25 Best Things to Do in Altoona, PA

Altoona, PA
Photo by Todd Trapani on Unsplash

Located on the magnificent Allegheny Mountain Range, the enchanting city of Altoona is a perfect holiday destination.

It’s known for its rich history and incredible natural beauty.

Explore the historic railroads, impressive museums, and great amusement parks.

Altoona’s parks provide countless opportunities for a broad array of outdoor recreation, such as hiking, swimming, kayaking, camping, camping, wildlife viewing, train watching, ice skating, disc golf, and plenty more.

You can enjoy nature in Altoona while living in the city.

It features majestic mountains, mesmerizing lakes, diverse wildlife, and sprawling greenery.

Here’s an all-in-one list of the best things to do in Altoona, Pennsylvania:

Explore Fascinating Railway History at the Railroaders Memorial Museum

Exterior of the Railroaders Memorial Museum
David Brossard, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This museum is a prime attraction of Altoona.

Its three-story building dates back to the 19th century and was formerly Pennsylvania Railroad’s master mechanics building.

The numerous interactive railway-themed exhibits aim to highlight the contributions made by railroaders to the region’s transportation industry and infrastructure.

An old vehicle in Railroaders Memorial Museum
Ron Shawley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum’s displays feature multiple train cars, railway memorabilia, historical artifacts, and more.

You can find railroad cars being renovated at the roundhouse located on the premises.

The museum’s theater offers short movies that you can enjoy.

An old train in Railroaders Memorial Museum
Ron Shawley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Watch the Trains Go by at Horseshoe Curve

Horseshoe Curve
Michael Shanafelt / shutterstock.com

Constructed in the mid-19th century, this historic mountainside railroad curve attracts numerous train aficionados.

Over 50 trains travel this scenic route every day.

Take the funicular or the stairs to the hillside viewing area and watch several majestic trains pass by.

Historic landmark of Horseshoe Curve
JKish17 / Shutterstock.com

The site offers heavenly views of towering mountains, sprawling greenery, and a picturesque reservoir.

This is one of the top attractions of Altoona.

You can bring a nice picnic to enjoy here against the stunning backdrop.

Visit A Quaint Corner Children's Museum & Discovery Center

This is an amazing place to visit if you’re traveling with kids.

It offers a broad array of hands-on activities that aim to help children learn various skills while having fun.

They have a sandbox, playground, a pirate ship, an igloo, numerous soft toys, an animal hospital, costume room, science room, toy cars, a theater, and plenty more.

Spend a day here and have fun with your family.

Go on a Roller Coaster Ride at Leap the Dips

The entrance and tracks of Leap the Dips rollercoaster
David Brossard, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This historic roller coaster dates back to the early 20th century and is the world’s oldest functioning roller coaster.

Located in Lakemont Park, it is over a hundred years old.

The old mechanism of Leap the dips rollercoaster
David Brossard, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Even though it doesn’t offer the fastest speeds, it assures you a unique and exciting experience.

Visit Lakemont Park and enjoy a ride on this ancient wooden coaster.

Immerse Yourself in Art at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art

SAMA is an award-winning museum operating at multiple locations in Pennsylvania.

Its permanent collection features over 5,000 artistic works by various renowned national and international artists.

Its primary focus is on American art, and it hosts a multitude of exhibitions consistently throughout the year.

Visit the gallery located in Altoona and look at some thought-provoking art pieces.

The museum attracts over 80,000 art aficionados every year, and entry is absolutely free for all.

Travel Back in Time at the Baker Mansion History Museum

Constructed in the mid-19th century, this historic mansion was formerly home to the Baker family till 1914.

Currently, it is a museum that highlights the history of the family and the regional history of the county.

It features original furniture, home décor, china, books, paintings, a piano, and many more items belonging to the Baker family.

Elias Baker was an ironmaster who moved to Altoona in 1836 and built this home here in 1844.

Tour the mansion and learn about the fascinating lifestyle of the elite of this region in the past centuries.

Check Out Cool Vintage Cars at Lenny's Classic Car Collection

This museum displays numerous vintage cars including the 1935 Rolls Royce 20/25 Sedanca de Ville, 1950 Jaguar MK V, 1951 Bentley Mark VI, 1957 T-Bird with Birds-Nest, 1982 Aston Martin V8 Volante, and several more.

Tour the museum and check out this amazing collection of antique cars.

