best things to do in reading pa

Although a majority of the attractions on this list are available year-round, Koziar’s Christmas Village is a unique exception, welcoming visitors only for a brief two months during the holiday season. But given its stature as one of Pennsylvania’s top Christmas spots, it undeniably earns its place here.

Established in 1948, Koziar’s transformed from a quaint family decoration to one of the grandest light exhibitions in Pennsylvania, with over a million lights brightening its operational farm. A designated walkway guides visitors through its numerous displays and features.

1. Reading Pagoda

One of Reading’s most iconic yet surprising landmarks is the Reading Pagoda. Majestically positioned atop Mount Penn, this Pagoda is a beacon visible from almost every corner of the city, surely sparking curiosity and wonder among many. Constructed in the early 1900s, it was designed to mirror the elegance of traditional Japanese pagodas. While originally envisioned as a centrepiece for a luxurious mountaintop resort, fate had other plans, and only the Pagoda came to fruition.

Today, visitors can easily drive up to this architectural marvel, soaking in its intricate details and basking in breathtaking views of downtown Reading. Inside, you’ll find a museum, a gift shop, and a viewing area, welcoming guests seasonally during weekends.

2. Antietam Lake Park

Situated within Antietam Lake Park, approximately 13 miles from Reading, Antietam Lake is a picturesque reservoir enveloped by 643 acres of lush parkland. This tranquil haven is perfect for various recreational activities, including picnicking, fishing, hiking, and cycling, or simply for soaking in the calm ambience.

The lake’s history traces back to 1865 when Reading acquired a dam and a gristmill established on Antietam Creek, complemented by a stunning 60-foot-high waterfall cascading over rocks. An iconic Victorian brick valve house, built on a stone foundation within the lake and once connected to the land by a delicate wooden bridge, still graces the area. Additionally, the quaint 1880 caretaker’s residence stands as a testament to the lake’s storied past.

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3. Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center

Nestled in nature’s embrace, the Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center beckons those seeking a rejuvenating escape. Encompassing a sprawling 665 acres, this state park caters to visitors of all ages with a myriad of programs. Nolde Forest is adorned with vast stretches of coniferous plantations and deciduous woodlands.

An impressive web of trails snakes through the forest, granting easy access to its ponds, streams, and varied ecosystems for both casual visitors and students. These paths are also ideally suited for hiking, thanks to their navigable terrain. The family-friendly nature of this forest only adds to its widespread appeal.

4. Reading Public Museum

Located in West Reading, the Reading Public Museum stands as a testament to the confluence of art, science, and history. Complete with a planetarium and a sprawling 25-acre arboretum, the museum was the brainchild of naturalist Levi W. Mengel, conceptualized in 1904 and thrown open to the public in 1913. Visitors can immerse themselves in a wide array of exhibits spanning science and human civilization.

The museum boasts an extensive fine art collection, showcasing oil paintings from renowned artists worldwide. Its natural history section displays an array of birds, insects, mammals, and an astonishing collection of over 25,000 mineral specimens. Among its prized possessions is an authentic Egyptian mummy from the Ptolemaic era. Through the ages, the museum has steadfastly committed itself to preserving history and fostering educational endeavors.

5. Follow the Thames Path

Berkshire’s waterfront villages exude charm that could easily inspire settings like those in Midsomer Murders. Conveniently, local train lines have stops at both Pangbourne and Goring-on-Thames, allowing visitors to traverse the Thames Path connecting the two. Embarking on the five-mile walk between them not only offers scenic views but also whets the appetite for the delightful pub meal awaiting at the journey’s end. Once in Goring, a visit to The Miller of Mansfield is a must; the establishment is renowned for its delectable gastro-fare, perfect for replenishing one’s energy.

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6. Nolde Forest

For those exploring the vicinity of Reading, PA, the Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center stands out as an exceptional destination. Spanning 600 acres, this state park boasts 10 miles of hiking trails meandering through some of the area’s most enchanting woodlands. Given the gentle nature of these trails, families find it an ideal spot for a leisurely excursion. Beyond the allure of hiking, the park offers a glimpse into history and a plethora of educational experiences.

7. Daniel Boone Homestead

Located in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, the Daniel Boone Homestead marks the birthplace of the renowned American pioneer, Daniel Boone. The existing house retains the original basement from the log cabin constructed by Boone’s father in 1731. Today, this significant landmark operates as a museum under the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s purview. It offers visitors a deep dive into the lives of early 18th-century settlers of Pennsylvania’s Oley Valley.

