Welcome to State College, PA. Whether you’re moving for good or just passing through, we guarantee you’ll have a great experience in our wonderful community.
Find out for yourself why our town is nicknamed “Happy Valley”. We’ve listed some of the most important things you should know about State College and the myriad things you can expect when you’re here.
Best college town
We are home to the main campus of Penn State or the Pennsylvania State University. One of the largest universities in the US, Penn State has more than 46,000 students enrolled at our University Park campus alone.
Life in State College is greatly influenced by the academic calendar. The town comes alive in the fall when the school year starts and takes on a more tranquil pace during the summer and holiday breaks.
We have consistently been named “Best College Town” by various publications. Here are just a few reasons why:
- The university boasts one of the most successful athletic programs in the country. Many of our college superstar athletes went on to become big names in the major leagues.
- We’re especially passionate about our college football team, the Penn State Nittany Lions. On game day, the town’s population grows from around 42,000 to nearly 106,000, as fans fill up Beaver Stadium, the fourth largest stadium in the world.
- We’re home to the largest university creamery in the country. Opened more than 100 years ago, Berkey Creamery is a local icon and an important landmark in Penn State. Churning out some of the best ice cream and other dairy products in the US, it’s considered a world leader in food science and dairy production.
- We have one of the country’s best college bars, as voted by Thrillist. The Phryst, located just steps away from the university, is a basement bar that features live performances by local bands and their very own bluegrass/country band. The bar has been around for over fifty years and is part of the Penn State tradition. In addition, there’s a host of other bars and restaurants around the campus. Check out the Penn State website to see your options.
A diverse and highly-educated population
State College has a widely diverse population, representing various ethnic groups. As a college town, a vast number of residents are students and university staff from different parts of the country and the world.
If you’re looking to be around people you can share ideas, information, and lively discourse with, you’re in the right place. Over 70% of the adult population in the town has a bachelor’s degree or higher. Much of the workforce are professionals, or work in the service and sales sectors, with about 23% employed in teaching. We have more residents working in computers and math-related jobs than 95% of the country.
The great outdoors
State College is no urban jungle. We’re surrounded by acres of farmland, as well as a vast expanse of the Appalachian Mountains and forests. Anytime you feel like escaping from the daily grind, you can easily hie off to one of the fantastic outdoor destinations in the area.
There are miles of hiking and biking trails, acres of camping grounds, and amazing state parks, including Penn Roosevelt State Park, Bald Eagle State Park, Whipple Dam State Park, and Greenwood Furnace State Park. Enjoy fishing, boating, cross country skiing, swimming, and so much more.
Caving and spelunking are also popular activities in the borough. Much of Philadelphia’s extensive cave network is found in State College, providing plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure. Not to be missed is Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park, the only all-water cavern and farm/nature park in the country. In addition to exploring the underground all water cave, you can also tour the area’s 1,600-acre nature preserve, walk through a natural butterfly garden, and more.
For more information on outdoor activities in State College, check out this page.
Rich history and culture
State College has a rich history that dates back to the 1850s, and all around the town are sites and landmarks that stand as a testament to its eventful past.
We have two historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places — College Heights Historic District and Holmes Foster/Highlands Historic District. Take walking tours of these neighborhoods and see beautiful homes built from the 1850s to the 1930s, reflecting the changing architectural trends through different eras. You’ll also find historic parks, buildings, and landmarks, including Penn State’s earliest fraternity mansions.
The university is also a top historic destination in State College, as well as a source of cultural entertainment. Two theaters on the campus, the Center for the Performing Arts and the Penn State Centre Stage, are considered among Pennsylvania’s top cultural venues, staging plays, musicals, live performances, exhibits, and other events.
The community owned State Theatre is also a major gathering place, where music, theater, opera, dance, film, and other productions are performed.
If you miss heading out, traveling to new places, and learning new things, don’t let the lesser mobility brought about by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic stop you from doing so. Minus the heading out part, you can still enjoy the sights of wonderful Pennsylvania attractions from the safety and comfort of your own home. All you need is a good internet connection, your laptop, and our recommendations for awesome virtual tours from great places all around the state. Take a tour through history via the Museum of the American Revolution, hone your artistic schtick via ArtsQuest, get your adrenaline fix with the virtual roller coaster rides of Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, and more. Read all about them here.
The ongoing pandemic is not a deterrent to the dining scene here in State College, PA. Even while statewide restrictions are not exactly recommending people to go out for recreational purposes, eating is still a must – and State College’s local restaurants are only too happy to serve that basic human need. Some safety protocols need to be observed, though, so you will find that many of these popular State College food spots are offering their dishes and reaching out to their clientele via curbside pickup, deliveries, takeout, and outdoor dining. What makes these State College restaurants a cut above the rest is the sheer diversity of their food offerings. That’s why not only students from Penn State U but also residents are blessed to have so many choices of cuisine to choose from. Let’s take a look at some of these popular restaurants in State College.