Pennsylvania is home to many historic sites that preserve important artifacts and buildings of the American Revolutionary War found in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Gettysburg, Lancaster and Harrisburg. Garden lovers can explore beautiful botanical gardens and scenic hiking trails. Families can plan a trip to a PA water park, and art aficionados will delight in many galleries containing internationally renowned paintings and sculptures.
1. Phipps Conservatory
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The Phipps Conservatory was founded by Henry Phipps in 1898; he was a steel and real estate magnate who built the conservatory as a gift to the City of Pittsburgh. The public gardens and Victorian-style greenhouses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its prime purposes are to entertain and to educate.
The 14-room conservatory is filled with exotic plants from around the world, including palm trees, ferns, orchids, tropical fruits, spices, and a desert garden overhung with a magnificent chandelier by Dale Chihuly. Outdoors there is a rooftop edible garden that provides fresh produce for the conservatory’s café, a Japanese garden, and a children’s garden that focuses on plants that attract birds, bees, and butterflies. The Phipps Conservatory has free parking, a café, and an excellent gift shop. Things to Do in Pittsburgh
1 Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, Phone: 412-622-6914
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The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia contains the largest collection outside Paris of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works. Opened in 1929, the collection was a gift from business magnate and philanthropist Jules Mastbaum, who donated the works in the hope of enriching the lives of his fellow citizens.
Set in a beautiful Beaux-Arts-style building and surrounded by a formal French sculpture garden, the small museum is a wonderful place to visit for a morning or an afternoon. Rodin’s best-known work, The Thinker, sits outside the museum and is the highlight of the visit. The museum contains works from every period of Rodin’s career and includes bronzes, plaster studies, prints, and works in progress. Things to Do in Philadelphia
2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Phone: 215-763-8100
Hersheypark, situated next to the Hershey’s Chocolate Factory, began its life in 1906, when the Hershey family opened a leisure park for its employees. It is now a popular theme park with over 70 attractions and rides, including several wooden and metal rollercoasters, an observation tower, a water park, and a zoo.
The park has an amphitheater where entertainment acts perform, and restaurants that include options for people with kosher and gluten-free diets. Hersheypark is also located next to Hershey’s Chocolate World, a visitors center for the Hershey Chocolate Factory; this free attraction has a tour ride showing how chocolate is made as well as free samples and an excellent gift shop. Things to Do in Hershey
100 West Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, Phone: 800-437-7439
4.Andy Warhol Museum
© Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was a Pittsburgh-born artist who was a leading figure in the Pop Art artistic movement . The Andy Warhol Museum is a seven-story structure containing an extensive permanent collection of his works as well as a large archive of documents relating to Warhol himself.
In The Factory, visitors of all ages can try out some of Warhol’s art techniques; led by artist educators, visitors may try their hand at silk screening, acetate collage, and blotted line drawing. The museum also hosts performing arts, film screenings, lectures, and concerts, and has a restaurant and a gift shop containing quirky souvenirs.
117 Sandusky Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212, Phone: 412-237-8300
5.Rivers of Steel
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Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area is a National Heritage Area located in southwestern Pennsylvania that focuses on the celebration, promotion, and interpretation of the steel making heritage of the region centered on Pittsburgh. The area includes the valleys of the Monongahela, Ohio, and lower Allegheny rivers. Rivers of Steel develops cultural, historical, and recreational resources in western Pennsylvania at destinations such as Pinkerton's Landing, Carrie Blast Furnaces Nos. 6 and 7, the Bost Building, the pump house at the former US Steel Homestead Works, and the W.A. Young Foundry and Machine Shop at Rices Landing. Rivers of Steel offers to the public a variety of informative tours and events to share the evolution of the region from rough colonial settlement to "Big Steel" and the modern era.
623 E. Eighth Avenue, Homestead, PA 15120, Phone: 412-464-4020
6.The Wharton Esherick Museum
© The Wharton Esherick Museum
The Wharton Esherick Museum celebrates the life and work of American sculptor and design artist Wharton Esherick, known as a major figure of the 20th-century Studio Furniture Movement. The 12-acre museum campus, which has been designated as a National Historic Landmark for Architecture, converts Esherick's hilltop studio and estate into a full museum experience for visitors, preserving more than 300 of his most significant works. Guests can tour the museum as part of guided tour experiences, which require advance reservations. In addition to Esherick's studio, museum visitors can explore his 1928 Expressionist garage, converted into a visitor center, and the Chester County Landmark Diamond Rock Schoolhouse, which served as an early painting studio for the artist.
