When I heard there was a Pagoda within driving distance of me, I thought maybe it was just going to be a small house with some sort of fabrication on the front of it. But when we got there I was pleasantly surprised at how massive it was, with the added bonus of being able to go inside. It was built on the south side of Mt. Penn, looking over the valley that makes up Reading, PA. Entry is free, but they do ask for a $1 donation per person. Once inside you encounter a cafe that offers beverages and snacks…if you get a hot dog, you also get a gold chocolate coin…and before the set of steps leading to the 5 floors above, there is a small gift shop with souvenirs and pretty kites.
After climbing the 87 steps to the top of the Pagoda, you are rewarded with vast views of rolling hills covered in trees. When we had gone it was autumn, and it was absolutely beautiful to see the fall colors take over the horizon. There is a large bell in the center of the top floor, and various coin machines set up for telescopic views or an imprinted penny. A lot of the rooms on each floor are shut off from the public, but the experience is mostly for the view. The entrance floor has a wrap around porch that is open to the elements, and below is a wrap around pathway with access to the bathrooms and benches. It was a nice pit stop before heading into town for the Reading Public Museum.
We stopped off at the museum for an interactive mechanics exhibit that was open at the time, and ticket prices are $10 for adults, and $6 for kids or students. There were some impressive exhibits for science and world civilizations, as well as pretty dioramas for a variety of animals. They also offer planetarium shows, and various events for kids and groups, including bus trips to other museums and venues. Outside offers a pretty arboretum with a pathway that parallels a creek and passes through small gardens. If you pack a picnic for the day, it would be a great way to spend a mild afternoon in the spring or fall.