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Berks County - A Unique Mix of Old History and New Entertainment

Whether you are looking to take a step back in time or enjoy a great local meal, Berks County has you covered. Located about an hour outside of Philadelphia, Berks County is the perfect destination to explore the history of the region. With several restored historical sites offering tours and demonstrations, it is easy to get lost in time. 

Named after the English county of Berkshire, Berks County rivals its namesake in natural beauty. There are ample trails and green spaces to explore. When you finish wandering through the natural world, Reading, the county seat, is a great destination for modern cultural events and delicious bites.

Historical Sites 

Pennsylvania is steeped in early American history, and Berks County offers some of the best examples of this time period. If you are looking to explore the life of the early 1700s, visit Old Morlatton Village in Douglassville. Old Morlatton Village is home to four historic structures left from an early Swedish settlement, including the Mouns Jones House. Built in 1716, the Mouns Jones House is the oldest documented dwelling in Berks County. 

Berks County is also home to two historic homestead sites: the Daniel Boone Homestead in Birdsboro and the Conrad Weiser Homestead in Womelsdorf. The Daniel Boone Homestead is 579 acres of countryside. Here you can visit the Boone house, restored and furnished with period Pennsylvania furniture, as well as collections of period farm tools. The Conrad Weiser Homestead is 26 acres and offers self-guided tours of three of the buildings on the property. It also features two large monuments, the Weiser family cemetery, a gazebo, and a pond. With picnic areas and plenty of green space, the Conrad Weiser homestead makes a great day trip. 

Daniel Boone's Birthplace

Daniel Boone's Birthplace

The Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is located in southeast Berks County, near Elverson. Hopewell Furnace is a perfect example of a late 18th and early 19th-century iron plantation. The park is located on 848 acres and has several historic structures illustrating our country’s earliest transformations towards becoming an industrial nation.

Parks and Bridges 

Many of the above historical sites also feature great walking trails and outdoor activities. If you are touring Hopewell Furnace, be sure to also visit French Creek State Park. Straddling the Berks and Chester County line, and part of the Schuylkill Highlands, French Creek State Park is abundant in all of the beauties of nature. Featuring forests, lakes, wetlands, and fields, this park is an excellent place to hike, fish, camp, or bike. If you are looking to explore the natural diversity of the region, French Creek State Park will not disappoint. 

Hopewell Lake in Autumn

Hopewell Lake at French Creek State Park in Autumn

For an educational outdoor adventure, check out the Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center. Located in Reading, the center offers year-round, activity-oriented programming to students and adult visitors. Since the early 1970s, the Nolde Forest center has been educating its visitors on environmental ethics and encouraging exploration of the natural world. 

A Path in Nolde Forest

A Path in Nolde Forest

Berks County is also home to five beautiful, historic covered bridges. Built in the mid-1800s and found throughout Pennsylvania Dutch Country, these covered bridges are definitely worth a drive. The Wertz’s Covered Bridge, located on the grounds of the Berks County Heritage Center, is the longest single-span covered bridge in the state. Another example is the Pleasantville Covered Bridge located in Oley. Built in two stages due to lumber shortages in 1852, it utilizes a unique truss system. Visit all five bridges in one day, or just drop by the one closest to you for a little bit of beautiful and unique history. 

Modern Entertainment 

When exploring the county, head into Reading, the Berks County seat, for a variety of entertainment options. A great family destination is the Reading Public Museum. Offering interactive, hands-on exhibits, the museum covers art, science, and history. Explore ancient civilizations, different world cultures, or animal habitats. With a variety of special events, student and adult programming, a planetarium, and rotating exhibits, there is always something new to discover at the Reading Public Museum.  The mummy and samurai armor are two of my favorites. The Neag Planetarium next door to the museum is another must for anybody who loves astronomy.

Exterior of Reading Public Museum

Exterior of Reading Public Museum

After exploring the museum, be sure to check out some of the amazing local restaurants of Reading. With a a brew pub-style, be sure to visit Chatty Monks Brewing Company on Penn Street less than a mile from the museum. Offering excellent pub fare, as well as a few surprises (Chilean mussels in a beer broth...yum!), you can grab a craft beer and relax after a long day of exploring this beautiful county. Plus, the decor includes pictures of monks standing on their heads.  True story.

If you are more interested in a cozy, vintage feel, Frank and Diannah’s Arbor Inn is a favorite. With a great variety of food, including excellent steak and seafood choices, you will not leave disappointed. If you are around on Thursday, swing by and grab a “fancy” burger on burger night.

Truly, A Unique Mix

There is so much to love about Berks County, and there is no way to include it all in one article. No matter your style or interests, there is plenty to enjoy and explore. 

Did we leave out your favorite Berks County spot? Let us know, or tell us about your home county, and be sure to follow and like our Facebook page as we continue our tour of counties in Pennsylvania. You can also feel free to see if any of our unique, locally themed apparel interests you.  A t-shirt? Or a cozy hoodie, maybe?

Berks County Born and Raised Hoodies

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