Next Stop: Boalsburg

Our Favorite Village Eats and Sights

For all those who have ever referred to State College as “the middle of nowhere,” I come bearing pleasantly surprising news. State College, home of University Park, is actually the middle of an expansive treasure chest. It’s one gem among many in a region riddled with state parks, picturesque towns and historical villages. No, these pockets of central PA aren’t heavily populated, but if you ask me, that’s half of the appeal.  

Let’s face it. I'm not a city girl. Sometimes I think the bustle of Beaver Ave might as well be Times Square. And don't get me started on the stretch of Atherton spanning Park to College Ave. Narrow lanes, frequent traffic lights and reckless jaywalkers leave me angst ridden. Gratefully, there is a reprieve four miles southeast. It's called Boalsburg, and it's about as charming and old-timey as villages come.

Boalsburg is a straight shot down 322 from campus. You’ll know you’re headed in the right direction when you pass Meyer Dairy. (If you’ve found a way to actually drive past Meyer Dairy without stopping in for a cone of chocolate chip brownie dough, let me know.) Meyer sells milk in glass jugs, which is, without contest, the best and freshest around.

Also along South Atherton is the Pump Station Café, an adorably repurposed Texaco gas station conveniently equipped with a drive-thru if you’re on your way out of or into town. You’ll probably want to park so you can scope out the quirky décor, get a massive homemade cookie and your preferred caffeinated beverage and take a stroll through Pennsylvania Military Museum grounds. The museum features several outdoor exhibits and is open five days a week for indoor tours. Beginning mid May, the Boalsburg Farmers’ Market is held in the Military Museum parking lot every Tuesday from 2-6 pm.

Kelly’s Steak and Seafood is another Boalsburg must. You can’t miss it—just look for the giant bull stationed curiously on its rooftop. Go land or sea; either way, you won’t go wrong.

The Diamond, Boalsburg’s main drag, retains its 18th and 19th century architectural integrity, but new businesses breathe new life into the village. Seven Mountains Wine Cellars have recently opened a wine bar on Main St.—a welcome addition to the antique shops, clothing boutiques and other retailers. Follow the announcements on their Facebook page to keep tabs on BOGO deals and changing hours. Their next-door neighbor, gourmet chocolatier Chocolates by Leopold, also brings bliss to the Diamond.

Duffy's Tavern was established nearly 200 years ago, and while its menu has a modern flare, the décor drips with antique class, guaranteed to leave millenials with this dilemma: "I need to Instagram this grilled Chilean sea bass, but it just feels so wrong to have my cell phone out!" Maybe the ambiance isn't strong enough to facilitate time travel, but it comes close.

As if idyllic scenery and good eats weren’t enough to make the town sell itself, get a load of this historical tidbit: Boalsburg is widely accepted as the birthplace ofMemorial Day!

Legend has it, in 1864, three women gathered to decorate the graves of two local men who lost their lives serving in the Civil War. Those women—Emma Hunter, Sophie Keller, and Elizabeth Myers—are credited with initiating the holiday and are honored in a monument seated in the cemetery across from the Military Museum. A plaque bears this inscription: "The Memorial Day monument commemorates the birth of a national tradition of remembrance." And so it is that we gather still to remember those who have died in military service. Boalsburg does it in style to this day, with commemorative and celebratory festivities all weekend long.

This year, The Boalsburg Fire Company Carnival will kick off on Thursday evening, May 26th, and shut down on the 30th. It’s the volunteer fire company’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and purchasing a wristband secures access to rides for the duration—now, that’s a win-win. Throughout the weekend, there will be a parade, re-enactments, live music and more. Vendors show off and sell handcrafted goods, and nearly 500 runners of all ages unite for the challenging annual 3.8-mile Boalsburg Memorial Day Run. Local and national pride are alive and well in Boalsburg; this is especially true on the last Monday in May.

 If you’re planning a Happy Valley getaway, consider reserving a room in one of Boalsburg’s bed and breakfast inns, like Springfield House on Main St. Experience old-fashioned comfort with modern amenities in the well-kept and renovated 1840s house. For more lodging options and history, visit the Historic Boalsburg Village. Every fast-paced lifestyle needs to have a recharge button installed—Boalsburg is always on call to be yours!

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