When the car industry was just blossoming, many vehicles were manufactured in Pennsylvania. The Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles preserves that legacy, with exhibits stretching back through the 19th and 20th centuries. Established in 1965 by Paul Hafer?a 57-year industry vet?and his wife Erminie, the museum exclusively features vehicles produced in Pennsylvania and none that simply had "Pennsylvania or bust" scribbled on their rear views.
Suburban Philadelphia is the heart of the helicopter industry, where most helicopters in the United States are raised and bred. So it's fitting that the American Helicopter Museum was built here in 1996, showcasing a collection of aircraft that spans 70 years.
Size: This 20,000-square-foot hangar holds 35 rotor-wing aircraft
Eye Catcher: The Bell 47D-1/H-13D Sioux, made famous by the '70s TV show M*A*S*H
Don't Miss: The V-22 Osprey, a unique tiltrotor aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff and landing capabilities of a helicopter with the speed of a plane?the only one of its kind on public display
Hands-On Experiments: Guests can climb into several of the museum's helicopters to feel what it's like in the captain's seat of a whirlybird
Pro Tip: Visitors can take five-minute helicopter rides on some weekends
Special Events: In October, the museum hosts Rotorfest, an all-helicopter air show
Since its founding in 1893, the Chester County Historical Society has painstakingly cataloged nearly every facet of local life?from government records to fashionable dresses of the day. It's no wonder, then, that its 300-year-old collection of artifacts, photographs, and reference volumes takes up an entire 56,000-square-foot downtown History Center. Inside, visitors can find rotating exhibits on topics such as Civil War history and historic paper and textile crafts. Additionally, the permanent galleries are home to handcrafted grandfather clocks and furniture and fashion from the early 1700s to the 20th century. When museum staff aren't organizing the collections or leading educational workshops, they can help unearth a person's family history in the library and photo archives, which feature more than 80,000 historical and modern prints.
At the turn of the 19th century, it became all too clear to historian and archaeologist Henry Mercer that handmade objects were being cast aside for machine-made things. He wanted to help preserve the pre-industrial way of life, and so he built a museum for his artifacts adjacent to his own home, Fonthill Castle. Today, Fonthill Castle is a National Historic Landmark and a museum in its own right, displaying handcrafted art both made by Mercer and collected by him during his world travels.
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 caf? complete with ice cream, shakes, floats, and hot dogs.