The museum also sheds light on Daniel Boone’s formative years and provides insights into the everyday lives of the Boone, Maugridge, and DeTurk families who once resided there. Authentic furniture and farming implements enhance the restored house and barn. Moreover, the encompassing historic park invites visitors to explore its scenic hiking trails and inviting picnic spots.

8. Prop up the bar at The Nag’s Head

This quaint pub consistently clinches the title of CAMRA’s ‘Central Southern England Pub of the Year.’ With a vast drink menu, walls adorned with beer mats, and a straightforward smoking area set in the car park, it’s a quintessential example of what makes a pub great. Welcome to the somewhat rural charm of England. Here, tradition might dictate that less than three pints could be seen as an underachievement. So, while you’re at it, ensure those are three of the finest pints you’ve ever had.

9. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Nestled in northern Berks County, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary serves as a prime location for bird enthusiasts and hiking aficionados alike. This privately-owned haven offers close to 10 miles of hiking trails, leading to multiple breathtaking viewpoints. Particularly during the fall migration season, it’s a hotspot for observing raptors, with some days witnessing hundreds soaring above. But even outside of the migration season, it remains a top hiking choice for those drawn to picturesque vistas.

10. Genesius Theatre, Reading, Pennsylvania

Founded in 1971, Genesius Theatre in Reading, Pennsylvania, initially greeted audiences from a modest storefront. By 1974, it had relocated to its present-day address at the junction of 10th Street and Walnut Street. A highlight of its rich history was in 2007, when “Genesius the Musical” was showcased—an in-house production chronicling the theatre’s inception and formative years.

Predominantly recognized for its musicals, Genesius Theatre can house up to 103 patrons in the main seating area, with an additional 18 in the balcony. Beyond entertainment, the theatre is a hub for young talents. It annually hosts multiple performances tailored for children and teenagers and arranges 4 to 6-week summer theatre camps for budding artists.

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11. Daniel Boone Homestead

Encompassing a vast expanse of 579 acres, the Daniel Boone Homestead showcases the birthplace of the famed pioneer, Daniel Boone. As a trailblazer and hunter, Boone is celebrated for his discovery of present-day Kentucky. Although the original house has undergone several renovations over the years, much of Boone’s childhood residence has unfortunately been lost.

However, the homestead today boasts an exquisite collection of antique Pennsylvania furniture and related artefacts, offering a glimpse into 18th and 19th-century life in the region. The homestead further enhances the experience with an onsite museum, delving deeper into both Daniel Boone’s legacy and the early history of America.

12. Upgrade your lunch at Blue Collar

Every Wednesday, the picturesque Forbury Gardens, set within the Abbey’s grounds, hosts a delightful street food market. The brains behind this venture, Blue Collar, was established with the mission to uplift Reading’s street food culture and enhance the local dining landscape. While every stall promises a gastronomic delight, if you happen upon Peru Sabor, don’t miss out on their ox heart anticucho (meat skewer). Additionally, stay tuned for Blue Collar’s exclusive weekend festivities.

13. Koziar’s Christmas Village

Although several attractions on this list are open year-round, Koziar’s Christmas Village is a seasonal gem, welcoming visitors only for two months during the holidays. Given its reputation as one of Pennsylvania’s premier Christmas attractions, it undoubtedly merits a mention. Established in 1948, Koziar’s transitioned from a humble home display to one of Pennsylvania’s most expansive light showcases. Boasting over a million twinkling lights across its working farm, a designated walking trail guides visitors through its numerous dazzling displays and features.

14. GoggleWorks Center for the Arts

GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, nestled in Reading, occupies the historic five-story Willson Goggle Factory Building, spanning 145,000 square feet. This iconic center boasts seven spacious teaching studios dedicated to diverse arts like ceramics, photography, jewelry, printmaking, and glasswork. Additionally, it features 35 artists’ studios and multiple exhibition galleries. Beyond this, various arts, cultural, and creative industry entities have their offices within the center.

Notably, the campus also has a 131-seat theatre that screens art-centric films daily and a store showcasing the creations of over 200 artists nationwide. If you’re pondering about exciting activities in Reading, Pennsylvania, for an enjoyable weekend with friends, GoggleWorks is a top recommendation. Explore more attractions nearby, from romantic getaways to picturesque beaches, to amplify your experience.

15. Reading Railroad Heritage Museum

Nestled in Hamburg lies the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum, a reservoir of historical marvels. Established in 2008 under the stewardship of the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society, this non-profit institution diligently upholds the legacy of the location through periodic restorations.

