20 Best Things to Do in State College, PA

State College, PA
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State College in Pennsylvania is the largest borough that was incorporated in 1896.

Nestled between the Bald Eagle Mountain to the northwest and the Tussey Mountain to the southeast, it lies in the Nittany Valley.

This makes it prone to frequent snowfall and rain.

As the name suggests, it is a college town with the presence of the University Park (also referred to as Penn State University Park) majorly influencing its economy and demography.

Alternatively, also known as Lion Country or Happy Valley, this borough’s quaint main street hosts a collection of quirky shops, bakeries, galleries and restaurants.

State College is widely known for its Penn State Nittany Lions Football team which causes an influx of over 100,000 fans into the Beaver stadium on its home games.

The University Creamery has been alleged to produce the “best ice cream in the world”.

Once the football season has ended, the nearby cultural attractions and state parks offer some of the best getaways for their visitors.

The Arboretum at Penn State

Arboretum at Penn State
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If you are in central PA and only have a few hours, this has to be a go-to spot.

Adjacent to the University Park campus, the 370-acre arboretum has many attractions.

The children’s garden, itself being very beautiful, also houses many native plants and is a microcosm of the territorial landscape.

It also includes a limestone cave, an amphitheater for holding events and other attractions like animal and bird sculptures.

You can also visit the Joel N.

Myers sundial, a large granite sculpture that serves as a functional and artistic attraction.

The Bellefonte Central Rail Trail, a crushed limestone trail of 1.3 miles (2.09 km), offers a very peaceful setting for a leisurely hike.

You can also stop by the Hosler Oak, also dubbed as the “Witness tree” which was the first tree planted in the arboretum.

There is no admission charge for visiting the Arboretum.

Palmer Museum of Art

Palmer Museum of Art
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This region is rich with opportunities for art connoisseurs.

The collection includes American and European paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs.

It also includes contemporary American and Japanese ceramics, jades and prints.

The museum has about 11 galleries and the artwork feature early 19th century and 20th-century collections.

One of the more popular works is a pair of towering bronze lions that hedge the entrance steps.

This evokes the traditional lions flanking Beaux-arts structures like the New York Public Library and also pay tribute to the Nittany Lion, the Penn State’s mascot.

There is no admission charge for visiting the museum.

Beaver Stadium

Beaver Stadium
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Home to the Penn State Nittany Lions since 1960, this is the fourth largest stadium in the world having a seating capacity of 106,572.

During the home games, the atmosphere is electrifying and well worth a visit.

Old Main

Old Main
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If you are a person that loves visiting historical landmarks, this is a must-visit.

The building was completed in 1863 and was renovated in 1930 due to structural inefficiencies.

This new building retained most of the older limestone structure and was rechristened “Old Main”.

Today it acts as the administrative center of Penn State.

After visiting the Old Main, you can go for a stroll around the breathtaking campus grounds and conclude the evening with a visit to the University Creamery.

Millbrook Marsh Nature Center

Millbrook Marsh Nature Center
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If you are a nature lover, this 62-acre nature preserve is home to a multitude of amphibians, fish, reptiles and birds.

This unique marsh environment, which is open from dawn to dusk is a paradise for wildlife viewing, hikes and trails.

It is also a perfect place for picnics, and if you are someone who loves to sleep under the stars, this beautiful ecosystem is among the best for camping.

Happy Valley Vineyard and Winery

Off the beaten path, and a stone throw from State College, you can find this quaint Vineyard.

It offers a healthy farm atmosphere where they craft fine wines and a selection of cheeses.

The vineyard is a great way to spend an afternoon with the beautiful views, tasting a wide variety of wines and sampling locally made crackers, cheeses and salami.

They also offer private and group tours across the estate, all the while, leading you through every step in the wine-making process.

Pegula Ice Arena

Pegula Ice Arena
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The Pegula Ice Arena is a multipurpose arena with a seating capacity of 6,014.

There are 2 ice surfaces: the main rink used for Penn State’s varsity home games and the other surface is the community rink.

If you are in town during any of the home games, it is well worth.

The community rink is open throughout the year and offers public skating sessions 4 days a week for visitors to enjoy the world-class infrastructure.

The panoramic view from the rink rolls over the sweeping campus and grounds to Mount Nittany in the east.

Penn State University

Penn State University
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When visiting State College, it is but obvious that you have to stop by the sprawling campus of the University Park.

Initially founded in 1855 as an agricultural college, it houses many major buildings.

Visitors can opt for a self-guided walking tour of the campus which features various points of interest along the way.

The walkways, sights and alluring campus, aid in the merriment towards a fantastic day out.

Stone Valley Recreation Area

Located about 17 miles (27.36 km) from University Park is a natural treasure with scenic mountains and wooded trails.

Stone Valley is a recreational and educational facility offering a wide range of fun activities such as boating, fishing, hiking and cabin lodgings.

This is home to the 72-acre Lake Perez where you can use the in-house boat rental services.

They offer 20 plus miles of hiking trails for all hiking enthusiasts.

Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania

Discovery Space is an exciting and vibrant science center of interactive exhibits and firsthand, experiential programs.

This is a great place for kids and adults alike.

They aim to design and provide informal and valuable science education, technology, engineering and math (STEM), in a fun way.

If you are looking for a fun and informative way to fill up an afternoon, this is worth a visit.

And if you are traveling with kids, this is a must-visit.

Centre County Historical Society

The Centre County Historical Society (CCHS) in State College, is one of the oldest and biggest CCHS organizations.

It is headquartered in a restored and furnished iron master’s home.

This historic building known as the Centre Furnace Mansion, represents the 18th-century architecture and the inception of the charcoal iron industry in the area.

If you are a history buff, this is another compelling site to visit.

It takes you back in time to a simpler era where people walked up the small stairs instead of summoning an elevator.

Another incentive to visit is that the admission is free.

Rothrock State Forest

Rothrock State Forest
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Located about 15 minutes from the University Park is this great State forest.

To witness nature at its finest, you need to earn it, as you go along multiple trails, ranging from easy to difficult.

Rattlesnakes are common and you are advised to take hiking poles and proceed with caution.

Good hiking shoes are recommended as there will be quite a bit of rock hopping, and the hills will be quite steep, based on the trail you choose.

Tom Tudek Memorial Park

Tom Tudek Memorial Park
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A beautiful park that provides recreational amenities for all ages, the Tom Tudek Memorial Park, provides over a wide area for playing, hiking and biking.

Within 10 minutes from State College, this local park offers a playground, a butterfly garden, and a vast expanse of great trails and trees.

There is also a large pavilion with picnic tables, for a fun evening out with the family.

It is a great place to plop yourself against a tree and read a good book, go for a walk or observe some time for yourself.

Pennsylvania Military Museum

Pennsylvania Military Museum
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The Pennsylvania Military Museum is located about 5 miles (8.05 km) from State College, in the village of Boalsburg.

It opened in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, as a shrine to the citizen-soldiers.

It is currently run by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and is dedicated to the history of Pennsylvania.

The museum tells stories about what Pennsylvanians did to defend the country.

The artifacts, the tour and the film in the theater will be eye-opening to say the least.

Whether you are from Pennsylvania or not, this place is a must-visit as we can all empathize and co-relate with the great stories of the war.

Tussey Mountain Ski and Recreation

The gateway to the Rothrock State forest, the Tussey Mountain Ski Area, is about 10 minutes from State College.

Tussey Mountain is a fantastic recreational place and is suited for all seasons.

It includes a Fun Centre which offers mini-golf, go-karting, batting cages, driving range and skating park.

As the name suggests it is a popular destination for skiing, offering over 30 acres of skiable area.

There are totally 13 ski trails in Mount Tussey, with difficulty levels ranging from beginner (at the Little Bear) to advanced.

Most of the trails have been equipped with snowmaking capabilities to cater to the tourists all year round.

Snow tubing is also an activity offered here with around 5 tubing lanes.

The property also has an amphitheater for concerts or festivals and a lodge for parties.

Penn State All-Sports Museum

While on the university campus, the All-Sports Museum is worth a look.

Penn State’s athletic history is very rich, and the museum has done justice in capturing those monumental moments.

Located at the southwest corner of the Beaver Stadium, the museum will let you discover for yourself how much you know about the legends of the blue and white.

Even the most die-hard Penn Stater, will be challenged and might learn a thing or two.

The Nittany Lion Shrine

Nittany Lion Shrine
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This shrine is a gift of the class of 1940 and rests in the natural setting of trees by the Recreation building in the University Park campus.

This was created by an animalier named Heinz Warneke from a 13-ton block of Indiana limestone.

If you are a Penn Stater, this iconic statue is an absolute must in your list of places to visit, as it is the symbol of the university.

Its popularity is matched by its artistic beauty which is evidenced by the fact that there are usually long lines waiting to take a picture, straddling the mighty lion.

Frost Entomological Museum

Frost Entomological Museum
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The museum houses a huge collection of insect biodiversity, estimated at 2 million specimens, a public exhibition and educational space.

Although founded in 1969, the specimen collection dates back to late 1800s.

Not all the specimens are on display, but scientists and researchers have access to the full collection.

This is a good way to spend an hour and the kids will be interested to look at the various creepy-crawlies that is found in the eastern United States.

Medlar Field

Medlar Field
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Once the Penn State baseball season ends, the rookie teams start to flex their capabilities.

Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is the home of the State College Spikes and is a great way to watch a baseball game in a relaxed environment.

A great way to spend an evening with good sports, affordable concessions and easygoing vibes.

Otto’s Pub and Brewery

Otto’s Pub and Brewery
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Being one of the most popular hangouts for the State College demographic, Otto’s is usually crowded.

It’s a vibrant place to have lunch and among the best places for nightlife.

The food is delicious, be it their tacos, hot dogs, burgers, pretzels or the lamb gyro.

The servings are large, and the range of beers would tickle even the most serious of beer aficionado’s pink.

So, if you are looking for a place with good food, great drinks and good ambience, Otto’s ticks all your boxes.