My travels encompassed a Visit To Penn State (State College), as well as Centre Hall, Penn’s Cave, Boalsburg, Altoona, Tipton, and Huntingdon. Yes, I covered a lot of territory in only 3 days, but it was all fun!
We drove a lot, each attraction was in a different location. When we could walk like from the Lion’s Shrine to the Penn State Creamery we did. Things are well spread, and that makes this a great destination.
You don’t want to travel in a place where everyone is packed like sardines seeing the same stuff, do you? Therefore, car required! In our case, we drove a 2019 GMC Acadia, perfect for our trip.
For anyone that loves amusement parks, caves, great hiking destinations, visiting college campuses, and more, you definitely don’t want to miss my 15 Instagrammable Destinations from Altoona To State College. It’s time to travel, eat, adventure and repeat!
15 Instagrammable Destinations From Altoona To State College
It is not a long drive from Pittsburgh to The Penn State Campus, just about 3 hours so we left late morning and got there early afternoon. We were provided a great vehicle to test drive along the way from GMC and I can’t wait to share that as well.
What makes a place so Instagrammable is not only the iconic must-sees but also the architecture along the way and the views. I am one who will stop when I see a barn or church that I love and that is exactly what I did when we found this church after a hike.
Now it’s time to uncover the 15 Instagrammable destinations that I uncovered from Altoona To State College or Vice Versa!
1. Penn State All-Sports Museum Stadium Viewing and Museum
I actually had no idea what we were about to see. We pulled up and while we have passed Beaver Stadium endlessly as we head over to Pegula Ice Arena, we had never been in the stadium or the museum.
Today was a cool new experience. If you are here on a tourney for hockey or going to the campus for something other than this experience, make sure to stop. It can be a few hours or 15 minutes you choose!
Imagine yourself in a museum with so much sports history and it is ALL from Penn State. The most incredible people in sports from track to football and everything in between are hosted in what I like to call their own Penn State Hall of Fame.
Of course, I had to throw a few punches since I love boxing! You can actually punch the bag, it is not just for aesthetics. You will too when you visit.
Take as much time or as little as you like. Gravitate to the sports you love and read about those who excelled in the sport. It is almost hard to grasp how many wonderous athletically gifted students have walked before us and on the campus.
As a special treat to us, we got to go to the top and see outside and take in the view of the famed Beaver stadium, where PSU football puts rivalries to shame! It just happens to be Where Niko Travels favorite College team!
Niko had one of the best games of his hockey career to date here and it will forever more be his favorite arena. Of course, we stopped in and took a look around. Albeit no one was there it was nice to revisit and here Niko describe his game!
3. Nittany Lion Shrine
You simply can’t go to Penn State and not seek out the Nittany Lion Shrine. It’s kind of like a rite of passage and it is totally IG-Worthy moments. Lifesize and cool to see, and you won’t be the only people there!
Get up close and personal with the Nittany Lion Shrine and snap those pictures.
In case you don’t know where it is, just pop it into your Navigation system, here is the address: Curtin Road and, Burrowes Rd, State College, PA 16801. Our GMC ACADIA interfaced with our Apple CarPlay app and we found it easily!
4. Nittany Lion Inn
Before we left to take on a large hike, we made on another stop. I am in love with the outside architecture of the Nittany Lion Inn. While I have not yet stayed there, it is so pretty to look at. You gotta at least stop here and see it.
You can walk here if you don’t want to drive. If you drive, you can easily turn around in the wrap around driveway!
5. Hike of Mount Nittany to Mike Lynch Overlook
Pack up your car with water, hiking shoes, and a small backpack and don’t forget your camera. Now you are ready to hike Mount Nittany. You will cover uneven terrain and a pretty straight-up hike on a mountain.
You will climb and climb and climb, but I will tell you, the end game is the reason. There’s nothing quite like it, and it really is a piece of the Penn State Area. The views will force you to climb it every time you return.
Yes, there were times when I was like seriously, why am I climbing this mountain. No, I was not the only one saying that because there were people who actually just gave up halfway and turned around.
Sorry, not sorry, NO quitters here. We tamed the beast of a hike and I can tell you we earned our dinner calories. Once you are at the top, no matter the struggle, the breathlessness, the rugged terrain, you will be so happy.
Across the way, you see a totally different vantage point of Beaver Stadium. Totally worth the walk up and the walk down. I will also tell you that the walk down can be challenging because it is straight down, tons of gravel and many slippery spots.
