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25 Free & Fun Things to Do in Altoona, PA

Explore Altoona, PA without breaking the bank! Our guide lists 25 free & fun activities, from historic sites to natural parks, perfect for travelers.

Tobi Miles
July 1, 2022
25 Free & Fun Things to Do in Altoona, PA

Get ready to explore the historic town of Altoona, Pennsylvania, also known as Railroad City. Altoona is packed with history and is most famously known for its important railroad system that was founded in the 1800s. Today, this Pennsylvania town has ten museums, four theaters, outlet shopping and so much more.

Explore the nature of Altoona by spending your day in one of the five nearby state parks. Then grab some delicious food, the options are endless with over one hundred restaurants. Still don’t know what to do in Altoona, PA? Keep reading as we break down the top 25 free and fun things to do in Railroad City.

Free Things to Do In Altoona, PA

1. Canoe Creek State Park

Credit: Karen&2mutts / Flickr

Enjoy the nine hundred-acre beautiful Pennsylvania state park of Canoe Creek. Located just twenty minutes outside of Altoona. You can go swimming in the 155-acre refreshing lake. Or, just simply lounge out in the sun on the sandy beach.

Want to hit the trails instead? Then you are in luck. There are twelve miles of hiking trails for you to take advantage of. Go bird watching, boating, or camp overnight. Make sure to grab a map at the visitor center when you arrive so you can pack in all of the fun activities this park has to offer.

Address: 205 Canoe Creek Road Hollidaysburg, PA 16648-9752

Phone Number: (814) 695-6807

Open Hours: Open daily- Sunrise to Sunset.


Cost: Free

2. Benzel Pretzel Outlet

Credit: jcsullivan24 / Flickr

An Altoona favorite is the Benzel Pretzel Outlet. Here you can purchase snacks or visit their gardens. This outlet store offers more than just pretzels too. Shop their potato chips, tortilla chips, popcorn, salsa, and famous dips.

After you fuel up, stop by their breathtaking gardens. You can even take a picture in front of the “authentic caboose”. On the way out, enjoy the mural of a massive train that showcases the Horseshoe Curve. Benzel Pretzel Outlet is a yummy and interesting place to visit.

Address: 5200 Sixth Avenue Altoona, PA 16602

Phone Number: (814) 942-5062

Open Hours: Tuesday - Friday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM & Saturday 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM


Cost: Free - (Except for all the snacks you buy!)

3. Chimney Rocks Park

Credit: Hollidaysburg, PA

Calling all nature lovers! Get ready to visit Chimney Rocks Park. Take advantage of the three stunning overlooks which gives you a view of the borough. Each overlook is accessed by trail, rated from easy to moderate.

The lower overlook is rated easy and can be down via a flat trail. The middle and upper overlooks are on a non-maintained dirt path and rated as moderate. If you don’t feel like doing a hike, you can take a stroll around the loop trail near the parking lot. This is a nicely paved path that also has a picnic pavilion. There is truly something for everyone and this small and beautiful park.

Address: 143 Clapper Lane, Hollidaysburg PA.

Phone Number: (814) 695-7543

Open Hours: Open Daily 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM


Cost: Free

4. Reighard's Gas Station

Credit: jcsullivan24 / Flickr

A quick and fun stop on your Altoona journey is visiting Reighard’s Gas Station. It is the oldest gas station in the United States dating back to 1909. The gas station has become famous for its history and was even featured in the Journal of Commercial Archeology and American Heritage magazine.

You can stop by Reighards to fill up your tank and grab some snacks. Don’t forget to snap a picture when visiting this old and historic station.

Address: 3205 6th Ave, Altoona, PA 16602

Phone Number: (814) 942-4100

Open Hours: Monday - Friday 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM; Saturday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM


Cost: Free

5. Cabbage Creek Falls

Credit: EricCindy Noel / Facebook

There is nothing more relaxing than listening to a cascading waterfall that is nestled in a remote forest. This is why Cabbage Creek Falls is a must-see when visiting Pennsylvania. Only forty minutes from Altoona, Cabbage Creek Falls makes a perfect day trip. The falls are located inside Shawnee State Park.

The hike to Cabbage Creek Falls is short and scenic. You will cross a wooden bridge that is surrounded by large trees. Then walk until you reach the base of the falls. Spend a few minutes taking in the relaxing sound of the hidden waterfall before escaping into the rest of Shawnee State Park.

Address:  132 State Park Rd, Schellsburg, PA 15559

Phone Number: (814) 733-4218

Open Hours: Open Daily - Sunrise to Sunset.


Cost:  Free

Related Read: 20 Best Waterfalls in Pennsylvania

6. Canal Basin Park

Credit: Hollidaysburg, PA

Canal Basin Park is located fifteen minutes south of downtown Altoona. The park has two amphitheaters, Anne Sloan Borland Performing Arts Pavilion and the Sylvia Schraff Amphitheater. The Altoona Arts Program offers different concerts, orchestras, and shows at the amphitheaters throughout the year.

