Transitioning from life at home to the thrilling and exciting college experience can be tough. You need to establish a new routine and a new circle of friends, and get used to an unfamiliar environment (and seasonal changes). College life has so much to offer, and there are many beautiful spots around Penn State that you can explore by yourself or with friends. If you find that you have free time on weekends or between classes, consider making plans to visit these destination spots.
Along with a change of scenery, you get a bonus of discovering the amazing landmark for Pennsylvania State University — Mount Nittany. The hike up the mountain itself is relatively short and can be completed under 30 minutes, which is great for beginners and serves as a wonderful introduction to the area.
However, if you’re looking to commit your day to the outdoors, you can extend your adventure, bring lunch and plenty of water, and complete the total loop around the mountain, which is roughly four to five miles. You’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and encounter an occasional rough terrain of rocks, roots, and wooden chips.
At the top, you’ll see an impressive vista, accentuated in the fall season by the magnificent changing leaves. Remember to practice good hiking etiquette and “leave no trace” as you explore the area.
You can find out more details about Mount Nittany here.
Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park
You don’t need to venture over to South America to find deep and mysterious caves full of history and nature’s wonder. Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park offers boat tours of the all-water caverns, which provides plenty of photo opportunities of picturesque stalactites and stalagmites.
The Wildlife Park features North American animals, such as elk, wolves, bears, bobcats, and Penn State’s very own mascot, the mountain lion. Penn’s Cave also comes with many other amazing features like gemstone panning, where you have a chance to find semiprecious stones or fossils, and the cave rock mountain tour, where you can participate in the two-hour off-road adventure.
Spaces are very limited, so it’s always a good idea to call and reserve ahead of time.
Click here to reserve your tickets and find out more information.
Rothrock State Forest
Another popular hiking spot on our list is the Rothrock State Forest, which spans almost 300 miles of footage for all your outdoor needs, such as hiking, camping, fishing, and boating.
Along with exploring many of the numerous trails around its seven mountains, this spot also offers world-class biking trails, where numerous yearly events are held, such as the five-day Trans-Sylvania Epic Mountain Bike Race.
Find out more about these amazing hikes here.
Tussey Mountain is a mecca for seasonal pastimes, entertainment, and fun, which provides a wide variety of options during any time of the year.
During winter, you can find yourself enjoying crisp, fresh mountain air while skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing down the icy slopes. Not a pro yet? Grab yourself a lesson and, with some practice, you can master skiing or snowboarding by the end of the season.
During the hot summer season, you can find refuge from the heat by the pond and enjoy many of the park’s recreational activities, such as barbecuing, go-karting, mini golf, concerts, and movies under the stars. This park also offers many festivals during seasonal events like Oktoberfest, Celticfest, and Wingfest.
Thinking about visiting Tussey Mountain? For lots of information and other resources, visit http://www.tusseymountain.com/.
The Sky’s The Limit Ballooning
If you want to take your weekend to new heights, then hot air ballooning might be for you. The Sky’s The Limit Ballooning is a great spot for a romantic date or an adventure with friends. You’ll get to explore the beautiful Penn State campus from above with the safety and guidance of your pilot.
Grab a friend, a camera, and pick a sunny day to enjoy nature from above. If hot air ballooning captures your heart, this facility also offers certification courses, where you’ll have an option to become a certified pilot.
More information about how to get in the air can be found here.