The museum is home to an expansive collection that includes vintage railroad cars, locomotives, photographs, and pertinent documents. Visitors have the unique opportunity to step inside these locomotives and cars, immersing themselves in a tangible piece of history. Over time, the museum has expanded its collection, now housing some items not directly associated with Reading Railroad but still integral to the broader railroad narrative.

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16. Dig up some history at Merl

Dive deep into the world of tractors and more at The Museum of English Rural Life. Journey through the galleries to uncover the evolution of farming over the ages, stroll down the Wagon Walk, and unwind in the serene gardens. Notably, the museum showcases a vast collection of over 20,000 illustrations from the iconic Ladybird books in a dedicated gallery. For a twist of fun, challenge yourself to caption them using just emojis!

17. Neversink Mountain

Perched on the city’s outskirts, Neversink Mountain is an ideal escape for nature enthusiasts visiting Reading, Pennsylvania. Spread across a sprawling 900-acre preserve, it boasts an intricate network of hiking trails catering to both novices and seasoned hikers. Notable spots include the City Overlook and the Witches Hat, both of which promise captivating vistas. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, Neversink Mountain has a trail for every adventurer.

18. Mid-Atlantic Air Museum

Nestled in the grounds of Reading’s regional airport, Carl A. Spaatz field, stands the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum. A brainchild of Russ Strine, this museum serves as both a showcase and a restoration hub for classic aircraft. Boasting an impressive collection of historic military and civilian planes, the museum takes pride in its fully functional restored aircraft that often grace various airshows.

Moreover, the museum is renowned for its annual “World War II Weekend Air Show.” For those seeking a unique experience, the museum offers rides in its vintage North American SNJ – the naval counterpart of the World War II AT-6 “Texan” trainer, or the iconic Stearman biplane. These thrilling rides are up for grabs every second Saturday from May through October.

19. Berks History Center

Once recognized as the History Center of Berks County, the Berks History Center stands as a testament to over three centuries of Berks County’s rich heritage. Doubling as a museum and research library, the center passionately pursues its vision of enlightening the community about the county’s illustrious past and cultivating a profound sense of connection among its members.

Visitors can immerse themselves in a vast array of books, artworks, and photographs, with the museum boasting a collection that spans over 20,000 historical items. Notably, the Berks History Museum showcases a diverse range of transportation relics, including the likes of bicycles, the iconic Conestoga Wagon, a rare horse-drawn streetcar, and various other wagons.

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20. Visit the mural outside Central Club

In 1990, to commemorate the anniversary of South Africa’s Soweto uprising, a striking 36-meter mural graced the walls of the Central Club. Even though the community center has been abandoned since 2006, this vibrant and evocative artwork remains undimmed in its splendor. Whenever the fate of the Central Club comes under scrutiny, passionate advocates rally in defense of the mural’s preservation, underscoring that it’s far more than mere street art.

21. Chatty Monks Brewing

Craft beer enthusiasts should make a beeline for Chatty Monks Brewing in West Reading. As one of the standout craft breweries in the county, it boasts some of Pennsylvania’s finest brews. Conveniently situated just a stone’s throw from downtown Reading, Chatty Monks pairs its brewery with a delightful restaurant. The establishment provides multiple cozy spots for patrons to savor their drinks and dishes. And if you’re looking for a hearty meal recommendation, their fish and chips are a must-try.

23. Reading Fightin Phils Minor League Baseball

The Reading Fightin Phils, often referred to as the Reading Fightins or simply the Fightins, represent Reading, Pennsylvania, in Minor League baseball. Competing in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League, they play their home matches at FirstEnergy Stadium. Notably, they’ve been affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies at the class-AA level since 1967, marking the longest ongoing partnership in Minor League Baseball. This affiliation has given rise to numerous baseball legends like Greg Luzinski, Mike Schmidt, Pat Burrell, Ryne Sandberg, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz. Watching the Fightin Phils play has become a cherished pastime for families in Reading, always promising a blend of exciting gameplay, giveaways, and post-game fireworks.

For both locals and tourists in Reading, Pennsylvania, this offers a fantastic outing. Beyond the game, the region boasts enticing dining options, comfortable accommodations, and a scenic backdrop that beckons exploration. Whether you’re seeking nearby spa getaways, quaint weekend spots, or simply a delightful breakfast restaurant after a game, Reading promises memorable experiences.

