With a population of just over 46,000, Altoona, PA is nestled deep in the Alleghany Mountains. It is located about halfway between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Because it was built around the railroad, Altoona suffered a small industrial decline. However, the city is building, renovating, and shining with culture as it brings Altoona back to the Pennsylvania economy. Visitors to the area can take in historical sites, a rich heritage of cuisine, and entertaining shows.
1. Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark
Horseshoe Curve was designated a national historic landmark in 1966. Since its designation, it has become a point of interest in Altoona. Today, over 50 freight trains still pass through this curve daily. At 2,375 feet in length, Horseshoe Curve is a marvel that allowed travelers and freight to move through the Alleghany Mountains.
Today’s guests can enter the visitor’s center for more information on Horseshoe Curve’s construction and history, as well as purchase souvenirs. The “Funicular” and a nature walk take guests up to the top of the curve, where they can watch one of the daily trains pass by.
2400 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Altoona, PA 16601, 814-941-7743
2. Railroaders Memorial Museum
© Railroaders Memorial Museum
Guests can connect their trip by visiting Horseshoe Curve and then the Railroaders Memorial Museum. The American Railroad is considered one of the great contributions of the industrial revolution and employed thousands of workers in Altoona alone.
Housing three floors of exhibits, the museum has exhibits that look at life on the railroad, traveling by train, how to run the railroads, and a special look at how Nazi saboteurs targeted the Altoona railroad area. Guests look at past ethnic neighborhoods and how all ethnicities came together to work and live the railroad life. A special exhibit about railroad worker’s wives showcases how hard the women worked at home.
1300 Ninth Avenue, Altoona, PA 16602, Phone: 814-946-0834
3. Peoples Natural Gas Field
© Danny Hooks/stock.adobe.com
Seating 7,210 people, Peoples Natural Gas Field was originally named the Blair County Ballpark. This baseball-only stadium is used today by the minor league baseball team the Altoona Curve. This park has been named one of the Best Views in the Minors because it overlooks the Allegheny Mountains and the “Skyliner” rollercoaster in nearby Lakemont Park. Attendees have a wide range of seating and expense choices, including Skybox seats, first base bleachers, and a picnic pavilion. Visitors that select one of the picnic areas will enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet without the hassle of bringing their own food or clean-up.
1000 Park Ave, Altoona, PA 16602, Phone: 877-992-8783
4. Lakemont Park
Around the corner from the Peoples Natural Gas Field, Lakemont Park has been pleasing visitors since 1894. Lakemont Park houses 30 attractions; three are roller coasters and three are water rides. The rest of the rides are popular attractions throughout amusement parks, like the swings, the Tilt-A-Whirl, and a Ferris wheel. For an extra fee, visitors can tackle the Go-Karts tracks, an inflatable bounce house, paddle boats and a miniature golf course. Living up to its name, Lakemont Park also has plenty of green space for visitors to relax in nature and walk trails as a family.
700 Park Avenue, Altoona, PA 16602, Phone: 814-949-7275
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5. Altoona Community Theatre
Altoona Community Theatre has a subscription listing of over 1,300. Since 1993, Altoona Community Theatre (ACT) has won several awards at state and regional competitions for outstanding acting, outstanding original script, stage managers’ award, and best production.
Over the years, ACT has performed musicals (Mamma Mia!, ), classic plays (My Fair Lady), classics (Romeo and Juliet), and children’s shows (Bunnicula). Between four and six shows are produced each season, so guests should plan accordingly. ACT also holds seminars for training and education. For those spending the summer in Altoona, ACT offers a children and teen’s summer program.
1213 12th Street, Altoona, PA 16603, Phone: 814-943-4357
6. Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
© Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA) is a sweeping museum that now encompasses five satellite locations. Along with traveling exhibits, the SAMA houses over 4,000 permanent works of art. The collections include painting, drawings, sculptures, and prints from local and international artists. SAMA houses art from some renowned artists, as well, such as Andy Warhol and Mary Cassatt.
Depending on when they visit, guests can attend one of the many annual fundraising and professional development events. These events combine food, wine, music, and art into a unique experience, such as during The Art of Wine and Fashion and Blue Monday.
1210 Eleventh Avenue Altoona, PA 16601, Phone: 814-945-4464
7. Blair Country Historical Society, Inc.
© Blair Country Historical Society, Inc.
The Blair County Historical Society looks at the significance of Altoona, PA throughout the past century. Highlighting the Baker’s Mansion is one way that the Blair County Historical Society shows the affluence of some of Altoona’s residents, like ironmaster Elias Baker who built the mansion in 1849 for $15,000, during its golden age.
The historical society also sponsors a WWII exhibit, showcasing the reach the war had in a quiet town like Altoona. Visitors can also learn about why Altoona was a Nazi target. Another point of interest may be the Baker Mansion Lecture Series, which is free attendance (though a donation is suggested).
3419 Oak Lane, Altoona, PA 16602, Phone: 814-942-3916
8. Quaint Corner Children’s Museum and Discovery Center
© Quaint Corner Children’s Museum and Discovery Center
For families with little ones, a stop at Quaint Corner Children’s Museum and Discovery Center can provide hours of entertainment and education for children. The Mission of Quaint Corner is to teach children through engaging play, allowing tactile memory to hold better than lecture might.
