Christmas City hits Zagat's list of "20 Awesome Winter Foodie Destinations"

Author: , Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published: Dec 10 2012 01:36:09 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 10 2012 08:18:00 PM EST
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

Vail, Montreal, Prague and Bethlehem?  That's right, the Christmas city made an international countdown by Zagat as one of the best winter spots for food lovers.

Bethlehem has been the official Christmas city in the U.S. for 75 years.  Every winter historic downtown Bethlehem transforms into a holiday wonderland.  But it's the great grub here that snagged it a spot on Zagat.

Zagat's countdown of  "20 Awesome Winter Foodie Destinations" offers an international list of places folks can check out with quality eats.  Bethlehem is the fifth location highlighted.

"If you are surprised by this rating come down and try some of the restaurants down here and it will completely blow your mind," said Samantha Schwartz with the Downtown Bethlehem Association.

But you can't just come for the great grub.

"We always believe here that food brings people," shared Schwartz.   "And then they're able to wander around.

The perfect place to go in December is Christkindmarkt, with its handmade crafts, gifts, and of course cuisine.

"We have artisans who sell locally made honey, PA made maple syrup, we have locally sourced wines made right here in the Lehigh Valley," explained Artsquest Spokesperson Mark Demko.  "It's a really great experience."

The annual event draws in more then 60, 000 visitors to the city of 75, 000 each year. Zagat calls it the epicenter of the festivities.

"It's quite an honor," smiled Demko.  "And what's great about Zagat is it's really based on input from consumers and patrons."

Travelers are also encouraged to stay at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem.  The staff plans for December all year long and showcases some of the prettiest Christmas decorations around.

"We hang over 30,000 lights in the hotel, we decorate about 20,000 square feet," added General Manager Dennis Costello. 

The hotel says it's an honor to be included on the Zagat countdown, and says everyone should come check out the Christmas City.

"Its just a unique experience you can't replicate anywhere else."