Canal Basin Park provides walking and bicycles trails for you to enjoy. Kids can take advantage of the play park area too. The park is beautiful at sunset and offers reflecting views of the canal and surrounding forest.

Address: 101 Canal St, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648

Phone Number: (814) 696-4601

Open Hours: 6:00 AM - 6:00 PM


Cost: Free

7. Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

Credit: catholicsanctuaries / Flickr

Marvel at the beautiful architecture of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Which is the first church to be built in Altoona, back in 1849. It was primarily built to provide spiritual needs to the laborers helping to build the Pennsylvania Railroad.

If interested, you can attend a weekend mass when visiting or just simply stop by to look at the beautiful building. The churchgoers are very welcoming to all visitors and guests of Altoona.

Address: 1 Cathedral Square, Altoona, PA 16601

Phone Number: (814) 944-4603

Open Hours: Weekend Mass Schedule: Vigil, Saturday at 5:00 P.M.

Sunday Masses at 8:00 A.M., 10:00 A.M., and 5:00 P.M.


Cost: Free

8. Southern Allegheny Museum of Art

Credit: Trip Advisor

Visit the Southern Allegheny Museum of Art, also known as SAMA. There are five SAMA museums throughout western Pennsylvania, with Altoona being home to one of them. The museum is special because it was built in 1940 and was used as a cultural resource to promote local artists.

Some of the exhibits feature railroad photographers. There are also murals and paintings from other local artists. Check the event page before visiting as they do offer special programs and classes for visitors throughout the year.

Address: 1210 11th Ave, Altoona, PA 16601

Phone Number: (814) 946-4464

Open Hours: Closed on Monday & Tuesday. Wednesday-Sunday: 12:00 PM - 4:30 PM.


Cost: Free (Donations are encouraged)

9. Boyer Candy Factory Outlet

Credit: Jenni McDoelz / Flickr

Shop local and buy some homemade chocolates from Boyer Candy Factory Outlet. This family-owned company opened its doors in Altoona back in 1984. Since then, Boyer has been featured on QVC, the Food Network show "Unwrapped" and the Discovery Channel documentary "The Chocolate Wars".

You can visit the chocolate factory which sells Clark Cups, Mallo Cups, and more. It is a great place to stock up on your retro candy and to bring some Altoona souvenirs home with you.

Address: 821 17th Street Altoona, PA 16602

Phone Number: (814) 944-9401

Open Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 AM -6:00 PM; Sunday 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM


Cost: Free

Fun Things to Do In Altoona, PA

10. Lakemont Park

Credit: David Foster / Flickr

Are you ready for some fun? Then head over to Lakemont Amusement Park. Some of the attractions include roller coasters, go-karts, and paddle boats. On those hot summer days, you can soak up the sun at the waterpark.

Get a little competitive at their mini-golf courses and batting cages. Have a friendly volleyball game on one of their sandy courts. Lakemont Park is the place to go for a day of family fun and thrilling adventure, right in the heart of Altoona!

Address: 700 Park Avenue Altoona, PA 16602

Phone Number: (814) 949-PARK

Open Hours: Tuesday-Friday 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM; Saturday, Sunday & Monday - Closed


Cost: $19.99 for All Day Unlimited Ride Pass

Related Read: 16 Best Romantic Getaways in Pennsylvania

11. Peoples Natural Gas Field

Credit: jcsullivan24 / Flickr

Let’s watch some ball at the People’s Natural Gas Field. Altoona’s baseball-only stadium that seats 7,210 fans. The field is historic too and is considered to be one of the finest minor league baseball facilities in America.

You can catch a game at the field and watch The Altoona Curve, Altoonas’ Minor League Baseball team. Sit back and relax while snacking on a ballpark dog and ice-cold beverage.

Address: 1000 Park Ave Altoona, PA 16602

Phone Number: (817) 99-CURVE

Open Hours: Varies per game


Cost: Varies By Tickets

12. Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark

Credit: Billy Hager / Flickr

Did you know Altoona is home to a National Historic Landmark? The world-famous Horseshoe Bend draws visitors from all over.  This historic site is a 2,375 feet long three-track railroad curve on Norfolk Southern Railway's Pittsburgh Line.

It was famous in the 1800s for being one of the eight engineering marvels of the world. Today, you can visit the landmark in person. The site has a small museum, observation areas, and orientation films. Don’t forget to stop by their gift shop on your way out.

