This post was made possible by the America on Wheels Museum who provided us with admission to the museum at no charge. We appreciate their support of Jersey Family Fun that allows us to share with families information about Lehigh Valley attractions we think families will enjoy.
Back when the kids were off for the NJEA Conference, we had a quick 24 hour trip to Lehigh Valley. Only 24 hours, because due to commitments and sports obligations that was all we could get away for, but we were determined to get away. We made the most of our family travel trip to the Lehigh Valley with stops at the American on Wheels Museum, Da Vinci Science Center, and the Crayola Experience. We’ll be telling you about all of them, but today we’re sharing details about the America on Wheels Museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Truth be told, I hadn’t even know the America on Wheels Museum existed until our friends from the Lehigh Valley tourism bureau told us about it. This is quite certainly a hidden Lehigh Valley treasure. It’s a bit off the normal travel roads but is very worth the little bit of extra effort to get there.
The America on Wheels Museum is 43,000 square feet with over 23,000 square feet of exhibit space divided into three main galleries and several smaller exhibits. With exhibits changing every 6 months and over 75 cars, trucks, motorcycles, & bikes to see there will always be something new with wheels to learn about.
Now, you might think a museum filled with vintage cars and relics would have a hands off policy when it comes to kids, but that was not the case. The America on Wheels Museum is very open to families and welcome to kids exploring. I’d say it’s a perfect side trip for your trip to the Lehigh Valley.
5 Reasons for families to love the America on Wheels Museum
- It was not overcrowded. Since America on Wheels is still relatively unknown we found it easy to take our time to explore. Plus since we went on a day when Pennsylvania students are in school, but New Jersey students aren’t we had the museum almost all to ourselves.
- Easy for maneuvering with strollers and wheelchairs. The areas between the exhibit are open and spacious. Parents and caregivers can easily push strollers around and up close to exhibits.
- Education at every exhibit. Each exhibit had easy to read signs and some even had flip up images to test kids on what they know.
- Hands on fun. There were plenty of things my kids could touch and do. You can see some examples below.
- So much to see and think about. Visiting the America on Wheels Museum we weren’t limited to just learning about cars on wheels, but we also learned about bikes, people movers, trucks, and some aircraft and vintage guitars.
My kids truly enjoyed the America on Wheels museum and with their help I’m sharing our favorite parts of it.
Our Favorite Wheels at the America on Wheels Museum
- The Vintage Fire Engine! Down the main corridor of the America on Wheels Museum we found the Vintage Fire Engine on loan to the museum. What an honor to be given very special permission to take our picture with this old time fire truck. My boys wanted to stay on all day and explore every nook and cranny of it.
From the America on Wheels museum, “This 1918 Mack AC was built as a dump truck to be shipped overseas for the WWI effort, but the war ended before it left the states. It was bought by the City of Baltimore and converted to use as a fire truck. It served until it was retired by the Hyde Park MD volunteer fire department in 1958.”
A large area of the first floor features different vehicles that play a special role in our community such as firetrucks, Mack trucks, a UPS truck, and more.
- 1920 Briggs & Stratton Flyer. We found this vehicle in the North Gallery area of the America on Wheels Museum. It’s been fully restored but there is also one in its original condition. I admit I don’t know much about the history of it, but I thought it was cute and unique. I could see my boys and I riding that around the neighborhood or even on the Jersey Shore boardwalks.
- UPS Truck. When you enter the South Gallery of the America on Wheels Museum you won’t be able to miss the UPS truck and your kids won’t be able to resist it or playing inside. The full bed of the truck is open for kids to learn about one of the ways we get our packages. Take this opportunity to get a cute picture of your kids trying to carry a stack of UPS boxes. I did. ;-)
- The Campers of yesterday. To the right of the UPS Truck in the South Gallery of the America on Wheels Museum are the campers of yesterday. What a difference to today’s big RV’s. It looks like this was a cute and cozy way to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
- The Mac Truck Simulator. In the South Gallery of the America on Wheels Museum first floor just a few steps away is the Mack Truck simulator. My kids learned how Mack Trucks use their specialty vehicles to help our communities. But I think what they loved more was pretending they were driving it down the open road. They spent quite a bit of time here. Moms, when your kids act the same enjoy the break with a rest on the nearby bench. Parents can test their knowledge of auto tools and their uses while kids listen to audio of actual Mack employees and truck drivers talk about their experiences.
- Mini-Indy Race Car. In another corridor area on the first floor of the America on Wheels Museum is the mini-Indy racecar. My kids took turns stepping inside and pretending they were taking it out on the track.
- Hydrogen Car. In the North Gallery area of the America on Wheels Museum is the hydrogen car. This gallery features vehicles from America’s “first” cars every made, an early electric car, and the first type of car to mass produced. It’s where my oldest discovered the hydrogen car and had fun filling it up with this natural gas. A larger hydrogen-fueled car is on display behind him. Kids can also investigate who actually built the first automobile, try to figure out just what the differences are between a car and a carriage, and even design their own car!
- Jukebox. In the gift shop area of the America on Wheels Museum is the old fashioned jukebox. Yes, not your typical wheel, but I have a soft spot for jukeboxes and 50’s music. This jukebox is located in the gift shop and plays music from different decades. Bring your nickels and play a song or two for a nickel each.
Ready to use your wheels to get to the America on Wheels Museum?
What you should know before you visit the America on Wheels Museum.
- America on Wheels Museum is located at 5 North Front Street, Allentown PA 18102. It is at the end of a very long street. Look for the tall gray building.
- America on Wheels Museum is open Tues – Sat 10 am – 5 pm | Sun Noon – 5 pm (except holidays). Last ticket sales at 4 pm | Closed Mondays
- All exhibits are wheelchair and stroller accessible.
- Regular America on Wheels Museum admission is $10. Seniors 62 and older are $7. Children 6-16 are $5. Children 5 & under FREE & 12 & under are FREE on Sundays.
- America on Wheels Museum has a large parking lot where parking is free.
- If your kids get hungry, the HubCap Cafe is a fully restored 1950’s soda fountain within the museum. They serve hot dogs, soft pretzels, chips, ice cream, floats, milkshakes, & more! The hours do vary so they are not always opened as was the case on our weekday visit.
- Click over to visit the official America on Wheels website.
View more of our America on Wheels Museum photos in our Facebook Gallery. With a preview below.
Click over to see the rest of our Family Travel to the Lehigh Valley series.
To arrange a feature on your location contact Jennifer Auer, Jersey Family Fun publisher.