Sunday, February 22, 2009

Where to Go, What to Know

Travel writer Ben Chapman drove to Berks County, Pa., this month to pay his respects to John Updike, the recently deceased author who grew up around Reading. His reporter's notebook:

Read his story here:
By Ben Chapman
Special to The Washington Post 
Sunday, February 22, 2009; Page P06


Reading is about 150 miles northeast of the Beltway, following Interstate 295 north, then I-695 and I-83. Amtrak offers service from Washington to Lancaster, Pa., about 30 miles from Reading.


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, theAbraham Lincoln (100 N. Fifth St., 610-372-3700, is the grande dame of Reading hospitality; doubles from $98 a night. The Rieser Inn (411 Main St., Leesport, Pa., 610-926-2788, is a quiet, rural bed-and-breakfast about 20 minutes outside Reading; doubles from $95 a night.


Have breakfast with the ghost of Updike the copy boy at Marvel Ranch (359 Penn St., 610-373-7141), right up the street from the Reading Eagle. The author's favorite scrambled eggs, potatoes, toast and coffee are just $3.10. For Reading's favorite hot wings and beer, visit the old reporters' hangout Jimmie Kramer's Peanut Bar and Restaurant (322 Penn St., 800-515-8500, The Ugly Oyster Drafthaus (21 S. Fifth St., 610-373-6791, was built in Yorkshire, England, disassembled, then reassembled in downtown Reading. It features fried oyster sandwiches ($6.95).


Attend "Remembering John Updike" on April 5 at the Reading Public Library (100 S. Fifth St., 610-655-6350,, a lecture by Updike scholar James Plath followed by a panel discussion; 2-4 p.m. Free, reservations required (call 610-655-6365). Visit the Reading Pagoda (98 Duryea Dr., 610-655-2584,, the city landmark atop Mount Penn, the "Mount Judge" to which Updike character Rabbit Angstrom ran after his daughter's funeral. The pagoda itself is closed for renovation until March, but the lookout is open. Visit the Reading Public Museum (500 Museum Rd., 610-371-5850,, where young Updike learned about culture; admission ages 18-60 $8 through March 8, $7 thereafter; seniors and ages 4-17 $6, and $5 after March 8. "Born to Be Wild -- Adventures in the Art of Motorcycle Design" exhibition runs through March 8.


Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-443-6610,

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