Located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Alleghenies region, Altoona is a fantastic destination for travelers that love history and natural beauty. During my travels to the region, I’ve found many fantastic things to do in Altoona and the surrounding Blair County.
Here are a few of my favorite things to do in this part of Pennsylvania
Located west of downtown Altoona, the Horseshoe Curve is one of the most important spots in U.S. transportation history and one of the wonders of PA. That’s because the creation of the Horseshoe Curve allowed trains to cross the Allegheny Mountains, cutting travel time from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh from several days to less than 20 hours. This improved transportation spurred western development in the state and the country.
Today, the Horseshoe Curve is still used by freight trains, as well as one Amtrak train in each direction per day. Those wanting to see this site and learn more about its history and impact can visit the seasonal visitor center and viewing platform.
Chimney Rocks Park
Located in Hollidaysburg, the seat of Blair County, is Chimney Rocks Park. This park is home to unique chimney-like stone pillars and dramatic cliffs. From the edge of these cliffs, there are fantastic views of downtown Hollidaysburg.
Visitors to this park can take the short and easy walk to one of the overlooks, or they can tackle the somewhat challenging 0.7-mile hike to several other great viewpoints.
Baker Mansion is the home of the Blair County Historical Society Museum. If you want to learn about the history of the region, this is a must-visit destination.
Throughout the museum, both static and interactive displays are set up to showcase the history of Blair County, how its residents lived, and what effect the county and those living in it had on the region and the world.
Located in northern Blair County, DelGrosso’s Park is definitely one of the best things to do near Altoona, PA. This free-admission park allows visitors to pay as they go for the attractions they want to ride (an all-day pass is also available).
DelGrosso’s features many great rides and is a fun spot for the whole family during the summer season.
In addition to the amusement park, DelGrosso’s is also home to Laguna Splash, a waterpark that was completely revamped in recent years.
Railroaders Memorial Museum
Altoona used to be a hub of railroading activity, and the Railroaders Memorial Museum showcases the history of this industry in the region.
The museum covers everything from the formation of the railroad in the region to what life was like for locals that worked in the industry using a mix of artifacts and dioramas. There are also several historic railcars on site.
Canoe Creek State Park
Canoe Creek State Park is a beautiful spot in eastern Blair County. Nearly 1,000 acres in size, the park is dominated by Canoe Lake, a large man-made lake the is popular with boaters and fishermen.
The area around the park was once home to several limestone mines and kilns, and the remnants can still be seen today along the fantastic Limestone Trail. This trail passes by abandoned limestone kilns, through an old quarry, and near the edge of the lake.
Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
If you love art, don’t miss the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in downtown Altoona. This museum is one of five connected art museums scattered around the region and features some of the best local art, as well as art by renowned national and international artists.
Fort Roberdeau is a recreated fort from the Revolutionary War that’s located in a rural corner of Blair County. The fort was originally built to protect settlers on the frontier from attacks by the British army and their Native American supporters, though it never saw an attack.
The fort was dismantled centuries ago, but the rebuilt Fort Roberdeau offers a fantastic look into what life was like in the region during the mid-18th century.
If you love history, a drive out to the fort is one of the best things to do in Blair County, PA.
Canal Basin Park
Canal Basin Park is a small park in Hollidaysburg that offers both outdoor fun as well as a chance to learn more about the region’s history.
The park is located along a portion of the Pennsylvania canal and the Allegheny Portage Railroad. Visitors can see recreations of the locks that once existed here and signage that offers information about the canal’s impact on Hollidaysburg.
In addition to this history, the park is home to an amphitheater and a fun playground for kids designed to look like a canal boat.
Altoona Curve Baseball
The Altoona Curve are the Double-A affiliates of the Pittsburgh Pirates and play their home games at Altoona’s Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best minor league stadiums I’ve visited in the country and watching a game here is one of the most fun things to do in Altoona during the summertime.
Just beyond the stadium’s fence is one of the most unusual backdrops in all of baseball: a rollercoaster.
Lakemont Park sits directly next to Peoples Natural Gas Field, and it’s their rollercoaster that can be seen whizzing by from inside the stadium.
Lakemont Park has been closed for refurbishment but will be opening again in the summer of 2019 having been completely revamped. This park is most notable for Leap-the-Dips, the oldest still-running rollercoaster in the world, dating back to 1902.
The park is also home to a second rollercoaster, a waterpark, and more than a dozen other rides.
If you love chocolate, you won’t want to miss Gardners Candies in Tyrone. While they have multiple shops throughout central and western Pennsylvania, this is their flagship store, and it’s located only a short distance from the factory.
At the store, you can purchase a variety of both individual and pre-packaged chocolates for yourself or as a gift. Don’t miss their Peanut Butter Meltaways, which are some of my favorite chocolates I’ve had in PA.
Everett Railroad Company
The Everett Railroad Company is located in Hollidaysburg and offers train excursions near Altoona. Trains leave from a newly built depot in Hollidaysburg and travel through the beautiful Blair County countryside on their historic equipment.
While many excursion railroads in Pennsylvania use electric or diesel engines, Everett Railroad Company primarily uses a 1920 steam engine on most of its trips.
Do you have a favorite thing to do in Altoona or Blair County, PA, that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below.