Spend a day (or several) with Happy Valley Agventures
Agriculture is deeply embedded in Centre County’s heritage, and is a vital part of the local economy today. Signs of Happy Valley’s agricultural roots are all around – from Penn State University, which was chartered as the Farmer’s High School in 1855, to the beautiful farms and farmland throughout our many picturesque valleys. There are plenty of ways to experience your own ‘Agventure.’
Seek out farm-to-fork dining options
Many of Happy Valley’s most popular restaurants – Gigi’s Southern Table, Otto’s Pub & Brewery, Pine Grove Hall, The Hublersburg Inn, Elk Creek Café, Inglebean Coffee House, to name a few – fully embrace the farm-to-fork concept, with inventive dishes featuring a variety of locally grown and produced products. Re Farm Café at Windswept Farm takes the concept a step further by growing and raising most of the food that its composers turn into amazing cuisine. RE Farm Café offers ticketed seating, a takeout menu that changes weekly, and new RElax picnics on Wednesdays, featuring Otto’s beer. Don’t forget dessert! Meyer Dairy, the Penn State Berkey Creamery (also available at the We Are Inn in Philipsburg) and Inglebean Ice Cream serve up delicious farm fresh ice cream in a variety of flavors.
(Responsibly) sip a craft beverage
Happy Valley has a thriving craft beverage scene – with many establishments featuring standout culinary options as well! Make it a point to purchase and complete a Central PA Tasting Trail Passport. The trail includes 12 Centre County craft beverage producers – enabling visitors to savor the flavor of award-winning wines, inventive cocktails (and zero-proof options), and carefully crafted cider and beer.
Shop for local products
You don’t have to go to a restaurant to enjoy local products. The charming Harvest Shop at Tait Farm features a variety of popular Tait Farm shrubs, mustards, jellies, chutneys and vinaigrettes – with recipe ideas for each – along with many other local foods. Way Fruit Farm is another popular option for fruit, produce, honey, jams and jellies, and fresh baked goods. Goot Essa is a Nittany Valley cheese shop offering a variety of high-quality Amish cheese, fudge and apple butter. As an added bonus, visitors to the shop are also likely to witness cheese-making in progress. Visiting Happy Valley’s many farm markets and roadside farm stands is another way to support local agriculture.
Take in agricultural history
Get back to nature at Rhoneymeade Arboretum & Sculpture Garden. Tranquility defines Rhoneymeade (Rhone’s Meadow), the homestead of Leonard Rhone. Rhone was founder of the annual Grange Fair, one of the last remaining encampment fairs in the nation. The fair won’t take place in 2020, but camping is available on the grounds throughout the summer. Arrange a tour of Boal Mansion, a property that played a pivotal role in the Farmer’s High School (Penn State), and that contains generations of fascinating family history and artifacts. Travel to historic Aaronsburg to the Penns Valley Historical Museum, which traces the lives of frontier settlers in the area.
Nowhere is Happy Valley’s agricultural heritage more evident than in the impressive inventory of barns that dot the landscape. If you are inspired by old (and new) barns, you’ll find some amazing examples in the county – bank barns, round barns, red barns, structures that are weathered and wonderful. When exploring the area by car or bike, be on the lookout to catch a glimpse of these gems.
Best barn routes to explore
Some of the best barn viewing can be found on routes 550, 45, 192 and 64. Here is one route to get you started: From Route 322, follow Route 45 through Penn’s Valley to Millheim. Turn left at the light in Millheim onto Route 445 and follow the winding road to Route 192. Turn left. Follow Route 192 to Centre Hall, proceed onto Brush Valley Road. There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat along the way, and things to do, but the beautiful scenery is sure to suffice.