State College is an old town south of Center County, Pennsylvania. As you can probably guess, the city is best known as home to one of the largest universities in the country — Pennsylvania State University.
However, there’s more to State College, also known as Happy Valley, than just a college town.
Many college towns tend to have little happening, yet State College is quite different.
The town is beautiful, vibrant, and with a lot going on outside the campus experience. If you’re into shopping, lively nightlife, or you just want to have a good time, Happy Valley has plenty to keep you busy.
With no shortage of activities to try in State College, PA, we’ve compiled for you seven memorable adventures you should go on with friends.
Enjoy the Biking Trails
If your ideal adventure is cycling down trails in beautiful terrain, Center County is that magical place for a cyclist. This award-winning bicycle-friendly community enjoys vast, backcountry roads and steep mountain trails for the daredevils at heart.
For most people, however, the paved bicycle paths within civilization will still offer the thrill. Take on the suburban roads with your friends in tow, and you’ll find breezing past family homes nestled in the trees quite relaxing.
After all, there’s a reason why State College is a world-class cyclist hotspot.
These same trails are just as amazing if you take a walk. It can be one of those bonding moments to share with friends on the weekends. So gear up with essentials, (water, food, and a first aid kit) and give it a try.
Give Fishing a Try
With tons of streams and lakes gracing the region, Center County offers one of the best fishing settings in the nation.
You don’t have to take our word for it. Look up the FIPS Mouche World Youth Fly Fishing Championship and the US National Fly Fishing Championship tournaments held in Center County.
Fishing is a relaxing and adventurous activity to experience with friends. And now that you’re in State College, things can’t get any better.
From the heart of Happy Valley, you’re only a short drive away from top fishing spots in the region.
Fishing Creek to the east is less than 50 minutes away and is popular for trout. Spring Creek, great for fly fishing brown trout, is just 15 minutes away from town.
For a more serene, backcountry experience, Little Juanita River is no more than an hour’s drive southwest of State College.
Other topnotch fishing spots in State College include:
- Penn’s Creek
- Poe Lake
- Big Poe Creek
- Bald Eagle Creek
- Whipple Dam State Park
Visit Tussey Mountain
If you visit State College and leave without heading over to Tussey Mountain, you’ve missed out big time.
Tussey Mountain is that place to get your adventurous itch satisfied. It’s an all-in-one attraction with various outdoor activities to take part in.
Some activities to take on with friends include:
- The driving range
- Skate park
- Paddle boats
In the evening, the amphitheater offers a fantastic experience.
Most of all, you don’t want to miss skiing the Tussey Mountain ski slopes when it snows.
Wander the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center
If you and your friends love nature, don’t leave State College without visiting Millbrook Marsh Nature Center. It’s a haven for nature lovers.
The sprawling nature center boasts over 120 acres of property, farmland, and reserved wetland and marsh. Make it a picnic with friends and take on the hiking trails.
If you like birdwatching, you’ll appreciate the various observation decks facing the marsh.
Besides the visual appeal, Millbrook Marsh offers educational programs to create awareness about the natural world.
From Penn State University, the center is a couple miles away, an excellent addition with enough activities to spruce up your student life.
Explore Penn’s Cave
There’s no scarcity of caves in Pennsylvania; pretty good ones too. But Penn’s Cave is quite unique.
If you love exploring, Penn’s Cave should be at the top of your bucket list of places to visit with friends.
What’s so unique about this particular cavern?
Well, it’s the only all-water cavern in the country. Exploring the extent of the cavern takes slightly less than an hour, and the tours are entirely by boat.
The cavern is not all there is, though; Penn’s Cave comes with a wildlife park, and you can take a guided tour.
Sightseeing at Rothrock State Forest
Rothrock State Forest is a major attraction in Pennsylvania with magical overlooks for anyone hunting for spectacular sceneries.
The forest is vast, spanning three counties: Center, Huntingdon, and Mifflin.
From State College in Center County, you can access various entry points into the forest as they are just a few miles away.
If you’re taking your friends sightseeing, one of the best spots is the Jo Hayes Vista, which gives you a panoramic view of the State College area.
The forest also boasts hundreds of miles of hiking trails that you can take on foot, with a bike, or on horseback. In the evening, you can make the fun last longer by camping with your friends at the designated camping area.
Tour Arboretum at Penn State
The Arboretum at Penn State is a garden within the university grounds. With over 390 acres of land dedicated to botany, you have yourself a flora paradise to roam through.
If you’re a student at Penn State, the arboretum is a great place to hang out with friends. It offers educational programs you can sign up for and learn more about botany.
For outsiders visiting, don’t miss out as the garden is also open to the public.
Did you assume State College was just another sleepy college town?
If so, we hope this list surprised you!
If you’ve got a passion for adventure, visit the places we’ve recommended. After all, Penn State University is only the tip of the iceberg for exciting places to visit in State College, PA.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Parkway Plaza to help them with their online marketing.