The Buzz: Heading to Altoona? Read this first.

Is it just us, or did going anywhere and doing pretty much anything get really complicated?

Planning a trip during COVID-19 means you have to do a little extra homework. You have to double-check that your destination is open, confirm its hours and unique safety policies, and ensure that, wherever you’re going, you’ll feel safe when you get there. At the same time, you’re probably suffering from a severe case of cabin fever. You don’t need more work. You need a getaway, pronto!

We think you’ve had enough stress for one year (understatement of the century) so we did all the research you’ll need for your staycation, weekend getaway, shopping spree, or night out on the town. We gathered the most up-to-date facts about Altoona’s biggest attractions – hours, safety policies and links to more info – to make planning your day easy as cake (speaking of which…).  

Keep reading to find out what’s open, what isn’t, and what you should know before you go.

Note: This post was up-to-date as of Friday, July 24th. The status and policies may have changed since then.

Prairie Meadows Casino Racetrack Hotel

Is it open? You bet! Prairie Meadows is open 24/7, which means you’re free to visit the casino, racetrack, restaurants & hotel. The live racing season is happening now – if you’re new to live racing, you can learn the ropes from our recent post – but some other live entertainment events have been cancelled.

What do I need to know? If you’re going to Prairie Meadows, bring a mask—they’re currently required inside. Prairie Meadows is going all in to keep visitors safe, with reduced entrances, temperature checks at the door, hand sanitizer stations and other smart safety measures. Slot machines and table games have been arranged to allow for social distancing, and buffet service at restaurants has been temporarily discontinued, along with the fitness center, valet and a few other services.

You can view FAQs about Prairie Meadows’ reopening here.

Terrace Hills Golf Course

Is it open? Yes! If you’re like us, you’ve been stuck inside for way too long—and maybe you were more than a little heartbroken about the cancelled PGA Tour. A day on the green is the perfect remedy. Especially when the “green” is Terrace Hills, an 18-hole, par 71 Championship course with a state-of-the-art driving range and short game area. 

What do I need to know? With plenty of room to spread out and practice social distancing, staying safe on the golf course is easy. But we still recommend packing a mask and hand sanitizer, just in case. You can book a tee time here.

The Outlets of Des Moines

Is it open? Shoppers rejoice; The Outlets are open for business! BUT, it’s up to individual businesses to decide when and how they open. This means different hours and policies for each establishment. (We explain more below.)

What do I need to know? Two things: First, the mall itself is operating at regular hours (11am-7pm Mon-Sat, 12-6pm Sunday), which means you can explore the common areas during this time and visit any businesses that are open—and fortunately many of the businesses are operating at regular hours. However, some of the stores have temporary hours that differ from the mall’s schedule, and you should confirm the hours of your favorite stores & restaurants here before heading out the door.

Since you’ll probably be indoors for part of your visit to The Outlets, we recommend bringing a mask and hand-sanitizer.


Is it open? Heck, yeah! The park is open daily, with all the amazing rides and attractions we love—along with some extra safety features.

What do I need to know? Adventureland – like Prairie Meadows, the Outlets of Des Moines, and all the Altoona businesses mentioned here – is working hard to keep you safe during your visit. That means extra sanitation, daily employee screenings and PPE, extra space between tables, and group seating on rides. Face masks are recommended but not required. You can learn more about how Adventureland is keeping guests safe (and what you can do to help) here. Note: Some rides and attractions may be closed during certain hours for extra cleaning.

Oh, one more thing! Adventureland recommends purchasing your tickets online beforehand, so you won’t have to wait in line at the entrance.

Parks, Trails, Gardens and More

Is it open? Of course! Altoona’s a beautiful place to explore, and our community is home to many bike trails, wide-open spaces where you can stretch out, gardens, playgrounds, ponds, splashpads and unexpectedly awesome spots to discover. (The Enabling Garden is one of our favorites.)

What do I need to know? We all need to stay safe as we explore – pack a mask and hand sanitizer, and practice social distancing whenever possible – but there’s so much to discover in Altoona, and a little outdoor R&R might be just what you need. Here are a few outside-the-box ideas.

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