Built over four floors, each exhibit includes playtime and learning. From the third floor’s stuffed animal hospital to the basement’s climbing wall, children are engaged from the moment they step through the doors. Quaint Corner offers several special events throughout the year, including a visit from Santa and birthday parties.
2000 Union Avenue, Altoona, PA 16601, Phone: 814-944-6830
9. Finelli’s Italian Villa
© Finelli’s Italian Villa
Built from the ashes of the restaraunt Dutch Kitchen, Finell’s Italian Villa opened its doors in 1993. Since its opening, the family has remained the face of the restaurant, with the owners still acting as bartender, host, manager, and chef. The menu combines old-world Italian cuisine with American fine dining featuring fish, veal, beef, and chicken dishes.
Along with soups and salad, appetizers are abundant. Some appetizers include drunken mushrooms, Grandma Gallo meat and cheese board, steamed mussels, and artichoke hearts cooked in garlic, wine, parmesan cheese, lemon, and butter. Enjoy a glass or bottle of wine with your meal.
1808 4th Avenue, Altoona, PA 16602, Phone: 814-943-8510
10. Mama Randazzo’s Pizzeria and Restaurant
© Mama Randazzo’s Pizzeria and Restaurant
This restaurant was founded by a first-generation of two immigrants from different provinces in Italy. Mama Randazzo’s combines authentic Sicilian cuisine with American pizzeria specialties. Hot and cold subs, French fries, burgers, and wings round out normal American fare, while the Italian menu includes fresh pasta dishes, pizza, Stromboli, and calzones.
Mama Randazzo is dedicated to keeping their ingredients fresh. Cheese is sliced and shredded in-house daily. All sauces are made with olive oil, fresh plum tomatoes, and basil. Fresh coffee beans also are ground daily to provide fresh espresso, cappuccino, and lattes. Patrons can order online, on-site, or by phone.
1600 Broadway, Altoona, PA 16601, Phone: 814-943-9011
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11. Eat’n Park
Eat’n Park restaurants are a chain that was established in 1949. Offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, they aim to offer healthy and fresh food every day. In 2018, Eant’n Park spent $20 million on locally sourced ingredients through the FarmSource program. Each day, vegetables and fruit are cut for meals and the endless fruit & salad bar.
Whether customers visit for breakfast and partake in their bananas foster French toast or a breakfast combo (called a smile), or they prefer to have a freshly hand-breaded fish filet for dinner, there are numerous menu options available.
137 Bowling Lane, Altoona, PA 16601, Phone: 814-943-4070
12. Fort Roberdeau
© Fort Roberdeau
Fort Roberdeau shares the story of Pennsylvania's Frontier during the time of the American Revolution. Built as support for smelting and mining operations in one of North America's most dangerous places in 1778, the 230-acre site today features the reconstructed fort, smelter, a reconstructed stockade, and other fort buildings. There is also a nineteenth-century barn and farmhouse, White Oak Hall, museum shop, geocaching, picnic tables, and hiking trails at Fort Roberdeau. The fort is typically open from the beginning of May through the end of October. Visitors can join a guided tour of the grounds from the gift shop.
383 Fort Roberdeau Rd, Altoona, PA 16601, 814-946-0048
13. Holiday Bowl
© Holiday Bowl
Holiday Bowl first opened to the Altoona community in 1959 and has since been committed to providing a place for a fun and memorable time for everyone. The independently owned bowling facility provides forty Brunswick Lanes and scoring, bumper bowling, a Pro Shop, and bowling leagues. Holiday Bowl offers an array of weekly promotions and opportunities for corporate and birthday parties as well. There's also Strike Zone Sports Bar and Grille that serves a variety of sandwiches, wings, burgers, and more. Guests can watch their favorite sports teams, from NFL to NASCAR, on one of the many flat screen televisions.
181 Bowling Ln, Altoona, PA 16601, 814-944-1677
14. Galactic Ice
© Galactic Ice
Providing the city of Altoona and the greater Blair County area with its first ice rink, Galactic Ice opened its doors in June of 2000. Along with public skating times that are offered on a daily basis, the facility features party rooms and a large lobby and hosts corporate events, private parties, birthday parties, and more. The Altoona Area Youth Ice Hockey Association also calls Galactic Ice home, along with multiple high school hockey programs, thanks to its NHL regulation ice sheet. In addition to hockey, the facility offers curling, figure skating, and Learn to Skate programs.
750 Park Ave, Altoona, PA 16602, 814-942-7500
15. Escape Rooms Altoona
Home to some of the industry’s most immersive and accessible escape games, Escape Rooms Altoona offers fun and challenging escape room adventures for all types of groups. The experiences here are focused on meeting the needs of guests to ensure everyone is able to “get in on the escape room action.” Escape Rooms Altoona dedicates more than 600 hours to every game design to make their escape games unforgettable and uses custom sets and props. One such custom designed escape room is “The Island,” in which players find themselves involved in a ship captain’s twisted plan to find buried treasure.
505 E 25th Ave, Altoona, PA 16601
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