Pennsylvania is a stunning state. Rolling mountains, clear lakes, emerald-green hills – it all blends into a picture-perfect setting. Altoona is located in the heart of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. While not as well-known as its neighbor to the west, Altoona is a fantastic city surrounded by natural beauty.
And while it is beautiful, it is also busy – Altoona is Pennsylvania’s 10th-largest city and is home to about 127,000 people. An additional 100,000 people live in the surrounding suburban communities. Altoona began as a hub of the railroad industry, but today its economy is diverse and includes healthcare and retail – this is a major shopping destination for the entire region. Find an Altoona apartment to rent and enjoy this active city surrounded by a gorgeous landscape.
Things to Do in Altoona:
In 1849, the Pennsylvania Railroad built a repair facility that contained a blacksmith shop, a locomotive repair shop, and a machine shop. The area of central Pennsylvania chosen for this shop, Altoona, soon experienced a period of rapid growth that centered on the railroad.
Horseshoe Curve, a National Historic Landmark, was completed in 1854. It is still one of the world’s busiest mainlines. Located at the base of the Allegheny Mountains, the curve is 2,375 feet long with a 9-degree curve. The Railroaders Memorial Museum is located at the base of the curve and features a stairway to an observation park. If you don’t want to walk, you can ride the incline plane. The “Funicular” leads from the visitor’s center up to the train tracks.
Altoona’s outdoor recreation opportunities include 30 parks and the 16-mile Rails to Trails path – perfect for horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, and cross-country skiing. The city maintains two public pools, several ball parks, and golf courses, as well.
Blue Knob State Park covers 6,128 acres and offers activities such as mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, swimming, downhill and cross-country skiing, backpacking, snowmobiling, and camping. This park is also the site of the annual Mountain Vista Bluegrass Festival, an event that takes place in June and features music, food, camping, classic cars, and more.
Altoona is home to the country’s eighth-oldest amusement park – Lakemont Park. Lakemont Park opened in 1894 as a trolley park. One of its major attractions is the world’s oldest roller coaster, Leap-the-Dips. This roller coaster is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been operating since 1902. Lakemont Park also contains the Island Waterpark, which features water slides, swimming pools, and child-friendly water playgrounds.
Historic downtown Altoona has several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Penn Alto Building, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, City Hall, and the Mishler Theatre. Downtown Altoona is home to several shops and restaurants. It is also home to Penn State Altoona, giving the downtown area a hip, trendy vibe with boutiques, bike paths, and theaters – many of which cater to the large student population.
What to Consider When Moving to Altoona:
Before the railroads came to Altoona it was sparsely populated. The area was the site of Alleghany Furnace, and in 1836, the new furnace owner, Elias Baker, built his mansion. The Baker Mansion was completed in 1849 and today is a National Historic Site and a popular museum. Baker Mansion is located in the Mansion Park neighborhood, which also contains Mansion Park Stadium – a 10,000-seat stadium that belongs to the Altoona Area School District and is considered one of the state’s finest athletic complexes.
Other neighborhoods in Altoona include Downtown, Center City, Dutch Hill, East End, 5th Ward, Pleasant Valley, and Highland Park. The Knickerbocker Historic District contains historic rowhouses – about 153 of them –built between 1903 and 1930. This is a beautiful neighborhood, characterized by bay windows, decorative parapets, and porch posts.
Why Altoona Apartments Are Hot:
You’ll get all of the beauty – and the outdoor adventures that go along with it – when you rent in Altoona. But you also get a thriving city that serves as the major retail hub for the region. The Convention Center Commons, a new shopping plaza constructed in 2014, features a 12-screen movie theater with stadium-style seating, a 26,000-square-foot office building, a four-story hotel, restaurants, and shops. Other shopping destinations include the Logan Valley Mall, Downtown Altoona, the 17th Street Corridor, and Logan Town Centre.
When you aren’t shopping you can enjoy the Allegheny Mountains. Altoona is at the base of Brush Mountain, and activities residents enjoy include hiking, backpacking, skiing, and camping. Altoona is home to dozens of parks, from small pocket parks to large fields to historical parks. Ready to call this terrific city home? Find your apartment in Altoona!
Watching the Altoona Curve minor league baseball team play at the impressive Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Riding the world’s oldest roller coaster, Leap-the-Dips, at Lakemont Park, one of the nation’s oldest amusement parks.
Attending Penn State Altoona, the third largest campus in the state university system.
Shopping the popular Logan Valley Mall, home to more than 120 stores.
Altoona’s extensive park system includes John Robertson Walking Park, Mansion Park, Prospect Park, and Gospel Hill Park.
The Downtown Altoona Historic District contains over 240 historic buildings, including the charming Mishler Theatre.