History · PA museums Pennsylvania caverns · 2016-11-25 · Ron

Pennsylvania is a state rich in mountains, caverns, lakes, and especially rich in historical sites! It's definite must see for history lovers. This article is going to be a list of interesting things to do while you are there, or if you are thinking of going after you do some research. There are things there for everyone, as the list is pretty diverse, but you can judge for yourself.

This article explores the most famous caverns & museums you should explore in Pennsylvania.

Caverns

You would not believe how many caverns there are in Pennsylvania! It's amazing to see all the different formations, which can be beautiful, and quite a sight to take in. The caves can get cold, so make sure to bring a light jacket! It's also a great educational experience for children and adults alike, so these spots make for a great family trip. Here are just a few of the many caverns...

1. Crystal Cove

Located near Kutztown, this cavern was discovered in 1871 and is open from March-Nov. You can purchase a bag of dirt and use Crystal Cave's sluice (a controlled flow of water by way of a gate) to find gems or fossils that you can keep as a souvenir. Also on the property you will find a free museum, a ice cream parlor, a cafe, and a unique miniature golf course:

2. Lost River Caverns

Located in Hellertown, this cavern offers a variety of things to do, other than seeing the cave formations. There are 30-45 minute tours of the cavern itself, which started forming in the last 250,000 years! It is mostly made of limestone with layers of shale. The museum contains rare fossils, minerals and gems, and even antique weapons from the 17th century. There's also a nature trail to walk, a spot for picnics, and a functional reconstruction of a gem mill to find gems from your panning bag purchased at the gift shop:

3. Lincoln Cavern & Whisper Rocks

This cavern is located in Huntingdon and was discovered in 1930 when Route 22 was constructed. There are tours every few minutes during the summer and every half hour in the spring and fall. All of these caverns also offer some type of ghostly event as well. Extra time would be needed for the panning activity, which is available mid March-mid November. There are nature trails with wildlife, a pavilions for picnics, and a gift shop:

Museums

Just like the many caverns that are too numerous to mention, there are just as many, if not more museums in Pennsylvania. Here are a few of them...

1. Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Trains were a pretty important part of our history. They delivered mail, got passengers to where they wanted to go, and they still deliver goods from state to state. This museum is located in East Strasburg and teaches kids and adults all about the history of trains. They have special hands-on experience in their Railway Education Center, and you can even go across the street to ride a real vintage stream train at The Strasburg Railroad! It's a place to visit all on its own, with 45 minute sightseeing rides through the Pennsylvania Dutch Countryside, in a lounge or dining car. On saturdays they have a wine and cheese car, talk about fancy!

2. The Franklin Institute

Founded in honor of Benjamin Franklin and located in Philadelphia, this is one of the coolest museums you could ever go to, especially with your kids. It is first and foremost a museum focused on science education and technology development. There have been so many awesome exhibits here over time, and they keep adding more. Some things, however, have been there a long time, but are still relevant to today's science findings. You can find out how your brain works, go inside the giant heart (mostly for kids), learn about electricity (hands-on), visit the train factory, see how the earth is changing and so much more! They also have new exhibit called Robot Revolution this fall,where you can interact with different robots, and Jurassic World, getting close to dinosaurs. When those exhibit go, there will sure be other awesome new ones to take their place. The planetarium has shows to learn about stars and constellations, and they have IMAX theater shows (which make you feel like you are there in whatever place they are showing). There are so many things to do at the Franklin Institute, both for kids and adults, and they will always keep bringing in new and exciting exhibits/shows! A short drive from the institute is the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a beautiful museum for art lovers.

3. The Mutter Museum

This is a Philadelphia museum of medical history, dealing with the history of surgery, deformities, diseases, and other freaky things. You can choose whether or not to allow your kids to go along, but despite it being a little scary, it's still very educational. It's one of only two places in the world to have pieces of Albert Einstein's brain, and houses a nice collection of skulls, as well as a mummy and other various exhibits. They also have wet specimens, meaning things preserved in jars, like every part of the human body, including cysts and tumors. If you can get past the icky feeling, you'll want to check this museum out, for your own educational purposes.