Bethlehem, PA aerial of downtown

2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live In America Sponsored by: See homes for sale on Movoto by OJO

liv score
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 42
Demographics 57
Economy 59
Education 57
Health 60
Housing 46
Infrastructure 45

#70. Bethlehem, PA

As cute as a Hallmark movie, Bethlehem, PA is known as “Christmas City” and, leading up to the holidays, it has a Christkindl market and fresh-cut evergreen trees that are lit up and placed in major intersections. (Quick history lesson: Bethlehem was founded by Moravians as a communal society in 1741 and named on Christmas Eve). While it’s especially darling during Christmas, this Eastern Pennsylvania city makes a great place to live year-round, thanks to a statewide tech renaissance that has helped this former steel town reinvent itself as a hub of innovation. Bethlehem is also affordable, boasts an up-and-coming art and culture scene, and has a sweet spot for marshmallow Peeps. 

Top Colleges/Universities: Lehigh University & Northampton Community College

Top Industries & Employers: Manufacturing, professional and business services, transportation and logistics, health care and education, as well as food and beverage processing, make up a diverse economy in the Lehigh Valley. Some well-known companies call Bethlehem home, including OraSure, a global leader in infectious disease diagnostics.

Weekend Plans: Mark your calendars for the first Friday of every month, and head to the South Side district to enjoy live music, entertainment and food while browsing eclectic shops and galleries. Or head to ArtsQuest, where there’s always something going on, like festivals, concerts, comedy shows and movies in an alehouse-style cinema.

Favorite Place to Feast: Yianni’s Taverna serves dishes you’d find on the tucked-away streets of Greece.

Beloved Beverage: The Lehigh Valley has more than 30 wineries. Enjoy a tasting at Black River Farms.

Outdoorsy Activity: Spend summer days at Dutch Springs, which is a park – but in the water. The aquatics playground has an aqua jump, which is like an on-water trampoline, a water slide and climbing equipment. You can also scuba dive in this former quarry.

Rooftop Bar: Make Sunday brunch on the rooftop at Zest Bar & Grill a tradition. Sweet and savory dishes are on the menu, like lemon and blueberry pancakes, and a chicken and waffle sandwich.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: Many of the restaurants on Main Street are dog-friendly.

Remote Work Perk: Home values are significantly below the national average, so you’ll get a good bang for your buck in Bethlehem.

One More Thing … Bethlehem drops a giant Peep on New Year’s Eve. The city is home to Just Born Quality Confections, the maker of Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, Peeps and other candies. 

– Brittany Anas

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