Duration: Two days and one night
Tucked here and there along the winding ways between Amishland and the Lehigh Valley sits one of Pennsylvania's most famed Artisan Trails - the Pennsylvania Glass Trail. Discover antiqued stained glass, contemporary galleries and simply some of the most beautiful art glass in the country. From live demonstrations for families to quaint galleries nestled into little towns, a trip along this trail will surprise even the most storied collectors on how Pennsylvania looks through glass - rose-colored or otherwise.
As you might guess, glass, that prismatic spectacle, is the muse of the art world around these parts. From instructive tours and talks to colorful galleries, studios and shops, some of the most beautiful artisan glass runs along Route 222 from Lancaster up to Bethlehem. This roadtrip takes you to the doorsteps of the artists themselves, so they can share their work, experiences, and creative workplaces with curious visitors.
Start your journey at the anchor site, The GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, in Reading. What started out as an eyeglass factory is now an uberglass headquarters with workshops on glassblowing, glass beading, glass fusing and more. There aren't many more intimate ways to observe the creative process, and these artisans are passionate about sharing their enthusiasm. Pay a visit to the workplace of studio director Nathaniel Walker Dubbs and get a first-hand look at his process as he develops his new series of platters adorned with industrial imagery. For a look at a different type of work altogether, stop by the studio of Ben Sharp. His glass sculptures abstract the typical uses of glass, and make a fantastic use of color. Keep in mind there's also a large theatre for films, so check to see if there's a showing. After a while, visit the studio store for one-of-a-kind gifts (make sure to pick up one of their famous tees with the cool GoggleWorks logo). Don't forget to pick up a list of all the glass artisans in the area - if you have time, you can perform a self-guided tour highlighting the legacy of Reading's stained glass heritage and antique glass.
Once you've seen enough glass for the day, head 2 miles east to the summit of Mount Penn, where you'll find an unlikely architectural landmark. Although the Pagoda isn't associated with any specific spiritual or ethnic communities, it has nevertheless got the ability to keep drawing visitors year in and year out. The building has a remarkable lifespan, and since it was donated to the city in 1911, the Pagoda has been used as everything from an art gallery to a snack bar. Explore the Pagoda's fascinating and strange history on the fourth floor museum and gift-shop, where you can learn about the history of Mount Penn, and why quarry owner William Abbott Witman, Sr., decided to build this monument in the first place.
Superbly flavored Mediterranean-style dishes made with the freshest ingredients, authentic herbs and spices, all masterfully created by owner Judy. Try the hearth-fired pizza or the fresh from the oven Focaccia di Judy, perfectly crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside – and don't forget the extra virgin olive oil. Everything is a handmade work of art in itself.Read More >
Rise and shine, let's grab a croissant and hit the artisan road. There are a few choice spots to hit on the way up to the big finish in Bethlehem. Our first stop is in Boyerstown at Taylor Backes, a hot glass studio specializing in hand-blown glass. Will Dexter and Karla Trinkley have work on display in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Smithsonian Institute, and their production studio feels warm and inviting (maybe it's the fire).
Head to Greenwood Stained Glass in Toptan, where you're invited to help in the colorful process of new designs and restoration with master craftsman Donna.
You should arrive in Bethlehem a little after lunchtime, so grab a bite to eat on Main Street, then head to Crystal Signatures. You'll meet the design team that's created some of the finest crystal object d'art for everyone from the Franklin Mint to seven White House administrations. Just make sure you leave enough time for the other Glass Trail anchor: The Banana Factory, also in Bethlehem. This dynamic cultural arts center houses three galleries, 28 resident artist studios and the Lehigh Valley's only hot glass studio. Their legendary First Fridays are a don't-miss event and promise the glass menagerie found within. Of course, save some time for the Gallery Shoppe for conversation pieces, and turning-your-friends'-faces-green-with-envy pieces.
This family-owned BYOB serves delicious, generously-sized entrees in a perfectly quaint atmosphere. The crab cakes and cheese ravioli are a must, and the complimentary garlic bread is just garlicy enough. Don't be surprised if the owner comes around to say hi.Read More >
Restored to its original 1922 grandeur, historic Hotel Bethlehem's floor-to-ceiling palladium windows provide dramatic views of the historic shopping district just outside our front doors. The newly renovated guest rooms are elegantly appointed, from the high-thread count beds all the way down to the mini shampoo.Read More >
Lancaster Gallery Row
In this bustling section of downtown Lancaster, you’ll find more than just art galleries. Each block is lined with cool coffee shops, boutique stores, and also one of the best live music venues in the area. Take some time to explore, and you’re guaranteed to walk away with a cool artsy souvenir.
This small family-owned shop is one of the last remaining textile mills in the country. They specialize in reproducing designs from the 18 thand 19 thcentury while adapting them for 21 stcentury use. Drop in and treat yourself to an original piece of work.
This gallery features jewelry, art, sculptures and more. If it’s pretty, it’s here. Make a quick stop here and pick up some elegant souvenirs for the road.