Located on the magnificent Allegheny mountain range, this enchanting city is a perfect holiday destination. It is 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, mesmerising lakes, diverse wildlife, and sprawling greenery. Here’s an all-in-one list of the best things to do in this city.
Explore fascinating railway history at Railroaders Memorial Museum
This museum is a prime attraction of Altoona. Its three storeyed 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. 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 in the premises. The museum’s theatre offers short movies that you can enjoy.
Enjoy watching trains at Horseshoe Curve
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. 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 sand box, playground, a pirate ship, an igloo, numerous soft toys, an animal hospital, costume room, science room, toy cars, a theatre, and plenty more. Spend a day here and have fun with your family.
Enjoy a roller coaster ride at Leap the Dips
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. 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.
Explore the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
This historic railroad was the first railway in the Allegheny mountain region. Primarily a portage railway, it operated during the 19th century till 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. The lemon house was a tavern during the 1800s and was frequented by the railway passengers. It underwent a restoration in order to accurately represent how 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.
Explore Art at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
SAMA is an award-winning museum operating at multiple locations in Pennsylvania. Its permanent collection features over 5000 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 pieces of art. The museum attracts over 80,000 art aficionados every year and entry is absolutely free for all.
Travel back in time at 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 the 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.
Outdoor recreation at Canoe Creek State Park
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 water fowls, bats, eagles, orioles, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, turkey, bluebirds, and more. In winters, 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 fantastic getaway from the boring everyday life. Explore the wilderness of the region here.
Check out cool vintage cars at Lenny's Classic Car Collection
This museum displays numerous vintage cars including the 1935 Rolls Royce 20/25 Sadanca D’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.
Picnicking 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.
Tour the Canoe Creek Limestone Kilns
A 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.
Beat the heat
Laguna Splash Water Park is one of the best places for water adventures in summers. It is an Italian theme waterpark that features enormous water slides, a lazy river, multiple pools including a wave pool, bucket dumps, and so much more. Beat the summer’s 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,
Spend a fun-filled day at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park
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 minutes’ drive from Altoona.
Fort Roberdeau Historic Site
The original fort dates back to the 18th century and was constructed to protect the regional lead mines from potential enemy attacks. Today, the site features a reconstructed fort, barns, farmhouse, barracks, army residential quarters, and more. Once every month, reenactors recreate incidents from the past that took place at this site. It is an amazing performance to watch. The site also features hiking trails and picnic areas. Learn about the history of the fort from the re-enactments, hike and explore the site, and bring along a nice picnic to relish.
Enjoy nature at Chimney Rocks Park
This is a hilltop park that offers gorgeous panaromic 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 minutes’ drive from Altoona.
Get tickets to a game at Peoples Natural Gas Field
Established in 1999, this baseball stadium is home to the Altoona Curve Minor League baseball team. It can accommodate over 7000 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.
Thrilling amusement rides at Lakemont Park
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-storeyed 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. You can contact them at 1-814-940-1031. Visit this place and learn interesting and lesser-known facts about Halloween from Pamela.
Visit Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
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, multicoloured glass windows. Pay a visit to this cathedral and spend some peaceful moments here praying.
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 in the ice. This place is bound to give you a wonderful experience.