Address:  2400 Veterans Memorial Highway, Altoona, PA  16601

Phone Number: (814) 941-7743

Open Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM; Monday & Tuesday - Closed


Cost: Adult: $5, Youth: $3, Toddler: Free

13. Railroaders Memorial Museum

Credit: frankzappai / Flickr

Just six miles from Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark is the famous Railroaders Memorial Museum. Which is an enjoyable activity for all of the history lovers out there. In the 1800s, the canals of western Pennsylvania were used as modern transportation.

The Railroad Museum opened in 1980 and features the artifacts and life-size dioramas of railroad workers. Stop by and watch one of their orientation films which will teach you all about the railroad community and their lifestyles.

Address: 1200 Ninth Avenue, Altoona, PA  16602

Phone Number: (814) 946-0834

Open Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 10:00 AM-5:00 PM; Monday & Tuesday - Closed


Cost: Adult: $12, Youth: $9 & Toddler: Free

14. Tom and Joe's Restaurant

Credit: Tom and Joe's Restaurant / Facebook

In order to get the full Altoona experience, you have to grab a meal at Tom and Joe’s Restaurant.

Tom & Joe have been serving the area of Altoona, PA since 1933. Since then, the restaurant has been renovated and expanded, but it still keeps the local diner charm. They serve both breakfast and lunch with tons of delicious options. Some breakfast items include fresh omelets, mouth-watering french toast, and large breakfast specials. Stop by for lunch to try one of their hot sandwiches with gravy or sloppy joes. Tom and Joe’s Restaurant is not only popular with visitors but has become a staple in the town for locals as well.

Address: 1201 13th Ave. Altoona, PA 16601

Phone Number: (814) 943-3423

Open Hours: Monday - Friday 7:00 AM - 2:00 PM; Saturday 7:00 AM - 1:00 PM; Sunday 7:00 AM - 12:00 PM


Cost: $5-$15 per meal

15. Fort Roberdeau

Credit: jcsullivan24 / Flickr

Fort Roberdeau, also known as The Lead Mine Fort, is a historic fort located in Tyrone Township. This site features a reconstructed war for buildings and even a smelter. You can visit the grounds for a guided tour, which will allow you to enter the fort.

To take in the views of the fort from a distance, try out the hiking trails. Pack a lunch and have a picnic at the covered picnic pavilion. Visiting Fort Roberdeau is a fun daytime activity for families and solo visitors.

Address: 383 Fort Roberdeau Rd, Altoona, PA 16601

Phone Number: 814-946-0048

Open Hours: 2022 Open Season: May 1- October 31, 2022

Tours: Monday-Saturday - 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM; Sunday- 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM


Cost: Adults: $6, Seniors: $5 &Students (k-12): $4

16. Castle Halloween Museum

Credit: Bob Batz, Jr / Post-Gazette

Let’s get spooky at the Castle Halloween Museum. This unique museum has over 35,000 Halloween Artifacts that date back 250 years ago. You can take a guided tour through their collection of sculptures, games, and decorations.

They even have costumes from the 1890s! Don’t worry, you don’t have to wait until October to visit. The museum is available year-round and can be an interesting stop any time of the year when in Altoona. Be sure to make an appointment since that is required to tour the museum.

Address: 2028 Broad Ave, Altoona, PA 16601

Phone Number: (814) 940-1031

Open Hours: Daily 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


Cost: $10 per person, by appointment only

17. Galactic Ice

Credit: Galatic Ice / Facebook

Escape into your own winter wonderland at Galactic Ice, a top attraction in Altoona. This Altoona Ice Rink is open to the public year-round. Rent some ice skates and join the community for public skating.

Hockey players can also attend their stick and shoot sessions, which provides great practice for athletes. Be sure to check out their schedule on the website for special events and holiday celebrations.

Address: 750 Park Ave, Altoona, PA 16602

Phone Number: (814) 942-7500

Open Hours: Daily 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM


Cost: $7 To Skate & $3 for Skate Rental

18. Railroad City Brewing Company

Credit: Railroad City Brewing Company / Facebook

One of Altoona’s favorite local spots is Railroad City Brewing Company. It is a must-try for those that love local craft beer and delicious food. The brewery has a list of handcrafted rotating ales for you to try.

They also offer a pub menu of local bites for those who want to eat and not drink. Stop by for a happy hour to support a local business that is well known in Railroad City.

Address: 1415 11th Ave, Altoona, PA 16601

Phone Number: N/A

Open Hours: Wednesday-Thursday 3:00 PM-9:00 PM; Friday-Saturday 3:00 PM-10:00 PM


Cost: Varies

19. Baker Mansion History Museum

Credit: Blair County Historical Society

Bakers Mansion plays an important role in the history of Altoona.  Baker Mansion was originally home to ironmaster Elias Baker and his family. They purchased the nearby Alleghany Furnace in 1836. The mansion has since served as the Society’s headquarters and is now a community landmark.

