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A Brief Visitor’s Guide to State College, PA

Coming to Happy Valley for a football game? Here’s a list of must-eats, drinks, and visits.

Nittany Lions Shrine

So, you’ve descended upon State College, or “Happy Valley” as natives like myself call it. Since this is being written on a Penn State sports blog, I’m going to assume you’re reading this because you’re heading to Happy Valley to watch Penn State football take on your favorite team, and want some advice on places to check out, eat, and imbibe to your heart’s desire.

Where to Eat/Drink

The Original Waffle Shop - It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I tend to agree. That’s why I cannot recommend the Original Waffle Shop enough, this long-established Greek diner has two locations in State College, serving some of the best damn breakfast/brunch food you’ll have. Obviously, you can’t go wrong with their waffles, but the omlettes are high-quality, and the home fries are the best that I’ve ever tasted amongst the countless other breakfast joints I’ve been to in my life (make sure to ask for them ‘extra crispy’)

Bill Pickle’s Tap Room - Located just across the street from PSU’s campus, and established nearly 20 years ago, this lively bar is a great place to drink some beers and perhaps watch a sporting event. If you’re hungry and have a hankering for something more than pub grub, just swing on by to the Allen Street Grill next door for a good meal.

The Field Burger & Tap - Located in the Toftrees Golf Resort in State College, this place has an excellent selection in quality burgers, sandwiches, and beer. There are several burgers named after current PSU sports coaches, which the coaches themselves put together, including James Franklin (the “Coach Franklin” burger by the way, includes a turkey burger, arugula, tomato, olive tapenade, and goat cheese on a whole grain roll).

Biggest Tourist Attractions

Nittany Lion Shrine - Easily the most iconic landmark on the Penn State campus, this limestone statue was first carved up back in 1942 and has been an on-campus fixture ever since. Many visitor, graduation, and engagement photos have been taken at the shrine and every Homecoming the ROTC and other students partake in a 24-hour “guarding of the shrine” because rumor has it that back in the day, a group of students from an opposing fan base vandalized it. To come to Happy Valley and not visit the shrine is the equivalent of going to Paris and not swinging by the Eiffel Tower.

Berkey Creamery - If you love ice cream (and what kind of psychopath doesn’t?) then you absolutely must swing by the Creamery on campus. The available flavors change every day, but you can usually find classics like “Death by Chocolate” or “Peachy Paterno” on the menu. Just don’t ask them to mix flavors, this isn’t a gelato shop, after all.

Some Other Things To Try

Hiking Mount Nittany - If you ever wondered “What’s a Nittany Lion?” Well, it’s a term for a particular (and now-extinct) mountain lion that used to roam Mount Nittany. The entrance to Mt. Nittany is only a few miles away from PSU’s campus and is a most gravel-paved hiking path that leads you to the top of the mountain, where you can get an incredible view of State College and PSU from high above. It is something that every incoming freshman at PSU is told to do before graduating and likewise, I recommend every visitor do it before leaving town.

Historic Boalsburg - Just a handful of miles away from Penn State is a town that claims to be the “birthplace of Memorial Day.” A quick trek around historic Boalsburg will have you feeling like you dropped back into a time machine a couple hundred years.