1520, Horse Shoe Trail, Malvern, PA 19355
7.Sight and Sound Theatres
© Sight and Sound Theatres
Sight and Sound Theatres are a Christian theater company with two locations: one in Branson, Missouri, and another in Ronks, Pennsylvania, just outside of Harrisburg. The theater’s purpose is to inspire by bringing Bible stories to life on stage.
Making excellent use of sets, special effects, and costuming, the theater hosts over a million visitors a year in its two theaters and regularly changes productions. Known as the Christian Broadway, the theater productions are musical in nature. Food and drink are available in the theater lobby.
300 Hartman Bridge Road, Ronks, PA 17572, Phone: 800-377-1277
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8.Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center
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The Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center is the starting point for any visit to the Gettysburg Battlefield, a site crucial in the American Civil War. The museum and visitor center are located in the Gettysburg National Military Park and have ranger-led programs and are both a depot for bus tours of the battlefield as well as the place to purchase field guides and CDs for self-guided tours.
The museum itself contains artifacts from the Civil War, including firearms, cannons, and uniforms, has a theater, a bookstore that sells gifts, and a restaurant. The museum also contains the Gettysburg Cyclorama, a 360-degree round painting of the battle. Next read: 25 Best Things to Do in Gettysburg
1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, PA 17325, Phone: 717-338-1243
9.The Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art
The Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art highlights the works of prominent American realist painter Andrew Wyeth, originally opened to the public in 1971. The museum, which is located along the banks of beautiful Brandywine Creek in Chadds Ford, is housed within a converted 19th-century mill facility which overlooks the gorgeous Pennsylvania countryside. Exhibits showcase the works of Wyeth, along with his father, children's illustrator N.C. Wyeth, and his son, contemporary artist Jamie Wyeth. Hundreds of prominent American artists and landscape painters are highlighted in permanent and temporary exhibits, including artists such as Jessie Willcox Smith, Maxfield Parrish, Jasper Francis Cropsey, and Harvey Dunn. Outside the museum, a river trail and native plant gardens are showcased on 15 acres of landscaped grounds.
1 Hoffmans Mill Rd, Chadds Ford, PA 19317, Phone: 610- 388.2700
10.The Susquehanna Art Museum
© The Susquehanna Art Museum
The Susquehanna Art Museum is central Pennsylvania's only dedicated art museum, originally founded in downtown Harrisburg in 1989 by a group of area art educators. The lovely museum, which moved to its current location on North Third Street within the former Keystone Trust Building in 2015, is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday afternoons, with special appointment showings offered for individuals and groups on Mondays. Local, regional, national, and international artists are showcased within the museum's galleries, with a focus on works that present the central Pennsylvania area's rich and diverse cultural heritage. Rotating special exhibitions range from retrospectives of acclaimed international luminaries such as Pablo Picasso and Romare Bearden to annual regional juried art exhibitions and shows. The museum also presents art pieces to thousands of area students each year as part of its VanGo! Museum on Wheels programming.
1401 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA 17102, Phone: 717-233-8668
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Independence Hall is a World Heritage Site maintained by the National Park Service. It played a vital role in the formation of the United States, as both the American Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted here. The building dates back to 1763, and was first built as the legislative building of the province of Pennsylvania.
The Georgian red-brick building can only be toured with a ranger-led tour that lasts approximately 45 minutes. Independence Hall was the first home of the Liberty Bell, which was moved across the street in 1976 and is now housed in the Liberty Bell Center, part of the Independence Hall complex. In 1915, former U.S. President William Howard Taft made his announcement here of the formation of the League to Enforce Peace, an organization committed to establishing peace in the world. Things to do in Philadelphia
143 S. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106, Phone: 215-965-2305
12.Reading Terminal Market
© Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market is an enclosed public market next to Philadelphia’s downtown Convention Center. It is situated in Reading Terminal’s former train shed and has been there since 1890. Over one hundred merchants offer mouth-watering food, home-baked goods, and much more.
Visitors and locals come to dine at the market’s many eateries or to buy fresh produce, artisanal cheese, meats, fish, flowers, crafts, books, ethnic food, homemade chocolate, and candy, amongst other things. The market is open daily with some exceptions: Pennsylvania Dutch merchants are closed from Sunday until Tuesday, and stalls run by Amish or Mennonite families are closed on Sundays.
