday slump after they wrestle faulty fax machines.
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.
The flavor-savvy guides of Chew Philly Food Tours acquaint both visiting and veteran Philadelphia taste buds with the dishes that encapsulate the city's culinary heritage. During each 2.5-hour journey, groups visit family-owned restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores— many of which have been around for decades—where merchants show off their specialties to curious palates.
Tidbits about local architecture, city history, and the philly cheesesteak's historic boxing victory against Chicago-style pizza spring from tour guides as tasters proceed with their 1.5-mile jaunt, which keeps feet moving at a moderate pace to accommodate guests of all ages and fitness levels.
Step foot onto the lush landscaped grounds of the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, and you're instantly transported to the Victorian era—a time when ladies toted lacy parasols, gentlemen sported tall silk hats, and children played with coal-powered Game Boys. Beyond the stately mansion's immaculately manicured lawns and brick façade lie 17 restored rooms, replete with lavish Rococo and Renaissance revival furnishings, elaborate ceiling designs, and Victorian-era appliances such as cast-iron stoves and gas-lit chandeliers.
This museum of Victorian architecture and culture hosts weekly tours, as well as a monthly Upstairs Downstairs tour that explores the lives and challenges of women in Victorian-era Philadelphia. The mansion also stages theater performances throughout the year, featuring the works of Victorian-era greats including Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, and Louisa May Alcott.