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Some things to do if you want to avoid going into Philadelphia on pope weekend

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STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN 
bbingaman@thereporteronline.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

With Pope Francis visiting the region, on Sept. 26 and 27 some people might be looking for activities outside the Philadelphia city limits, when the population might swell to uncomfortable numbers. Here’s a sampling of some events and venues to check out:
•It is possible to keep the moment holy without enduring potential traffic and transit gridlock. The Diocese of Allentown is presenting a free Papal Mass Viewing Sept. 27 at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem. There will be an outdoor Mass at noon, followed by a variety of food and family activities all afternoon, leading up to a showing of Pope Francis’ Papal Mass for the World Meeting of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, scheduled for 4 p.m. that day. Pope Francis’ Mass will be shown on the Levitt Pavilion large outdoor screen. Look for updates at www.steelstacks.org.
Other events happening on the SteelStacks/ArtsQuest campus that weekend include “Rise and Fall of Bethlehem Steel” tours, an improv show with The Associated Mess, live music by Single Girl, Married Girl; and Erin Lee and the Up Past Bedtime Band; a family-friendly 5K to help people with retinal degenerative diseases; and more. Check the website for a full schedule.
•Also on the former Bethlehem Steel site is the Sands Casino Bethlehem, which has two Emeril restaurants among its dining options, a Sept. 26 concert with Joe Walsh, an opportunity to volunteer to build hygiene kits for those in need on Sept. 26 (a “Clean the World” initiative in conjunction with the other Sands casinos) and more. Check out www.pasands.com.
•Also, get an bird’s-eye view of the towering blast furnaces, Gas Blowing Engine House and other iconic Bethlehem Steel structures, along with the inside story of the steelmaking process, during the new Hoover Mason Trestle tours being offered at SteelStacks by Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites starting Sept. 24. Tickets for the tours check steelstacks.org or call (610) 332-3378.
•There will be no shortage of closed off streets in Philadelphia during the pope’s visit. However you can meditate on the freedom of driving wherever you want at the America on Wheels Museum, 5 N. Front St., Allentown. One of the newer exhibits is “Look Who’s Truckin’ In — Unique 1920-1980 Pickup Trucks.” Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $10, $7 for seniors 62+, $5 for students 6-16, free to children 5 and under and to all children 12 and under on Sundays. Call (610) 432-4200 or check out www.americaonwheels.org.
There’s also a noteworthy collection at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles, 85 S. Walnut St., Boyertown. The museum will host a grand opening of the restored Jeremiah Sweinhart Carriage Factory from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19. The business first opened in 1872 as a builder of all types of horse-drawn vehicles, including carriages, sleighs, and wagons. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Admission is $6, $5 for seniors and AAA members, $4 for students, free to children under 6.
•You don’t have to be in the City of Philadelphia to experience compelling art. Current exhibitions at the Allentown Art Museum, 31 N. Fifth St., Allentown, are “Jeffrey Becom: Colors of India,” “A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America,” “Above Zero: Photographs from the Polar Regions by Sam Krisch” and “Woven Welcome.” Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; till 8 p.m. Thursdays; and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call (610) 432-4333.
Currently showing at The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College is “Aftermath: Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz.” The exhibit continues through Dec. 23. The museum is in the college campus at 601 E. Main St., Collegeville. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free. Call (610) 409-3500 or visit www.ursinus.edu/berman.
•The Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford at 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road houses rotating exhibitions and a collection of 19th and 20th century American art — including galleries dedicated to N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth — in a renovated mill that overlooks the Brandywine River. Now on view is
There are also opportunities to tour N.C. Wyeth’s house and studio, Andrew Wyeth’s studio and the Kuerner Farm, which frequently appeared in Andrew Wyeth’s paintings. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The Andrew Wyeth Gallery will be closed Sept. 22-26. Admission is $15, $10 for seniors 65+, $6 for students and children 6-18, free to all from 9:30 a.m. to noon Sundays through Nov. 22. The site is also a focal point of the Brandywine Conservancy’s commitment to preservation of natural and scenic resources of the region. A Fall Bird Walk is scheduled for 8 a.m. Sept. 25. The latest on what’s happening at the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art is at www.brandywine.org.
•A hotbed for creativity is The GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, 201 Washington St., Reading. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, there are several artist exhibits on view; ceramics, glassblowing, jewelry making, photography and woodworking studios; and a movie theater. Now showing is the Philadelphia Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition through Oct. 25. For gallery hours and more information, call (610) 374-4600 or visit www.goggleworks.org.
