With the Fourth of July holiday almost here, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the people that built our country. And Berks County certainly had its share of residents who contributed to our nation’s history. Our history and heritage are what makes Pennsylvania’s Americana Region so special. If you live here you already know this, and if you’re a visitor to the area, you’re about to discover it. There are also many things that distinguish us from other places, things that make our region unique and sets us apart… even other parts of Pennsylvania! Here’s a list of what you will find “Only in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region.”
The Pagoda in Reading – Only in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region will you find the Pagoda. It is the beacon that calls to you from across the region. Sitting high atop Mount Penn, the famous Pagoda was built in the early 1900s and is the only pagoda in the world with a fireplace and chimney. Its exterior is illuminated at night so it can be seen from miles away. Climb the 87 steps to the top floor for incredible views and to see the massive bell that was cast in Japan in 1739. Admission to the Pagoda is free but a donation is requested and appreciated.
Roadside America – Only in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region will you find Roadside America. They don’t call this place “The World’s Greatest Miniature Village” for nothing! Started in the 1940s by Laurence Gieringer, the massive display depicts life in a small town long ago through miniature houses, people, landscapes, animals, vehicles, trains, and more. This labor of love was amassed over several decades to delight children and families during their stop in Shartlesville just off of I-78.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary – Only in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region will you find the first refuge for birds of prey. Visitors flock to this venue to enjoy nature and witness the migration of raptors each fall. Over the years it has turned into an ecotourism destination where visitors can hike more than 12 miles of trails, and reach heights that provide astounding views of the Berks countryside. A handicapped-accessible trail was added in 2015. The
Distelfink at the Berks County Heritage Center – Only in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region will you find the beautiful distelfink. When you visit the Center you won’t be able to miss this bright and colorful bird sculpture of a Pennsylvania German “distelfink.” A form of folk art brought here by German settlers more than 300 years ago. Along with hex signs, the birds resemble a goldfinch and are symbols of good luck and happiness. This piece of art has graced the center since 1985. It was restored in 2006 and repainted by famed hex sign painter, Eric Claypoole in 2016.a You’ll also see hex signs on many barns and buildings across PA’s Americana Region.
The Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center – Only in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region can you experience what it was like to live as a German settler in Pennsylvania over 100 years ago. The open-air museum and research center is dedicated to celebrating and promoting the folk culture, language, and traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch. On the 19th-century Sharadin farmstead, explore a fully restored one-room schoolhouse, an early stone farmhouse and summer kitchen, a kitchen garden, a classic bank-barn, and two log houses. The Center hosts many events throughout the year to introduce visitors to the both holiday and work customs of our early settlers.
We hope you have a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday weekend with your friends and family!