20 Things To Do In Cambria (PA)

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Sandwiched between Pittsburgh to its west and Philadelphia to its east, the county of Cambria is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1790 by 50 Welsh immigrants who moved over from the village of Llanbrynmair, making it the first Welsh-speaking community in America. Cambria is perhaps best known for its beautiful landscapes, incorporating the Allegheny Mountains, which run along its eastern edge as well as Laurel Ridge and Prince Gallitzin state parks. It is also home to the scenic Little Conemaugh and Conemaugh rivers, which are its principal waterways that offer excellent recreational activities.

Due to its proximity to the state’s two biggest cities, Cambria is a popular day trip and weekend getaway destination. Although as it is packed with sites and attractions, the more time you can spend there the better. Regardless of how much time you have available, here are 20 things you should make a point of seeing or doing. You might not get to experience them all, but what you will visit is sure to make a lasting impression on you.

Cambria, Pennsylvania

20 Things To Do In Cambria

view of Johnstown from the Inclined Plane
Exploring Johnstown is one of the things to do in Cambria, PA. This is the view from the Inclined Plane.

1- Visit The Johnstown Flood Museum

One of the most poignant attractions in Cambria is the Johnstown Flood Museum, which relates the story of a devastating flood that killed 2209 people in 1889 when the South Fork Dam failed.

Situated on Washington Street in the heart of the downtown area, the museum is housed in the old Cambria Public Library.

It features a collection of photographs, artifacts, interpretive exhibits and award-winning video footage that provide you with a thought-provoking sense of the devastation that was caused during this tragedy, which brought the nation together.

2- See The Johnstown Flood Memorial

As well as the museum, it is worth heading over to South Fork to see the Johnstown Flood National Memorial.


This landmark is located about 10 miles northeast of Johnstown and was erected in 1964 to pay tribute to the people who died.

It is a unit within the US National Park Service and was established after President Lyndon B Johnson signed legislation to preserve the remains of some of the buildings.

They include a farm belonging to one Elias Unger and the cottages and clubhouse of the local hunting and fishing club, which give an indication of what life was like before the flood.

3- Visit Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center

If you are interested in finding out about the history of the region then the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center is a good place to start.

Located on Broad Street, this museum conveys the story of the region’s steel, iron and coal industries through the lens of the everyday people who worked in these enterprises during the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century.

The museum features both temporary and permanent exhibitions and can be visited every day of the week except Tuesday and Wednesday.

4- Stop By The Admiral Peary Monument

One of Cambria’s most famous sons is Robert Peary, a U.S. Naval officer that has been acknowledged by the National Geographic Society as being the first explorer to make it to the North Pole.

Hailing from the town of Cresson, the Admiral Peary Monument stands less than 100 yards from where he was born.

It portrays him wearing a fur parka and standing with a sled dog, while a plaque lists some of his most notable achievements.

5- Shop At George’s Song Shop

If you love music, then you simply have to visit George’s Song Shop on Market Street in Johnstown.

Established in 1932, it prides itself on being America’s oldest record store and houses an incredible selection which includes a mindblowing ONE MILLION 45s records in stock at any given time, including some really rare ones that you won’t find elsewhere.

As you can imagine, the store is choc-a-bloc with records, LP and CDs, which are presented in floor-to ceiling-shelving that you should take your time to browse through.

6- Relax In The Sunken Gardens at Mount Assisi

Over in Loretto, the Sunken Gardens at Mount Assisi are one of the main attractions on the immaculate grounds of Saint Francis Friary, which you will find on St Francis Drive.

Spread across 3.5 acres, this stunning greenspace incorporates beautiful landscaping that also feature statues and fountains, some of which are over 100 years old.

The gardens are a nice place to stroll around and enjoy the fresh air.

Best of all they are free to visit at any time between sunrise and sunset.

7- Admire Hinckston Run Falls

For something with a little more vitality, consider visiting the Hinckston Run Falls.

This man-made cascade is created by the local reservoir’s outflow and can best be seen from the intersection of Honan Avenue and Waterfall Drive.

The impressive waterfall runs off a 60 foot cliff.

However, don’t be tempted to hike to it, as the surrounding land to it is a ‘no trespassing zone’.

Subsequently, it can only be seen from the road.

8- Step Back In Time At The Allegheny Portage Railroad

cambria pa
There’s plenty of things to do in Cambria for railway buffs.

Back in 1834, the Allegheny Portage Railroad became the first railroad to be established across the Allegheny Mountains.

It’s construction was significant because it enabled canals to be connected from both the west and east side of Pennsylvania, which therefore cut transit times between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to a matter of days, as opposed to weeks.

Maintained by the National Park Service, the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site enables visitors to appreciate and discover the heyday of this major transportation service.

It features a fascinating replica engine house that will give you a sense of how it ran.

9- Discover The Staple Bend Tunnel

While at the Allegheny Portage Railroad, you should take the opportunity to see the Staple Bend Tunnel.

Enjoying the distinction of being America’s first railroad tunnel, it comprised 901 feet in length and was built in the town of Mineral Point, about 4 miles to the east of Johnstown.

Visitors can walk through the tunnel to gain an up-close-and-personal look at the 19th century craftsmanship that defines its creation.

10- Shop At High Street Emporium

Fancy a bit of shopping? Then you can’t go wrong at the High Street Emporium.

This specialty shop on W High Street comprises two floors and features almost 50 different vendors selling everything from antiques and books to crafts and furniture.