Learn all about the Bakers and the iron-making life that they led. You can take a guided tour of the museum to learn about the family in more detail. The building itself is stunning and its pillars can be viewed right from the road.

Address:  3419 Oak Lane Altoona, PA 16602

Phone Number: 814-942-3916

Open Hours: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM


Cost:  $10 Adult & $5 Child

20. Quaint Corner Children's Discovery Center

Credit: Quaint Corner Children's Museum / Facebook

Experience hands-on activities at the Quaint Corner Children's Discovery Center. The center is perfect for families and children and offers three floors of exhibits. There are Physics, Drama, and Art Centers which include interactive science exhibits. The Discovery Center is a great place to keep the kids mentally stimulated while having a ton of fun at the same time.

Address: 2000 Union Avenue Altoona, PA 16601

Phone Number: (814) 944-6830

Open Hours: Tuesdays & Wednesdays 10:00 AM-2:00 PM; Thursdays 4:00 PM-7:00 PM.


Cost: Adults and Children: $5

21. Everett Railroad Company

Credit: The Everett Railroad Company / Facebook

You can’t visit Railroad City without getting on a train. Luckily Everett Railroad Company has got you covered. The company offers seasonal rides for visitors of all ages. The most popular is the one-hour train ride called The Valley Flyer.

This ride takes you round-trip behind Everett Railroad 2-6-0 Number 11 between Hollidaysburg and Brookes Mills.  The Ice Cream Special may be more your style. The ride includes a scoop of ice cream, which will be served at the depot in Roaring Spring. Check out their website to see which ride is best for you. A once-in-a-lifetime experience just a short drive from downtown Altoona.

Address: 244 Pullman Dr. Hollidaysburg, PA, 16648

Phone Number: 814-696-3877

Open Hours: Varies by Train Schedule


Cost: Varies By Train

22. DelGrosso’s Park & Laguna Splash

Credit: DelGrassos's Park / Facebook

Located fifteen minutes north of Altoona is a thrilling amusement and waterpark, Delgrosso’s Park. The park is only open seasonally from May to September, making it a summer hot spot. There are over thirty park rides for you to adventure on, including roller coasters.

When things heat up, try out one of the fifteen water park attractions for you to cool off. If thrill rides are not for you just simply relax at one of the cabanas near the splash pool. After you work up an appetite explore one of their five restaurants. Delgrosso's Park has something for everyone!

Address: 4352 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd  PO Box 335 Tipton, PA 16684

Phone Number: 814-684-3538

Open Hours: 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM Seasonally from May-September


Cost: May/Sep = $21.95 June/July/Aug = $31.95

Things to Do In Altoona, PA at Night

23. Grab A Slice Of Altoona-Style Pizza

Credit: The Original 29th Street Pizza Subs & More / Facebook

One of the most interesting things about Altoona is the pizza. The style is also known as Altoona Hotel Pizza or Altoona Sicilian Pizza. What makes it so different? The pizza is cooked on a thick Sicilian dough and then topped with green bell peppers and peppercorn salami.

Lastly, it is finished off with yellow American cheese resembling a Velvetta cheese. It is an odd yet delicious combination of flavors. There are a few places that offer this style including 29th St Pizza Subs & More. Stop by their location to grab a unique slice of Altoona-style pizza.

Address: 2900 5th Ave, Altoona, PA 16602

Phone Number: (814) 942-7130

Open Hours: Monday - Friday 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM


Cost: $2.00 per slice

24. The Mishler Theater

Credit: The Mishler Theater / Facebook

Spend your evening attending a show at the Mishler Theater. The theater first opened its door in 1906 and today showcases tons of different shows and concerts. Some current shows are Almost Queen, WAR, POPS in Space, and more.

There is also a family theater which is ideal for children. All of the shows are live and play out a children's story. Check the schedule on their website to secure your tickets during your visit to Altoona.

Address: 1212 12th Avenue Altoona, PA 16601

Phone Number: (814) 944-9434

Open Hours: Monday-Friday 10:00 AM-4:00 PM & one hour prior to a performance.


Cost: Varies per show

25. Frosty Cow Soft Serve

Credit: Frosty Cow Soft Serve / Facebook

Ending your day of adventures with ice cream should be mandatory. Luckily, Altoona has a lot of yummy Ice Cream options. One of the town's favorites is Frosty Cow Soft Serve. This gem has plenty of flavors for you to choose from. Including a chocolate-covered strawberry sundae and ice cream shakes.

Their soft serve options range from peach, peanut butter, banana, and even German cake. You can order your ice cream right from the walk-up window. A perfect way to end your day.

Address: 3424 6th Ave, Altoona, PA, United States, Pennsylvania

Phone Number: (814) 201-2229

Open Hours: 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM Daily


Cost: $2-$8

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
March 28, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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