Local Atmosphere

Bethlehem, PA
Admission Difficulty
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2 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: You have to be careful of the townies. It can be dangerous a bit off campus.

3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: I don't really hear people going too far off campus to go have fun/party. The one or two bars that people do go to are located very close. The locals don't really like Lehigh students, from what I gathered, but Lehigh students are very apprehensive about locals... There are no professional sports teams in Bethlehem, and no really big festivals or anything. There is some local cultural events, but those are small, and it usually takes some planning to get to them.

College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: It's hard to really judge the local atmosphere because as a freshman I've stayed on campus for about 99% of my time here.

2 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: You don't go to Lehigh to spend time in Bethlehem, that's for sure. Unless you have a car and can go further than South Bethlehem, there's nothing immediately nearby, but North Bethlehem's historic center is pretty cool. Other fun attractions can be found if you have a car and can spend the time looking for them.

3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: South Bethlehem is very poor and can be dangerous and isn't very pretty. North Bethlehem not he other hand is upper class and beautiful. Too bad Lehigh is on the south side.


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Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Charlie Gimber
Sudbury, MA
English and Journalism
View all previous student authors

It’s no secret that the town of Bethlehem isn’t exactly New York City, but there have been changes over the last few years to help improve the economy—most notably on the south side, near campus. The north side, historic Bethlehem, is five minutes from campus by car and has always been charming. A stroll down Main Street can make you feel like you’re in a completely different era with the old-fashioned sidewalks and storefronts. Both south and north sides have their share of distinct eateries, and the north side actually has some surprisingly good restaurants. Aside from the food, most students will agree that there’s not a lot to do in Bethlehem, but this is more than made up for in the excellent social life on campus. Students with cars often drive to Allentown—a 10- to 15-minute ride—for most of their needs.

While most people are skeptical of Bethlehem upon first visiting, the former steel titan has a way of growing on students. The relationship between residents of Bethlehem and the students is amicable at best; townies don’t exactly love the students, but they tolerate them all the same. Dorney Park and the Crayola Factory are 20-minute drives, Moravian College is right across the river, and Muhlenberg College is a 15-minute drive away. The Promenade outdoor shopping center has opened up a ton of options for students. The center is filled with shops and restaurants, and it’s quite pleasant to walk around. While most Lehigh students are having too much fun to be bothered going anywhere, there are a few options when it feels necessary to go off campus.


Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. Bethlehem, known as Christmas City, USA, was given its name on Christmas Eve 1741.
  2. The Moravian Book Shop, located in Historic Bethlehem, is the oldest continuously running bookseller in the world, founded in 1745.
  3. Bethlehem's Musikfest is considered the largest music festival in the country, with more than 1,000 musical performers and an annual attendance of more than 1 million.
  4. Moravians in Bethlehem completed the first-known waterworks system providing drinking and wash water in the American colonies in 1754.
  5. The Philadelphia Eagles have held their NFL training camp at Bethlehem's Lehigh University for the past few years.
Notable Natives
  • Stephen Vincent Benet
  • Gelsey Kirkland
  • Asa Packer
Points of Interest
  • Banana Factory
  • The Bethlehem Star
  • Crayola Factory
  • The Discovery Center
  • Dorney Park
  • Historic Bethlehem
  • Main Street
Shopping Centers
Lehigh Valley Mall
Movie Theaters
Boyd Theater
30 W. Broad St.
(610) 866-1521
Movie Theaters
Carmike 16
1700 Catasaqua Rd.
(610) 264-9624
Movie Theaters
Center Valley, RMP Promenade 16
2805 Center Valley Pkwy.
Center Valley
(610) 709-8635
Movie Theaters
Regal (Hoyts) Saucon Valley Cinema 10
3717 Rt. 378
(610) 814-2340
Major Sports Teams
  • New York Yankees: baseball
  • Philadelphia Eagles: football
  • Philadelphia Phillies: baseball
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • New York City: NY: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Philadelphia: PA: 1 hour

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 32 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 32 responses

  • 9% Painfully remote.
  • 28% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 41% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 16% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 6% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 32 responses

  • 6% There aren't any nearby schools.
  • 59% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 34% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 32 responses

  • 56% No way.
  • 31% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 12% Totally.


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