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What To Do In State College Over The Summer

There is never a bad time of the year to be in Happy Valley, and the warm summer months are no exception. With brutally cold weather and final exams both in the rearview mirror, there’s a whole lot to look forward to if you’re spending the summer in town.

Whether you’re here for summer session or are a senior holding onto your lease for a few more weeks, you’ll have plenty of things to do and places to visit while soaking up the sun. Here are some of our favorite attractions and activities to keep you entertained.

Climb Mount Nittany

Hiking up the side of a mountain might not sound like the most fun thing to do on a hot summer day, but trust me when I tell you that the view at the top makes it completely worth it.

Depending on the path you choose, this hike ranges from two to eight miles, with a vertical rise of 600 feet. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for fuel as you cross this popular landmark off the ultimate Penn State bucket list.

Oh, and if you time it just right, you may even be able to catch the sunset at one of the scenic outlooks.

Explore The Other State Parks

Ever hear people describe Penn State as being located in the “middle of nowhere”? Well, they aren’t lying. Campus is surrounded in all directions by forests, fields, and mountains. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you love nature.

There are six Pennsylvania State Parks within a thirty minute radius of State College: Whipple Dam, Black Moshannon, Poe Paddy, Poe Valley, Greenwood Furnace, and Bald Eagle. At all of these parks, you can take part in various outdoor activities including hiking, swimming, picnicking, fishing, recreational boating, hunting, and camping.

Whipple Dam State Park, courtesy of Ryan Haines

Slightly further away from campus is Rothrock State Forest, which comprises 96,975 acres of land across three different counties. Complete with 300 miles of hiking trails, 290 miles of roads for mountain biking and horseback riding, and 9,290 acres of Wild and Natural Areas with plants and wildlife, there is no shortage of things to do or see.

Enjoy Fun And Games At Tussey Mountain

If you thought Tussey Mountain was only for skiing and tubing during the winter months, think again. In the summer, the area completely transforms with go-kart tracks (open Memorial Day), a mini golf course, a driving range, batting cages, and a skate park.

On Friday nights, you can also enjoy free admission to Movies on the Mountain. Lay out on the hill with blankets, pillows, and plenty of popcorn as you watch a variety of films, ranging from Spider Man to Grease to A Star is Born.

There are also several festivals held at Tussey Mountain throughout the summer like Bluegrass & BBQ on Saturday, May 25, CelticFest on Friday, June 14, and Wingfest every Thursday night.

Attend A Spikes Game

Head on over to Medlar Field to catch a minor league baseball game and root on the hometown State College Spikes.

The 38-game home schedule can be found here, and is stacked with firework shows, giveaways (who doesn’t want a classic bobblehead?), special appearances, and themed jersey events.

Nothing beats an afternoon or evening well-spent at the ball park, indulging in hot dogs, chicken tenders, and fries while attempting to catch — or avoid — foul balls.

Eat Out During Happy Valley Culinary Week

From June 10-16, the seventh Annual Happy Valley Culinary Week will be held to celebrate local restaurants, chefs, and food. Throughout the week, participating restaurants will introduce specialized three-course menus at discounted prices for customers.

Last year, participating restaurants included The Tavern, The Field Burger & Tap, The Nittany Lion Inn, Gigi’s Southern Table, and Inferno Brick Oven & Bar.

Take In Fireworks At Central PA 4th Fest Celebration

If you’re planning on being in State College for the Fourth of July, you won’t be disappointed by the fireworks, which have been rated among the top five shows in the United States.

You can also take part in a four-mile “firecracker” race earlier in the day, before attending the annual Independence Day Parade.

“Support The Arts” At Arts Fest

Arts Fest is like the climax of summer in State College. The town wakes up from its summertime snooze and bustles with energy and activity reminiscent of a football weekend. Swarms of students and alumni return to Happy Valley to daylong take part in the celebration, along with family members and townies alike.

steffen blanco
Steffen Blanco | Onward State

This year’s festivities will take place July 10-14. If the daylonging scene isn’t for you, you can admire locally made arts and crafts during the Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition, Italian street painting, a giant sand sculpture, live music, and other art exhibitions throughout the weekend.

Shop At The State College Farmers Market

The State College Farmer’s Market is located on Locust Lane, every Tuesday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Local vendors sell fresh produce, meats, pasta, dairy products, baked goods, wine, flowers, organic soaps, and much, much more (Imagine that.). It’s a fun way to meet new people, learn new things, and support going local initiatives.

Visit Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery

Spend a day touring the 9.5-acre vineyard and winery where an expansive collection of wines is produced “farm to bottle.”

You can also sit in the tasting room or out on the patio overlooking the vineyard, and indulge in an extensive selection of wines and locally made cheese with friends.

Have A Picnic At The Arboretum

There is probably no better time to witness the beauty of the Arboretum than during the summer. Flowers and plants are in full bloom, vibrant colors are everywhere, and the sun is constantly shining down on the expansive garden.

So why not pack a picnic (Creamery ice cream is a staple for this), lay down on the grass, and soak up the sunshine, while taking in the many sights and sounds of the Arboretum? If this doesn’t scream Penn State in the summer, then I don’t know what does.

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About the Author

Rory Pelella

Rory is a senior from Binghamton, New York majoring in Spanish and journalism. She's been bleeding blue and white ever since her older siblings decided to create a family dynasty in Happy Valley in 2006. So, as you can imagine, she loves absolutely everything Penn State (especially the Cheese Shoppe downtown). She's also a die-hard Yankees, Knicks, and Giants fan (it's brutal), and would do anything for a good old fashioned New York slice. Feel free to email her at rorypele[email protected] or follow her on twitter @rorypelella.

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