Spend a day in and around Philipsburg

– by Lesley Kistner

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The beautifully restored Rowland Theatre is a hallmark of Philipsburg's downtown.

Founded in 1791 and located in picturesque Moshannon Valley, Philipsburg is a quiet small town with historic charm and plenty of hidden gems worth checking out. So pack up the car and head “over the mountain” for an enjoyable visit to this Happy Valley community.

Shop for unique finds

Philipsburg’s Front Street commercial district features a variety of unique shops, including Shindig Alley, a high-end vintage store filled with one-of-a-kind finds. The shop specializes in Mid Century Modern furnishings and décor, as well as a well-stocked boutique of vintage clothing and estate jewelry, and has a national and international clientele. Primitive and country home décor and gifts from more than 35 vendors can be found at nearby Thieves Market (more country and antique furniture awaits at Conklin’s Corner, just a mile outside of town). Feeling artsy? Schedule a visit to The Painting Broad. The North Front Street art studio offer tons of paint your own pottery (no appointment necessary), and canvas and crafting classes. Another Front Street business, Reflections of Sugar Hill, specializes in custom, vintage and antique furniture and décor. The shop is currently closed due to COVID-19, but plans to reopen this fall.

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Shindig Alley is a treasure trove of quality vintage finds.

After a day of shopping, there are plenty of establishments in and around town to grab a bite to eat. The charming Poppy & Co. Café and Catering serves up homemade cooking for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Thursday. Weekends at the North Second Street café are reserved for parties and events. In August, the restaurant will add an ice cream parlor and candy shop.

Take in local history

Two of Philipsburg’s premier historic sites are open to tour on a limited basis this summer from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The John Henry Simler House is the oldest building in town, constructed in 1807 by one of Philipsburg’s 12 original settlers. The Union, or “Old Mud” Church as it is known, originally dates to 1820, and is a classic example of Gothic architecture as rebuilt in 1842. Even if you aren’t able to explore indoors, these sites are must stops for photos. Both are on The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau’s Historic Philipsburg Walking Tour, which is available for download on happyvalley.com. The self-guided tour highlights the stately homes and churches on Presqueisle Street, as well as the historic Front Street commercial district.

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The Simler House and the Old Mud Church are two well-known historic points of interest in Philipsburg.

...or enjoy a movie with a side of history

Built in 1917, the beautifully restored Rowland Theatre is a historic single screen theatre located on Front Street. The Rowland is a memorable place to watch a movie in a (socially distanced) style of a bygone era. As the website proclaims: “You have not seen a movie unless you have seen a movie at the Rowland!”

Grab some ice cream and head to Cold Stream Dam

Beat the summer heat and satisfy your craving for a Berkey Creamery ice cream cone or bowl at the We Are Inn, located across Route 322 from Cold Stream Dam. You don’t even need to feel guilty about those extra calories; burn them off with a leisurely stroll around the dam. Step through the inviting iron and stone gate to find a pathway around the 7-acre reservoir filled with water lilies. Dogs are also permitted on the trails behind the picturesque dam, which was originally built for the logging industry in the 1800s.

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An impressive stone and iron gate welcomes visitors to Cold Stream Dam.

Nearby attractions

Located eight miles from Philipsburg on Route 504 is Black Moshannon State Park. The 3,481-acre forested state park surrounds Black Moshannon Lake, and offers hiking, picnicking, swimming, boating, bird watching, overnight accommodations and more.

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The scenery is striking at Black Moshannon Lake.

Another easy and enjoyable detour traveling back from Philipsburg on Route 322 East is to head to Way Fruit Farm. Proceed straight at the traffic light in Port Matilda. Follow Beckwith Road over the ridge and turn left Halfmoon Valley Road (Route 550.) As an added bonus, it’s a pretty drive that showcases some of Happy Valley’s beautiful rural scenery.

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A variety of mouth-watering lunch and dinner options, and delicious baked goods, are available in the cozy Way Fruit Farm cafe. Outdoor dining is also an option.

The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau cannot stress enough that we believe in responsible and safe travel. We do encourage visitors planning business or leisure travel to Happy Valley to refer to the following resources for reliable information and updates regarding COVID-19. Please keep in mind that some articles on this blog were written in a different age pre-virus. Please refer to the individual business websites for current status and hours available. HVAB links to business and other appropriate pages at every opportunity.