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This Spring Break, Try A State College Stay-cation

by on March 03, 2010 3:00 PM

Find out about more Spring Break goings-on at our Spring Break page


So you’re stuck in the middle of Pennsylvania while your friends are partying on cruise ships or exploring foreign cities. With half the population of State College gone, it’s the perfect opportunity for a “stay-cation.” Rather than spending lots of money on plane tickets and hotel rooms, save the cash for activities in the area.

Here are some things to do while you’re friends are…


Whether your friends are partying it up in Cancun or laying out on the sandy beaches the Bahamas, it’s almost a guarantee that they will come back looking like a bronze sun god or goddess. Meanwhile, you’re in pasty Central Pennsylvania, but you can still look like you were at the beach all week. Stop in a tanning booth at The Bronze Tanning Co. or Lion Heart. Both locations offer mystic tan spray or tanning beds and booths.

After hitting the tanning booth, girls, treat yourself to a mani/pedi at one of the many salons in State College. Manicures at Looks Hair Design are $20 and pedicures are $40. It may sound pricy for a student budget, but compare that to the cost of a hotel room in Miami.

Just because you’re in rural Pennsylvania doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the water. Penn State’s McCoy Natatorium has open swims Monday through Friday and offers day passes for only $5, or if you already have a student fitness pass, it’s free.

For the over 21 crowd, no need to be jealous of your friends downing overpriced daiquiris and shots. Have you forgotten why they call it Happy Valley? Mad Mex hasn’t. On Monday night, grab a Big Azz Margaritas (22 oz. of slushy goodness) for only $5 and all-you-can-eat mini burritos for the same price. Check out other specials at’s bar tour link. 


State College can’t compete with New York or L.A., but it does have its own small town happenings. The music scene is lacking over spring break, but there are still a few low key gigs to check out at Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, located 40 minutes away in Millheim. On Saturday, March 6, a roots rock band called MARAH will be bringing acoustic rock back to the scene.

If film is more your thing, The State Theatre will be showing two different movies next week: Fish Tank (2009) and Red Cliff (2008). Check out the theatre’s Web site for more information.

The Palmer Museum on campus may not be the Met, but next week would be the perfect time to check it out if you’ve always wondered what is inside that building with giant lion’s paws. Two temporary exhibits are currently going on at the museum: “I Heard a Voice: The Art of Lesley Dill,” and “Licenc’d to Bark: James Gillray and the Art of Satire.” Visit the museum's Web site for more info on the dramatic sculpture installations of Lesley or the British satirical prints of James.


The outdoors is something State College can boast about. The beginning of the week is supposed to be sunny, so take a hike up Mount Nittany for the day. Or if you have a few extra dollars, rent a cabin with some friends at Stone Valley Recreation Area. You can hike the 29 miles of trails, have a picnic in the woods (though it might be chilly) or hang out in the cabin with your friends. It’s the perfect getaway that’s only 17 miles away. See the Web site for group prices on cabins.


Most college students won’t spend the extra money on quality wines when they can buy drafts for a quarter and mixed drinks for a dollar, but if you are interested in a classier night out, Happy Valley can accommodate.

Every Thursday from 11am to close, Harrison’s Wine Country Grill holds a  Half-price "Wine Flight". What is a "Wine Flight"? Instead of settling on just one wine variety, savor the flavor of 4 different wines. It is a great way to compare, contrast and learn about different wines!

Continue your mini “vino-vacation” during the weekend with the Susquehanna Heartland Wine Trail Adventure held at each of the seven wineries owned by Susquehanna Heartland. Purchase a “Ticket to Good Taste and Adventure” for $20 or $35 per couple. The wineries offer everything from watermelon wine paired with chocolate fondue to a blues/funk band this weekend. Check out all the details at

From beaches to mountains, or the cities to the countryside, there is always room to improvise in Happy Valley.

Alexia Miller is a Spring 2010 intern and a Penn State senior majoring in print journalism. She can be reached at [email protected]
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