What makes Reading, PA and the Greater Reading area so special for visitors? Whether you’re an art and culture aficionado, a history buff, a hiking or biking enthusiast, or a shopaholic, you’ll discover plenty of exciting things to do for the entire family.
Founded in 1748 by Thomas and Richard Penn, the sons of William Penn, Reading is located in southeastern Pennsylvania in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch area. It’s the county seat of Berks County and is situated at the intersection of the east Penn-Lebanon Valley and the Schuylkill River. Enjoy nature, arts, culture, history, and top-notch entertainment throughout the area.
Mountain Biking in Reading
There are several scenic trail networks within 15 miles of Reading’s city center. Mountain biking is available year-round for leisure cyclists looking for amazing views and for experienced riders who crave a challenge, whether you have an hour, day, a weekend or an entire week. Here are two of our favorite trails:
- Union Canal Trail – This well-maintained crushed stone trail provides some of the most breathtaking views in the Reading area. It parallels Tulpehocken Creek and connects the west side of Reading with the Blue Marsh Recreation Area. Ride through lush woodlands that are home to waterfowl, squirrels and other wildlife. Pass historic stone buildings left over from the days of the old (but still visible) Union Canal, which once ran 79.5 miles from Reading to the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, PA.
- Wyomissing Creek Trail – Meander through gorgeous tree-lined parklands and parallel Wyomissing Creek on this paved, multi-use trail through the Reading suburbs west of the Schuylkill River. It begins at the Reading Museum and ends on Old Wyomissing Road just west of a railroad underpass, although it unofficially connects to the Thun Trail (pronounced tune), which is part of the Schuylkill River Trail System. Along the way, enjoy wildlife, duck ponds, cool shade, plentiful rest areas, and proximity to historic sites, such as Evans Grist Mill.
GoggleWorks Center for the Arts
GoggleWorks Center for the Arts derives its name from its 5-story building’s original use as the Willson Goggles factory. It was renovated and adapted for use as a community art and cultural resource center for Berks County and Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania, and is the largest, most comprehensive interactive arts center of its kind in the country.
See an art exhibit, watch more than 30 artists, woodworkers, ceramists, glass blowers, and jewelry artisans in action in their studios, or watch a film in the 130-seat movie theater. There are walk-in workshops, and the kids will enjoy make-and-take projects. While you’re there, enjoy lunch at the café and some excellent gift shopping. There’s no admission fee and plenty of convenient free parking.
At the top of Mount Penn, you’ll find the Pagoda, one of Reading’s most popular visitor attractions. Although a Japanese-style pagoda may seem out of place in Pennsylvania, visitors are guaranteed an unforgettable view of Reading and the surrounding valley from this spot. Enjoy the view from the grounds on any day of the year. The Pagoda itself and the Pagoda Café are open on Saturdays and Sundays.
This extraordinary landmark was built in 1906 by William A. Witman, Sr., with an eye toward turning it into a luxury resort. His plan never came to pass, however, and the property was eventually sold to the City of Reading in 1911. The Pagoda building stands 7 stories tall. At the top, you can view the famous Japanese temple bell Witman purchase in 1907 and had shipped to him via the Suez Canal.
Santander Arena & Performing Arts Center
The multi-purpose Santander Arena, formerly known as the Sovereign Performing Arts Center, is Reading’s premier venue for sports and entertainment. Its capacity ranges from 6,000 to 9,000, depending on the event, including club seats and luxury suites. This is the place to be for upcoming concerts, Broadway shows, and to catch the exciting action of the Reading Royals ice hockey team of the ECHL who make the Santander their home.
This is just a small taste of the many things to do in Reading, PA and Greater Berks County. For help planning your trip, contact the Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau or visit us inside the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in historic downtown Reading.