5 Interesting, Low Cost Spring Vacations.

All these ideas will cost you very little when compared to the typical vacations you hear about. I am from Pittsburgh so these day trips are within 2 ½ hours from the city, but when you start looking you will be amazed at how many interesting places there are not far from your own home that you have not explored yet! In this article I will give you 5 fun, interesting, and low cost ideas for spring day trips that offer something for everyone in your family.

Trip 1
Altoona Railroaders Museum, the Altoona Horseshoe Curve, and the Boyer Candy Company.

This trip has lots of history, things to see, plenty of action, and delicious treats! Buy a combination ticket at the Altoona Railroaders Museum and tour both the museum and the Curve. The museum has displays that are both adult and kid friendly. There are lots of hands on displays inside the museum, and outside you can explore railroad car relics!

Ready for action? After the museum take a very short drive to the Curve. Warning! There are a lot of steps to walk up in order to get to the best viewing spots. Once at the Horseshoe Curve’s park area you can see the trains coming from very far away and they literally go right by you around the Curve. You and your kids will love the excitement and awe of the scenery and giant trains rolling by. Be sure to waive at all the friendly conductors! Various trains pass by about every 10-15 minutes.

Finally, before heading home, be sure to stop by the Boyer Candy Company Outlet store in downtown Altoona. Boyer makes the famous Mallo Cup candy, but you will also find many other treats at the outlet store at very low prices. Be sure to get some of their chocolate covered pretzels. They are very inexpensive and delicious!

Trip 2
Scenic Route 56, Johnstown Flood Museum, Johnstown Incline, and Westview Plaza

If you take this Johnstown trip, drive into Johnstown via Route 56. The mountain views in the spring and fall are breathtaking. Be sure to stop at the scenic overlooks for pictures.

At the Flood Museum it was the giant interactive model of Johnstown, which recreates the path of the flood, that got my attention. The museum does a great job of telling the fascinating story behind the flood in addition to displaying many of the items that survived the flood.

Once you have visited the museum drive over to the Johnstown Incline. Everyone loves taking the incline car up the mountain, and the view from the top is amazing. Inside the visitor center you can watch the giant gears of the incline working! Not only will you see the entire Johnstown area, but from this vantage point the path of the flood makes much more sense; you can see how the mountains channeled the water right into Johnstown.

Finally, be sure to take the family to a movie at Westview Plaza Theatre and Cafe. What you may like about this particular movie theatre is that you can eat a full meal at your seat. Seats have tables in front of them, and the theatre offers a great menu with reasonable prices.

Trip 3
Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

Inside the visitor center of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, located in Washington, Pennsylvania, you will find lots of old photographs from a time when trolleys were a primary mode of travel in Pittsburgh. Outside of the museum you will find several trolleys that you can climb up into and explore. The highlight of the trip is the trolley ride itself! Often times the conductors will allow children to “assist” with some of the trolley levers and controls! Be sure to look for coupons in the Pittsburgh area Entertainment Book that offer free tickets.

Trip 4
Lakemont Park and Altoona Curve baseball team

Lakemont Park is like a well hidden secret that once you stumble upon it you are surprised more people are not taking advantage of this find. Lakemont Park is located outside of Altoona and right next to the Blair County Ballpark, home of the Altoona Curve, a Pittsburgh Pirates minor league baseball team.

Several things make Lakemont Park a great day trip. It reminded me of a smaller Kennywood, yet the prices are a fraction of the cost of a Kennywood ticket. First, they have rides for both adults and kids. The crowd is very small. There is barely any waiting time; certainly not like you find at the larger parks. There were plenty of places to play games and eat. They truly have everything you would expect at an amusement park, but with a less hurried atmosphere.

After you enjoy the rides at Lakemont, take a walk over to the Altoona Curve baseball field. Just like Lakemont Park does with rides, the Blair County Ballpark offers the same enjoyment found at larger stadiums, but without the cost or crowds. The tickets, food and drinks inside the ballpark cost about half of what you would expect in the larger cities. In addition to the baseball game itself the Altoona Curve does a good job of entertaining the crowd. It is a great night of fun for both adults and kids.

Trip 5
Canton, Ohio – William McKinley Presidential Museum, First Ladies Museum, and the Football Hall of Fame

Canton, Ohio hosts many fascinating museums, of which the Football Hall of Fame may be the most famous. The Football Hall of Fame is loaded with relics, pictures, movies, and stories from the most memorable athletes, and you can relive many of football’s most exciting moments. Being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, it was fun to walk through the hall and find the busts of Steelers hall of famers! A ticket into the Football Hall of Fame is $21.00 for an adult so be sure to use your AAA membership card for a discount as well as the “buy one get one free” coupons found in the Pittsburgh area Entertainment book! As a side note, if you have the time, consider also visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just one hour from Canton in Cleveland, Ohio. However, Canton also has a few less known surprises hidden downtown.

Canton was the hometown of President William McKinley and his wife Ida. In Canton you can visit their stunningly beautiful family home which is also part of the tour of the First Ladies Museum. When touring their home you can visit the same rooms the McKinleys lived and worked in, which still include many of their original possessions.

Also be sure to visit the William McKinley presidential museum while in Canton. The museum houses many artifacts from his life and presidency. Additionally, the complex houses a kids’ science museum and an exhibition hall full of various artifacts from the region. At the same location is the William McKinley memorial where you can view the granite caskets of McKinley and his wife, Ida.

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