Roadside America is a miniature village of trains, houses, people, and animals – practically everything you could find in small town America in the early to late 1900s. The building that houses it is situated along Interstate 78 in Shartlesville, PA, north of Reading and west of Hamburg, and it’s been there since 1953. Since we were in Reading for the day, we visited because our 3-year-old missed our local miniature train display this Christmas, so we visited Roadside America to make up for it. There is an admission charge, and we had to wait approximately five minutes before we entered the room with the miniature village, because the “nighttime show” was in progress. While waiting, we browsed the gift shop, which was full of toys and gifts items which led me to saying “please don’t touch” and “put that down” repeatedly to my daughter.
After the short wait, we entered the room with the village, which is set up with a circular path around the display. There is a lower path and a higher one. We couldn’t decide whether it was best to take the lower one, since our 3-year-old would be able to see it better up close, or the higher one, where we could get a better perspective of the whole display. Buttons to run trains, trolleys, lights, animals, and cable cars are located on the lower and upper path, and pushing these buttons is what my daughter enjoyed doing the most. It took us approximately a half hour to walk around the display and try out all of the buttons. Had we not had a child with us, we may have taken more time and read each description in the brochure. Each description matched with the numbers around the display and gave a fact about something in that area.
For the nighttime show, everyone settled into the two steps of bleachers at the far end of the village. Lights are dimmed, music plays, and the Statue of Liberty lights up. It is short, so my daughter was able to sit through the entire show. After that, we pushed a few more buttons, and then headed out the door. Restrooms are located in a small area beside the gift shop.
Things to remember:
1. There are two high viewing platforms on both sides of the room. Check those out!
2. It’s quite nostalgic; a good place to visit with the parents or grandparents.
3. Don’t walk around during the night time show, it really does get very dark during certain parts.