Facing down winds of up to 78 mph. Controlling a robotic dinosaur with the same hydraulic technology behind amusement park rides. Such experiences only skim the surface of the 100-plus attractions available in Da Vinci Science Center's 10,000-square-foot, two-story exhibit space. Here, other hands-on activities run the gamut from assembling models of carbon nanotubes to navigating a 72-foot tunnel in complete darkness or with the aid of a friendly firefly.
But exploring exhibits isn't the only way to interact with science at Da Vinci Science Center. For visitors of all ages, the center sponsors nearly three-dozen programs including Science on the Move, which brings experiments directly to schools and community centers. In addition, Da Vinci Science Center hosts several events throughout the year such as Ice Cream Wars, where participants create tasty treats using liquid nitrogen as a freezing agent.
The 43,000 square-foot facility of America On Wheels is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the expansive history of American transportation. Within that, 23,000 square feet are devoted entirely to exhibit space, where guests will find a variety of classic cars, racing vehicles, trucks, and motorcycles. Rotating exhibits have included topics such as classic cars of the 1930's (including a 1933 Buick), muscle cars, and trains. In addition to offering family memberships and group tours, the facility hosts rentals of its space and a museum store, as well as a classic café complete with ice cream, shakes, floats, and hot dogs.
Despite being open to the public since 1930, Lost River Caverns has been kept in immaculate condition, retaining a youthful character that belies its close to 250,000-year existence. Step underground and peer at the profusion of stalactites, stalagmites, fluorescent minerals, and other natural crystal formations filling the cavern’s five chambers—including the Crystal Chapel, which radiates with residual love from the more than 80 wedding ceremonies it’s hosted since 1949. As dripping sounds echo in the distance, you’ll encounter the eponymous lost river, whose waters originate from an unknown source before disappearing back into Earth’s great Fiji bottle. You’ll also get wise to the Lost River Caverns’ colorful history and the odd ways it’s been used by bootleggers, college fraternities, and fantasy fellowships looking to level up by fighting the caverns’ many tonberries. Once you emerge back into daylight, ogle the rare fossils, unique minerals, and gems that abound inside the Gilman Museum before relaxing over a bite in Picnic Grove, whose covered bridge overlooks the leisurely flowing Silver Creek.
Designated as a national historic landmark in 1985, Fonthill Castle connects visitors to artifact collector, archeologist, and architectural visionary Henry Mercer, who built the home nearly 100 years ago. During one-hour castle tours, insightful guides weave groups through the completely concrete estate, stopping to explore 18 of the mansion's 44 history-packed rooms along the way. A fusion of Gothic and Byzantine architectural styles, the castle's compilation of mysterious and shadowy nooks accompanies more than 200 uniquely shaped windows, original furnishings, and 18 different fireplaces, where Mercer's guests would warm up and ward off Hessian bands of headless snowmen. Tour-takers traverse the palace's corridors, ambling past Mercer's handcrafted tiles that provide century-old eye candy, elaborately lining interior walls, floors, and ceilings. Outside, the castle is surrounded by equally stunning sights, including rolling woodlands, open fields, and a well maintained mashed-potato moat.
Dr. Levi Mengel founded the Reading Public Museum in 1904 to cement book-borne knowledge with hands-on learning. Today, the educational hub houses an extensive permanent collection of art, historic and scientific artifacts, ever-changing exhibitions, a planetarium, and an arboretum. Art enthusiasts swoon at the museum's mélange of masterpieces, such as etchings by Matisse and Picasso, and a lithograph by Renoir. The artifactual vault harbors petrified proof of earth's natural history, biological bits of science, and insight into humanity’s collective civilization.
High on a hill in Bryn Athyn, a vision of old Europe towers over the surrounding greenery. Built as a private residence between 1928 and 1939, the 20th-century castle was constructed in the medieval style, using symbolism that reflects the faith of the community's earliest inhabitants. The building now serves as a museum that houses religious art and relics dating from Babylonian times up to the present. The museum's permanent and temporary exhibits range from a medieval collection of stained glass that spans the years 1100–1300 to an Egyptian collection that includes an ornate granite libation bowl, which Egyptian priests are said to have used to dump Gatorade on their football coach.