Hidden gems of Happy Valley Happy Valley’s top-five rural, go-to destinations

– by Heather Longley

Happy Valley’s satellite ’burbs and green spaces feature some of the best small-town destinations in Pennsylvania. Grab a meal or spend a day in one of these five charming Centre County communities.

The Rink at Talleyrand Park photo by Carla Cipro 1

State Routes 144 & 150

Victorian charm is the name of the game for the county seat of Happy Valley. Visitors to Bellefonte can sleep tight in a local bed and breakfast before setting out the next morning for a day hunting for the perfect gift.

Pickers and those with an eye for vintage might find their next treasure at The Great Mish Mosh, Fez Records or Plaza Centre Antique Gallery; or something on the artistic and craftastic side at Smith + Front, Belle Mercantile, The Magpie’s Nest, Jabebo and Art a La Carte Gallery and Gift Shop.

Food stuff includes local favorites (Waffle Shop and Bellefonte Wok), local necessities (My Café Buzz and Good Intent Cider) and local specialties (Bonfatto’s Italian Market & Corner Café and Mamma Lucrezia's).

At the bottom of the hill is Talleyrand Park, the jewel of Bellefonte. Take in the scenery at Spring Creek and follow in either direction along the riverwalk to Gamble Mill or to Big Spring Spirits for supper and a nightcap, or plan ahead and book a rail ride, thanks to the return of the Bellefonte Historical Railroad.

State Route 45 East

This small town 10 minutes southeast of State College is a step back in time with a big history. Boalsburg Village Conservancy highlights the town’s legacy as “the birthplace of Memorial Day,” and the Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion Museum displays a local family’s links to world history. It’s also home to the Pennsylvania Military Museum, an accessible campus honoring the state’s military history.

Don’t forget “charming.” Boalsburg offers options for unique, fine dining (Duffy’s Tavern or Kelly’s Steak & Seafood) and local libations (Seven Mountains Wine Cellars Bar and Boal City Brewing), bespoke shopping (A Basket Full and The Bike Roost) and farm-style accommodations (Apple Pony Inn or Nittany Meadow Farm).

Those willing to get dirty will find plenty of options too—Harvest Fields Disc Golf Course and Community Bike Trails, Tussey Mountain Ski and Recreation and Climb Nittany.

Boal City 2

Centre Hall
State Routes 45 and 144

Agritourists may find Centre Hall warm and welcoming. Nestled at the bottom of Centre Hall Mountain to Nittany Mountain’s east, the borough is home to the Grange Park, which hosts the annual Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair, People’s Choice Festival, Remington Ryde Bluegrass Festival, year-round Equine Center at Grange Park, rodeo, animal shows and more.

The Express Casual Dining offers exactly that, including homestyle and wood-fired favorites, and Mt. Nittany Overlook Event Center by Harrison’s provides a picturesque space for your groups to fine-dine high above town. Experience an upscale atmosphere that exudes family comfort and quality food at Brother's Pizza & Italian Restaurant.

Update your look—English or Western—at Saddles Etc., or pick antique or vintage treasures at The Beaten Path.

State Route 45 East

Take a walkabout at Poe Valley or Poe Paddy State Park, then cradle a wine or an ale in the historic district of Millheim. Squarely in Penns Valley, way east of Penn State, the hip, rural borough is a foodie’s dream. Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, known for its hand-crafted beer and farm-to-table cuisine, and small-batch Pisano Winery, which offers indoor-outdoor tasting rooms, both highlight local musicians with weekly music nights. Meandering Mallard Coffeehouse and Super Duper Café offer unique menus featuring healthy, nutritious, house-crafted options.

I-99 South to 322 West

Heading north and over Skytop Mountain, at the westernmost corner of Centre County, sits Philipsburg. The growing small town offers a respite from the State College bustle with options for crafts and gifting (Shindig Alley and Thieves Market), a movie date (Dead Canary Brewing Company and Rowland Theatre), birthday party events (The Painting Broad, The Clubhouse or Bock’s Tea Room) or an outdoor outing (Slabtown Skate and Bike Park or Cold Stream Dam). Stay over and dine in at We Are Inn, featuring remodeled rooms and specializing in Italian and American cuisine, made from family recipes passed down over generations. Philipsburg Revitalization Corporation is doing its part by supporting and attracting local, viable businesses and quality residential spaces. Learn more about the borough’s history, including its start as a settlers’ site and moving to an area rich in natural resources, at the Philipsburg Historical Foundation; and the Moshannon Valley Heritage Center welcomes newcomers looking for their own adventure.

The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau publishes up-to-date event information at HappyValley.com/events