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Downtown Reading
View of Reading from The Pagoda

Reading is a historic city of about 95,000 (2020 Census) in Pennsylvania, about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia, 35 miles southwest of Allentown and 55 miles east of Harrisburg. It punches above its weight in culture, and its downtown features some iconic buildings, so consider making it a stopover on your way between any of these and other area cities.


Reading is a very old and historic city. It was once home to one of the largest railway systems in the country (where the familiar Reading Railroad from the Monopoly board comes from) which radiated in all directions from the City of Reading. The construction of the railroad was probably the single greatest factor in the development of Berks County. While Reading has experienced an economic downturn, efforts are being made to try to revitalize the city's downtown area with such projects as the Sovereign Center, the Sovereign Performing Arts Center, the Miller Center, the Goggle Works Center for the Arts, and the Reading Movies 11, which includes an IMAX theater. Today, Reading is a city pulsating with industrial life. It is also well equipped with agencies that represent civilization at its best-churches, hospitals, clubs, fraternal societies, recreational centers, schools and colleges, a historical society, an art institute, and a daily newspaper. Reading claims the distinction of a symphony orchestra, two choral societies, a chamber musical ensemble, a civic opera company, and many other excellent music groups that have contributed to the city's prestige as a center of art and culture. Reading is not only an excellent place to visit because of what it has to offer but also because it is close to other popular destinations. Reading is centrally located, about an hour's drive northwest of Philadelphia, 2½ hours southwest of New York City, 3 hours north of Washington, DC, 40 minutes from the Amish country and about an hour from Hershey Park and Dorney Park, so it offers a lot of opportunities for day trips for tourists staying in the area. Reading also lies only about 2½ to about 3½ hours from some beautiful shore resorts in New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Reading is close to both Philadelphia International Airport and Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE IATA) in Allentown.

By bus[edit]

Reading is served by many major bus services such as Greyhound, and Trailways. Long-distance buses arrive at the 1 Inter-City bus terminal at 20 N 3rd St.

By car[edit]

Reading is served by US-222, US-422, PA-61, PA-176, and PA-183. From the Lehigh Valley, Northern New Jersey, and New York City, take I-78 west to Exit 54A, then proceed southeast on US-222. From Central New Jersey, head west to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and take exit 298 (Morgantown) to I-176 then US-422 northwest. From Philadelphia, take I-76 west to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, then proceed as above. From western Pennsylvania, take the Pennsylvania Turnpike east to exit 286 (Reading).

Get around[edit]

Map of Reading (Pennsylvania)

BARTA, the Berks Area Reading Transit Authority, runs buses in Reading and throughout the Berks Region. Base fare is $1.70, transfers are $.25. The central hub for local and regional bus lines is 1 BARTA Transportation Center, at 701 Franklin St.

By taxi[edit]

There are many taxi cab services that offer 24-hour transportation around Reading.

  • Reading Yellow Cab: +1 610 374-5111
  • Grab A Cab: +1 610 478-1111


The Pagoda at 98 Duryea Dr.
First Energy Stadium at 1900 Centre Ave., home of the AA-level Minor League Reading Phillies
  • 1 Central Pennsylvania African-American Museum, 119 N 10th St, +1 610-371-8713. In the old AME Church (the sixth one in the world) and features a hidden tunnel from the Underground Railroad used by escaping slaves during the pre-Civil War era. Bethel A.M.E. Church (Q4897840) on Wikidata Bethel AME Church (Reading, Pennsylvania) on Wikipedia
  • 2 Goggle Works Center for the Arts, 201 Washington St, +1 610-374-4600. A large arts center built out of a factory that used to manufacture goggles for World War II. It boasts frequent art exhibitions as well as a very wide variety of art studios and classes. It also has a small theater that shows independent films.
  • 3 Reading Public Museum, 500 Museum Rd, +1 610-371-5850. Houses a modest collection of exhibits from around the world, most notably a mummy. There's also a planetarium and a botanical garden on the grounds. Many brides from the area choose to have their wedding pictures taken in the gardens. Reading Public Museum (Q7300542) on Wikidata Reading Public Museum on Wikipedia
  • Reading Railroad Heritage Museum. Located just North of Reading in Hamburg, features a model train layout and various other exhibits devoted to the history and preservation of the Reading Railroad. It is open on Saturdays and Sundays year-round. Reading Railroad Heritage Museum (Q85796208) on Wikidata Reading Railroad Heritage Museum on Wikipedia
  • The Golden Age Air Museum. In the far reaches of Berks County; nestled at the foot of the Blue Mountains in Bethel, Pennsylvania, features many antique airplanes, most built before 1930, and many still flown today. The museum offers Barnstorming Biplane rides and Flying Circus Air Show several times per year.

