You hear a lot about what life is like on the University Park campus, but I’m sure you might be wondering about what it’s like off campus too. “Penn State is in the middle of nowhere” is a phrase that I used to hear all of the time coming from a town right by New York City. However, with our downtown area that stretches from College to Beaver Ave, and areas a little further that you can take a bus to, State College has a lot more to offer than you might think.
For starters, there are plenty of chains right downtown. If you think you’re stuck to the dining commons, you’re wrong. We have a Panera Bread, Chipotle, McDonald’s, Noodle’s & Co., Five Guys, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks, to name a few. In addition to all these chain restaurants, we have a bunch of local favorites. Irving’s and Cozy Thai are popular, along with the famous Corner Room. A Sheetz just opened on Pugh St. as well.
There are also a bunch of great clothing stores and boutiques. Metro and People’s Nation are some trendy boutiques, and there are also some big-name stores like Urban Outfitters. Target and H&M just opened this year as well. As far as options that are slightly farther away, we have the Nittany Mall. There is a bus that takes you right to it, and there are even more stores there like Macy’s, Charlotte Russe, and Forever 21.
As far as things like groceries, toiletries, and school supplies go, we have a CVS and McLanahan’s in our downtown area. McLanahan’s has almost everything- toiletries, clothing, school supplies, food- you name it- and it’s located right on College Ave. There is also a McLanahan’s Downtown Market with just food and produce and it is located on Allen St. If our downtown stores don’t have what you need, Walmart is a short bus ride away.
As far as fun things to do? There is a bus that takes you to our local movie theater, if you’re a movie-goer. If you’re artistic, there is a “paint your own pottery studio” called 2000 Degrees on College Ave, and if you’re in for something a little more unconventional, we have a place to play laser tag right downtown!
Even if you plan on living on campus all four years, it’s nice to have the option of going off campus. Sometimes dining hall food gets boring, or you’re sick of doing the same old thing. Whether it’s right downtown, or a bus ride away, getting off campus can shake things up a little, and reminds you that you’re not trapped on campus. There are always things going on at Penn State, and the same is true about State College.