My guess is that it took us about 45 minutes up and about 1/2 hour down or maybe less. Don’t forget I like to stop and take pictures too, even if it is the same photo over and over.
Parking is limited, but there is an overflow lot, slightly below the main area, where I took this photo. I was happy to just come down the mountain to our car and not have to hustle any further!
6. Penn State Creamery
It’s iconic and totally ig-worthy but best of all it is a FOODIE stop and must go! Where? The Penn State Creamery. This place is so busy no matter when we have gone, and it is so good. The portions are huge, and it is reasonable.
I got the Scoop, or should we say the motherload with sprinkles on a cone. The cone disappointed me, I wanted a real cone like a waffle. However, it was good all the same.
Yes, the Lemon Sorbet was good too. A cup is definitely the way to go because it is easier to eat and walk. Make sure you go, it’s craveable and I am sure you will need more than one trip to sample them all! We stop every time!
7. Hyatt Place
Our hotel was perfect as it was situated close to Penn State Campus. We walked to all the shops by night and the campus because we could. Further, we had covered, garage parking that just took a swipe of our hotel key card to get in and out of. Totally loved this feature.
Did I mention that right next door is a Target and a Starbucks? This is perfect because we forgot to bring along some fruit, so we ran into Target and grabbed some grapes to snack on and a can of chips for Niko! #TeenFood
When we pulled in to check in, there are 2 spots to leave your car. We parked and then walked up to the top of the steps in the main level to the guest relations desk. Here we picked up our key and checked into our room.
The room has a refrigerator, couch, 2 beds, a bathroom, but no safe. There was a coffee maker as well and if you belong to Hilton Worldwide your breakfast is included (we did and Yeah!). The breakfast offerings were plentiful and it let us break into our mornings slowly!
My personal thanks to Hyatt Place State College for hosting us! We truly appreciated the great amenities of the hotel!
8. Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park
Get in your car and go is all I can say. The beauty of the ride is part of the thrill. From Penn State to here was about 45 minutes and it as a fabulous morning drive. It was raining which took a bit of the fun out of it, but beautiful nonetheless.
From the moment we got there until the time we left, I was just in total love with the destination. Had it not been pouring down rain and if I would have had more time, I would have spent a few more hours here.
As soon as I got into the boat, I knew it was going to be the best ever, and honestly, it was just that. My eyes kept roving, my pang for adventure totally set in and we had a great guide! Tip them, you can and we did!
We went into a cave via a boat, gas driven and then exited the cave via this tiny little opening (you had to watch your head). The experience from start to finish was truly worth every penny. You ride in a boat, through the cave.
At times the guide will turn on some lights. You touch NOTHING in the cave as it is maintained and a very natural environment so it can continue to live. You are underground, and the pastures are above.
When you get to the end of the cave or what you think the end of the cave is, you actually exit it and head out into the wildlife preserve which you can see from the boat.
9. PA Military Museum
As a non-museum kind of person, this was the best surprise of the trip. I gotta tell you our tour was brief but informative. In fact, I think I learned more in 30 minutes about the war, than I did the whole time I was in High School.
What touched me the most were the outside monuments and grounds. The memorial for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team literally brought tears to my eyes. This honors those 82 marines, soldiers and sailors from the 2nd Brigade Combat team killed.
The ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ is where they lost their lives from June 2005-2006. The memorial stands, tall, constructed of both granite and steel. What is beautiful, but also so eerie are the sounds the dog tags hanging on the inside make. A deep sadness lives there, yet yields to both pride of service and remembrance.
10. Boal Mansion
For those looking for that hidden gem of an adventure with a side of history, consider it found. What a marvelous mansion and oh the historical antiquities on the inside.
While the mansion is being fashioned for tours more and more, it is already primed. In fact, this destination is part of the National Registrar of Historic Places.
There’s so much history inside the mansion, a timeline and a family story that the best way to take it all in is a tour. We were in a large group, of at least 20 people, touring room by room.
From antique furniture to lovely china, your eyes will rove the whole time. The stairwell in the front room is inviting and you will go up. Upon entry to the second level, you will see 2 bedrooms.
One is all the military items recovered right within the home. Conversely, the other bedroom is fashioned with Fashion items brought from France.
Those items include a Louis Vuitton storage footlocker, which our tour guide credited the Boal family for launching the career of Louis Vuitton. I am still questioning that particular theory but loved the footlocker.