Every September, the Lions Club hosts an antique car show in Strausstown; Directly off of I-78.

Several attractions can be seen atop Mount Penn, overlooking the city. The fire tower, which has been restored, and the trademark Pagoda, which also houses various artwork. The Pagoda was originally intended to be a luxury hotel. Unfortunately, when the application for a license to serve alcohol was denied the luxury inn never materialized and the building went into the hands of a local bank.

West Reading, across the river, has a thriving arts scene and Penn Avenue is host to many independent cafés and stores.

An Imax theater has been built in Reading. R/C Theaters near the Goggle works on 30 North second street. It offers stadium seating with high back rocking chairs, Imax auditorium, online ticketing, game and party rooms, and free three-hour parking.

  • Reading Pet Expo, 2525 N. 12th Street. The Greater Reading Expo Center is one of the largest privately owned expo facilities on the east coast with more than 225,000 sq. feet on one floor with over 3,000 free on-site parking spaces.
  • Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles, 85 S. Walnut St, Boyertown, +1 610 367-2090. Pennsylvania heritage collection; 100+ autos, trucks, and horse-drawn vehicles built in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Reading and the surrounding area of Berks County have a beautiful park system. They have 13 parks to visit and enjoy, including Gring's Mill Recreation Area, the Union Canal Walking & Bicycle Trail, Kaercher Creek Park, Antietam Lake and the Berks County Heritage Center. They offer recreation and educational programs year-round. Whether you enjoy summer concerts in the park, festivals, or historical programs; There is something for all ages!


There are a few sports clubs around, along with the Santander Arena which houses many sporting events including the Reading Royals, the local hockey team and the Reading Express, an IFL indoor football team. It first opened its doors in September of 2001 and began hosting several different events. The center has attracted many famous artists including Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, the Blue Man Group, Matchbox 20, the American Idol Tour, Rod Stewart, Kid Rock, and Clay Aikan. The Sovereign Performing Arts Center also hosts many traveling productions such as the Nutcracker around the holidays and the Reading Symphony orchestra, a surprisingly excellent group given the town it's in.

The Reading Comedy Outlet (cleverly named for Reading's famous shopping centers), at Hiester's lanes Bowling and Billiards, has been serving the Reading area since 1992.

The Reading Phillies, the minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, play out of FirstEnergy Stadium. The stadium is one of the oldest minor league stadiums and is regarded as one of the finest facilities in the nation.

The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, a diverse collection of military and civilian aircraft, as well as the active restoration of a World War II P-61 Black Widow. Every June the museum hosts 'WWII Weekend', a traveling collection of wartime aircraft, weapons, and wartime vehicles.

There are also many golf courses in the Reading area. One in particular is The Reading Country Club. It is 18 holes in the outskirts of Reading in Exeter Township. It is a challenging public course measuring 6,1612 yards and a par of 71. The course had been open since 1922 and in 1937 Byron Nelson, a Masters Champion, was the golf pro. Later in 1940 Henry Clay Poe became the golf pro at The Reading Country Club. Many more golf pro's came after them, but these two are memorable enough to have a room named after each of them in the clubhouse, that is now a beautiful restaurant. Within the clubhouse, you can either enjoy the excellent food in the Grille Room or on the Porch. The Grille room is a casual atmosphere where there are 6 tvs to watch the latest sporting events and a beautiful bar where you can enjoy a drink after a round of golf or while you're waiting for your table. But if you'd rather a more romantic atmosphere try dining in the Porch.

The Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad offers passenger excursions out of the Reading Outer Station located at Pottsville Pike (Route 61) and Bellevue Avenue.


Every October the Oktoberfest is held right near the historic Stokesay castle in Mount Penn. The Oktoberfest is put on by the Reading Liederkranz. It is a festival of culture, food, clothing, crafts, and dance. [1]

Each March the Berks Jazz Fest comes to town for 10 days and offers many musical experiences for residents and visitors. Some past performers have included some well known names such as Chris Bottie, Betty Carter, the Dave Brubeck Quartet and Wynton Marsalis.

The Apple Dumpling festival and pageant is held every summer at Willow Glen Park. It includes a craft show, company picnics, food, pageants, and carnival rides. [2]

Every winter Reading hold the Jingle Bell Fest. A light display, Holiday Music, Children's rides, and holiday food. Like the Apple Dumpling Festival it is held at Willow Glen Park.

