When it comes to the pursuit of learning, research and innovation, few educational institutions work harder than Penn State. Radiating like a bright beacon from its main University Park campus in State College, Pa., the university’s reach extends throughout Pennsylvania, the U.S. and around the globe, thanks to programs like its Global Engagement Network, a strategic alliance with peer institutions in China, Peru, India, Germany, South Africa and other nations.

Going to Penn State pays dividends. According to Payscale.com’s 2014 survey, the school ranks ninth in the nation for 20-year total net return on investment.

As fans, followers and loyal alumni will readily attest, Penn State is also a “work hard, play hard” school—a benefit that readily accrues to groups, conferees and other visitors to “Happy Valley.”

“Along with helping with your meeting, conference or event, our staff can plan your free time,” says Shirley Smith, director of sales for the Central Pennsylvania CVB. “[Groups can] enjoy tours of art venues, theaters or museums, see a sporting event, and complete their visit with live music, performances and more.”

When it comes to putting fun and entertainment on the agenda, State College is one smart choice.

Artful Interludes
Built by Warner Brothers in 1938, the original State Theatre served as a test model for a new kind of consumer-friendly movie house experience. With excellent acoustics and unobstructed sightlines, that customer-centric tradition continues today at this meticulously restored State College treasure.

“More than just an impressive building, the State Theatre is the epicenter of the area’s cultural life, hosting national touring musicians, local dance and theater productions, film festivals and more,” says Greg Ray, the venue’s executive director. The plush, 571-seat Friedman Auditorium and 60-plus-seat upstairs Attic are both available for private rental.

Another cultural star is the Penn State Center for the Performing Arts, featuring world-class symphonies, ballet and Broadway shows, jazz, drama, dance and more.

In the heart of campus, the Palmer Museum of Art is another time-treasured asset for art appreciation and events. Opened in 1972, the free-admission museum’s far-ranging collection spans genres and the centuries. Part of the university’s College of Arts and Architecture, the Palmer offers guided tours for groups of 10 or more.