12th & Arch Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19107, Phone: 215-922-2317
Chanticleer is an estate and gardens dating back to the early 20th century, when the land was bought and developed by the Rosengarten family, who were prominent in the pharmaceutical industry. Open April through October, visitors may enjoy the delights of the garden as well as tour the estate house for a small extra fee. The name ‘Chanticleer’ is the French word for ‘rooster’, and rooster motifs may be found on the main gate and throughout the property.
Chanticleer has wide, sweeping lawns, forested areas, a pond, and many different garden themes. The pond is surrounded by ornamental grasses, black-eyed Susans, and daisies and is home to little green herons, hummingbirds, wrens, and goldfinches. The Asian Woods contains plants native to China, Japan, and Korea. In the Teacup Garden there is a collection of tropical and subtropical plants, all highly aromatic. It is a beautiful place to visit in spring, summer, and fall.
786 Church Road, Wayne, PA 19087, Phone: 610-687-4163
14.Flight 93 National Memorial
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On the morning of September 11, 2001, United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco was hijacked by four Al-Qaeda terrorists, who, it is believed, intended to crash the plane into the U.S. Capitol. Thanks to the selfless bravery of the flight crew and the passengers on board, the terrorists were overpowered and the plane crashed into a hillside in Pennsylvania, killing everyone on board, but averting greater tragedy.
The National Flight 93 Memorial tells the story of that fateful day, presenting an emotional and interactive visitors center, a memorial wall, a walking path, and the opportunity to listen to actual phone calls made by passengers onboard the flight. The memorial is run by the National Park Service and knowledgeable rangers and volunteers are on hand to answer questions.
6424 Lincoln Highway, Storytown, PA 15563, Phone: 814-893-6322
© Bicycle Heaven
Bicycle Heaven is the world’s largest bicycle museum and bike shop in the world. Containing over 4,000 vintage and collectible bikes, the museum is a bike lover’s fantasy and has something to offer all visitors. There are themed bikes, such as bikes representing The Beatles, Elvis, and bobbleheads, and there are bikes that were used in movies such as A Beautiful Mind and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
Visitors may enjoy the vintage bike collection, buy or rent bicycles, or get their own bikes expertly repaired. This family-run museum and shop is open 7 days a week, and great customer service is guaranteed.
1800 Preble Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15233, Phone: 412-734-4034
16.Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
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The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania sits on 18 acres of land in the heart of the Amish countryside. More than 100 historic locomotives and railroad cars are contained in the huge facility, and a walkthrough of the museum will educate any visitor on the history of American railroading.
Opened in 1975, the museum has indoor and outdoor displays, an education center, and a large library and archives. Interactive exhibits are sure to delight; visitors can try a simulator on a real locomotive or peer at the underside of a 62-ton railcar. The museum’s restoration shop can be viewed on closed circuit television. The museum is handicap accessible and has a nice gift shop.
300 Gap Road, Ronks, PA 17572, Phone: 717-687-8628
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17. Carnegie Museum of Natural History
© Carnegie Museum of Natural History
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1896. The museum first came into prominence when, in 1899, its scientists unearthed the first fossils of a dinosaur that became known as Diplodocus carnegii.
The huge museum has many different foci, including zoology, herpetology, archeology, gems and minerals, and vertebrate paleontology, but it is the dinosaurs that bring in the visitors. The museum has the world’s largest collection of Jurassic dinosaurs, the world’s only fossils of a juvenile apatosaurus, and the world’s first specimen of a Tyrannosaurus rex. The museum will fascinate youngsters and adults alike.
4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, Phone: 412-622-3131
Next read: National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania
18.Valley Forge National Historic Park
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In the winter of 1777 to 1778, the Continental Army fighting in the American Revolution wintered at Valley Forge. Living in crude log cabins that did little to keep out the winter cold, the troops rested from December until June. The house in which George Washington spent the winter is still standing and can be toured.
The historic park, run by the National Park Service, covers 3,500 acres and provides walking and trolley tours of the extensive encampment. The museum in the visitors center contains original artifacts and has a video introducing the history of Valley Forge. More than just a historic site, the park has miles of trails which can be used all year round by hikers, joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, and equestrians. The visitors center has restrooms, a large gift shop, and a small canteen.
