Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lehigh Valley Mom Run

There's a group of women forming... as one always does when a woman sees a need and wants to fill it with like-minded people meeting. This one is a group of moms who love to run (or a group of runners who happen to be moms - depending on how you look at it!).

The group's organizer, Christine, emailed me, even after I'd starred Lehigh Valley Running Scene's post about their first meetup:
I love your blog!  I've been a follower since my husband and I moved to the Lehigh Valley in 2008 from NJ.  You've really helped us find fun stuff to do around here.  We also make the 1 hour + trips to Trader Joe's with our giant cooler so that we can stock up on our favorite foods (shrimp gyoza are the best!).  I keep emailing Trader Joe's to ask them when they will be putting a store here in the LV - no luck yet. 
Anyway, I've just started a running club for Lehigh Valley moms called Lehigh Valley Mom Run.  Right now, the plan is to meet every other Sunday at 10 am in Trexler Park for an easy run around the main loop.  We just did our first run this morning and are trying to spread the word.  Can you put some info about our group on your site?  I also have a blog that's connected to the running club. Our next run is on Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 10 a.m.  We meet just inside the main entrance of Trexler Park (the one on Springhouse Road).  Jogging strollers are encouraged but not necessary - moms can also leave the kids with a sitter and join us too. 
Since I will soon be a mom, and recently acquired the Rolls Royce of jogging strollers on Craigslist for a song, I am tempted to go, even just to push a stuffed walrus up and down the hills of Trexler Park. I don't consider myself a runner by any means, though Dana assures me that I am - and there were even a few witnesses to my last major athletic feat, completing a sprint triathlon. But these sound like my kind of moms - active, social, and fanatical about Trader Joe's like I am. See you there?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Visiting a daughter at Moravian College

Through a dear friend, I was connected to this nice woman visiting her daughter at Moravian College. She wanted to make the most of her time with her daughter, and sent me this sweet email:

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Hi Megan,

My husband and I are taking a day trip in on Sat.to spend it with my daughter. We were thinking of heading into historic Bethlehem. We like to shop, maybe visit a museum, and have lunch somewhere nice. I should mention my daughter is a vegetarian. Is the historic district the place to go?
I appreciate any info you can give me. Thanks :-)
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I replied:

Hi Carol,
You have picked a great weekend to visit. There is an ArtWalk happening on Main Street in downtown Bethlehem. That means there will be music and artist vendors in the middle of the street from 4-8 p.m.
Shopping on Main Street is quaint and original. Great gift stores and beautiful atmosphere. Don't forget about the stores inside Main Street Commons and the Moravian Book Store. You can park in one of two parking garages for a small fee. For more mainstream shopping, the Promenade Shops of Saucon Valley has some great stores. It's a "lifestyle center" so if you go, dress for the weather.
There are a lot of nice places to have lunch on Main Street and Broad Street, so as you're shopping, peek at the menus and see what looks good to you. Apollo Grille, Tapas on Main and Edge are upscale and nice. All have some outdoor seating, too.

You mentioned that your daughter is a vegetarian. If you don't mind a scenic 1-mile walk or drive from Main Street, there are two outstanding restaurants on the South Side of Bethlehem: Horns and Blue Sky Cafe. Both offer a wide variety of menu items to suit veggies and non-veggies alike. Horns prides itself on sourcing a lot of their ingredients locally. Blue Sky offers a ton of gluten-free options, and it is very popular with locals and Lehigh University students, staff and faculty. The food at those two is outstanding and the atmosphere is a little more casual than the places on Main Street. Metered parking should be easy to find on the block. Also - both are BYOB.

For museums, Historic Bethlehem Partnership may be your best bet. There are some historic sites within walking distance of Main Street, and the organization offers regular walking tours of the area.

