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Enjoy mid-week getaways in Happy Valley
Take a deep breath: Summer is in the air, temperatures are beginning to climb, and both give a new reason to appreciate what Central Pennsylvania has to offer. #HappyValleyPA is your weekday destination for delicious food, unique libations, and rich culture and entertainment. When you come to Centre County to stay during the week, you have access to all of the beauty and fun that Happy Valley has to offer, at better rates and facing less traffic.
Happy Valley is just a six-hour drive for 35 percent of North Americans, making it the perfect couple’s getaway, break from the work week, and chance to go on adventure. And by making plans in the middle of the week, you can enjoy Happy Valley like the locals with lots of insider favorites, less wait times and a lower price. Less waiting and less money means you get to fit more food, experiences and FUN into your getaway. What’s not to love?
You can stay in a contemporary hotel like Hyatt Place State College, or in a stylish and decadent bed and breakfast like Our Fair Lady, all while experiencing the unique charm of the individual communities throughout the valley.
When you visit Happy Valley, you will find no shortage of dynamic restaurants — some with great views, others with exciting music, and all with delectable food. Earlier in the week, head to Allen Street Grill in the heart of downtown State College where you’ll find modern American food and beautiful views of Penn State through floor-to-ceiling windows. The Field Burger & Tap at Toftrees Golf Resort is another State College hit that is open all week, serving farm-to-table burgers (voted best burgers and fries in State College last year!), hand-spun milkshakes using Hershey ice cream, and an extensive collection of craft beers from Central Pennsylvania. In historic Bellefonte, you’ll find Bonfatto’s Italian Market, which serves sandwiches, coffees, breakfast bowls, sandwiches, and fresh pasta dishes, along with a full market of produce and unique italian oils, vinegars, and snacks. The fourth generation of the Bonfatto family manages the business, infusing traditions from their great-great-grandparents in their current menus.
On Wednesday, sit on the outdoor patio and choose from the locally sourced menu inspired by global flavors at Creekside at Gamble Mill. Head to the RE Farm Cafe on Thursday night for tapas and live music, and then to Pine Grove Hall for dinner and dancing on Friday, or brunch on Sunday morning.
And for your sweet tooth, stop by Meyer Dairy on the edge of State College. This family farm was founded in 1887, and the dairy store serves some of the best homemade ice cream in Happy Valley. While you are here, you can try Penn State favorite Berkey Creamery’s most popular flavors like Peachy Paterno or BJC Jams. You can also take a few pints home from both beloved spots.
Outside of meal times, explore Happy Valley through the Central PA Tasting Trail. This trail is made up of 13 craft beverage producers; when you purchase a Tasting Trail passport, you have access to special offers at each location, and a gift once you complete the whole trail. The trail takes you through wineries, ciders, breweries and distilleries and a midweek visit will allow you to get the most out of each unique location. Get a taste of many unique libations, as you take in the various settings along the trail - historic buildings in charming towns, and apple farms and vineyards with views of the valley make this the happiest trail in #HappyValleyPA.
Speaking of trails, spend your days on a hiking or biking adventure. There are more than 750,000 acres of public lands in the area, making all of your outdoor dreams possible. The Harvest Fields Community Trails are multi-use and designed for both families and individuals of all ages and abilities. Plus, there are six Pennsylvania State Parks throughout Centre County, where you can find access to hike, bike, fish, kayak, geocache, bird-watch, and more, to your heart’s content. A favorite hike for locals and visitors is the White Trail up Mt. Nittany to the Mike Lynch Overlook. You’ll have views of State College, Penn State, Beaver Stadium, and the beauty of the valley. If you really want to go on an adventure to see spectacular views, connect with The Sky’s the Limit Ballooning, and schedule a balloon tour of the area - it doesn’t disappoint!
One of the richest parts of Happy Valley is its history - as an agricultural center, an educational hub, and a cultural landmark. The Happy Valley Agriculture Heritage Driving Tour lets you explore working farms and Amish homesteads, and paints a picture of the area’s heritage and unique agricultural stories. You’ll come across farm stands, farmers markets, and more along the way. Stop and visit Rhoneymeade Arboretum & Sculpture Garden, the homestead of Leonard Rhone, who founded the annual Grange Fair (the only remaining tenting fair in the country that takes place in the summer). It is a horticulturist’s delight, as well as a peaceful place for meditation and creative expression.
Penn State even began as the “Farmer’s High School” in 1855; not a true high school, but an agricultural college with the power to grant baccalaureate degrees. Agricultural roots run deep in Happy Valley, and go back for generations. Spend some time visiting the Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion Museum, where you can learn about George Boal and his family, as he was one of the founders of what is now Penn State University. The Boal Estate also features original furnishings, papers, portraits, tools and weapons of nine generations of the family, including the Columbus Chapel, which was brought over from Spain after a descendant of Christopher Columbus married into the Boal family.
There’s more history to explore at the PA Military Museum in Boalsburg, which features stories about Pennsylvanians who served in various wars, and the newest permanent exhibit at the Bellefonte Art Museum titled “A Journey to Freedom,” which centers on Bellefonte’s role in the Underground Railroad.
Art and entertainment abound in Happy Valley, from featured musicians at The State Theater, to bands and comedians at the Bryce Jordan Center, to the national tours of hit Broadway musicals at Eisenhower Auditorium. Plus, the Palmer Museum of Art is featuring three exclusive exhibitions this Spring: “An American Place: Selections from the James and Barbara Palmer Collection,” “A Way Through: Abstract Art of the 1940s,” and “Printmaking in the Age of Dürer.” All three are unique, educational, and thought-provoking.
When you’re ready for something a bit lighter, start by shopping the charming downtowns of each community in Happy Valley. You’ll find high-end vintage items at Shindig Alley in Phillipsburg, handmade items by local artisans at Belle Mercantile in Bellefonte, Amish cheese at Goot Essa in Howard, fun and educational children’s toys at Growing Tree in State College, and one-of-a-kind gifts at A Basket Full in Boalsburg.
No matter who you are or how you choose to spend your weekdays in Happy Valley, you’ll be in the center of a vibrant part of the country, filled with art, agriculture, and adventure.