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Summer Guide: Things to Do in State College

Aside from daylonging in fratland, State College has many fun ways to entertain the student population over the summer months. From swimming, to hiking, to playing a round of golf, there is something in Happy Valley for every type of person on your dorm floor. (Yes, even the strange dude who lives next to the bathrooms.)

Here is the Onward State guide of things to do in State College over the summer — fine tuned for the Penn State student.

Hiking — Unleash the wild side of State College by braving the elements in one of the area’s nationally aclaimed parks.

  • Walnut Springs/Lederer Park – The closest park to campus, Walnut Springs has a calming walking trail and natural streams to enjoy. (On the Map)
  • Shaver’s Creek – According to their website, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center is “a mix of educational and recreational opportunities” complete with a Raptor Center, networks of trails, and wetlands to enjoy. (On the Map)
  • Rothrock – Called a “living forest,” Rothrock is a 35,000 acre natural reserve that is alive with wildlife and adventure. And if you’ve already made your way out of State College, check out either the hemlock forests of the Alan Seeger Natural Area or visit the famous hiking trails of the Shingletown Gap. Don’t forget an Onward State favorite, Little Flat Fire Tower. (On the Map)
  • Mount Nittany – One of the rituals to becoming a full-fledged Penn Stater is surmounting the fabled Mount Nittany. With nine miles of trails and a scenic outlook that makes for a prominent Instagram point, Mount Nittany is the iconic outdoor activity of the State College community. (On the Map)

Swimming — Whether taking a casual dip or braving a leap from the high dive, beat the summer heat with some high quality (or highly chlorinated) H2O.

  • Whipple Dam – If you don’t want your aquatic adventures to be confined by some concrete and plastic liner, check out Whipple Dam — the closest thing Centre County has to a beach. (On the Map)
  • Mayor Welch Memorial Pool – There’s a big water slide…that’s all you really need to know. (On the Map)
  • Penn State Pool – If the Natatorium seems too Michael Phelps for you, check out the outdoor pool on campus for jumps from the high dive for plenty of room to splash around.
  • The Retreat – It’s the largest pool in Happy Valley, and the closest thing central Pa. has to a resort. (On the Map)

Arts — If the concert schedule for the Bryce Jordan Center isn’t giving the artsy folks enough (head) bang for the buck, there are still plenty of ways to stay creative in Centre County.


  • Downtown Theatre Centre – If the performing arts tickle your fancy, find a show to see through the Penn State School of Theatre.
  • The State Theatre – Nuzzled right on College Avenue, the State College community-owned theatre has everything “from high drama to children’s musicals, from rock ’n’ roll to live broadcasts of the Met. There’s rarely a day without a show to be seen, a concert to be heard, or a laugh to be had.” (On the Map)
  • Palmer Art Museum – Stop by the on-campus museum to find aged pieces of fine art and modern displays of architectural prowess.
  • Movie theaters – If you have the money for a taxi ride, a ticket, and the candy you know you’re going to talk yourself into buying, State College has two locations to see blockbuster hits — Premiere Theatre 12 and College 9.

Sports — Because the basketball courts in Rec Hall will only amuse the active spirit for so long.

medlar field

  • Happy Valley MiniGolf – If the fairway on a par 5 is just too ambitious, shrink the game of golf down to a more manageable size. (On the Map)
  • Penn State Golf Course – Just a short ride down College Avenue past Atherton Street, the Penn State golf course is the real deal for a day out on the green, open range. (On the Map)
  • Northland Bowling Alley – Take down some pins or a beer or two. (On the Map)
  • Medlar Field – Home of the Cardinals’ single-A minor league baseball team, the State College Spikes, Medlar Field is a great place to catch a foul ball or scarf down one too many hot dogs. Oh, and they have $1 beers on Thursdays for those of age. (On the Map)
  • Tussey Mountain – Tussey isn’t just a great place to ski during winter, the mountain is open all summer long with go-karts, batting cages, wing specials, and concerts. (On the Map)
  • Penn Skates – If you’re feeling the disco vibes, strap on a pair of skates and blow around the rink at Penn Skates. (On the Map)

Events — Because there’s nowhere that parties like Happy Valley.

Off-Beat — Not browsing the Craig’s List casual encounters classifieds, but something more like snagging a fresh head of lettuce from the Farmer’s market.

Your favorite destination in the State College area didn’t make our list? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@OnwardState).

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