There is a phenomenal venue called the ArtsQuest Center at Steelstacks, also on the South Side of Bethlehem. It looks like Craig Thatcher (a popular local blues/rock musician) is playing a free outdoor concert at 7 p.m., but that may be too late for you. There are independent films and galleries as well as musical performances. Even if you just go down and walk around - the Steel blast furnaces will take your breath away.

I hope that you enjoy your visit, and that you'll let me know how you liked Bethlehem!

Kind regards,
Megan

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Readers, how did I do? I'm dying to know what they thought, and where they ended up!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Outdoor concerts in the Lehigh Valley

Last Saturday, we planned a full day of activities with our friends visiting from out of town: Walk to downtown Bethlehem with Stella. Breakfast from Johnny’s Bagels eaten at a sidewalk café table. A long walk on canal towpath. Host friends for a BBQ celebrating the Belmont Stakes race. Attend a benefit concert at the ArtsQuest Center at Steelstacks. I need a nap just reading about it.

On our walk, we heard music coming from across the Lehigh River from an earlier concert. I pointed out to my friends where we’d be (“just on the other side of those rusted, hulking furnaces!”), and received puzzled looks. 
When we arrived at 8:30 p.m., just as the sun was setting, the free concert at Levitt Pavilion was wrapping up. Hundreds of blues fans were sprawled over the lawn with blankets and camping chairs, enjoying snacks and drinks and the beautiful night air. Across Founder’s Way we found the stage we were looking for, on the Air Products plaza. Mark’s aunts and uncles are members of a cover band called “Call Your Mama” that was scheduled to play al fresco that evening. As soon as the Levitt show wrapped up, the stage came alive with music. The plaza was packed with people seated under large umbrellas at café tables. Many people who were at the show at the Levitt Pavilion turned their chairs around and enjoyed the second act. Even more fans milled around the plaza before and after taking in a movie inside the ArtsQuest center. As the momentum began to build, dozens of people began making their way to the dance floor, just in front of the stage, enjoying the sounds of “Brick House” and “Love Shack” and basking in the glow of the uplit blast furnaces just yards away. As the students who attended Phillipsburg High School’s prom filtered out of the building, many joined the party already in progress on the dance floor (adding a little sparkle to the crowd – literally). Many patrons chose to stay put and watch the show from tables, ordering drinks and food from servers and watching the whole scene. When the show ended at 11 p.m., and we walked back to our cars, we wondered aloud what all those people would have been doing were there no such thing as SteelStacks.

By no means is SteelStacks the only place to get your al fresco music fix in the Lehigh Valley. Check out The Morning Call's search tool to find the kind of entertainment you like (kid-friendly, festivals, concerts, and more) somewhere near you.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Use Open Table to Make Fine Dining Reservations in the Lehigh Valley

Last Friday night, Mark and I visited one of our favorite neighborhood spots, The Mint Gastropub (1223 West Broad Street, Bethlehem), for dinner. As always, we enjoyed delicious food and beverages, and saw some familiar faces: Shelly Brown and Dan Nigito and friends, and my friend Lisette Santana. 

We learned that the restaurant now takes reservations using OpenTable! Convenient. The online reservation service, wildly popular and often essential in big cities, is an easy way to find an open table near you. Even last minute. So if we’re looking for a table for 6 this Saturday night in Bethlehem, we search on those terms and come up with options:
Yianni’s Taverna, theMINT Gastropub, Emeril’s Chop House, 1741 Terrace at Hotel Bethlehem, Tap Room at Hotel Bethlehem, Edge, The Melting Pot, Emeril’s Italian Table, and blue grillhouse.
Joining the free reservation service allows you to make and change ressies, read about restaurants, see reviews, and earn points for every reservation made. These accrue and can be redeemed for free dining. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

South Side Film Festival Opens Tonight

Even if you are not a film buff. Even if you are not a South Side Bethlehem resident. Even if you have never been to a film festival before. Even if you have never heard of a single film in the list.