It is a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of treasures and collectables which you could easily spend an entire morning or afternoon exploring.

11- Unwind In Greenhouse Park

If you are looking for a place where you can relax and unwind then Greenhouse Park should fit the bill nicely.

Nestled in between Tire Hill and Johnstown along the Stonycreek River, this park resides at Greenhouse Road.

It spans 11 acres and has a walking track, pavilions, playground area for kids and a volleyball court.

There is also a lovely river for you to swim in.

The park is a terrific place for a picnic and sometimes hosts popular events like Thunder in the Valley and Stonycreek Rendezvous.

Adjacent to it, at Whitewater Park, you can also enjoy fishing, tubing and whitewater rafting.

12- Discover The Secrets Of Prince Gallitzin’s Crypt

Deep within the Allegheny Mountains, within a tiny, underground crypt in the town of Loretto, lie the remains of one of the area’s most fascinating characters.

Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin was a Dutch-born, Russian prince who gave up his life of prestige and wealth to spread the Corinthian way as a Catholic priest.

For over 40 years he travelled through the region to perform his religious duties while living a life of poverty.

As he single-handedly was responsible for establishing the Catholic community within the area, those who share his faith may want to pay their respects at his final resting place on St Mary Street.

13- Go Trainspotting At Cassandra Railroad Overlook

things to do in cambria inclined plane tracks
Visiting the Inclined Plane is one of the things to do in Cambria PA.

One of the most intriguing train lookout spots in Cambria is the Cassandra Railroad Overlook.

Now a pedestrianised, single-lane bridge that spans the train tracks, it actually allowed cars to pass over it until 1936.

However, today it has become a prime spot for watching trains as they whizz below you.

14- Look For Ghosts At The Abandoned Cresson State Prison

If you are into visiting sites that are abandoned, creepy or downright nerve-shredding, then the old Cresson State Prison should be right up your street.

In a history that spanned over 100 years, it took many forms including a tuberculosis sanatorium, state hospital and state prison.

It was eventually closed for good in 2013.

The prison is spread over 20 buildings and 30 acres, and is said to be haunted.

It certainly has an eerie feel to it so might not be suitable for those with a nervous disposition.

15- Take A Selfie At The Spider-Man Mural in Johnstown

Another of the region’s famous sons is Steve Ditko, who is best known for being a comic-book artist that co-created the Spider-Man series.

A native of Johnstown, Ditko’s association with his best known work and the town manifests itself in the form of the highly impressive Spider-Man Mural.

Situated on the northern face of the Stone Bridge Brewing Company, which resides at the corner of Franklin Street and Washington Street, the mural stands 28 foot high and 49 feet wide.

It features bright, vivid imagery that really captures the eye and is very Insta worthy.

16- Explore The Gallitzin Tunnels And Museum

If you are into spotting trains, you’ll want to check out the Gallitzin Tunnels.

Running through the Allegheny Mountains, this trio of historical railroad tunnels have played a pivotal role in the region’s transportation network for over 150 years.

Two of the tunnels are still in operation and accommodate trains run by Amtrak and Norfolk Southern freight, 24-hours a day, which make for compulsive viewing.

Next to the closed tunnel is a museum which presents exhibits about the railroad’s history.

It also has a gift shop and a theatre, which adds further interest.

17- Visit Grandview Cemetery

This massive cemetery is one of the largest in Pennsylvania, with over 70,000 people laid to rest here.

What makes it notable though is that it is where most of the victims of the flood are buried.

Some 777 of them are located within an area known as the Unknown Plot, as they contain the bodies of victims who could not be identified.

The cemetery is situated upon the Westmont Hill which provides striking views of Johnstown.

You will also find a big Civil War memorial honouring those who died in the conflict.

18- Hang Out At B&L Wine Cellars

For an upscale wine and dining experience consider visiting the B&L Wine Cellars.

This small, yet charming urban winery showcases a range of wines that have been made from grapes and other fruits sourced within the area.

They include an impressive Pinot Grigio which has a lovely dry light white pear finish and a Traminette that is a white semi-dry notable for its floral and spicy aromas.

The venue is closed from Sunday to Tuesday, though it does sometimes have live music when it is open.

19- Go Hiking At Prince Gallitzin State Park

If you really fancy getting away from it all during your visit to Cambria, one of the best places to do that is at Prince Gallitzin State Park.

This stunning recreational area spans for 6,249-acres and features a range of landscape best experienced by hiking.

The park also accommodates 26 miles of shoreline which are centred around the shimmering waters of Glendale Lake.

Popular activities including fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, disc golfing and horseback riding.

You can also camp here in tents, RVs or on-site cottages.

One of the best times to visit is at sunset when the dusk colours illuminate the sky against the fantastic background of the brooding landscape.

20- Watch The Trains From Cresson Railroad Observation Platform

Another terrific spot for train lovers is the Cresson Railroad Observation Platform.

It is situated on the Norfolk Southern, southern side of and comprises a fantastic eye-level railroad overlook that provides a thrilling experience as the trains pass.

Overall, around 60 trains every day can be seen from this elevated deck, which is open 24-hours a day.

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Spencer Samaroo
Spencer is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years experience producing written content for tourism-related businesses. A thalassophile who was afflicted with wanderlust from a young age, he has visited over 40 countries in the world. An ex-pat Brit who now lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, he cites Miami Beach in the USA and Palm Cove in Australia as his favourite travel destinations. Specialising in writing about beach destinations around the world, he would probably bleed sand if you cut his arm open