One of the most populated areas of Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley contains the two sizable cities of Bethlehem (75,000 persons) and Allentown (120,000); it borders Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains and the state of New Jersey at the Delaware River. Part of the Greater Appalachian Valley, the Lehigh Valley is 60 miles north of Philadelphia and 80 miles west of New York City. The area grew up as a mixture of agricultural land and heavy industry, but in recent years it has reinvented itself as an educational (it has a campus of Penn State), healthcare, alternative energy, and financial center. Lehigh Valley event venues cater to these industries, as well as to outside groups.
The main airport, Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), is just across the Lehigh River from Allentown and also right above Bethlehem. It serves only seven U.S. states, including Florida and Illinois, and has a short-hop service to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL).
While there are no dedicated convention venues in the Lehigh Valley (several hotels with conference space stand in for this space) there is major non-hotel space for events is the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, which is adjacent to the city's famous steel furnaces that still stand. The center sits on the Bethlehem Works' original plant site and has 16,000 square feet of space for banquets of up to 1,000 persons and events of 1,600.
Hotel venues in the Lehigh Valley include the 192-room Best Western Lehigh Valley & Conference Center, which has event space for 800 persons; the 175-room Holiday Inn Allentown I-78, which has a ballroom for 1,400 persons; the 128-room Historic Hotel Bethlehem, in Bethlehem, which was built in 1922 and has more than 12,000 square feet of event space for receptions of 784 persons and meetings of up to 992; the 123-room Ramada Allentown Whitehall, which has meeting space for 350 persons and reception space for 290; and the 116-room Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center, which is in Macungie, southwest of Allentown, also is a ski resort and has function space for receptions of up to 300 and events of up to 400.
Unique function space for groups and teams include such options as the gorgeous Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown, home to the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and with Rodale Hall for banquets of up to 200 persons and the theater-hall itself for 1,200; Sigal Museum, in Easton, half Colonial, half modern, which sits beside the Delaware River, contains more than 60,000 pieces of Americana and has an exhibit hall for 175 persons and an auditorium for 95, among other spaces; Allentown's America On Wheels Museum, an antique automobile and motorcycle museum that contains a 1950s-theme restaurant, The Hubcap, for 100 persons, Long Haul Room for 90, and a theater for 30; in Hellertown, just south of Bethlehem, the Silver Creek Country Club, which has 27 holes of golf and a 27,000-square-foot, grand, white clubhouse that contains the Rafter Room Ballroom for 400 persons; and, for a real bang, Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, which is in the town of Coplay and has three shooting courses of either 13 or 14 positions, as well as a heliport and conference and banquet facilities for up to 100 persons.
Good restaurant choices in Allentown include The Hamilton Kitchen & Bar in Allentown, which is a relatively new restaurant in the new Two City Center, and with an American menu; Cosmopolitan, across the street from the Miller Symphony Hall and with more American fine dining, a two-story ballroom for 150 persons and a chef's table, and Fegley's Allentown Brew Works (with another offering in Bethlehem), with a classic American bar feel but six private event spaces, its own brewery and all its energy from wind and solar power. In Bethlehem are the award-winning Edge, which has a French-Asian menu and a private dining room for 50 persons, and Emeril's Italian Table, which is the celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse's restaurant inside the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem that has 300 guestrooms.