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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Reading, Pa. is worth the ride

Coutesy Greater Reading CVB

Tell me about Greater Reading, Pa.?

Reading, Pa., is the nucleus of a metro area of about 300,000. Greater Reading is 56 miles north of Philadelphia, 125 miles southwest of New York City and 135 miles north of Washington.

How do I get there?

Interstate 78, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and state Routes 222 and 422 all pass through Greater Reading. Two airports are within an hour’s drive: Philadelphia International and Lehigh Valley International in Allentown, Pa.

What’s new?
—The newly opened Berks County Community Foundation Headquarters and Community Conference Center is the region’s most energy-efficient, low-water-use building. The conference center has a reception area, a meeting room for 75, a boardroom and a fireside room.
—A Candlewood Suites hotel and the Marriott Courtyard Wyomissing have opened within the past six months.

Why do groups choose to meet in Greater Reading?
Meeting costs run below the national average with a number of meeting venues that can be booked for under $200. There’s  also a nice variety of options: a community arts center, a university and a Japanese pagoda among them.

Did you know?

Ferdinand Thun, Reading’s first textile industrialist, perfected the Monopoly board in 1915 and called it the Landlord Game. Charles Darrow of Germantown, Pa., held the patent for Monopoly.

What are some sites worth seeing?
—Reading’s GoggleWorks Center for the Arts claims to be the largest, most comprehensive interactive arts center of its kind in the country.
—VF Outlet Center is America’s original outlet center and is still the favorite for bargain shoppers.

Tell me about some of the main meeting sites.
—With 253 guest rooms and 17,000 square feet of meeting space, the Crowne Plaza Reading is among the area’s largest conference hotels. Exceeding it in conference space is Bear Creek Mountain Resort, which has 116 guest rooms and more than 26,000 square feet of meeting space.
—Two other options are the 170-room Inn at Reading Hotel and Conference Center, with 12,000 square feet of meeting space, and the 104-room Abraham Lincoln, a Wyndham Historic Hotel, in business more than 75 years, with 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
—For groups that need a large venue for convocations, the Sovereign Center and Sovereign Performing Arts Center could be the answer. The Sovereign Center’s arena has 8,000 seats; the performing arts center has a restored theater and three ballrooms of different sizes.
—Kutztown University, in the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, and Albright College, offer meeting spaces.

Describe some offbeat spots for off-site events.
—The Works at Wyomissing, an eating and entertainment emporium in a renovated early-20th-century factory building, opened six years ago with more than half an acre of space for food, fun and games. Live entertainment, music and sports events are among the options. Groups can book private rooms.
—Rent the whole ballpark or just a buffet area at FirstEnergy Stadium, the home of the Reading Phillies, the Philadelphia Phillies AA affiliate.

For a true taste of Greater Reading…
—Toss your peanut shells on the floor at Jimmy Kramer’s Peanut Bar Restaurant. Around since 1933, it is much loved by locals and has been spotlighted by the Travel Channel.
—The warmth and ambiance of the Ugly Oyster restaurant didn’t come easily. Built in England, it was dismantled, shipped to Reading and reassembled. Guinness, one of 80 beers stocked there, is tapped to the specifications of Arthur Guinness.
—Another pub with an Old World atmosphere is the Speckled Hen. Diners can sit in front of working fireplaces and enjoy shepherd’s pie or fish and chips.
—Stoudt’s Brewing Co. is known for its craft brews, seafood and Ed Stoudt’s collection of political memorabilia.

Tell me about some of the CVB’s extra-special services.
Reading went doggone crazy in 2008, when a national dog show came to town. The CVB put together welcome bags with gifts from more than 50 businesses. Art galleries organized shows with animal themes, shops promoted dog-friendly shopping, and welcome signs popped up everywhere.