•A place for children to think artistic thoughts is The Crayola Experience (formerly known as The Crayola Factory). Located at 30 Centre Square in downtown Easton, there’s four floors with 26 colorful, hands-on attractions. Hours vary, so you should call (610) 515-8000 or visit www.crayolaexperience.com/easton before you go. You can get discount tickets online at https://tickets.crayolaexperience.com/affiliate.asp?ID=81A3DE92-2F40-47BC-9BA5-0E04A4B75A34.
•Take a free tour between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. weekdays of where Martin Guitars are hand-crafted in Nazareth and get an engraved wood disc, made from where a Martin Guitar sound hole was cut, as a souvenir. The C.F. Martin Guitar Visitor Center, 510 Sycamore St., Nazareth, also has a memorable museum with free admission. It’s open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Call (610) 759-2837 or download a factory tour brochure at http://martinguitar.com/about-martin/visit-us/guided-factory-tour.html.
•The Reading Public Museum in West Reading at 500 Museum Road, has art, science and civilizations displays; a planetarium; a 25-acre arboretum and educational programs for adults and children. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, admission is $10, $6 for seniors 65+, children 4-17 and students. Get a look at all the offerings at www.readingpublicmuseum.org.
•Located near Cedar Crest College at 3145 Hamilton Boulevard Bypass, Allentown, The Da Vinci Science Center makes learning about science fun with “Animation Station,” the “Quakes and Shakes Seismometer,” art exhibits, “Innovation Square,” the GyroSphere, hands-on exhibits for pre-school children, a salt water aquarium, a Hurricane Simulator and more. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Call (484) 664-1002 or visit www.davincisciencecenter.org.
•Longwood Gardens’ “Autumn’s Colors” horticultural display includes a Garden Railway; goldenrod and native asters in the Meadow Garden, the new “Nightscape” attraction and more. Longwood is near the intersection of Routes 1 and 52, Kennett Township. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Tickets are $20, $17 for seniors 62+, $10 for students, free to children 4 and under. Check out what’s going on at www.longwoodgardens.org.
•The Museum of Indian Culture, 2825 Fish Hatchery Road, Allentown, is dedicated to presenting, preserving and perpetuating the history of the Lenape and other Northeastern Woodland Native American cultures. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Guided tours are $5, $4 for seniors and children 12-17. Call (610) 797-2121 or see www.museumofindianculture.org.
•Blue Mountain Resort’s Mountain Harvest Festival features seasonal food, beer, live music, games, rides, face painting, artisans and craft vendors, scenic lift rides, hay rides, a pie-eating contest, a coloring contest and more from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 25-27. Admission is free and dogs are welcome. Blue Mountain is at 1660 Blue Mountain Drive, near Palmerton.
•Bethlehem’s Celtic Classic and Highland Games & Festival runs 4 to 11 p.m. Sept. 25, 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 26 and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 27. Among the plethora of Celtic cultural activities: four stages of entertainment featuring international, national and regional artists; the Celtic Classic Invitational Pipe Band Competition; U.S. National Highland Athletic Championships; the “Showing of the Tartan” Parade; a haggis competition; whiskey tasting; the 17th annual Celtic Classic Fiddle Competition; a marketplace of Celtic crafts, merchandise and collectibles; and a Kids Craft Tent. Just like during Musikfest, you can either use one of the three downtown parking garages or hop the shuttle from the Martin Tower lot at 1170 Eighth Ave. Plan your day by visiting www.celticfest.org.
•Thanks to “Smithsonian Magazine,” many museums will be offering free admission on Sept. 26. To name just a few: The America on Wheels Museum; The Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles; The Reading Public Museum; The Brandywine River Museum of Art; The Allentown Art Museum; The National Canal Museum, 2750 Hugh Moore Park Road, Easton; The Liberty Bell Museum, 622 W. Hamilton St., Allentown; The Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University, 22 Luckenbill Road, Kutztown; The Daniel Boone Homestead, 400 Daniel Boone Road, Birdsboro; Historic Bethlehem’s 1810 Groundie House and 1750 Smithy; The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, 66 W. Church St., Bethlehem; The Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, 427 New St., Bethlehem; and The National Watch & Clock Museum, 514 Poplar St., Columbia. For the full list, go to www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday.
•The Zoellner Arts Center, 420 Packer Ave., Bethlehem, presents the Lehigh University Philharmonic performing an “Autumn Romantics” program featuring Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo & Juliet” Overture, Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony” and Beethoven’s “Violin Concerto” at 8 p.m. Sept. 25-26. For tickets, and information on other arts events, call (610) 758-2787.
Grammy-winning classical pianist Emanuel Ax joins the Allentown Symphony Orchestra for a program of Brahms, Berlioz and Stravinsky at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and 3 p.m. Sept. 27 at Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown. Tickets start at $20. Call (610) 432-6715.

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