15 Best Things to Do in Johnstown, PA

Johnstown, PA
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The city of Johnstown is part of Cambria County in Pennsylvania State.

It is a major city in Cambria County and part of the Johnstown Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Before being named Johnstown, Joseph Johns, a Swiss-German immigrant to the United States, laid up "Conemaugh Old Town" in 1800.

On January 12, 1831, the town became Conemaugh borough, but residents renamed it Johnstown on April 14, 1834.

From 1834 until 1854, the city served as an important port and transfer station on the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal.

The Allegheny Portage Railroad ferried canal boats over the mountains and refloated them at Johnstown, where they continued their journey to Pittsburgh and Ohio Valley by water.

Charles Dickens, perhaps the most renowned of the canal's passengers, briefly visited Johnstown in 1842.

The advent of the railroad in 1854 eliminated the need for canal transportation in the state.

Pennsylvania Railroad's main line passed through Johnstown, connecting it to Baltimore and Ohio.

The railway aided the city's expansion and facilitated large-scale mineral extraction in the region.

Despite the economic boom, residents encountered both destruction and opportunity for resilience during three big floods between the late 1800s and late 1970s.

Technological innovation emerged as a result of these catastrophes in the shape of a gigantic inclined aircraft.

After the downturn in steel and coal mining, new growth and development emerged in the shape of high-tech military and health care sectors, respectively.

You may think that Johnstown isn't as prominent as other U.S. cities when it comes to tourism, but don't be fooled.

Smaller yet picturesque Johnstown is an up-and-coming tourist hotspot.

This remote destination has a surprising number of attractions.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Johnstown, Pennsylvania:

Learn About the City's Catastrophic History in Johnstown Flood Museum

Outside View of Johnstown Flood Museum
David Brossard, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On May 31, 1889, more than 2,200 people died when a neglected dam collapsed during a mighty storm. It's a tale of sorrow but also one of victorious re-emergence.

To learn more about the incident, visit Johnstown Flood Museum, operated by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.

One of Johnstown's best-known historical attractions is the Johnstown Flood Museum,  located in the old Cambria Public Library.

Exhibitions and media highlight the flood's occurrence at the Johnstown Flood Museum, which opened in 2012.

This documentary plays at the Robert S. Waters Theater within the Museum. Relief maps using lights and sounds are among the displays.

You may also find debris from the deadly flood surrounding the map.

The Museum also features Oklahoma House, a makeshift structure that housed flood survivors.

Explore Frank & Sylvia Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center

The Heritage Discovery Center by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) houses permanent and changing exhibits, a social club, a café, and the Johnstown Children's Museum in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

It opened its doors to visitors in 2001.

Heritage Discovery Center tickets include admission to the Children's Museum and one visit to other Johnstown historical institutions.

Every time you visit the Heritage Discovery Center, you can expect something new and fascinating.

Try Greenhouse Park's Different Fun Activities

Greenhouse Park is located between Johnstown and Tire Hill along the Stonycreek River and has pavilions, a walking track, and a volleyball court.

Stonycreek Rendezvous and Thunder in the Valley events and Wing Blasts, concerts, and other community activities have all taken place in the park, located at 100 Greenhouse Road in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

In the Stonycreek River near the Greenhouse Park lies Pennsylvania's first artificial rapids, Whitewater Park.

In Class II water, novice paddlers may learn the fundamentals of whitewater paddling while more experienced boaters can have fun and hone their skills.

Sports like rafting and fishing are also quite popular.

Trek at Stackhouse Park

Powell Stackhouse, a Civil War veteran from Pennsylvania, was the inspiration behind the park's name.

On March 2, 1931, Powell's son, Daniel Stackhouse, donated the park to the city of Johnstown, which had been private property since the 1920s.

The majority of this land was a gift by Cambria Iron Company, renamed Bethlehem Steel, to the city.

Daniel's father had worked at the company from 1855 to 1927 and was President at the time.

This 277-acre park features a variety of activities.

Camping, cross-country skiing, and picnics are all permitted in this woodland park, with seven miles of hiking routes.

Watch a Baseball Game at Sargent's Stadium at the Point

Sargent's Stadium at the Point is the place to be for those who prefer a more intimate setting.

At 17,000 seats erected in 1926 for the Greater Johnstown High School football games, Sargent's Stadium has hosted the national championship of the All-American Amateur Baseball Association every year since it took completion.

Visitors may still see a football or baseball game in the stadium, the filming location of the 1980s film All the Right Moves.

The stadium underwent demolition in 2005 after several years of refurbishment.

It can currently accommodate up to 7,500 enthusiastic supporters every game.

Catch a Game of Hockey at Cambria County War Memorial Arena

Inside View of Cambria County War Memorial Arena
Ron Shawley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1950, Cambria County War Memorial Arena has been the home stadium for many sports teams over the years.

Once a hockey stadium, it is home to the Johnstown Tomahawks, the UPJ Icecats, the Laurel Mountain Hockey League, the Cambria County Student Hockey League, and the PA Interscholastic Hockey League.

Inside View of Cambria County War Memorial Arena
Ron Shawley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Arena also hosts comedians, live music, and family-friendly specials like Sesame Street Live!

In addition to hosting events people can attend, the Arena is also "The Home of Slap Shot," a hockey film based in the 1970s and now a cult classic.

Enjoy Local Music Festivals at Peoples Natural Gas Park

Peoples Natural Gas Park launched in 2012.

It features several amenities like the Community Foundation Oilhouse, an old industrial building refurbished as an indoor event center.

This two-level facility has a modest stage, 700-person bathrooms, a green room, a kitchen, and even an ATM.

The space holds roughly 560 people.

The inside now has acoustic panels, considerably increasing the sound quality.

