15 Best Things to Do in State College, PA
By VacationIdea Staff on April 26, 2023 - Updated
State College in central Pennsylvania is a charming and vibrant college town that is home to Penn State University’s main campus, an array of buzzing bars, restaurants and coffee shops, and plenty of things to see and do. Watch Penn State’s football team or the State College Spikes in action at Beaver Stadium; explore collections of ancient ceramics and 20th-century American art at the university's Palmer Museum of Art; venture into space at the Discovery Space children’s science museum, or head into the great outdoors on one of the many hiking or mountain biking trails through the Rothrock State Forest.
1. Pennsylvania State University
© Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University is a public education institution with over 40,000 students and a vibrant atmosphere. Founded in 1855, the 7,958-acre campus is also known as Happy Valley and has over 1,000 clubs and organizations, offering plenty of opportunities to get involved in campus life. The University’s football team plays in the Division I Big Ten Conference and is based at the 107,000-seat Beaver Stadium, and the school mascot is the Nittany Lion. The small, bustling town of State College is located opposite the campus and features an array of coffee shops, cafés, restaurants, shops and bars, and the University is surrounded by majestic mountains that offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, and skiing.
State College, PA 16801, Phone: 814-865-4700
2. Arboretum at Penn State
© Arboretum at Penn State
Located at Penn State University, the Arboretum at Penn State is a botanical garden created by the University as an educational institution and houses the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. The 395-acre arboretum features several venues, including an education center, a multi-purpose complex, a conservatory, and a planetarium. The Education Center is the core focus of the arboretum’s educational programs, offering in-depth insight into the flora featured in the gardens. The Planetarium, also known as the Digital Visualization Theatre, is a vital multi-disciplinary, multi-purpose resource that provides a range of educational programs.
E Park Ave & Bigler Rd, State College, PA 16803, Phone: 814-865-9118
3. Beaver Stadium, State College, PA
© Jesse Kunerth/stock.adobe.com
Located on the campus of Penn State University, Beaver Stadium is an outdoor college football stadium that is home to the Penn State Nittany Lions of the Big Ten Conference. Built in 1909, the stadium is named after the former governor of Pennsylvania (1887–91), James A. Beaver, and boasts a seating capacity of 107,282 seats, making it the third-largest stadium in the world. The stadium also features a 10,000-seat upper deck, 60 luxury suites, 4,000 club seats, a new video scoreboard, modern restrooms, and several concessions. Every Saturday during the Fall, the stadium comes alive when the Penn State Nittany Lions play at home, drawing tens of thousands of fans to cheer them on.
1 Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA 16802
4. Pegula Ice Arena, State College, PA
The Pegula Ice Arena is a multi-purpose arena with over 6,000 seats on the campus of Penn State University that hosts the National Hockey League and American Hockey League games, ice shows, and other on-ice events. Located on the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive near the Bryce Jordan Center, the arena replaced the Penn State Ice Pavilion and is named Kim and Terry Pegula for their generous donations towards the new stadium. The main ice arena features a central competition ice arena with a seating capacity of 6,000, along with a practice rink, locker rooms, player areas, and offices.
250 University Drive, University Park, PA 16802
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5. Bryce Jordan Center
© Bryce Jordan Center
The Bryce Jordan Center is a multi-purpose arena with 15,261 seats on the University Park campus of Pennsylvania State University and is home to the Nittany Lions men's and women's basketball teams, and the Pride of the Lions Pep Band. Opened in 1995, the arena is named after former Penn State University president Bryce Jordan, and in addition to hosting league basketball games, the stadium also hosts a variety of other events such as music concerts and commencement ceremonies within the university. The Bryce Jordan Center is the largest such venue between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
University Park, PA 16802, Phone: 814-865-5555
6. Palmer Museum of Art, State College, PA
© Palmer Museum of Art
The Palmer Museum of Art is a free-admission art museum at the Pennsylvania State University. Based in a dramatic building designed by Charles W. Moore and Arbonies King Vlock, the prominent visual arts facility houses a collection of more than 9,000 works spanning centuries and representing a variety of cultures. The museum’s collection includes American and European paintings, prints, sculpture and photographs, Asian ceramics, paintings, jades and prints, contemporary European, American, and Japanese studio ceramics; and ancient African, European, Near Eastern, and American cultural pieces. The museum hosts nine exhibitions every year in eleven galleries, along with with a 150-seat auditorium, and a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden.
Curtin Rd, University Park, PA 16802, Phone: 814-865-7672
7. Millbrook Marsh Nature Center
© Millbrook Marsh Nature Center
The Millbrook Marsh Nature Center features is a 62-acre property with a 12-acre farmstead area, and 50 acres of protected wetlands and unique marsh ecosystems with boardwalks and hiking trails. Located less than two miles from Penn State University, the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center was established by the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority to educate and inspire people about the natural world. The nature center has a LEED Silver Certified classroom building, called the Spring Creek Education Building, a wetland laboratory, a restored bank barn, a picnic pavilion, a boardwalk with interpretive signs, and walking trails. The nature center offers educational programs for all ages, and visitors can enjoy a range of recreational activities such as hiking, picnicking, dog-walking, and birdwatching from one of the observation decks overlooking the marsh.