1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, PA 19406, Phone: 610-783-1000
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19.Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
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Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is a family-owned and operated safari park where the animals are beautifully treated and where guests can get up close and personal with the animals. The most popular attraction at the park is the open-air safari bus, which takes an hour-long tour around the 100-acre park, giving visitors close-up views of buffalo, elk, deer, and Watusi cattle.
There is a petting zoo where adults and children can hand feed goats, camels, llamas, and alpacas, and a reptile and exotics habitat which houses snakes, tropical birds, tortoises, amphibians, and lemurs. The reptile shows give visitors the opportunity to pet snakes and alligators. The wildlife park has a restaurant, picnic areas, and several playgrounds for children.
700 Tobias Road, Halifax, PA 17032, Phone: 717-362-9126
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20.Lackawanna County Coal Mine
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The Lackawanna County Coal Mine in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is a retired coal mine that offers guided tours of the mine and a glimpse into what mine conditions used to be like. In a mine car, visitors descend into the Clark coal vein on an hour-long tour and can view mine tunnels and learn about anthracite mining.
Mine conditions were terrible, with workers exposed to cold, crowded, deep, damp, dust-filled passageways on a daily basis, and with children as young as eight years old working alongside adults. Up on the surface, a small museum relates the history of the Knox Mine Disaster, which singlehandedly killed off anthracite mining in northern Pennsylvania, when the Susquehanna River flooded and broke through mine galleries, trapping 66 miners underground. Not a tour for claustrophobics, but fascinating and educational for others.
McDade Park, Scranton, PA 18503, Phone: 800-238-7245
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21.Eisenhower National Historic Site
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Eisenhower National Historic Site, run by the National Park Service, consists of the home and farm of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States. After a long military career moving from post to post, Mamie Eisenhower insisted that they have a home of their own, and in 1950 this home and property were built.
It served as a retreat from the White House, a place to entertain foreign dignitaries, and was a place to retire to after Eisenhower’s presidency. Notable guests over the years included Nikita Khrushchev, Charles de Gaulle, and Winston Churchill. Eisenhower raised Black Angus cattle, and to this day a Black Angus cattle breeding center operates on the farm. To visit, one must catch a shuttle from the visitors center; tours of the house are self-guided and include a short movie, displays, and all of the Eisenhower’s original furnishings.
250 Eisenhower Farm Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325, Phone: 717-338-9114
22.The Barnes Foundation
© The Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation is an incredibly impressive gallery of art founded by Albert Barnes in 1922; Barnes was a chemist who made a fortune developing an anti-gonorrhea drug. His wealth allowed him to visit Paris and learn to love art, and he sunk much of his funds into collecting fine art.
The majority of the collection is of Impressionist and Modernist art, but all periods are represented, and many of the world’s most famous artists have paintings on the Barnes Foundation’s walls. There is a particular fine collection of Renoir and Cezanne, but there are also works by Rubens, Gaugin, Degas, Monet, Manet, van Gogh, El Greco, Matisse, and Picasso. There is also a collection of African art on display. The museum has beautifully landscaped gardens, a gift shop, and a particularly fine restaurant.
2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Phone: 215-278-7000
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23. Longwood Gardens
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Longwood Gardens is one of the premier horticultural institutions in the United States. Set on over 1,000 acres in Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Creek Valley, the gardens are open all year round, with seasonal displays and ongoing events and performances. Over a million visitors a year come to see the gardens’ fine collections of azaleas, ferns, holly, magnolias, lilac trees, waterlilies, and orchids and to delight in the fine fountains that dot the grounds.
The gardens also have extensive Australian and South African collections in their many greenhouses and conservatories. Longwood Gardens places a huge emphasis on education; they offer lectures, courses, and workshops, as well as a tuition-free two-year professional horticultural degree.
1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348, Phone: 610-388-1000
24.Steamtown National Historic Site
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Steamtown National Historic Site is a railroad museum in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania, located in a former train yard. The railcars and locomotives at this site were part of the collection of F. Nelson Blount, a seafood magnate from New Jersey.
The historic site has a working 1920s roundhouse, a locomotive repair shop, and a visitors center with a theater, interactive historical displays, archives, and a gift shop. Visitors are able to enter many of the railcars and locomotives, and short excursions on trains are offered in spring, summer, and fall. Tours of the locomotive shop are available, enabling visitors to watch trains being repaired. This site is a great place to bring small children and has a gift shop, but no café or food service.
