With Nittany Lion football anchoring a historic sporting tradition in the Happy Valley, athletic venues headline a diverse roster of off-agenda options in the region.
Following multiple expansions through the decades, 106,572-seat Beaver Stadium is the second-largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere and among the largest sporting venues in the world, offering function and event space at the climate-controlled Mount Nittany Club, outdoor patio included. Adjacent to the stadium, the Penn State All Sports Museum, enshrining the history and heritage of Penn State athletics, offers group tours.
Across the way, the approximately 16,000-seat Bryce Jordan Center is the region’s largest multipurpose arena. Home court for Penn State men’s and women’s basketball, this versatile venue is also well equipped for conventions, tradeshows, concerts, meetings and functions.
Penn State’s baseball diamond, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, was the first stadium in the U.S., professional or collegiate, to earn LEED certification. Also serving as home field of the Minor League State College Spikes, the venue offers tours and rental options that include the clubhouse, batting cages, executive boardroom, 20 luxury suites and subject to availability, the field itself.
The State College area has equal muscle on the cultural, artistic and heritage fronts.
Built by Warner Brothers in 1938 as a prototypical new movie house, the State Theatre has long served as one of the region’s primary cultural centers. Presenting wide-ranging entertainment, including music, theater, opera, dance and film, the lovingly restored venue, featuring superior acoustics and unobstructed sightlines, rents the 571-seat Friedman Auditorium and 60-plus seat upstairs Attic for meetings and functions.
Opened in 1972, the free-admission Palmer Museum of Art offers docent-led group tours for 10 or more people of its genre- and century-spanning collection. The on-campus museum is part of Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture, which also includes the university’s Center for the
Performing Arts. Established in 1957, the Center includes the multipurpose Eisenhower Auditorium. Opened in 1974 and renamed in 1977, it flexibly seats between 2,455 and 2,551 people. In addition, the Schwab Auditorium presents year-round performances in music, drama and dance.
Adjacent to campus, the Centre Furnace Mansion is a restored ironmaster’s home from the 19th century. Serving as headquarters of the Centre County Historical Society, the tour-capable national landmark hosts outdoor gatherings for 160 people on its landscaped grounds and heirloom gardens, with indoor events for 50 guests.
Founded in 1947 as a small delicatessen in Victorian-era Bellefonte, family-owned Hoag’s Catering evolved into a complete catering service, with Penn State as a major customer. In 1994, Hoag’s relocated to State College and established Celebration Hall, its headquarters and banquet facility. Perched on a hillside with views of Mount Nittany, the building offers six private rooms that can be combined to form two large rooms seating up to 250 guests each. Amenities include working fireplaces, atrium lobby with bar, outdoor balconies and free onsite parking.
Groups can memorably “stamp” their agenda at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte. Reviving a red-brick industrial site once serving as the home of the Pennsylvania Match Company, the center, home of the world’s largest nonprofit organization for stamp collectors, hosts groups in evocative spaces, including the 200-capacity Sundman Hall and 50-capacity Air Mail Room.
With strong claim as the birthplace of Memorial Day, the 1846-era community of Boalsburg, about 10 minutes from State College, is also home of the Pennsylvania Military Museum. Featuring exterior displays of tanks and heavy artillery and the striking military ribbon-inspired “Wall of Honor,” this shrine to heroes offers indoor and outdoor space in its theater and on its parade grounds, respectively.
With fresh-air agendas starting right on campus with Penn State’s event-capable 30-acre Arborteum and its Overlook Pavilion, the Happy Valley’s natural appeal is a primary group and visitor draw. Backed by the Appalachian Mountain range and rolling with farmland, the region is within reach of more than 2 million forested acres, including popular state forests Moshannon, Sproul, Bald Eagle and Rothrock.
Considered the gateway to Rothrock State Forest, the Tussey Mountain Ski Area in Boalsburg operates year-round, hosting annual celebrations such as Wingfest, Celticfest and Oktoberfest in its outdoor amphitheater, along with a range of indoor business and social events in its multipurpose lodge.
Billed as Penn State’s “outdoor classroom,” Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, which opened in 1976 some 12 miles from campus in the Stone Valley Recreation Area, is presently closed as its undergoes the largest expansion in its 40-year history. In the meantime, groups can still participate in customized team networking and teambuilding programs offered by the center.
Operated by Penn State, the center offers Vertical Adventures, a preeminent high ropes challenge course, plus rental facilities for groups of up to 100 people. The excitement goes sky-high at Ridge Soaring Gliderport in Julian, about 10 miles from State College. Established in 1975, this renowned operator offers unforgettable flight experiences in two-seat modern gliders with FAA-certified instructors.
Groups can also go subterranean in the limestone-rich substrata of Centre County, where since 1855, Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park has been one of Pennsylvania’s leading visitor accessible caves. Located in an especially scenic agricultural valley, this historic visitor attraction offers boat tours of prehistoric underground watery caverns leading out to Lake Nitanee and back. Set on a 1,500-acre preserve, the venue also features a working farm, wildlife tours by bus and a pavilion for outdoor events.