Every Fall Willow Glen Park holds Shocktober fest: Pennsylvania’s Premier Haunted Scream Park. It offers 4 different haunted attractions: the Toxic Asylum, Biohazard Hayride w/ The SawKill, Prison of the Dead, and Club Shock. According to the Travel Channel it is “one of the scariest places in America”.

Every Spring the Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Reading Pennsylvania is held at the River Place on the Schuylkill. It offers a guided bike ride, Japanese films, and dragon viewings. [3]

Another popular festival is the Kutztown Folk Festival about 15 miles northeast of Reading. The festival is very well known and allows visitors to immerse themselves in the culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The Oley Valley Community Fair is a unique true old fashioned, down-home, country fair. In 2010, it marked the 64th anniversary. The fair promotes good, friendly competition among friends and neighbors of the surrounding area. Each year you can see a wide variety of local products from the farm and home that are entered in many different categories.

The Duryea Hillclimb, a biannual race held by the SCCA on Reading's famous Skyline Drive; Beginning at Reading Park, around a series of chicanes, and past the Pagoda has been held since 1951.

Another great event to attend in the area would be Reading Earth Day. On this day, there are many eco activities and presenters for people to enjoy. Also, plenty of entertainment, good food, and free activities for kids.


Reading still calls itself the outlet capital of the world, though the name is a remnant of when it was one of the few cities to boast outlets. Still, the VF Outlet Complex[dead link] remains one of Reading's biggest draws with hundreds of out-of-town visitors shopping its dozens of discount stores daily. Another part of Reading's history is the store named Boscovs. Reading is home to Boscovs first store. Boscov's has grown into a 39 store company throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Boscov's is one of the largest family owned department store chains in the U.S. Boscov's used to sponsor the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade previous to its bankruptcy in August of 2008, but don't let that discourage you because Boscov's is back on its feet and reorganizing to save this family owned store and an asset to the community.

Shopping centers and malls[edit]

  • Berkshire Mall is mid-range and Boscov's and Sears serve as anchors. It became world famous a few years ago after a video of a woman falling into a fountain, while pensively texting on her cellphone went viral. Across the street are smaller outdoor shopping centers and restaurants. Berkshire sports a dated 1970s original interior, but the stores themselves are generally kept up to date.
  • Fairgrounds Square Mall was Reading's second indoor mall. Anchors include Boscov's, Burlington Coat Factory, and a movie theater. The interior of the mall has closed due to ceiling leakage.

There are also many strip malls and one true mall in the Reading area. Exeter Commons shopping center, in Reading's eastern suburbs, opened in the summer of 2009 and offers Lowe's, Target, Giant, Staples, Petco, Famous Footwear, Sonic, Five Guys, and Red Robin. The Shoppes at Wyomissing opened in 2007 and has slightly higher end shops such as Rack Room Shoes, Justice, New York & Company, Loft, J.Jill, Coldwater Creek, Chico's, Jos. A. Bank, Yankee Candle and Gymboree. Broadcasting Square, in Spring Township in Reading's western suburbs, opened in 2000 and features stores such as Target, Ulta, Dick's, Marshall's, Famous Footwear, Petco, Ross, Barnes and Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as numerous chain restaurants like Buca di Beppo, Chili's, and Smoky Bones. Some of the stores at Broadcasting Square represent that chain's only store in the Reading market, such as Marshall's and Bed Bath & Beyond. The Berkshire Mall, opening in the early 1970s, is a medium scale mall, and features stores such as Hollister, American Eagle, Wet Seal, Christopher Banks, Pacific Sunwear, Bath and Body Works, and Victoria's Secret. Along Penn Avenue (US route 422 Business) in the separate borough of West Reading, you'll find numerous unique boutiques and restaurants, ranging from basic to urban chic. Specifically, Bella Jules has a great selection of items from different well-known designers along with a fabulous selection of prom dresses. You'll also find restaurants in West Reading that offer sidewalk seating along Penn Ave during the warmer months.

  • Cabelas, situated in Hamburg, north of Reading, at the junctures of Route 61 and I-78 is a popular superstore, and tourist destination featuring large aquariums, animal mounts, as well as a shopping experience catering to those with a love of the outdoors. The business center surrounding Cabelas contains various restaurants and steakhouses, as well as Lowes, Walmart, and smaller strip mall shops.
  • Iron Horse Hobby House


Until the mid-1990s, Reading was the home of Joe's Restaurant - a humbly named eatery owned by Joe Czarnecki; Whose passion for fine wine and mushroom delicacies created a definitive cook book, "Joe's Book of Mushroom Cookery" and transformed the family business into a world renowned institution of fine dining. It was in 1996, after Joe's passing, the family moved the restaurant to the Palmer House in Dayton, Oregon.

