Things to do near Penn State

EXPLORING OUR OUTDOORS: The Mid State Trail

Whether you’re looking for an overnight excursion or simply a short day-hike, the Mid State Trail should be at the top of your list.

Known as the “wildest footpath in Pennsylvania,” the 320-plus mile trail runs just south of State College on its route from the Maryland to the New York border. It covers diverse topography and is located mostly on public land, including the nearby Rothrock and Bald Eagle state forests.

The State College section of the trail is the most popular, but you’ll still find serenity in abundance. Our local section is known for its beautiful views and a monument near Little Flat Fire Tower that was erected to commemorate the trail’s birthplace. Founded by Professor Tom Thwaites of the Penn State Outing Club in 1969, the trail holds a special place in the heart of Penn Staters and Pennsylvanians alike.

The trail passes...

ALL ABOUT PENN STATE: The Pegula Ice Arena & PSU Hockey

Since its construction in 2013, the 6,014-seat Pegula Ice Arena has been the home of the Penn State Nittany Lions men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, plus countless other community events.

Located on the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive in State College, it’s named after its primary donors, Kim and Terry Pegula, who made the largest donation in Penn State’s history to help build the rink.

Penn State's men’s hockey program first began in 1938, but the current program traces its beginnings back to 1971 when the program was restarted on a non-NCAA level. The women’s team began as the “Lady Icers” during the ’96-97 season as a club team, and like the men’s team, played in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

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ALL ABOUT PENN STATE: The Arboretum

Perfect for a stroll or picnic, The Arboretum at Penn State is sure to please.

Opened in the fall of 2009, this relatively new addition to campus is 395 acres and includes the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. The arboretum is Penn State’s second (the first is at Penn State Behrend), and the second in Centre County (the other being Rhoneymeade Arboretum & Sculpture Garden in nearby Centre Hall).

The arboretum’s mission is simple: to promote scholarship and education about plants, their history and their importance on earth.

It’s an easy place to spend an hour or two enjoying the wide variety of flora that call the gardens home. It’s especially beautiful in spring when flowers are in bloom (you can use their interactive...

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....

CULTURE CORNER: Discovery Space

If your family lives in Centre County and you’re interested in science and technology, Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania is a must-see. Featuring hands-on science fun through interactive exhibits and programs, it’s perfect for kids … and adults are bound to learn something, too!

It all began in 2002 when the Downtown State College Improvement District and other members of the community envisioned a community-oriented science museum. The facility first opened its doors to the public in 2011.

Membership improved over the years, and in 2016, the museum welcomed its 700th member. In 2017, Discovery Space moved to its current location, a larger facility on North Atherton Street just minutes from downtown and Penn State's campus.

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EXPLORING OUR OUTDOORS: The Standing Stone Trail

Surrounded by multiple state forests and parks, Centre County outdoors lovers have a lot to be thankful for. Hikers especially have an abundance of options to enjoy— one of them being the 80-mile Standing Stone Trail (SST), which runs south of State College and Penn State University.

Initially built as the Link Trail to connect the Mid State and Tuscarora trails, the SST received its current name in 2007. It’s also part of the Great Eastern Trail — America’s newest long-distance trail that spans from Alabama to New York.

Running along the ridge and valley section of the northern Appalachian Mountains, the SST features many views and unique cultural attractions. The most popular section of trail, by far, is the Thousand Steps hike, just south of Huntingdon.
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Exploring Our Outdoors: Rothrock State Forest

Outdoor activities are plentiful in the region, thanks in part to public land like Rothrock State Forest.

Located just minutes from State College and Penn State University, this 215,000-acre tract of mountainous terrain in Centre, Mifflin and Huntingdon counties offers hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and much more.

Founded in the early 20th century by neighboring Mifflin County native Dr. Joseph Rothrock, the forest was initially barren due to excessive logging and resource extraction. Concerned that the barren ridges would not regrow without proper management, Rothrock took action in 1895 when he was appointed the first commissioner of what’s today known as the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This was the beginning of...

Weekend Getaways: Allegheny National Forest and beyond

Just over two hours from State College and Penn State University is the Allegheny National Forest, an outdoor lover's paradise. 

Covering approximately 517,000 square acres, the forest lies in the heart of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas region and is the only National Forest located within the state.

Early settlers cleared the land for agriculture, but the lumber industry soon followed. Deforestation caused wildfires and floods, and by 1900 most wildlife was eliminated due to overhunting.

The Forest Service began managing the land that is now the Allegheny National Forest in 1923, and things began to change for the better.

Today, forests have regrown and animal populations have rebounded. The forest — which includes the Allegheny Reservoir — is a...

Exploring Our Outdoors: Black Moshannon State Park

When you’re feeling the need to get out of town and explore the outdoors, consider Black Moshannon State Park.

Located less than 25 minutes from State College and Penn State, and 15 minutes from Philipsburg, the park was built around its namesake lake – Black Moshannon Lake, formed by a dam on the Black Moshannon Creek. Home of the largest reconstituted bog/wetland complex in the state, there’s plenty of water-related activities here, along with great hiking trails and wildlife habitat to explore. 

Open year-round, this 3,481-acre park has something for everyone. One of the best times to visit is during the summer, when warmer temperatures allow for swimming in the lake. Feel free to stretch out on the sandy beach and take in the fresh mountain air! Kids will love this alternative to their local community pool. 

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Top Events: Maple Harvest Festival & Pancake Breakfast

Learn all about maple syrup and maybe eat a pancake, too, during the annual Maple Harvest Festival at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center!

Slated for March 28 and 29, 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. daily, it promises fun for the whole family.

Have you ever watched costumed interpreters demonstrate sugaring techniques used by pioneers and Native Americans? Ever tapped a maple tree to see the sap transform into syrup?

If not, this your chance! Kids will be entertained, and adults are sure to learn something, too. Additional activities include live music (performers to be announced), live animal programs and a climbing wall.

This unique festival is free for children 5 and under; $10 for nonmembers ($6 ages 6-11); and $5 for members ($3 ages 6-11). The menu includes pancakes, real maple syrup, two local pork sausage patties, applesauce and beverages (juice, coffee, tea or hot chocolate).

Those interested but without transportation can ride the “Maple Bus”...