Go. You’ll see: the South Side Film Festival, opening tonight, is the only film festival in the Lehigh Valley. That means that all the resources of the Lehigh Valley’s film community converge in this annual event, and it’s good. It’s well-attended. (Warning: That means if you get there late, you might not get a seat. Go early.) It also means that you be surrounded by lots of people who are interested in the some of the same things that you are interested in. Dark humor? Animation? Horror? Romantic comedy? Documentary? International issues? Politics? After the show, don’t bolt for the door. Hang around the lobby and strike up a conversation with fellow audience members. You might disagree, but at least you’re talking. And if I’ve heard the complaint once, I have heard it 1,000,000 times – “It’s so hard to meet people in the Lehigh Valley.” Here’s a chance to prove that theory wrong. Check out the Festival’s web site for detailed descriptions of each film, advance ticket sales, directions to the various screening locations, and more. From SSFF web site:
Today, Tuesday, June 12: Opening Night begins with a party hosted by Comfort Suites on 3rd Street and features a delicious sampling of Kenyan cuisine provided by Alando's Kenyan Kitchen. Laying down the beat for the evening will be DJ, Telly Diacogiannis. The procession to our opening night screening will be lead by the City fo Bethlehem Pipe band. Our Opening Night screening: SWERVE, a feature length Thriller-Drama from Australia. Preceded by these invitational Short Films from Australia: Nullarbor (10m) and The Hunter (7m).

$10 Single Screening Admission for Opening Night and our Late Night Film

$5 Single Screening Admission for all other screenings at all venues

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Weekend trips from the Lehigh Valley: Atlantic City

My friend Christine asked me a while back about weekend getaways from the Lehigh Valley. It got me thinking... as much as I love living in the Lehigh Valley, its proximity to fun nearby makes it an even better.
I visited my friend Lori in Atlantic City recently. She's working at a new resort called Revel (http://www.revelresorts.com/), which officially opened Memorial Day weekend.

The new beachfront destination is 100% smoke-free and each of the hotel's 1,800 rooms has sweeping ocean views.  On our tour, we saw indoor and outdoor pools, a SkyGarden, lounges, and a 32,000-square-foot spa. Revel offers live entertainment - Beyonce performed four nights there recently, you might have heard of her? - nightclubs, and an oceanfront dayclub. Revel features more than a dozen restaurants from renowned chefs and restaurateurs who are well-known by their work in Washington, D.C. (James Beard Award winner Chef Michel Richard and Chef Robert Wiedmaier), Philadelphia (Chef Jose Garces) and New York City (Michelin-rated Chef Marc Forgione and Chef Alain Allegretti) (Garces and Forgione are Iron Chefs!). There's everything from an upscale steakhouse to a taco truck - on trend - to Weidmaier's MUSSEL BAR. Soon the $2.4 billion resort will feature upscale shopping as well. The beach is currently being replenished, but soon it will be pristine and open for tourists to soak up some rays and play in the water. In the meantime, you'll have to content yourself with the indoor-outdoor pool, open year-round.


Each sleeping room has its own tablet (think iPad) where you can order room service, surf the internet using the property's free Wi-Fi access, and learn about the property's amenities. The ocean views from every room and well-appointed bathrooms make it worth the pricetag (slightly higher than most AC resorts, but still less than most properties in Philly and NYC at $261/night average for a king room).

My ideal itinerary would be:
Leave home after work. Drive 2 1/2 hours to AC. Check in late on Friday night
On Saturday, wake up when we wake up
Breakfast at O Bistro
Morning at the pool under a cabana
Lunch at Distro Cantina
Afternoon at the spa
Nap :)
Dinner at Azure by Allegretti (an upscale seafood restaurant - one of Lori's faves)
On Sunday, wake up whenever again :)
Order room service breakfast
Outlet shopping in downtown AC and lunch on the boardwalk before driving home

Um, and oh yeah, there's a casino with table games and machines, too. It's kind of gorgeous and unobtrusive, since you can check in without walking through it (and did I mention it's smoke-free?).