Have a Picnic at Valley View County Park

This is a picturesque park that features nature trails, dense foliage, beautiful green lawns, sports fields, a playground, a disc golf course, and picnic areas.

Enjoy a delicious picnic with friends and family against the scenic backdrops, hike on the verdant trails, indulge in a game of soccer or disc golf, and take a break from the monotonous daily routine.

This is a great place to spend a relaxing and fun day with your loved ones.

Owing to its scenic beauty and tranquil atmosphere, this also happens to be a well-known wedding location.

Have a Picnic at Valley View County Park

This is a picturesque park that features nature trails, dense foliage, beautiful green lawns, sports fields, a playground, a disc golf course, and picnic areas.

Enjoy a delicious picnic with friends and family against the scenic backdrops, hike on the verdant trails, indulge in a game of soccer or disc golf, and take a break from the monotonous daily routine.

This is a great place to spend a relaxing and fun day with your loved ones.

Owing to its scenic beauty and tranquil atmosphere, this also happens to be a well-known wedding location.

Get Tickets to a Game at Peoples Natural Gas Field

People watching a game in Peoples Natural Gas Field
Andrew Bossi, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1999, this baseball stadium is home to the Altoona Curve Minor League baseball team.

It can accommodate over 7,000 patrons during a game and is one of the most popular minor league baseball stadiums.

It also hosts high school baseball games and other events.

Get tickets and enjoy a great match here.

Enjoy Thrilling Amusement Rides at Lakemont Park

View of the Lakemont Park rides
David Brossard, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This popular park features amusement rides, playgrounds, a water park, beautiful lawns, volleyball fields, basketball courts, miniature golf courses, restaurants, and plenty more.

The amusement rides include multiple rollercoasters, go-karts, autos, train rides, and monster trucks.

Beat the heat at the waterpark’s pools.

Take a paddleboat ride in the lake.

Hike on walking trails and enjoy the views of the surrounding greenery.

Try your hand at miniature golf or enjoy a game of basketball.

Gorge on delicious food at the many restaurants here.

Have a Spooky Experience at Castle Halloween Museum

Pamela Apkarian-Russell is a collector of Halloween items.

She showcases her collection of close to 40,000 items at this museum located in a three-story 19th-century mansion in Altoona.

Her collection features wreaths made of human hair, games, candy jars, costumes, wigs, decorations, a Harry Potter-themed room, sculptures, a pinball machine, voodoo flags, artworks, and much more.

To tour the museum, you have to book an appointment and a maximum of six guests are allowed per tour.

Visit this place and learn interesting and lesser-known facts about Halloween from Pamela.

Visit the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

Aerial view of Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
Farragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This historic church dates back to the mid-19th century and is renowned for its grand architecture.

Its dome is at a height of nearly 200 feet and the interiors feature beautiful, multicolored glass windows.

Pay a visit to this cathedral and spend some peaceful moments here praying.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament exterior
Farragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Ice Skating at Galactic Ice

Galactic Ice is a popular ice-skating rink in Altoona.

They also provide various ice hockey programs and host numerous tournaments.

You can watch a game here or have fun skating on the ice.

This place is bound to give you a wonderful experience.

Get Some Treats at Boyer Candy Factory Outlet

Ready to pick up some old standard treats?

Want the finest in American candies?

Looking for a great place to locate the best candy ideas?

Be sure to visit the Boyer Candy Factory Outlet, as it is an excellent town known for its devotion to classic sweets.

Whether you’re in the market for exciting and innovative treats or you’re hankering for a little bit of nostalgia, Boyer Candy has got something you’re sure to love.

With American-made products that are always delicious and much-loved by candy lovers, Boyer Candy is an undeniably tasteful treat for everyone.

Indulge in any one of their selection of peanut butter cups, Smoothie cups, Mallo Cups, or other yummy gluten-free Boyer candies today.

Satisfy Your Pretzel Cravings at Benzel's Pretzels

Benzel's has been making pretzels with the same traditional recipe for over 100 years, and their loyal customers can taste the difference.

Founder Adolf Benzel and his family decided to switch from making a boxcar to making their signature pretzel products utilizing state-of-the-art processing and advanced technology.

Benzel loved his trade and honed his family’s secret recipe that turned out to be a hit!

This Pennsylvania-based bakery now supplies its signature treats to convenience stores all across the country.

It's a loyalty that stems from their commitment to quality, not just on their products but in every aspect of the business.

See Brilliant Live Performances at Altoona Community Theatre

Altoona Community Theatre exists as a nonprofit organization that provides some of the community's best plays, shows, and productions.