11. Boalsburg Tavern
I don’t know if my pictures capture the beauty of the architecture and the area. I love this tavern’s face. Once you saunter into the interior you will see why I am in love with it even more. Really, the tavern has a personality.
Did I mention it also has a parking lot, as well as outdoor seating? If you park in the lot, look out for the roosters that are running around. That made my day!
Truly the feel of this tavern is the feel of the area. It’s quaint, cozy, with brick and stone-filled walls. There’s a lot of seating and I imagine it gets very busy here. It’s a stone’s throw to the Boals Mansion and the food is good!
If that does not make you excited, then you need to see my crab sandwich. Maybe that will convince you to stop. Make sure while you are here, you walk around a bit to see all the rooms. Each room has its own personality and decor.
Leaving Penn State And Going To Altoona.. But a Stop First
Our GMC Acadia
When I saw a church or building I liked I stopped. It does not matter to me, whether I know anything about it, just that I saw it. There were so many beautifully constructed, architecturally incredible places along the way, I simply ran out of time!
We left Penn State proper and drove 45 minutes to Huntingdon, PA. Today was a day of exploration, driving and amusement parks. Where Niko travels sits with me and helps me navigate to all of the places we have been going.
The WiFi let Niko stream while we drove. Since it was pretty much a straight shot, I did not need a copilot. I am thrilled with how easily the WiFi set up with our phones. We had a lot of road trip mom and son moments.
Our extra seats were easily accessible and we used them for tossing whatever we had in our hands when we got to the car. Since the seats are smart slide seats, they are very easy to maneuver. We were forever reconfiguring them to make the best use of our space.
You can see Niko in the cargo area resting after our walk up Mount Nittany. In fact, that space was our on-the-go changing area.
Favorite Compartment In The GMC Acadia
I love that the GMC Acadia had this secret, ingenious compartment. In fact, unless you have an Acadia you probably would never think to lift this up. Look at this. Perfect for shoes, phones, bottled water (so it won’t slide), etc.
Our GMC Acadia has really comfortable seats. You can see our front seat cupholders always had water in them and my trail of charging wires. As soon as I plugged my phone in, we were able to navigate with my CarPlay app and the large screen.
Niko was not feeling well on the trip, and the weather was not cooperating either. Niko actually used the seat warmers quite a few days to warm up. I’ll be honest. After a trip in the caves, when we came back into the car, the first thing I did was turn on the seat warmer too.
The GMC Acadia has such nice amenities in it and the seat heater was perfect to zap that chill out of our bones! Now, let’s go visit the caverns, shall we?
12 Lincoln Caverns
Don’t pass this attraction up. You will spend anywhere from 1/2 hour to 1 hour in the caves, depending on how slow or fast your group moves through. Bring a portable charger for your phone if you are using it for pictures.
I suggest wearing tennis shoes as well as a light jacket because it is definitely cooler down there and you might get a cave kiss when you least expect it!
You might think one cave experience was enough, but that is not quite the case. The trip we took the day before was inside a gas boat, which was a great experience. Today’s experience at the Lincoln Cavern is totally different.
Today, we are doing a walking tour of 2 caves. Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks are the 2 caves that we adventured through. At the most underground point, we will be at 120 Feet below Huntingdon, PA! Pretty darn cool. No, I did not see any bugs, spiders or anything of the like.
What I did see was a treasure trove of stalagmites, limestone, and dolomite. We climbed stairs, walked into little spaces and learned the story of how Whisper Rocks was discovered. I believe that the last part of the caving experience was the coolest. Not gonna share why just telling you that it was a lot of fun.
13. Baker Mansion
After leaving the caverns, we made a quick stop to Baker Mansion, not to tour it, but just to snap a photo. It is grandiose and almost hidden on a well-traveled street! It is a historic mansion that was built in Altoona (located in Blair County). It is 3 stories big and stone. Often referred to as ‘Greek Revival Style’
To see more of this home, you will have to travel to Altoona, I did not want to give it all away! However, I think it really allowed me to show off my GMC Acadia! I learned about this home through my friend in Altoona (Jennifer – she’s the guru of places for great photos!) Thanks, Jennifer!
14. Lakemont Park
Lakemont Park just reopened after taking a hiatus for 2 years. Now you can enter the park without an admission charge. Walk the park, sit on the benches, people watch, feed the ducks, ride the rides, rent a pavilion and that is just the beginning.
