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  • Writer's pictureRoderick Desch

Where it all started: Travel Through Rural Pennsylvania

Updated: Jan 17, 2022

A glimpse into the place I call home.

Rural Pennsylvania is my home. It is the place where I formed my earliest memories. I have memories of exploring the lush mountainsides as a young boy, endless adventures and my imagination ignited. Plain and simple, Pennsylvania is in my DNA.

I want to take you on a tour of rural Pennsylvania. I think I'm qualified on this subject because first and foremost it is my birthplace. There is a treasure trove of unique history in this state I call home. Local artisans and unique entertainment is found in the unassuming burghs of PA.

Here is a few of my favorite places in Pennsylvania:


Pennsylvania is known for being the home to an abundant Amish community.

Pennsylvania has one of the largest Amish populations in the country. The Amish have been living here since 1720 and there is a large population in the county of Lancaster.

The Amish community is quaintly nestled in this area and boast amazing talents like baking and woodworking. What makes this fascinating as the antiquated nod to simpler days is juxta positioned next to a thriving urban setting with a city vibe. The sights and sounds are powerful. There is farmer's market the offers every type of Amish made goods that you can imagine, and the pulse of a bustling city offers modern amenities. Lancaster has great hotels, great restaurants, and just an overall welcoming feel and a great place to stay for the week.

Lancaster county is in close proximity to Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Hershey, and the easily accessible highways and actually rail that will get you to other nearby cities. You'll find the Amish scattered throughout Lancaster County and also in a couple other spots throughout Pennsylvania.

This throwback to the 1800s is a historical experience for every traveler that visits an Amish community. It is a snapshot into a long-forgotten era. The Amish are a group of people who live in North America and adhere to a strict set of rules by which they live. Their philosophy is based on the bible and steeped in tradition. All Amish people can be traced back to one religious group led by Jakob Ammann in Switzerland in 1693.

the community's regulate hair length and men must grow beards and acceptable.


The center of Berks County is Reading, Pennsylvania. If you've ever played monopoly, you're likely aware of the Reading railroad. Redding is a mountain town that has amazing diversity these days.

In order to get to Reading, you have to drive up to the top of a steep mountain road. When you navigate this terrain, you will be rewarded with and overlook of the Reading valley. You will be privy to spectacular views and an unexpected treasure of the pagoda. This Japanese inspired building was completed in 1908. The pagoda was actually intended to be a hotel restaurant centerpiece of a luxury resort.

When the plans for the rest of the resort were abandoned, seven story wooden structure was donated to Reading in 1911 and is now part of the Mt. Penn preserve. That includes 1500 acres of municipal owned land. Once you leave. I suggest you stop at Nino's pizza, which is located at the bottom of the hill.

When in Redding a must stop is the farmer's market. The highlight of the farmer's market for me is something they call the cherry top donuts. It essentially, it's the size of a bear claw, a fried donut with icing a half an inch thick on top, and they place a cherry right in the. Warning: this is not a low-calorie indulgence-but it is worth it.

Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania is a cozy little nook of Pennsylvania that transports you to yesteryear. This little town has always been my favorite in my travels. I would go out of my way to drive through this town as it offers European village charm.

It has Victorian buildings and this town that was originally known as much chunk is home to one of the greatest athletes of all times. They claim, but it's more of a destination that's rich with history. It has unique little shops, eateries, museums, and galleries. And strangely enough, it was once second in the nation for tourism behind Niagara Falls.

This is just a small peek into why I love rural Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania taught me to travel off the beaten path and to be open to small communities that offer a richness and history that is not promoted by huge marketing machines. When you venture off the highways and freeways and take a chance on a small town you are rewarded with cultural riches.

To hear more about my experiences in rural Pennsylvania listen to my podcast episode that details adventures from A to Z. I would love to hear your thoughts and I would love to hear where you want to travel next on the next episode of Cultural Chameleon.

Until we meet again, travel safe and travel like a chameleon. --Rod

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