ACT takes pride in being the resident company of the historic Mishler Theater in downtown Altoona.

And it's proud to provide affordable yet professional entertainment to thousands of residents each year.

Everyone contributes what they're best at, from actors and directors to set design and even janitorial staff—all these roles are managed by dedicated volunteers.

Attendance for individual productions and this exceptional theater company ranges anywhere from 1,600 attendees for non-musicals to a whopping 3,000 people for musicals per show.

ACT has been performing a range of different plays from a variety of different time periods, whether it be Shakespearean classics or children's plays.

ACT also offers various talks and seminars on education topics as well as hosting summer camps during the warmer months.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Tour the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
Zack Frank / shutterstock.com

This historic railroad was the first railway in the Allegheny Mountain region.

Primarily a portage railway, it operated from the 19th century until 1854.

The railroad played a significant role in improving the connectivity of this region to various places in the nation.

Today, the site features the remains of the railroad, a historic tavern, a replica engine house, a stone bridge, a tunnel, and nature trails.

The Staple Bend Tunnel is the first railway tunnel in the USA.

Rails and a white shed at Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

The lemon house was a tavern during the 1800s and was frequented by railway passengers.

It underwent a restoration in order to accurately represent what it looked like during that period.

Visit the replica engine house to check out the various machinery, including a railway engine.

This is a prime tourist attraction in Altoona and is frequented by several train aficionados.

Exterior of the Lemon house at Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

Surround Yourself with Nature at Chimney Rocks Park

This is a hilltop park that offers gorgeous panoramic views of Hollidaysburg and Altoona.

It features nature trails, picnic areas, a playground, and towering trees.

Feast your eyes to the views of majestic mountains and vast spreading dense forests.

It is a perfect place to watch the sunrise or sunset and is a 20-minute drive from Altoona.

Enjoy Outdoor Recreational Activities at Canoe Creek State Park

Canoe Creek State Park
CMS Photography / shutterstock.com

Encompassing over 900 acres, this park features dense foliage, a large serene lake, hiking trails, a disc golf course, oil fields, and an abandoned 20th-century limekiln.

It provides access to a wide range of outdoor recreation, such as camping, fishing, swimming, kayaking, hiking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and several others.

Go hiking on the nature trails with towering trees, dive in for a swim in the lake, try your hand at fishing, enjoy a lovely picnic, and camp here at night.

You can spot waterfowls, bats, eagles, orioles, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, turkey, bluebirds, and more.

A wooden footpath at Canoe Creek State Park
Christina Marie Saymansky / Shutterstock.com

In the winter, this site is popular for ice skating, sledding, and skiing.

The snowy winter landscape of this park is a stunning visual to behold.

This place is a fantastic getaway from boring everyday life.

Explore the wilderness of the region here.

Beat the Heat at Laguna Splash Water Park

Laguna Splash Water Park is one of the best places for water adventures in summer.

It is an Italian-themed waterpark that features enormous water slides, a lazy river, multiple pools, including a wave pool, bucket dumps, and so much more.

Beat the summer heat and spend a relaxing and fun-filled day at this park with your family and friends.

It is a part of DelGrosso’s Amusement Park.

See the Canoe Creek Limestone Kilns

Canoe Creek Limestone Kilns
ECherry / shutterstock.com

This 20th century abandoned limekiln belonging to the Blair Limestone Company is located at Canoe Creek State Park.

The region is known for its abundance of limestone.

The two kilns that operated at the site of the park produced quicklime for supply to the iron and steel industry.

Explore the remains of the ancient kilns at the park.

Spend a Fun-Filled Day at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park

A carousel in DelGrosso’s Amusement Park
Ron Shawley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This popular park features a broad array of games and rides, such as free falls, dodgem, carousels, train rides, swings, yo-yo rides, boats, pendulum rides, and plenty more.

Enjoy exhilarating experiences at this park and spend quality time with your loved ones.

This is the best place to visit for family fun in this region and is a 14-minute drive from Altoona.

A part of a rollercoaster at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park
Jeremy Thompson on Flickr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve gotten some insight into the city of Altoona, you probably understand what a great travel destination this is.

Besides the museums and theaters, there are many other things to do in Altoona throughout all seasons.

As a matter of fact, no doubt you'll enjoy these Altoona attractions even more than some of the more typical destinations.

So don’t forget to reference this list if you're planning a trip here!

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