On the park's grass are garage doors that lead into a concrete patio.

The pavilion opposite the Oilhouse and can accommodate up to 600 people.

The park's expansive lawn is walled, planted, and has pathways.

This area can be left open or used for stalls, portable toilets, and other activities.

The site's modest parking lot has disabled parking.

It also features the Stone Bridge, a memorial of the Johnstown flood in 1889, now adorned with bright, moving LED lights.

Marvel at the Architecture of the Wagner-Ritter House and Garden

In addition to organized group visits, the Wagner-Ritter House and Garden are available to the general public on Saturdays.

Museum houses that display architectural wonders or belong to renowned individuals are not as prevalent as those that show everyday life in the 19th century.

Along with genuine furnishings, historical papers, and outbuildings (such as a bakehouse and a privy), Johnstown Garden Club developed a historically realistic German elevated vegetable garden within the Museum.

This extension of Johnstown Discovery Network is a significant aspect of its history and should inspire you to explore historic sites in the city.

Go River Tubing With Coal Tubin'

The purpose of Coal Tubin' is to bring the leisure resources of Greater Johnstown to light.

Coal Tubin' is a method to showcase Johnstown's streams, trails, mountains, and lakes to the rest of the globe.

Entrepreneurs Jill Skowron-Gontkovic and Chad Gontkovic launched their firm in 2009 to provide low-cost amusement opportunities in a deserted industrial area.

"Redefining" the meaning of living and working in Johnstown, Coal Tubin' aims to offer an example of entertainment in the city.

Coal Tubin' Pennsylvania provides equipment rental and a variety of Stonycreek River tubing and whitewater rafting options for all ages.

You may also arrange guided tours of the area's wildness through the company.

Gaze at Magnificent Pieces at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art

The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art's mission is to conserve, exhibit, and develop the history of American art in the southwestern part of central Pennsylvania.

Dedicated to the establishment, preservation, and transmission of an archive, the Museum organizes exhibits to promote an appreciation of and respect for American art.

UPJ's Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center is home to the university's Johnstown gallery, which works with the institution to establish an exhibition schedule that enhances Johnstown's university experience and cultural environment.

Have a Romantic Date Night at Silver Drive-In

The Silver Drive-in is a single-screen drive-in movie theater in Johnston, Pennsylvania, that first opened its doors in 1950.

It attempts to recreate the nostalgic experience of watching retro drive-in movies for its visitors.

It has a capacity of 400 cars.

The drive-in cinema only opens for a limited period from roughly April to October.

The Silver Drive-in broadcasts the film audio over FM radio on station 88.3 FM.

Pets are permitted at the Silver Drive-in as long as they are on a leash and properly behaved.

In addition, the theater has a concession counter for the enjoyment of its patrons.

Visit the Grandview Cemetery

View of Grandview Cemetery
Raeann Davies / Shutterstock.com

Since its initial interment in 1887, the Grandview Cemetery has drawn tourists due to its natural beauty and eerie atmosphere.

The Great Flood of 1886, which claimed the lives of nearly 2,000 people and necessitated the construction of a new cemetery, happened precisely three years after the cemetery's opening in 1886.

On both the first and 100th anniversaries of the flood, Grandview gathered record numbers of mourners and historians, many of whom took an interest in the Unknown Plot, which contained the remains of those who perished in the flood but whose names remain unknown.

Grandview Cemetery is accessible year-round from 7:30 a.m. until it gets dark, and it's filled with stunning monuments, trees, and poignant burial inscriptions.

Practice Firing at Daisytown Sportsmen Club

In 1954, Daisytown & Cover Hill sportsmen decided to form a sportsmen's club for their area.

The first meetings were at Daisytown Fire Co. #18.

The Daisytown Sportsmen's Club was formed in July 1955 and purchased a property in Conemaugh Township. Over time, the club became interested in trap shooting and established two trap ranges.

The club now features two regulation/competition traps and a.22 silhouettes.

There's also an outdoor high-powered rifle and pistol/muzzleloader range.

Meanwhile, the new pistol range allows local law enforcement and military to complete weapons training.

The club has around 800 members and is accessible to the public.

The club policy now supports the community, gun sports of all kinds, promote firearm safety and teaches youngsters about hunting, shooting, and security.

Enjoy Different Indoor Entertainment at 814 Lanes & Games

At 814 Lanes & Games, bowling is the most popular activity.

Come and view the refurbished facility, which features new seating, lighting, and equipment.

You may join a team or just come in for a few games!

You and your friends will have a great time with our VIP Experience.

You may also play a round or two of Laser Tag with friends or adversaries in the 3000 square-foot Laser Tag arena!

The Arena can accommodate up to 24 players at a time, making this a popular feature.

If you're looking for the greatest multiplayer VR technology on the globe, look no further.

With up to four players, Hologate has a variety of competitive games.

All ages will have a good time because of the variety of game modes.

Catch a Movie at the Historic Westwood Plaza Theater

At first, this theater served as a 70mm roadshow venue, and its first screening was "Oliver."

The Broumas Theatre Circuit opened it, and it remained in their hands until they went bankrupt in 1967, when they sold it.

What makes this cinema memorable is where "Slap Shot," a 1977 hit, debuted.

Johnstown provided the backdrop for several of the film's most incredible hockey sequences.

Half a century after it opened, Fleegle Cinemas still handles the Westwood Plaza Theatre in Johnstown.

During the summer of 2009, a 23-year-old man acquired the Westwood Plaza Theatre.

Final Thoughts

Generally speaking, Johnstown is a lovely city where everyone knows one other.

If you want to learn how to deal with life's difficulties in the same way as Johnstown does, visit the city.

It's a great place with a fascinating past!