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24. Covered Bridges

In Berks County, the whispers of the past are ever-present, resonating even in its architectural marvels. The city’s legacy is particularly evident in its iconic covered bridges, which stand as timeless sentinels to a bygone era. Among the many, five stand out as true emblems of the region’s history: Wertz’s Covered Bridge, Dreibelbis Covered Bridge, Kutz’s Mill Covered Bridge, Pleasantville Covered Bridge, and Greisemer’s Covered Bridge.

Venturing across these storied structures is an experience to be treasured. Their unique designs and characteristics set them apart from other covered bridges found throughout Pennsylvania. Conveniently located, four of these bridges adorn the northern and eastern parts of Reading, while the final one enhances the western downtown landscape. A journey through these bridges is a journey back in time, offering a scenic and nostalgic experience for every traveler.

25. Crystal Cave

Situated close to Kutztown is the renowned Crystal Cave, which holds the distinction of being Pennsylvania’s inaugural showcase cave. Open to the public during specific seasons, guided tours provide an immersive experience into this mesmerizing subterranean realm. The cave earned its name “Crystal Cave” due to the shimmering crystal-like formations adorning its walls. As visitors traverse the cave’s depths, knowledgeable guides highlight fascinating formations and delve into the rich history and stories associated with this natural wonder.

26. German Cultural Heritage Center

Berks County, in line with much of eastern Pennsylvania, proudly showcases its German roots. And if you’re eager to dive deep into this rich heritage, the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center is your destination. Nestled within Kutztown University’s grounds, this vibrant open-air folk museum sheds light on the distinctive culture, with a special emphasis on Pennsylvania Dutch – a language that continues to echo in the voices of many Amish and Mennonites today. Visitors can explore an array of structures and engaging exhibit spaces that paint a vivid picture of the area’s history and traditions.

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27. Reading Rocks

For a blend of exhilaration and a solid workout, drop by Reading Rocks, where their top-notch rock-climbing facility awaits enthusiasts of all skill levels. Ideal for anyone above the age of 5 or 6, rock climbing offers both novices and seasoned climbers a thrilling experience. If you’re an adept climber, challenge yourself on the towering 35-foot walls and the 32 top ropes available. Additionally, there’s a captivating ropes course on-site, which when paired with rock climbing, becomes the ultimate birthday party adventure. However, it’s worth noting that the ropes course is best suited for those 10 years and up.

28. Barley Mow

You’ll find a delightful drinking experience waiting for you at the Barley Mow brewpub, conveniently located in West Reading. This establishment boasts an impressive collection of craft beers, arguably the most extensive in the entire region, with a selection of over 750 varieties sourced from 100 different craft breweries across America.

The atmosphere at the Barley Mow is inviting and comfortable, offering a unique touch with its exposed brick walls and a rustic stone bar. If you prefer to enjoy your drink in the great outdoors, there’s a beautiful patio where you can relax while taking in the surroundings.

To enhance your visit, live music is frequently featured at the bar, providing an enjoyable backdrop to your evening. Additionally, they offer a wide variety of drinks on tap, ensuring there’s something to suit every palate.

While the brewpub’s food menu is relatively modest, you need not be concerned. They are more than happy for you to bring in your own food, allowing you to order from the nearby restaurants in the vicinity, making it a truly customizable and enjoyable dining experience.

29. Golden Age Air Museum

Pennsylvania boasts several remarkable antique airplane museums, predominantly centered on World War II aviation. However, the Golden Age Air Museum stands out for its unique dedication to planes from the World War I era and the interwar period. This distinctive focus has endowed them with a captivating collection that encompasses both original and replica aircraft, featuring a variety of bi-wing and tri-wing airplanes. While they do house a few more contemporary aircraft, their emphasis remains on this earlier aviation era.

What sets the Golden Age Air Museum apart even further is the opportunity it offers to fulfill your dream of flying in a bi-wing plane, with flights available throughout the year.

If you have any other preferred activities in Reading, PA that haven’t made it onto this list, we’d love to hear about them. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below.

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30. Susquehanna Art Museum

The Susquehanna Art Museum stands as the sole dedicated art museum in central Pennsylvania. Its inception dates back to 1989, thanks to the vision of art educators who sought to create a space for art appreciation. This museum serves as a platform for both local and international artists, allowing their creative expressions to flourish.

Inside the Susquehanna Art Museum, visitors can explore a diverse array of captivating exhibits. These include “Towards A New/Old Architecture,” “Found in Translation,” “The Edgeless Divide,” “Quilts 20/20,” and a remarkable collection featuring the works of renowned artists such as Bearden and Picasso.