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My Guide to Fun in State College, PA (Penn State) (Part 1)

Updated on September 27, 2011

My Recommendations as a former resident and current graduate

I have lived in State College, PA (The town that was built around Penn State University) as a resident, and as an undergrad student. Not too many towns in Pennsylvania can be described as fun, but State College is one of the few exceptions.

If you are visiting friends at Penn State or you just randomly drive through the town, these are a few things I highly recommend you try.

A Penn State Football Game

If you are even the slightest of a football fan, you will experience an environment like no other at a Penn State Football game. Beaver Stadium, with a capacity of 106,572, is one of the largest stadiums in the WORLD. The student body is loud and boisterous, but overwhelmingly pour out their heart and soul in supporting their school. I'll never forget back in 2005, when we beat Ohio State (when the odds were heavily stacked against us), and we rushed the field after the game. It was an unbeatable experience, regardless of the cops who were trying to pepper spray everybody in site. Expect to hear WE ARE...PENN STATE chants throughout the whole game, along with The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" performed by the Blue Band, "Zombie Nation" (to a lesser degree now than in the past), and expletive filled chants sometimes when the zebras decide to make a bad call.

Experience future NFL stars, and watch a team coached by the legendary Joe Paterno, who is probably the most hardcore 84 year old you would ever meet.

For all of you alcohol enthusiasts, they do not sell alcohol in the Stadium, so you may want to tailgate before the game. Some people bring a case of beer and a few sandwiches, while some people bring their RV's, cook for 100 people, have enough beer to supply a major fraternity, and may not even have tickets. People will literally go to tailgate and party outside of the stadium.

If you sit at a Penn State game or are within a mile radius of Beaver Stadium on game day with a bored look on your face, then you really do not know how to have fun, or you're from Michigan!

Go to the Bars Downtown

Now, that you have experienced a Penn State football game, you need to follow the crowd and go to some of the bars in downtown State College. However, they are fun regardless if there is a game in town. Here are a few of my favorite bars:

1.) The Saloon - The home of the legendary Monkey Boy drink, which is a pitcher of triple sec, vodka, rum, gin, and your choice of schnapps. Please do not drive after drinking one...TRUST ME! Stay at one of State College's fine hotels, such as The Atherton or the Nittany Lion Inn, if you are not staying with a friend. Karaoke is Monday nights. I have rapped and sang many tunes there in the past!

2.) The Lion's Den - It is a great place to watch sports at on the weekends.but In addition, it has a nice outdoor section for the warmer months. This bar can pretty much satisfy anybody. There is a dance floor for those who love to "Crank Dat" or drunkenly want to learn how to Dougie, but it is not a club, so while the dance crowd has their fun, you can chill with your friends and enjoy the daily drink specials.

3.) The Phryst - State College's resident and legendary Irish Pub. It is a basement bar, but do not let the permanent stale beer smell detract you. (It is a lot more breathable ever since Pennsylvania banned smoking in most establishments.). Here, you can play pool, enjoy an open mic, and even see Penn State's President, Graham Spanier perform as well on occasion.

4.) Bar Bleu - The home of the Fishbowl, which is strikingly similar to the Monkey Boy at Saloon, but there are some differences as well. One similarity, is the sheer size of the drink, however. This is probably one of the most laid back bars downtown, in my opinion. Bar Blue frequently hosts Jazz acts, and is a great place to watch football on Sundays.

5.) Cafe 210 West - This place is best in the warmer months, as it has extensive outdoor seating and space. Live bands often play here. It is always a great hangout or bar to start off the night.

6.) Zeno's - Constantly rated one of the top bars in the country, Zeno's has your best selection of micro brews and specialty beers. Do not expect getting a cup of Natty Light at Zeno's. There is a mix of students, locals, and beer enthusiasts alike. A bit out of many students' budgets, but if you love good beer, this is the place to be.

Some of the other bars change quite often due to various reasons, so if you actually make plans, do your research, although the bars I mentioned I feel will be around for a long time, so no worries. Also, if you're spontaneous and want to just go wherever, then you probably do not need to follow this list so much, but you should go for the best places, so you'll have a memorable time (If you don't drink too much, of course)

Stay Tuned for Part 2

There is much more to State College than beer and football, although many people will tend to disagree. In part 2, I will give you some famous landmarks you must take a trip to, and I'll talk about little excursions you can take right outside of town.


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