If you’re looking for the best things to do near Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA, you’re in luck. There are many great things to do within a short drive of the university that are sure to keep you busy for a long time. Here are our top picks for the best things to do near campus.
The Horseshoe Curve might just look like a train track, but it’s actually one of the most important pieces of engineering history in the region. It was the building of this curve that allowed for the railroad to reach Pittsburgh and helped to open up western Pennsylvania and the frontier beyond to development.
In addition to its history, this is also a fantastic place to watch trains, including the twice-daily Amtrak train that passes through the curve.
Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art is a community art museum that has five locations in southwestern Pennsylvania. Their main museum is located on the campus of Saint Francis University and offers the chance to see fantastic art representing many different styles.
The museum features many rotating exhibits which are pulled from their permanent collection, national collections, and even student works.
Located 35 minutes west of campus is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in western PA: Buttermilk Falls. This beautiful 40-foot waterfall is easy to reach and features a path that allows you to go behind the veil of the falls.
Even more interesting, the grandfather of TV’s Mister Rogers used to own this property, and a young Fred would often sit and enjoy the beauty of the area.
Ghost Town Trail
The Ghost Town Trail is a 36-mile rail trail in Cambria and Indiana Counties. This flat trail follows along an old railroad route, offering access to some of the most beautiful spots in the Alleghenies.
This trail’s eastern terminus is in Ebensburg, and it is perfect for both bike riding and walking. Along the path, you’ll pass the historic Eliza Furnace, cross several bridges, and enjoy the beauty of some of the most isolated parts of the Alleghenies.
Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
Just like the aforementioned Horseshoe Curve, the Allegheny Portage Railroad was one of the most amazing transportation achievements in American history. Prior to its creation, a trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh could take weeks. However, the portage railroad, which carried canal boats up and over the mountains using a combination of inclined planes and railroads, cut this time down to a few days.
Visitors to this historic spot can tour the museum and visit the site of these inclined planes to learn more about this amazing piece of engineering history.
Prince Gallitzin State Park
Located to the north of Saint Francis University is Price Gallitzin State Park. This 6,000-acre park features a large lake, as well as miles of hiking and mountain biking trails.
The park is named for Prince Demetrius Gallitzin who founded the town of Loretto and is a popular outdoor destination for the region. During the summer, the park is popular for its beach, and during the winter, people visit to go sledding, ice fishing, and snowmobiling.
Johnstown Flood National Memorial
The Johnstown Flood of 1889 was one of the most devastating disasters in Pennsylvania history, and the Johnstown Flood National Memorial tells the story of this event and the lives lost.
The memorial is centered around the former grounds of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. Visitors can tour the museum and see the remnants of the broken dam that caused the flood. A fascinating bus tour takes you around the former lake and into some of the buildings owned by the club and its members.
Chimney Rocks Park
Located in Hollidaysburg to the south of Loretto, Chimney Rocks Park offers great hiking opportunities and fantastic views of the town and the Allegheny Mountains.
The first viewing area is located a short walk from the parking area, and a trail through the park leads to several other vistas and the famous Chimney Rocks that can be seen from town.
Mount Assisi Gardens
Located in Loretto adjacent to the university, Mount Assisi Gardens is one of the region’s most beautiful spots. The gardens surround the Mount Assisi Friary and the Charles M. Schwab Estate and offer a peaceful respite from campus.
The grounds include several different gardens, beautiful fountains, a waterfall, and many interesting statues.
Altoona Curve game
If you find yourself in Loretto during the summer months, take a drive to Altoona to see the Double-A Altoona Curve play baseball. An affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Curve play their home games at Peoples Natural Gas Park on the outskirts of town.
This stadium is beautiful and offers fantastic views of the on-the-field action. It is also unique because there is a rollercoaster behind the right-field fence that can often be seen running during the game.
Do you have a favorite thing to do near Saint Francis University that we missed? Let us know in the comments section below.