From pivotal wartime maneuvers to vital transportation networks, water has shaped and inscribed Pennsylvania’s story from prehistoric times to the present day.
The state boasts 83,000-plus miles of rivers, creeks and streams and numerous waterfalls, plus around 25,000 lakes—most, interestingly, are manmade. Two group destinations deep in liquid assets are centrally located Blair County, with Altoona as its main base, and Bucks County, just west of Philadelphia in the Countryside Region.
Within a three-hour drive radius of 7 million-plus people across the Mid-Atlantic region, the former counts among its attractions the new Laguna Splash Water Park, while the latter has nation-building history as the site of the Continental Army’s 1776 nighttime crossing of the Delaware River.
From lazy rivers and historic canals to waterparks and winter sports, each locale overflows with water-based activities for groups, plus plenty of liquid refreshments on tap to keep the conversation streaming.
Altoona and Blair County
Some 100 miles east of the “Three Rivers” city of Pittsburgh, Altoona beckons with a wellspring of countywide and area options for splashy fun.
“Whether strolling along the shores of a lake, taking an evening dinner cruise or enjoying the fun of a waterpark, spending time in or near the water helps us appreciate nature and life in general,” said Mark Ickes, executive director of Explore Altoona. “The Alleghenies of central Pennsylvania, including Altoona and greater Blair County, are no exception. Whether canoeing, kayaking, fishing or swimming, groups have a variety of memorable ways to ‘go with the flow’ when visiting our destination.”
With origins dating back to 1907, DelGrosso’s Amusement Park in Tipton celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Last summer, the park debuted its $12.5 million Laguna Splash Water Park.
Featuring a wave pool and lazy river, the park’s decorative and interactive elements include Venetian-style archways, Roman frescos, wine barrels and vases, and as its centerpiece, a 25-foot tall replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
“As the region’s leading family entertainment attraction, we offer both business travelers and conference attendees a chance to unplug and relax in an amusement park with over 30 rides and attractions, as well as a new state-of-the-art waterpark addition, which is the only Italian-themed waterpark in the country,” said Carl Crider Jr., president of DelGrosso’s Amusement Park in an April 2017 release.
The waterpark is featured in Explore Altoona’s current marketing campaign, which uses trivia-type questions on different themes to highlight “exciting fun fact-filled adventures” around the destination. Another is 958-acre Canoe Creek State Park in the county seat of Hollidaysburg.
Providing a year-round post-meeting retreat, the park’s 155-acre lake offers a beach for swimming, fishing and renting watercraft, including rowboats, paddleboats, canoes, paddleboards and kayaks. Hikers are rewarded with the remnants of historic limestone kilns in the woods not far from the parking lot.
Flowing through a rural landscape, Blair County’s section of the Juniata River Water Trail offers fishing, camping and plenty of opportunities to connect with nature, history and culture along 142 miles of flat, easy water paddling.