4 Lackawanna Avenue, Scranton, PA 18503, Phone: 570-340-5200
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Fallingwater is the most loved and best-known creation of the visionary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Designed by Wright in 1935, the house was to be a weekend home for a prominent business family from Pittsburgh, forty miles to the south. The outstanding feature of the house is its cohesion with the natural landscape of the Allegheny Mountains and the Bear Run River; a waterfall is incorporated into the house design, and the clean lines and wooden exterior walls render it almost invisible in its surroundings.
The house was used as a private home until 1963, when the owner turned it over to the Pennsylvania Conservation Authority, who turned the house into a museum. The house and grounds may be toured all year round with a guide.
1491 Mill Run Road, Mill Run, PA 15464, Phone: 724-329-8501
25 Best Things to Do in Pennsylvania
- Phipps Conservatory, Photo: Courtesy of jwjarrett - Fotolia.com
- Rodin Museum, Photo: Courtesy of pixs sell - Fotolia.com
- Hersheypark, Photo: Hersheypark
- Andy Warhol Museum, Photo: Andy Warhol Museum
- Rivers of Steel, Photo: Courtesy of ThinkTank Solutions - Fotolia.com
- The Wharton Esherick Museum, Photo: The Wharton Esherick Museum
- Sight and Sound Theatres, Photo: Sight and Sound Theatres
- Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- The Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art, Photo: Kelsey/stock.adobe.com
- The Susquehanna Art Museum, Photo: The Susquehanna Art Museum
- Independence Hall, Photo: Courtesy of Oleksandr Dibrova - Fotolia.com
- Reading Terminal Market, Photo: Reading Terminal Market
- Chanticleer, Photo: Chanticleer
- Flight 93 National Memorial, Photo: Courtesy of karen foley photo - Fotolia.com
- Bicycle Heaven, Photo: Bicycle Heaven
- Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Photo: Courtesy of pabrady 63 - Fotolia.com
- Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Photo: Carnegie Museum of Natural History
- Valley Forge National Historic Park, Photo: Courtesy of Delmas Lehman - Fotolia.com
- Lake Tobias Wildlife Park, Photo: Courtesy of Kazantsev Alexander - Fotolia.com
- Lackawanna County Coal Mine, Photo: Courtesy of aqua photo - Fotolia.com
- Eisenhower National Historic Site, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- The Barnes Foundation, Photo: The Barnes Foundation
- Longwood Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of robert lerich - Fotolia.com
- Steamtown National Historic Site, Photo: Courtesy of jnovack7 - Fotolia.com
- Fallingwater, Photo: Fallingwater
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
Knoebels Amusement Resort
Knoebels Amusement Resort is a family-owned and operated amusement park and picnic grounds on the site of the Knoebel family’s original orchard. It is one of the few amusement parks in the country to offer free admission and free parking, and the tickets to get on the rides are reasonably priced.
The park has two wooden rollercoasters and four steel coasters, bumper cars, two miniature railways, a teacup ride, a slide, and a famous dark haunted house ride that has been featured on television shows. The amusement resort has won awards for its food service, which includes sit-down restaurants and counter service; patrons are also free to bring in their own food. The resort is pet friendly, has a campground, and rents out cabins.
391 Knoebels Road, Elysburg, PA 17824, Phone: 800-487-4386
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is an important institution containing major holdings of European, Asian, and American art and is one of the largest art museums in the United States. The museum houses paintings, drawings, prints, costumes, photographs, decorative arts, and a large collection of armor.
Many of the world’s great artists are represented here, including Van Gogh, Monet, Dali, and Picasso. The European collection covers the Middle Ages until the present day, focusing especially on the Renaissance and French Impressionism. The Asian collection has a fine offering of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese ceramics as well as beautiful Persian and Turkish carpets. The American collection focuses on Pennsylvania German art, furnishings, and ceramics. The museum has a gift shop and a parking lot on site.
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Phone: 215-763-8100
The Mercer Museum was founded by archeologist Henry Chapman Mercer in 1916 and is a treasure trove of tools that were used prior to the Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th century. Situated in a concrete castle designed by Chapman, the 55 exhibit rooms focus on pre-industrial trades, such as metalsmithing, woodworking, sewing, milling, and farming.
The museum also has an eclectic collection of objects, including a set of gallows, a whale boat, stove plates, early American furnishings, carriages, and antique fire engines. Half-hour tours are available. For young visitors, the top floor has a children’s room that will delight any youngster. The museum has a gift shop.
84 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA 18901, Phone: 215-345-0210