Reading has a resurging dining scene with many locally owned ethnic restaurants.

  • 1 Jimmy Kramer's Peanut Bar, 332 Penn St, +1 610-376-8500. The place where local reporters and politicians have often met. In existence for almost 100 years, the bar allows patrons to throw peanut shells on the floor.

There are many other wonderful dining options including:

  • The Mezcal's Mexican Restaurant is at 150 N. 6th street and offers delicious traditional Mexican cuisine at competitive prices. Reservations are recommended on nights of performances at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center.
  • The Captains Cove Restaurant/Bar is in Mount Penn at 2619 Hill Rd. It offers a pirate themed outdoor seating area as well as an indoor seating area. It also has several bar areas inside and outside. [4]
  • TheStokesay Castle is a gourmet offering. Notable among the 13th-century Scottish castle's architecture is Andrea Heinly, a Hell's Kitchen contestant and chef on staff.
  • Another excellent option for fine dining is Judy's on Cherry.
  • For Vietnamese food Hong Thahn is a delicious choice. Privately owned, the restaurant offers well prepared traditional dishes paired with a pleasant atmosphere.
  • Aashiana Indian Restaurant for Indian food.

When you leave the city, Penn Street continues under the name Penn Avenues and your dining opportunities do not stop either.

  • Go Fish! is a great seafood market and sushi bar in West Reading. Dine in or take out. 619 Penn Ave.

Another great place for a sushi lover to visit is the Tokyo Hibachi and Bar which has a large variety of Asian cuisine options; hibachi, sushi, or traditional Chinese cuisine this restaurant will please everyone.

  • Panda Heaven, 350 N. Park Rd, Wyomissing, is a great Japanese food restaurant. Their menu consists of miso soup, chicken teriyaki and sushi tuna. They have a sushi bar, hibachi steak house, a conference room available, and they also provide take-out.
  • For Mexican food in the more suburban areas you should definitely check out the locally owned chain Alebreje. There are three locations for this restaurant but the most popular is on the 4th street highway.
  • Works at 1109 Bern Road +1 610 375-2700. Traditional American cuisine. The Works has an arcade, miniature bowling alleys, and real sports inside the restaurant.
  • For Italian food, check out the family-owned G.N.A. Ristorante Pizzeria and Toscani which offer a large variety of delicious Italian dishes, a family friendly atmosphere and are open for brunch on sundays.
  • Aladdin is a great option for anyone interested in Mediterranean cuisine.
  • The area also offers many diners that are favorites of the local residents. These include the West Reading Diner, Wyomissing Family Restaurant, Mount Penn Diner, Exeter Family Restaurant, and Queen City Restaurant
  • Austin's Restaurant & Bar, 1101 Snyder Road, West Lawn, +1 610 678-5500.
  • The World Famous Pike Cafe, 930 Pike Street (corner of Pike & Moss), +1 610 373-6616. 930 Pike Street started as a row-home, then a mom and pop pretzel store, then a small bakery, until it began its claim to fame as the Pike Cafe in the 1940s. Starting as a corner bar in the city of Reading, the Pike was a popular favorite for locals from the 1940s until 1985. The Pike Cafe became "the place to be" in the 1980s. In 1992, they began to start serving wings, which was the original Wing Night in Berks County. The Pike Cafe has become known as one of the best locally owned establishments for dining, drinking, and having fun.
  • Esposito's Restaurant & Pizza, 1540 Friedensberg Road, +1 610 779-9333. Esposito's is another great restaurant for Italian food. Eat in or take out. They have a full bar service. Pizza, sandwiches, great Italian dishes.
  • Schell's Fast Food Restaurant & Miniature Golf, 4625 5th Street Hwy, Temple (north of Reading), +1 610 929-9660. If you are looking for a quick, easy, delicious meal, ice cream, and a game of mini golf, Schell's is the place to go. Schell's is casual dining, great for groups and children, and provide outdoor seating. A restaurant, a dairy stand and a 27-hole miniature golf course.


Many corners of Reading house small bars and pubs, if you're feeling adventurous.

