15 Best Things to Do in Reading, PA

Reading, PA
cwieders / shutterstock.com

Reading, (pronounced RED-in) is a city in South-Eastern Pennsylvania.

It is the seat of Berks County and located on the Schuylkill River.

It is the fifth-largest city of Pennsylvania and lies halfway between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

The once famous, but now obsolete Reading Railroad got its name from here.

Reading is also home to the celebrated frontiersman, Daniel Boone.

Reading has witnessed major industrial revolutions.

It is a city where history and modern facilities co-exist in perfect harmony.

But Reading has great scenic beauty too.

It is a favourite with cyclists with long winding trails in five major preserves.

So if you are planning a visit, you will not be disappointed.

Reading Public Museum

Reading Public Museum
Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Reading Public Museum located in West Reading is the melting point of art, science, and history.

It houses a planetarium and a 25-acre arboretum.

The museum was established in 1904 by naturalist Levi.W. Mengel.

But the museum opened its doors to the public in 1913.

The museum has exhibits featuring science and civilization.

There is a huge fine art collection of oil paintings by artists from across the globe.

The natural history collection comprises birds, insects, mammals, and more than 25,000 mineral samples.

One of the most distinguished collections at the museum includes a real Egyptian mummy dating to the Ptolemaic period.

The museum has been dedicated to preserving history and promoting education through generations.

Reading Pagoda

Pagoda
cwieders / Shutterstock.com

Get a taste of Japan, at this historic landmark spread across 10 acres and constructed on the top of the south end of Mount Penn.

Built in the 20th Century, this seven-story wooden building has been synonymous with Reading ever since.

The Reading Pagoda is also a striking piece of architecture and visible from almost every part of the city.

Do you know, sixteen tonnes of bolts have been used to keep it moored to the mountainside.

Isn't that fascinating?

You can travel to the Pagoda in a car to view it up close and marvel at its rare beauty.

You can also catch a spectacular view of downtown Reading from the viewing area inside the pagoda premises.

The Reading Pagoda also houses a gift shop and a museum.

Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center

A pond in Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center
brian kelly, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are looking to spend some quality time in the midst of Nature, then head straight to the Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center.

Sprawled across 665-acres of land, this state park offers programs for all individuals.

The Nolde Forest is replete with several acres of coniferous plantations and deciduous woodlands.

The forest has a remarkable network of trails that help both visitors and students access the centre's ponds, streams, and diverse habitats easily.

These trails also provide great opportunities for hiking owing to the ease of movement along them.

This is also one of the reasons why this forest is so immensely popular among families.

Daniel Boone Homestead

Daniel Boone Homestead
Smallbones, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spread over an area of 579 acres, the Daniel Boon Homestead includes the house, Daniel Boon was born.

Daniel Boone is one of the pioneer hunters and trailblazers.

He discovered what is now known as Kentucky.

But the house has been revamped several times over the years.

So most part of the original house where Boon spent his childhood days is gone.

The Daniel Boon Homestead now contains an impressive collection of vintage Pennsylvania furniture and other paraphernalia.

The property provides remarkable forays into the life in this part of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Daniel Boon Homestead also houses a small museum that offers insights into Daniel Boon's life and also that of early America.

Goggle Works Center for the Arts

Goggle Works Center for the Arts
Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are an art enthusiast, then you must visit the Goggle Works Center for the Arts.

It is a hub of community art and culture.

Founded in 1871, it was the first factory in the world that produced reading glass and optical glass for lenses.

Driven by an urge to protect factory workers against occupational hazards, the factory became a pioneer in the safety protection industry.

But it shut shop in 2002. It was reopened in 2005 as Goggle Works Center for the Arts.

The centre now has a sprawling campus spread across 1,45,000 square feet (0.01 square kilometres) and caters to 2,50,000 visitors every year.

It houses the largest interactive visual art centre, a 131-seater theatre, a café, and a store.

The shop sells the works of more than 200 independent artists from across America.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Nayi / Shutterstock.com

The Hawk Mountain Sanctuary works towards preserving birds of prey from across the world.

The sanctuary has a rich history.

It was started during the Great Depression and was the first of its kind in the world.

The sanctuary has grown from strength to strength since then and now covers an area of 2,600 acres.

It receives almost 60,000 visitors annually.

With 9,000 members on its roster, the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary seeks to educate the public about the conservation of raptors from across the world.

If you are visiting the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary during the fall migration, you can spot hundreds of birds.

But in case you are not and the birds elude you, you can opt for hiking.

The sanctuary serves as a great destination for hiking with eight-plus miles of hiking trails, The scenic views from the sanctuary are breathtakingly mesmerizing.

Reading Railroad Heritage Museum

Located in Hamburg, the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum is a treasure house of historical relics.

It opened in 2008 and is run by the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society.

They are a non-profit organization, working towards maintaining the heritage site by carrying out different restoration works from time to time.

The museum boasts a huge collection of artefacts.

Some of their exhibits include period railroad cars and locomotives, photographs, and documents.

You can go inside the different locomotives and cars to get a closer look at these priceless pieces of history.

Over the years their collections have grown bigger.

They now have in their possession some pieces which have no direct link with the Reading Railroad.

But they are an important part of railroad history.

