Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 7/18/17
LEHIGH VALLEY, Pennsylvania – With our friends jet setting off to exotic locales, sometimes it can be frustrating to have a lack of funds or time to head out for a well-deserved vacation in the summer.
However, if you’re looking for a weekend — or even just a day — away, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, which is less than two hours from the homes of most Central Jerseyans, makes for a great getaway as its home to picturesque parks, locally sourced dining options, wineries and breweries, as well as many attractions for family fun including the Lehigh Valley Zoo, The Crayola Experience, Sands Bethlehem, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom and more.
It’s certainly no surprise that the area makes for an ideal getaway — the region receives 10.6 million day-trippers annually.
“With three main cities — Bethlehem, Allentown and Easton — intertwined with dozens of small towns, Lehigh Valley is full of history, energy and action,” said Alicia Quinn, strategic brand manager at Discover Lehigh Valley.
“You can really choose to have any type of getaway that you want in the area, whether it be foodies looking to indulge, a touch of history in downtown Bethlehem, activities for family fun, couples looking for a quaint, relaxing getaway, or a girls’ weekend filled with shopping, delicious food and a tour of The Lehigh Valley Wine Trail.”
Shankweiler’s Drive-In Theatre
One of the options is Shankweiler’s Drive-In Theatre, the oldest drive-in movie theater in America, at 4540 Shankweiler Road in Orefield, which brings nostalgic summer Saturdays back to life.
Open seven days a week until Labor Day Eve with some weekends open in September, the drive-in, which opened in 1934, is open rain or shine and makes for an inexpensive night out with admission of $10 for those 12 and up and $6 for under 12.
Moviegoers can catch two flicks for the price of one every night of the week from June through Labor Day. Movies are typically family friendly and range from new releases to old-time favorites. Now playing is “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Despicable Me 3.” The most up-to-date schedule can be found at shankweilers.com/schedule.php.
Lehigh Valley Zoo
If you decide to head to the theatre but have some time to kill before your flick starts, Quinn recommends that visitors head to the Lehigh Valley Zoo, which is a 10-minute drive from the theatre at 5150 Game Preserve Road in Schnecksville.
Home to more than 300 animals representing 100 species, the theatre is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has admission for those 12 and up at $13 and $11 for under 12.
The zoo receives more than 135,000 visitors every year and has tons of interactive experiences for visitors to participate in, including a penguin feed and talk, kangaroo walkabout, Wonders of Wildlife encounter and most recently, a giraffe feeding experience.
Where to eat
A visit to Lehigh Valley isn’t complete without stopping at some of the region’s favorite restaurants, and there are tons located near the zoo and theatre if you plan on taking a snack break.
Grumpy’s Bar-B-Que Roadhouse, a no-frills BBQ joint with slow-cooked, hickory-smoked meats and standard sides plus live music and a bar, is at 3000 Mauch Chunk Road in Allentown and will be a big hit with anyone who is a fan of the flavor and cooking styles of New Orleans, St. Louis, the Carolinas and Tex-Mex.
Another tasty — and historic — option is Hops Fogelsville, a bar and grill set in a 1790s hotel that serves American classics like burgers and steaks at 921 Main St. in Fogelsville.
Families also tend to flock to the Sunset Grille, a neighborhood place with a Tex-Mex menu including burgers, fajitas and ribs, plus a full bar with TVs at 6751 Ruppsville Road in Allentown. Adults also like to hang out at the Samuel Adams Brewhouse, inside The Center at Holiday Inn at 7736 Adrienne Drive in Breinigsville.
Where to stay
If you plan on making a weekend out of your Lehigh Valley escape, then the Glasbern Inn, which is only a 10-minute drive from the theatre at 2141 Packhouse Road in Fogelsville, makes for an ideal stopping point for adults with its natural beauty, rustic charm and warm hospitality.
“Located on a 19th-century farm and in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, it’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life but just a short drive away from all the action,” said Quinn.
For families, The Center at Holiday Inn, Allentown Park Hotel and Homewood Suites are also great options.
“Lehigh Valley has something for all demographics, whether it be families looking to go to the Lehigh Valley Zoo one day of the weekend followed by Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom the next, couples who are looking for a relaxing hotel and spa for a short weekend getaway, or a guy’s trip filled with golf and breweries,” said Quinn.
“The beauty of the area is that it’s sure to please visitors no matter what they are hoping to do.”
For more information on how to spend your weekend in Lehigh Valley, visit discoverlehighvalley.com.
If you go
Samuel Adams Brewhouse: 7736 Adrienne Drive, Breinigsville; ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/us/en/breinigsville/abelv/hoteldetail/dining, 610-391-1000