  • Winedown cafe & wine bar has a very relaxed atmosphere for wine lovers. Penn Ave in West Reading.
  • 1 Canal Street Pub & Restaurant, 535 Canal Street, +1 610 376-4009. Offers billiards, darts, TV, and a private party room.
  • 2 The Speckled Hen, 30 South 4th street, +1 610 685-8511. Can accommodate private parties and offers a wide selection of traditional dishes.
  • 3 3rd & Spruce Cafe, 238 S 3rd Ave (3rd & Spruce), +1 610 376-5254. A bar and restaurant in Reading which has been a local landmark for over 60 years. Offering a casual atmosphere with daily food and drink specials, their kitchen is open seven days a week until midnight.
  • Building 24 Kitchen & Bar, 1115 Bern Road, Wyomissing, +1 610 375-2700. Set in a renovated turn-of-the-century factory is a dining and entertainment hot spot. The restaurant features upscale cuisine, classic cocktails, an excellent microbrew selection, a diverse wine menu, and open air dining with an expansive covered deck and bar area. Building 24's entertainment area features a cutting edge light and sound system, four bars, VIP section, with regional and national entertainment.
  • Brewer's Bar & Grill, 101 South 3rd Avenue, West Reading, +1 610 375-8760. Brewer's Bar & Grill is a hoppin' sports bar and restaurant in West Reading. Brewer's takes you back deep into the history of Reading Brewery's before & after prohibition. Memorabilia from these decades can be found hanging on every wall. Formerly known as Kaley's Korner, a complete renovation of inside and out has made Brewer's Bar & Grill a great place to be!
  • Legends, 5th Street Hwy. Legends is open 365 days a year. Their kitchen serves lunch and dinner and is open until 11 PM. The bar is open until 2 AM every night. Be prepared to see bartenders flipping bottles, throwing glasses, riding unicycles, or even dressing up in ridiculous costumes for holidays and special events.


  • 1 Crowne Plaza Reading, 1741 Papermill Road, +1 610-376-3811. Hotel offers double rooms, business suites in our Crowne Club Tower. The hotel also offers the area’s largest heated pool and Jacuzzi, an on-location Goodnites Lounge and Nightclub, Prime Steak and Wine Restaurant, and a 24-hour fitness center and sauna.
  • 2 Inn at Reading-Clarion, 1040 N Park Road, +1 610 372-7811.
  • 3 Homewood Suites by Hilton, 2801 Papermill Road, +1 610 736-3100. The Homewoodsuites offer complimentary breakfast and beverage areas, a fitness room, and a pool.
  • 4 Candlewood Suites Reading, 55 S 3rd Ave, +1 610 898-1910. The Candlewood suites offer a 24-hour health/fitness center and a convenience store.
  • Twin Turrets Inn, 11 E. Philadelphia Ave, Boyertown, +1 610 367-4513. 1860 Victorian has all the amenities, antiques throughout. Thick robes and thirsty towels compliment your private bath. Breakfast at your convenience in your suite, dining room, patio or gardens. Golf, baseball, antiques and Reading Outlets nearby. Mobil and AAA recommended.

Bed and Breakfasts[edit]

For visitors interested in a more intimate experience Reading offers some very quaint bed and breakfasts which are in close proximity to many of the most visited attractions.

  • 5 The Gables At Overlook Mansion Bed & Breakfast, 620 Centre Ave, +1 610-373-1522. Aside from being in one of the most historic areas of Reading, this B&B offers complimentary beverages and snacks throughout the day and beautiful grounds where visitors can sit outside on warm days.
  • 6 The Inn at Centre Park, 730 Centre Ave, +1 610-374-8557. It's in a historic Victorian style mansion in one of Reading's oldest neighborhoods. Every room is uniquely and beautifully decorated and there are many activities offered on the grounds daily.

Stay safe[edit]

While Reading's crime rate has been falling, it is much higher than the national average. Reading has experienced gang-related crime. The city violent crime rate for Reading in 2016 was higher than the national violent crime rate average by 71.17% and the city property crime rate in Reading was higher than the national property crime rate average by 6.48%.



  • 4 Koziar’s Christmas Village, 782 Christmas Village Rd. A walk-through attraction of Christmas-themed dioramas, with shops, food, and free parking. USD$12.

Go next[edit]

  • Allentown, 30 miles northeast, Pennsylvania's third largest city
  • Kutztown, 17 miles northeast, small town home to Kutztown University, the Kutztown Folk Festival, and Crystal Cave.
Routes through Reading
Lancaster ← Jct  S  N  KutztownAllentown
HarrisburgLebanon  W  E  King of PrussiaPhiladelphia via
Shamokin DamPottsville ← Jct  N  S  END

This city travel guide to Reading is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.