Berks History Center

Earlier, known as the History Center of Berks County, the Berks History Center is a keeper of the 300 years old story of Berk County and its residents.

The Berks History Center is a museum-cum- research library.

They are committed to their mission of building awareness about the exemplary history of Berks County and fostering a deep sense of bonding in the community.

The museum has an extensive collection of books, paintings, and photographs.

The magnificent and varied historical collections run into more than 20,000 objects.

The Berks History Museum also has a remarkable collection of transportation objects like bicycles, a Conestoga Wagon, a unique horse-drawn streetcar, and other kinds of wagons.

Mid-Atlantic Air Museum

War hawk fighter plane at Mid-Atlantic Air Museum
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Whether you are an aeroplane, buff, or not, you must drop by at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum.

Established in the 1980s, it is located in the Reading Regional Airport.

The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum is one of the largest aviation museums in Pennsylvania.

The museum has a majestic collection of 70 aircraft.

Although most of their collections date back to the Second World War era, there is a P-61 Black Widow aircraft on display.

The plane met with an accident on Mount Victoria in 1945 and was recovered in 1989.

You can avail yourself of the guided tours that bring you in close contact with these flying beasts.

Neversink Mountain

View from Neversink Mountain
Amy Lutz / Shutterstock.com

The Neversink Mountain is a natural preserve and community forest.

It covers 1,065 acres that consist of shrublands, forest, and headwater creeks.

It is located between the Schuylkill River and the City of Reading.

Despite its rare ecological significance, it has fallen prey to irresponsible human behaviour.

The Neversink Mountain also provides wonderful trails for hiking.

It boasts a diverse mix of both flora and fauna.

The stunningly beautiful surroundings provide a well-deserved break from the bustling city life.

The City Overlook and the Witches Hat are the most popular destinations with picturesque views.

This 900-acre of pristine wonderland is home to deer, mammals, turkeys, etc.

Neversink Mountain is particularly known for its electric mix of butterflies and moths.

Covered Bridges

Covered Bridges
Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you are in Berk County, there is history tugging at you all the time.

Even the bridges here speak a language that is so reminiscent of the days of yore.

The city is known for its covered bridges.

But among those remaining, there are five of them that truly deserves a mention.

These bridges are Wertz's Covered Bridge, Dreibelbis Covered Bridge, Kutz's Mill Covered Bridge, Pleasantville Covered Bridge, and Greisemer's Covered Bridge.

A drive through these beautiful bridges is something you will cherish.

Some of them look distinctly different from other covered bridges seen in Pennsylvania.

The iconic five bridges are scattered all over the city with four of them situated in north and east Reading.

The last one is located in western downtown.

Pennsylvania Snowsports Museum

The Pennsylvania Snowsports Museum is a rare museum that is committed to preserving the heritage of winter sports in Pennsylvania.

It is a non-profit organization founded in 1994 by a bunch of ski aficionados.

The museum has an astounding display of memorabilia, biographies, photos, history, and equipment.

Liberty Mountain and Blue Mountain Resorts are the two places where they have their museums located.

Pennsylvania Snowsports Museum is working towards setting up other museums.

They are also trying to digitize their exhibits for better accessibility.

The museum honours those sportspersons who have made significant contributions to the world of winter sports.

Antietam Lake Park

Antietam Lake Park
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Located in the east of Reading in the Americana Region of Pennsylvania is the beautiful Antietam Lake Park.

The 665-acre of park surrounds the Antietam Lake, which is a reservoir.

The lake provides an ideal setting for nature-based recreational activities like picnics, fishing, hiking, and biking.

You can also simply enjoy the quietness of the place.

There are trails running up to more than 12 miles (19.31 kilometres).

Antietam Lake traces its origins to 1865.

This was the time when Reading bought a dam and gristmill on Antietam Creek.

On your way to the park, you can see a beautiful waterfall formed by the dam that now flows over the 60-foot rock.

There is a 22-acre Angora Fruit Farm at the centre of the park.

It serves as a classroom for environment-based educational programs.

Crystal Cave

Pennsylvania has a rich reserve of show caves.

The uniqueness of each cave makes it stand apart from the rest.

So one such cave is the Crystal Cave, located near Kutztown.

This cave was discovered in 1871 by William Merkel during a limestone blasting expedition on his farm.

The cave gets its name from the crystalline formations that adorn its walls.

The tour of this wonderful underground gem begins with a video that informs visitors about the cave's history and its formation.

This is followed by a 45-minute tour of the cave, during which you can reach almost 125 feet (0.04 km) below the ground.

The steps leading to the depths are quite a few.

So remember to wear good footwear when visiting the cave.

Barley Mow

You can enjoy a drink at the Barley Mow brewpub located in West Reading.

It offers the largest selection of craft beer in the entire region.

They source over 750 varieties from 100 craft breweries across America.

The ambience of the place is nice and comfortable.

The decor is slightly quirky with exposed brick walls and a stone bar.

There is also a beautiful outdoor patio from where you can enjoy the surroundings while sipping your drink.

There is frequently live music at the bar too.

You can also get your drink from the beer taps which offer a large variety.

The brewpub, however, has a small selection of food on its menu.

But not to worry.

They allow you to bring in food.

So you may order from any of the restaurants situated in the vicinity.