Traveling The Glory: The Ultimate Penn State Road Trip

It’s no secret Penn Staters have a passionate love for Dear Old State. Why else would we endure the heartbreak the ups and downs of Penn State football or suffer through the State College tundra every winter?

But do you really love Penn State enough to take a four day, 1,332-mile road trip around the Commonwealth to visit each Penn State campus?

With a wide-open calendar and a tank full of gas, I set out to do just that.


The idea for this trip started initially as a joke. Friend of the blog Jake Starr and I initially thought the idea of traveling across the state was something out of a fantasy. We were both going to be away from home for the summer, so when would we even have the time to go? Well, the coronavirus pandemic quickly freed up our calendars and made an impossible idea become suddenly possible.

Planning for the trip was no easy feat. Jake and I mapped out where each Penn State campus was located in Pennsylvania. With both of us being from “just outside of Philly,” it made sense to begin at Penn State Brandywine and work our way north from there. We planned to head upstate on day one, cross the state and hit Erie on day two, work our way to State College on day three, and end our endeavor on day four.

Once we knew where we’d be starting and stopping, we made hotel reservations accordingly. We also were sure to wear masks, adhere to social distancing rules, and disinfect everything we could while staying in the hotels.

The finished gameplan

To keep track of our progress, we made an itinerary sheet. It showed the location, distance, and amount of time it would take to get to each campus. We also used Apple Maps to guide us in our travels. Additionally, we live-tweeted our journey in one giant Twitter thread to help keep folks updated on our travels.

Visiting Campuses

When we arrived at each campus, Jake and I made sure to take note of everything we saw. We noticed a lot of similarities between the campuses, from most of the campuses having a University Drive to the presence of West, South, and Nittany residence halls.

However, we also noticed that each Commonwealth campus had its own charm and defining features. Penn State Altoona has a beautiful lake in the center of its campus, while Penn State Behrend has a student center referred to as “the RUB.” Some campuses even had a Nittany Lion statue sitting on a bench, which, quite frankly, would be an excellent addition to University Park.

One of if not the most defining feature of each campus is the presence of the Lion Shrine. There’s 21 in all (including the original at University Park, of course). They were an excellent way to keep track of the campuses we visited. Like each campus, the Lion Shrine is similar in design no matter where you go, but some are white, while others are the standard tan.

Each lion shrine, plus our picture from before we got started.

The Drive

Although visiting each campus broke up the drive, there were some segments of the trip that involved two hours or more in the car. Most of the drive was on highways like I-476, I-80, I-76, and I-376, but the other parts were state routes and backroads. If you decide to take your own road trip around Pennsylvania, be prepared for a lot of mountains and cornfields.

I highly recommend making a road trip playlist to help pass the time. If you’re in need of a good Penn State themed playlist, check ours out here. Believe me, blasting “Zombie Nation” in the middle of a three-hour drive does wonders to get you going.

Sightseeing Along The Way

Let’s be real, folks. Pennsylvania is beautiful. Between Philly and Pittsburgh, there’s nothing but rolling hills, cute little farms, and other natural gems. We passed through countless state parks as we traveled through the center of the state.

One of the parks we passed through was Ricketts Glen. Located on PA Route 118, the park features over 21 natural waterfalls. Although we didn’t have time to hike the trail, we did catch a glimpse of a waterfall that was a minute’s walk from the parking lot. We also caught a glimpse of Lake Erie while we visited Penn State Behrend.

Additionally, we made a pit stop at Williamsport to visit the home of the Little League World Series. Although this stop wasn’t initially on our itinerary, it was a nice way to break up a long drive.

Even though we didn’t have the time, I wish we could’ve gotten to spend some time in Pittsburgh. Being a Philly girl, I’ve always wanted to see the Steel City and everything it has to offer. Next time around, I’m definitely stopping by. However, if you’re a Yinzer and want to see Philly on your way, I highly recommend that as well.

Regarding food, we tried to eat as locally as possible. We tried some Pennsylvania staples such as Old Forge Pizza in Old Forge and chanced our luck at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, the Iron Mountain Grille (spoiler alert: it was fantastic).

When we arrived in State College, we had our pick of local cuisine and decided to go with sushi. Support your local businesses, folks! Asking for recommendations will definitely ensure a good dining experience.

Trip Stonks

Below, you’ll find a brief breakdown of our trip by the numbers.

  • 1,332 miles driven
  • Four tanks (48 gallons) of gas
  • More than 30 counties passed through/visited
  • 21 Lion Shrines selfied with
  • 34 hours in the car


Although many Penn Staters aren’t familiar with the university’s many Commonwealth Campuses, each is beautiful and unique in its own special way. And at the end of the day, you gotta love ’em all, because no matter where in Pennsylvania the campus is located, it’s still Penn State. I’d be lion if I said I didn’t love my school.

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About the Author

Alysa Rubin

Alysa was Onward State's visual editor. She's one of many "just outside of Philly" folks at Penn State and yes, she's an obnoxious Philly sports fan. Alysa loves her camera, hiking, a good soft pretzel, and eating her way through Wawa. She's also a proud mom to a cat named Comet. Follow @arubin241 on Twitter to keep up with what she sees through her lens (and for a funny retweet or two).

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