Mention a trip to State College, and instantly the thought bubbles that form above my head are filled with various scrumptious culinary delights that can only be found within the town’s limits. Many memories from my four years on Main Campus at Penn State University revolve around shared delicacies in between classes and study breaks. But the beauty of this town extends far beyond the plate. So let me be your tour guide though a day in State College – but know that I lead where my stomach takes me.
My days at Penn State may be over, but now I have a new reason to visit State College. Earlier this year, Susquehanna Bank entered the local market by acquiring another bank. And this month, we’re expanding, opening our newest branch on South Atherton Street in State College. Sounds like the perfect reason to plan a visit!
I’d start any day in State College awaiting a warm, thick Belgian waffle towering with whipped cream and sliced strawberries on the edge of town at the Waffle Shop. The line for this local legend wraps around the building during football season, but I’d wait all day for a taste of this breakfast of champions. One bite and it’s clear why this place is rated the #2 place to eat in State College. The top location gets a mention below – stay tuned!
A short drive lands you on campus; park near the Nittany Lion Inn and stroll down the mall leading down from the library for a gorgeous glimpse at the university’s natural beauty. Visit from April through October to enjoy the full glory of the tree-lined path leading straight downtown. This is also a great spot to observe what I believe to be the friendliest squirrels in the state perform antics for the chance at scoring your morning snack.
Arrive downtown and you’re presented with too many locally-owned shops (and some national chains) to mention. Whittle away the morning weaving in and out of shops on the hunt for clothing, children’s toys, gifts, home wares and of course, Penn State tchotchkes and t-shirts. Visit in July and you’ll find the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the ArtsTM fills the streets with work from local artisans and musical performances.
Work up an appetite shopping and you’ll find just as many restaurant options to satisfy any culinary craving. Find The Corner Room and American fare in the heart of downtown State College or enjoy a “WHIMPY” burger, Black & White shake or “TEENY WEENY” sundae at throwback diner Baby’s Burgers and Shakes.
A quick walk back to campus takes you to the Hub-Robeson Center. Enjoy some rays or toss a football on the student union’s lawn before strolling into the Penn State Campus Bookstore for an air-conditioned rest. Pick up a good read and work up an appetite for the #1 rated treat in State College – ice cream at the Berkey Creamery. This creamy confection is worth any wait – get a cone to eat and take a ½ gallon home in their freezer packs. I wonder if they’d let me take home a whole vat of their pumpkin ice cream this fall?
Still up for more entertainment? Catch a movie or performance at the State Theater, renovated for a reopening in 2006 and featuring independent films and theater and musical performances. Catch a free children’s movie there on the right day. Or catch a concert at the Bryce Jordan Center, where they’ve played host to some of the top-performing musical acts today. A winter trip can take you to Tussey Mountain, right out of town, for skiing and snow tubing fun.
I’ve only just scratched the surface of enjoyment that a trip to State College presents. Make a weekend of it to sample all of the great restaurants, watering holes and cultural events!
What is your favorite reason to visit State College?