The ultimate home game weekend (as told by our Facebook fans)
UNIVERSITY PARK — Whether it is coming into town on Friday to stay with friends and catch Ted McCloskey & the Hi Fi’s at the Phyrst with $1 Coors Light drafts, or driving into the Beaver Stadium parking lots early Saturday and walking downtown to shop and grab a bite to eat at The Waffle Shop, there are no wrong answers when it comes to having the ultimate home game weekend. The one and only thing we can all agree on is that the perfect Penn State home game experience isn’t complete without a Nittany Lions win!
If you are planning your first trip to Happy Valley or are looking for some suggestions to build on your own home game traditions, here is a look at some of the best things to do on a Penn State home game weekend.
Penn State football excitement starts to build up in downtown State College early Friday night. The lines get longer and the chants get louder—but there is not anywhere else in the country Penn State students, alumni and fans would rather be.
“From the time I arrive Friday to Saturday’s game to my drive home on Sunday afternoon, I feel like I’m in my late teens/early 20s just like when I was here in the 80s,” Christopher K. said. “It keeps me young.”
Up and down College Ave. and Beaver Ave., Penn State fans old and young get together at places that have been regular stops for decades of students. David G., a 67-year-old Penn State alum, recalled going to The Shandygaff and Zeno’s. Zeno’s has been a Penn State institution since 1972 with an incredible beer selection and great food; but the history of The Shandygaff outdates that of even Penn State University — opening sometime in 1848, when the $6 liquor pitcher special wouldn’t have sounded like such a great deal.
And for Penn State students, the highlight for home games is camping out at Beaver Stadium in Nittanyville — a tradition that began before the 2005 Ohio State game to ensure students score some of the best seats in the stadium.
Gameday! There is nothing like waking up or driving into State College on a Saturday morning before a huge Penn State game.
“It’s when you pull up to the stadium in the morning and kickoff is still hours away; there is still dew on the grass in the parking lot because the sun still hasn’t risen over the north end zone scoreboard,” Elizabeth Ann said. “It’s these Penn State mornings—when you’re one of the first ones there and the mornings are filled with anticipation and excitement with some of your favorite people in the world—that are one of the best parts of a football weekend.”
One common thread of all responses we received about the ultimate game weekend was that tailgating at Beaver Stadium is one of the most important and revered parts of a Penn State experience. Outside of Beaver Stadium, tens of thousands of tents, RVs, Penn State flags, grills and tailgate games are everywhere for as far as you can see.
“The tailgating atmosphere is an amazing sight,” Mark said. “It is like a huge campground without the trees along with the amazing smells of food on the grill.”
And tailgating at Penn State is a generational and family affair. Barbara N. said that her favorite thing about a Penn State weekend is tailgating at the stadium parking lot as the family meets up from all directions to enjoy the game, and great tailgate foods. Amanda Jo added that “Everyone is always glowing, and I love bringing my children to show them the tradition of Happy Valley.”
The fun of a Penn State gameday doesn’t just begin and end in parking lots around Beaver Stadium—downtown shopping, sightseeing, dining and drinking are a must at some point Saturday as well.
If there is one food that everyone tries to get their hands on at some point Saturday, it is the legendary grilled sticky from Ye Olde College Diner on College Ave. Even former Penn State All-American and current Jacksonville Jaguars star Paul Posluszny still raves about the grilled stickies.
“I love desserts — grilled stickies are something that are unique to Penn State,” Posluszny said. “You can’t find them anywhere else quite like they do it there.”
Michelle W. and Mike E. both posted about spending early Saturday shopping downtown at Family Clothesline, sitting outside at Café 210 on College Ave. and, of course, hitting the Penn State Berkey Creamery for some of the best ice cream in the world.
After you get your shopping and downtown eating done, one of the best pre-game traditions is the team arrival on the blue buses. Fans line Porter Road, several hours before kickoff, to cheer on the arrival of the football team. Coach James Franklin sits in the first seat of the passenger side while the starting quarterback, Trace McSorely, sits in the first seat on the driver’s side of the bus.
And for all the fun and all the tradition that goes on in town on Friday night and up until kickoff Saturday, it is all business once the team comes out of the tunnel in front of 107,000 screaming Penn State fans. The atmosphere at Beaver Stadium is the best in all of college football, and if you’re lucky enough to attend a White Out game, there is no experience quite like it anywhere in the world.
As Head Coach James Franklin says, “The only thing I like more than Christmas is a ‘White Out’ football game.” I’d guess that most Penn State fans, students and alumni can agree with coach!
Plan your trip now to one of the remaining Penn State home games.
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