Fun and Affordable Things to Do in State College


June 27, 2017

When you think of State College, you inevitably think of Penn State, the nationally renowned university. State College is a college town through and through, and much of its entertainment runs through the school. Still, there are plenty of things to do off-campus as well.

State College sprang up around the school in the late 1800s. Much of the area’s industry is focused on the university, which is by far the top employer in the area.

Things to Do Around State College

Whether you like sports or culture, State College offers several fun things to do around town. The best part is, many of those activities are cheap and family-friendly. You can go out and have fun without spending too much of your hard-earned money. Here are seven ideas on where to go to enjoy “Happy Valley.”

1. State College Spikes®

Minor league baseball games offer a fun opportunity for fans of the game to see players up close and maybe even get their autographs.

The stadium is located at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. As the Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, the State College Spikes® sometimes get famous players who are rehabbing from injuries. A day at the ballpark won’t set you back much – tickets are available for around $10 per person.

2. The Arboretum at Penn State

Glass House kkreeder
Photo provided courtesy of The Arboretum at Penn State

Do you love nature? You’ll find a lot of it at The Arboretum’s H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. In 2014, a children’s garden was added for more hands-on play and to help teach kids about the natural world. There are plant labels posted alongside the various flowers, shrubs and trees you’ll find onsite. The garden also has special attractions like a lotus pool, a large sundial sculpture, a watershed sculpture, and sculptures of wildlife, including a great blue heron, rabbits, a raccoon, and an American bison.

The Arboretum is free to the public and is open from dawn to dusk.

3. Welch Pool

Located off of Westerly Parkway in State College, Welch Pool has a wide array of swimming activities for all ages. The community pool boasts a lazy river, water slides, kiddie pool, and a lap area for serious swimmers. The pool opens the weekend of Memorial Day and closes around Labor Day. Buy a season pass or one-day tickets, which range from $2-$10 depending on age and whether or not you are a resident.

4. Centre Furnace Mansion

Centre Furnace Mansion
Photo provided courtesy of the Centre County Historical Society

If you’re a history buff, you must check out the Centre Furnace Mansion Historic Site. You may not know that James Irvin and Moses Thompson, the original owners of the mansion, bequeathed the land that Penn State was built on, envisioning a high school for farmers where kids could go to learn about agriculture.

Mansion tours are free, but donations (suggested $4) are welcome. The mansion has since become the headquarters for the Centre County Historical Society, and it can also be reserved for weddings in the beautiful gardens.

5. Discovery Space of Central PA

If you have children, the Discovery Space must be on your list of places to visit. With more than 45 exhibits designed to teach kids about science and math through interactive play, the museum also features an area for smaller guests called The Nest, where they can explore in a space that’s built to toddlers’ needs. Let your child learn by racing cars, blowing gigantic bubbles or playing a life-sized game of Operation.

The cost is $6 per person, but you can get discounted group rates when you call ahead.

6. Penn State All-Sports Museum

Penn State All-Sports Museum
Photo provided courtesy of Penn State All-Sports Museum

Happy Valley may be best-known for football, but the university excels in other sports as well. The women’s volleyball team has won multiple national championships, and the women’s soccer team also took a title in 2015.

The Penn State All-Sports Museum celebrates that worthy history, focusing on the university’s 31 varsity sports. Photographs and memorabilia dot the museum, which you can enter for a suggested donation of $5 per adult. Keep up to date on museum activities by following Penn State Athletics on Twitter.

7. Vamos! Lion Chariot

Want a unique way to explore State College? Hire a pedicab to shuttle you around campus, giving you a new perspective on familiar territory. The Lion Chariot service includes a tour of the campus and downtown in which your peddler will impart interesting stories about the history of the area. Kids, especially, will love the chance to be ferried around campus in this unique form of transportation.

A half-hour costs $30 and covers up to half of campus, including time allotted for riders to step off the cab and take pictures.

Enjoy These Fun and Affordable Things to Do in State College

State College is much more than Penn State. While the university provides a fun backbone for the town, there are many other things to do that are not directly connected to the college, and most of them won’t hurt your bottom line.

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Feature photo provided courtesy of the State College Spikes front office.

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