We went out on Lakemont Lake and sat in these dragon paddleboats. It was relaxing and fun at the same time, while we pedaled we were exercising.
You can watch my video all about the park, but here is another thing to know: the Golf course was designed from a team in New Jersey who exclusively creates Mini Golf Courses. Come to the park just to play mini golf for a date.
If you don’t want to mini golf you can shoot hoops. Bring your own ball, or ‘check one out’ from the main office. There’s also a volleyball court and a few food places to eat at (Jack’s ) and one for those with a Sweet Tooth as well.
Our last stop of the day was Delgrosso’s Amusement Park. So it is out of Altoona and time to travel over to Tipton, PA. It is only about a 15-minute drive.
15. Delgrosso Park
First things first it is free to park. Yes Free! That on its own is worth its weight in gold. Second, if you walk from the waterpark over to amusement park and do not want to ride, you don’t have to pay a fee! What? What! Yup! Almost unheard of in this day and age!
This allows moms that are pregnant and anyone that does not like to ride the change to watch their loved ones and their sheer excitement without a cost. I love this and can’t say kudos to the DelGrosso’s on making this happen! ♥
Next, when you arrive, you are greeted by all of your favorite Italian music. Of course, having owned an Italian Store and restaurant, I could not have arrived at a better destination. Please let me keep saying this over and over again, this park is so CLEAN.
Laguna Splash in DelGrosso’s
We were most welcome to enjoy time in the Waterpark however, the temperature was not conducive to swimming! My favorite was the Leaning Tower of Pisa. While on a good day I’d love to challenge myself on this slide, today was not the day.
However, my olfactory was taken over by the scent of Pasta. I mean come on, I’m Italian, in an Italian Themed Amusement Park (the only one in the country) and I smell pasta, you don’t think I am gonna ride do you?
I take myself right to the Pasta Fresca restaurant and order up a mean bowl of pasta with DelGrosso’s sauce. Hello Foodgasm! Goodbye, any chance of riding. So let’s be serious here, who would risk riding and losing the contents of your belly when it tastes that good? Food is meant to be in my belly, not on the ground!
You are totally missing if you pass this restaurant up before you walk the bridge to the amusement park. You can walk it off. In fact, you can walk it off, leaves you an excuse to eat the food you will smell on the other side, including Pizza.
You Walked Now Let’s Eat!
Am I in foodie heaven? Is there really an amusement park or is it a foodie park? You be the judge because while I will show you a few rides, I think the FOOD is the story at this park! The bridge to me signifies a change and also reminds me I just exercised. Guess what, a food fest is about to begin, join me, won’t you!
Heavenly ice cream from Tipton Dairy. Let me describe this in one word: Sinful! The ice cream was thick, rich, spoon-worthy, and delicious. I generally don’t get too excited about ice cream but this totally sent me! Wow!
First, this is the birthday cake flavor, which is my FAVE! Next, if you want to lick the screen, go ahead, because I want to as well. I feel the need to get back in the car and travel to DelGrosso’s to experience this!
Funnel Cake Heaven
Want to know how much I loved these? Well, if you watch my little IG video you will know. The Funnel cakes here have a hint of vanilla and are so fresh, I ate it all. True Confession and I don’t care!
Let’s Pop A Bit Shall We?
Keep walking through the park, there is plenty to see and do. For me, it was about getting acquainted. There were a lot of families here. I am not sure why I have never heard of the park before? Maybe because I travel the world and not close to home?
Make sure to take a ride on the Carousel, we did. I love that the horses can’t run away or throw you off as they did on one of my trips. SAFE! What a great classic Amusement Park ride.
After a ride, we walked a little more. Before we left, we got some popcorn in buckets. Why? It has lids and was perfect to tote into our car without worrying about spilling. Yes, the whole day was fun from start to finish and I must go back to DelGrosso’s.
Honestly, take the kids, let them run around, ride and enjoy, and treat yourself to pasta, pizza, and some really relaxing ambiance. I love it here the food alone is an attraction!
From State College To Altoona
Can you tell there is a lot to do in the 2 areas? I suggest a few nights between State College and Altoona. You don’t want to rush, you want to be able to enjoy everything. Bring your camera, good walking shoes, and get ready for what Altoona refers to as a Small Destination with Big Adventures! ~ DANA XO
My personal thanks to Visit Pennsylvania, Visit Penn State, Explore Altoona and GMC for providing me this incredible hosted trip. All opinions and images are my own, based on my personal experience. DANA