Spend a day in and around State College

– by Lesley Kistner

Allen Street Corner

The Corner Room/Allen Street Grill is a long-time fixture of downtown State College's dining scene, and one of the most photographed buildings.

Home to Penn State University, State College is a safe, vibrant and diverse university town. If it’s been a while since you explored the downtown, you’ll notice some changes! You’ll also discover delicious new culinary options among long-time favorites; charming shops and boutiques; new public spaces to rest and reflect; and always popular campus attractions that warrant return visits. Here are some ideas for enjoying a day in State College.

Fuel your appetite with a robust, ever-evolving dining scene

Local Whiskey Burger Fries

Local Whiskey has a delicious menu and offers more than 200 varieties of whiskey.

From custom pizza and burgers, to a variety of international, fusion-inspired and vegetarian menu options (and more) that are available breakfast through late-night, State College’s robust dining scene has something to satisfy every culinary craving. New to downtown is Crust and Crumb Café, which will open this month, while popular Yallah Taco, which puts an Arabic twist on Mexican food, will soon open a second location on West College Avenue.

Explore unique shops

Nittany Lions fans of all ages will find just about any branded item they can imagine to show their Penn State pride in downtown stores. But tucked along the main routes and side streets are a number of charming boutiques and shops that offer much more. Kitchen Kaboodle (below right) has been serving the community for 37 years, offering the best in kitchenware and home essentials. The Nittany Quill features fine stationary, calligraphy and gifts. Well-dressed men and women will find the latest trends at State College-staple Harpers, while new shops, such as Ethereal Boutique (below left), feature women’s clothing, home goods and unique lifestyle products.

Embrace art and culture

Fans of public art will particularly enjoy a walk around State College. Brightly painted murals and frescos adorn buildings throughout town, as do interesting sculptures. For a more reflective experience, visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza on S. Fraser St. A highlight of the plaza is a mural containing imagery from Dr. King’s 1965 speech at Penn State’s Rec Hall. Pavers throughout the plaza commemorate key moments in the Civil Rights movement, both nationally and in the Penn State/State College community.

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Brightly painted murals can be found on buildings throughout the downtown.

Enjoy popular campus attractions

The scenery changes with the seasons at the Arboretum at Penn State, where tranquil paths flow through more than 1,100 species of plants. Benches throughout the gardens offer quiet places of respite, while the Children’s Gate keeps youngsters entertained. When the new pollinator garden is finished (construction should be completed in late 2020, with plant installation continuing into 2021), there will be 60 percent more area in which to appreciate the beauty of nature in Happy Valley. After a weekday stroll through the Arboretum, be sure to stop at the Berkey Creamery for a gallon to go of your favorite Creamery flavor. The Creamery is currently closed Saturdays and Sundays, as well as for dine-in service.

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The landscaping changes with the seasons at the beautiful Arboretum at Penn State.

Keep Happy Valley happy; wear a mask

The Growing Tree

Growing Tree Toys and other Happy Valley businesses are committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Wearing a mask is required in restaurants and businesses throughout Happy Valley, but State College recently passed additional health and safety mandates. For example, masks are required when within 6 feet of another person, so expect to wear a mask when walking in downtown State College, and while on public transit. In addition, lines on public sidewalks waiting for entrance into an establishment are limited to 10 individuals. Downtown State College businesses have taken a pledge to keep employees and customers safe; please help do your part when visiting!

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.