Monday, December 14, 2015

A Review of Roadside America - What's Inside?

Somewhere in your travels between New Jersey and Pennsylvania (especially on your way to or from Hershey from Central or Western New Jersey) you might have noticed a little place by the side of the road, aptly named Roadside America.  Have you driven past there, wondering, what exactly is Roadside America?  Well, now you can find out!  Come with us as we visit Roadside America in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania!


Don't be fooled by the exterior of Roadside America! It's quite amazing inside, especially for train and miniature enthusiasts!


Where is Roadside America?

Roadside America is located on Roadside Drive (right off the highway) in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania.  We would often pass it on our way back from Hershey.

It is open year round and all indoors.  We happened to go on one of the ickiest days ever during the month of December.  So icky that I didn't even want to get out of the car to take this picture.

Roadside America...somewhere ahead!

How Much Will it Cost Me?

You have to appreciate the rates at Roadside America.  Seriously.  As of the publication date of this entry, children 5 and under are free.  Children 6-11 are $3.75 each, and for anyone 12 and older, it is $6.75 each.

What Will I See There?

Roadside America is billed as 'The World's Greatest Miniature Indoor Village.'  If you have been to Northlandz in Flemington, you will find some similarities.  The biggest being that the people at Roadside America were very friendly!  We had some issues with the staff at Northlandz, and you can read about that here.  Although old, Roadside is considerably cleaner and more well-kept than Northlandz.  Roadside America is also contained within one large room, whereas Northlandz is composed of many levels.

Inside Roadside America

When you enter Roadside America you are greeted by a large souvenir-type shop that sells all kinds of train and miniature goodies.  After you pay your admission you enter what is basically a large room that you can walk through to view the displays.  There are ramps that go up and down so you can see the display at different levels (handicapped accessible, too).

Roadside America is a patriotic place, too!

There are buttons you can push and murals painted on the wall, and it surprisingly takes longer than you think to walk through and see everything (we were there a little over an hour, but the Jersey Momma's boy tends to go through things pretty quickly).  The attention to detail is amazing.  The light up buildings were beautiful.

The attention to detail at Roadside America is amazing!
There are waterfalls and lots of moving trains, amongst other things.


And as you walk towards the back you'll notice some bleachers, and you'll think, 'What are these for?'

Hey, what are those bleacher seats for?

Well, lo and behold, day turns to night at Roadside America!  You'll be treated to a little 'sundown show' where the lights will dim and it will become night time right before your eyes!  There is also a nice little tribute to America during the show, too.

A pretty "evening sky" at Roadside America
This was our favorite part of the visit, and something Northlandz in Flemington definitely didn't have.

Is It Worth the Trip?

There are not many miniature displays like this around, so if you have a little train enthusiast in your house (or even if you don't- most kids still love it), it's worth stopping to see.  You can't beat the entrance price and it seems like a little piece of 'Americana' right there on the side of the road.

Things to Note

-Just like Northlandz, Roadside America is old.  It has been around since the 1950's, and the collection of miniatures started even way before that.  So when you visit, don't expect a shiny new facility filled with modern technology.  But I don't feel that it was rundown or unkept.  Just old.  But I like old, and my kid never even noticed that anyway.

-There are restrooms but they were old, too.  But no surprise there, eh?

-I thought the gift shop had some cool things- there was a lot to see and the prices of things varied  We bought an ornament and a train whistle and some other goodies.  I love souvenir shopping, much to my family's dismay!

-There is no place to eat here, nor would you want to, so don't think it's a place to stop and get a meal and see a show.  You'll have to fill your belly at one of the many restaurants along the highway.

-There is also a Dutch gift shop in the same lot as Roadside America, but we skipped that.  We did snap this shot of these lovely (Amish? Dutch? Both?) folk, though, on our way out.

Roadside America and its Dutch companions

Had it not been so rainy out we would have gotten out for a better funky photo op, I'm sure.  Or at least I would have.

As always, be sure to check their website for hours, current admission prices and other information.

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