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Travel Destination: Funky West Reading PA
A charming SoHo in southeastern PA
About a two-hour drive from Baltimore and a one and a half-hour drive from Philadelphia, a tiny burg sits tucked between a Pennsylvania industrial town and a hoity-toity suburb. This place is experiencing a silent explosion of artistic shops and one-of-a-kind eating nooks. Sidewalk cafes flooded with potted plants and frequent nights for free music and openings at galleries mark this new Bohemia where creativity is the rule.
Cafes, Restaurants, and Eateries
The offerings include an international chocolate shop which is not to be believed, both Cuban and Vietnamese sandwich shops, one bistro-type restaurant, a fresh fish market/restaurant, a wine bar!, and a spacious Middle Eastern restaurant with the freshest, crunchiest tabouleh I have ever had. There is also a dark old pub, and a CLASSIC long-standing shiny aluminum diner straight from the 1950's.
Additionally are a Chinese and Italian cafe, and a French crepe cafe. Now, there is a very upscale cheese restaurant and store. And these all are found just by walking down the main thoroughfare, Penn Avenue. Then when one wanders either a few steps or a few blocks from the main street, a sub shop, an Italian restaurant and more treasures await.
Some of the above-mentioned have packaged, retail products or a carry-out menu. However, there is also a unique candy shop and that authentic middle eastern restaurant. I get its tabouleh to go. Never have I had such fresh and crunchy parsley in a tabouleh!
- Father's Day Funky Store
Father's, Papas, Grampas and Abuelos Day gifts and apparel.
A shop with the most outrageous shoes anyone could design has opened. Its offerings rival anything one could find in New York city. Upscale antique shops, retro-style women's accesories, a fantastic brassiere emporium and a glam kitchen and bath hardware store await shoppers who want a unique experience. There are also several jewelers and a Women's Exchange.
In this artsy borough, one can get a tattoo, get a massage, and take yoga or African dance classes. Children can practice their cooking skills at an academy just for them. Furthermore, one of the most honest and down-to-earth computer repair professionals has his base there on Penn Avenue. And one can take traditional music lessons or world hand-drumming at specialty music stores.Plus, there is a quaint used book store. To polish things, the street bursts with hair and full-service salons for all ages.
Musical Instruments, Antiques and Oddities
Of course, there is an antique store which has a delightful back building reached only by passing through the high-walled "secret garden." Mosaics, tiles, hand-blown glass, yarns, and brass can be had at other establishments. There is a shop specializing in indie music recordings. If this is not enough, one can meander into the art gallery, world music and instrument store, a celtic -wicca shop or stationary seller.
Too much to cover..!
But wait! There is an art gallery featuring local artisans. Also, there are the flower shops, the farmers' organic markets on Sundays, the special shopping evenings on the FIrst Thursday of the month, the Saturday events on the Avenue, the....... This hub cannot include it all. If you are in the area, it is worth experiencing.
Maren Morgan absolutely loves the sense of artistic freedom and small-town friendliness that permeates this jewel of a borough! It is multi-cultural, safe to walk around and live in, and very much ALIVE! No wonder she finds reasons to spend time there!
Funk and retro :)
Copyright 2008 Maren E. Morgan
For Papa and Mama, a little something
- Celebrating CATS
Very unique items!