548 Puddintown Rd, State College, PA 16801, Phone: 814-235-7819
8. Medlar Field at Lubrano Prak
Situated on the northeastern edge of the Penn State’s athletic complex, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is a 5,570-seat baseball stadium that is home to the Penn State Nittany Lions college baseball team and the New York-Penn League’s State College Spikes. Designed to boast unfettered views of Mount Nittany over the outfield wall, the stadium has three levels, namely a Field Level with a clubhouse, a Concourse Level, and a Luxury Suite Level with 20 deluxe suites, and boasts a seating capacity of 5,570. Lubrano Park features a spacious clubhouse with roomy wooden lockers, an expanded training room, an indoor batting cage, a weight room, and a comfortable team lounge. On a clear day, spectators can peer down the Nittany Valley for miles and see the Tussey Mountain Ski Resort.
701 Porter Road, State College, PA 16802
9. State College Spikes
The State College Spikes are a minor league baseball team in State College that play in the New York–Penn League. Founded in 1958, the team plays at their home ground of the Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on the campus of Pennsylvania State University and is the Class A Short Season affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The team’s home stadium, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is a 5,570-seat baseball stadium has three levels, Field (clubhouse) Level, Concourse Level, and 20 luxury suites, as well as a spacious clubhouse with roomy wooden lockers, an expanded training room, an indoor batting cage, a weight room, and comfortable team lounge.
701 Porter Rd, State College, PA 16801, Phone: 814-272-1711
10. Rec Hall, State College, PA
© Melinda Nagy/stock.adobe.com
Rec Hall, which is short for Recreation Building, is Penn State university's busiest and most versatile athletics venue. Located on the University Park campus of the Pennsylvania State University, the historic structure hosts events for five varsity teams throughout all three collegiate seasons, including the Nittany Lion men's and women's volleyball teams, men's and women's gymnastics, and wrestling. Designed by architect Charles Z. Klauder, the venue boasts a Colonial Georgian design with a steel truss roof and a seating capacity of 6,500.
Burrowes Rd, University Park, PA 16802
11. The State Theatre
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The State Theatre is a 554-seat community theatre and cultural hub in State College that hosts live performances, cinema shows, music concerts, and more for downtown State College and the surrounding region. Originally built as a movie theatre for Warner Brothers Pictures in 1938, the building was used as a cinema until 2001 before being extensively refurbished and transformed into a state-of-the-art venue for visual arts and dance performances, film and theatre, concerts, and other regional and international shows. The non-profit community theater also offers a range of educational programs for students and children of all ages.
130 W College Ave, State College, PA 16801, Phone: 814-272-0606
12. Rothrock State Forest, State College, PA
Rothrock State Forest is a beautiful state forest in Pennsylvania that spans the Center, Huntingdon, and Mifflin Counties. Rothrock shares a common border with the Bald Eagle State Forest and the northern of areas of the Tuscarora State Forest and has nearly 300 miles of hiking trails, including the 326-mile cross-country Mid-State Trail running from the Green Ridge State Forest in Maryland to a spur of the Finger Lakes Trail in New York. The 70+ mile-long Standing Stone Trail (SST) connects the Tuscarora Trail at Cowans Gap State Park with the Mid State Trail at Greenwood Furnace State Park and features about 16 miles in the Rothrock State Forest. Recreational activities in the forest include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking, camping, backpacking, boating, fishing, seasonal hunting, and sightseeing.
181 Rothrock Lane, Huntingdon, PA 16652, Phone: 814-643-2340
13. Matson Museum of Anthropology
© Matson Museum of Anthropology
The Matson Museum of Anthropology focuses on the cultural and biological diversity of humankind. Located on the second floor of Carpenter Building of the Penn State University Park campus, the museum displays a collection of archaeological objects from around the world, including Mexico, Mesopotamia, and Pennsylvania, and items used by contemporary cultures from Afghanistan and Latin America. The campus-based center for cultural education offers an array of exhibitions throughout the year, including a unique collection of one-hundred-year-old pottery made in villages around the world, and displays that explore human evolution by showcasing human skeletal remains and our ancestor’s bones. The Museum also offers educational tours and programs for visitors of all ages.
409 Carpenter Bldg., Curtin Rd, University Park, PA 16802, Phone: 814-865-3853
14. Original Waffle Shop
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Established in the early 1970s by Greek sailor John Dimakopoulos, the Waffle Shop is a warm and welcoming, family-friendly café with two locations that specializes in freshly made waffles prepared with local ingredients and served with a wide variety of sweet and savory toppings. The Original Waffle Shop is nestled at the intersection of Blue Course Drive and West College Avenue, while the second café is in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the business sector on North Atherton Street. The café serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch with signature waffles like the chicken and gravy, blueberry, banana-but, and chocolate chip.
1610 West College Avenue, State College, PA 16801, Phone: 814-235-1816
15. Carver Deli and Barbecue
© Carver Deli and Barbecue
Located in North Atherton Place, Carvers Deli & Barbecue is a locally owned and managed, quick-service barbecue restaurant that serves finger-licking barbecue in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The restaurant features simple décor with ample seating, tiled floors, and bright lighting, and offers a mouthwatering menu that includes melt-in-your-mouth brisket, tender hickory-smoked pulled pork, moist, applewood-smoked chicken, and delicious ribs slow-smoked with hickory wood. The restaurant also offers a variety of deli meats cooked in-house to guarantee freshness, and a full catering menu of quality meats, sandwiches, and platters of ribs, chicken wings, and sliders.
1633 N Atherton St, State College, PA 16803, Phone: 814-237-0620