CATA CORNER: Best warm-weather destinations

As the memory of winter fades and temperatures rise, Penn State students and locals alike are usually ready to get out of their homes and enjoy all that Centre County has to offer. Whether they're looking to spend a night out on the town, go for a swim or simply read a good book, there are plenty of activities in or near State College to keep anyone entertained during the warmer months.

Fortunately, many of the region’s top summer attractions can be reached via the Centre County Transportation Authority’s bus system. Most bus routes originate in the downtown, making it easy for students and others nearby to hop on a bus and visit their favorite summer spots.

For those unfamiliar with downtown State College, there’s a huge variety of dining and nightlife options. Whether you’re hunting down your favorite cuisine or just want to relax in an outside cafe with a coffee or alcoholic beverage, you have plenty of choices here.

For those looking for something low-key in the business district, try stopping at the Schlow Centre Region Library, situated on Allen Street just blocks from campus. Here you can read and borrow books, participate in classes, perform research and more. Another great option for bookworms is Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, which offers tens of thousands of used books, a selection of new books by local authors, and hand-made local products. They also offer a great menu that also includes vegan options.

From downtown, you can take any of the Link or Loop buses to reach a few more great summer destinations. We recommend heading to the popular Penn State Berkey Creamery, where you can grab a cone and relax in the air conditioning. As you finish your treat you can walk a short distance to The Arboretum at Penn State, which offers a great place to sit and reflect or enjoy an evening stroll. It’s also kid-friendly, with the Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden sure to please the little ones.

While many of these activities are also great for cooler days, there’s still plenty to do when the weather swelters. Just a few blocks away from the creamery and arboretum — also accessible via Loop or Link buses — is the Pegula Ice Arena. Perfect for warm Pennsylvania summers, this top-notch facility offers community skate sessions at various times throughout the month. You can also rent skates here, too.

Another great warm-weather activity that can be found nearby is swimming. There are two community pools in State College, both of which can be reached via CATA bus. From downtown, you can take the F (Pine Grove) bus to Welch Pool, which is located adjacent to the high school. Another option that will get you very close to the pool is the S (Science Park) bus.

To reach the Park Forest Pool, we recommend taking the A (Park Forest Village) bus from downtown. Another option is the W (Valley Vista), which will require a short walk once you arrive in Park Forest. Both the Park Forest and Welsh pools cost $5 for all-day admission and offer an open/general swim, plus other great programs for children and seniors.

Our last warm-weather recommendations are located in Boalsburg, just south of State College. Known to many as the site of the earliest observation of Memorial Day, this small town is steeped in history. Just outside of the town center lies the Pennsylvania Military Museum, which offers a cool respite from the heat. A small fee is charged for admission, but it’s free to roam the sizable grounds nearby which contains a variety of memorials that commemorate Pennsylvania’s storied military history. 

The B (Boalsburg) and P (Tussey Mountain) buses make this an easy visit, especially if you’re heading toward our final warm-weather destination, Tussey Mountain Ski Area. In the colder months, the resort is a skier and snowboarder’s haven, but when it’s warmer, it offers a variety of activities suitable for the whole family.

At Tussey Mountain’s “Fun Centre” you have a variety of options. Mini golf, go-karts, a par-3 golf course, batting cages, a driving range, skate park and catch-and-release fishing are all found here, and can even be enjoyed during one of the many festivals held on the mountain. The most popular summer festival is “Wingfest,” a 20-year State College tradition where local restaurants compete for the title of Tussey Mountain Wing King. It’s a great time to enjoy local bands and restaurants, all while taking in the beautiful views of Happy Valley from Tussey Ridge.

Tussey Mountain is the last stop on the P bus, which also provides convenient access to the nearby Rothrock State Forest.
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