State College is a beautifully quaint town. Its picturesque streets and shops are an attraction all their own for a Saturday afternoon. People come downtown all day long to peruse the quiet boutiques, eat at the historically delicious restaurants and socialize with old and new friends. There is much to see and do in downtown State College on a weekend, but the real fun begins just after the sun goes down.
Whether it’s football season or not, the bars in State College are popular late night hot spots. The best part is: there are so many to choose from. There are more than twenty bars in downtown State College alone; a car or other form of transportation can open up even more opulent options.
Indigo is a nighttime, downtown favorite for dancing, drinking and socializing. The bar even offers a 13+ night on Tuesdays, which is mighty appealing for the large underage population at Penn State. Another hot nightclub downtown is a very new addition to State College’s ever-expanding Night Life opportunities. Levels opened in Spring 2012 and boasts a large space for dancing and letting loose. The club also offers an 18+ night every Wednesday. For students who can only go out one night per week, but want to do it big when they do, these nightclubs are the perfect place to sweat out the pressures of the week.
For those interested in a low-key evening full of flavorful fun, the end of the alphabet is the way to go. Z Bar and Zeno’s are the bars to check out. Between the two, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of various craft brews to choose from. Z Bar offers a different beer menu daily, as well as a delicious menu in the adjacent restaurant: The Deli. Z Bar also offers beer expos where people can get a chance to meet brewers from all over and get inside information on brewing recipes.
Zeno’s is a kind of hole in the wall on the corner of Allen Street and College Avenue–boasting flavors and microbreweries generally unheard of. The bar has a way of making you feel like you belong; maybe it is the small area or maybe it is the ever-helpful bartenders who don’t mind answering questions about the beers on tap. The space makes it easy to cozy up to the people you walk in with.
If the aforementioned late-night go-to’s seem too high maintenence (or too low maintenence) not to worry, State College has plenty of in-betweeners to choose from. These are the bars that offer the best of both worlds: you can hit one of these places to kick back and enjoy the company of friends, or you can cut loose and jam with the occasional live band option.
The Phyrst is a local favorite in-betweener bar. The Phyrst Phamily has been around for generations, and offers live entertainment every night of the week. Their drink deals and Phyrst Girls make you feel at home and welcome as soon as you step down from the street level stair-entrance on Beaver Avenue. It’s difficult to stay away once you become a frequent patron of this staple in State College for more than forty years.
Way down on West College Avenue, just a few blocks away from Allen Street, sits a homely establishment notorious for good times and robust patrons. Cafe 210 West is truly remarkable. The renovated apartment-house turned bar boasts massive outdoor seating options and arrangements, making the bar incredibly popular during times of glorious weather. As the spring semester comes to a close, it becomes nearly impossible to find a seat outside. The bar offers incredible drink deals as well as an exceptionally enticing menu. Cafe has a large stage/dance floor area for bands most nights of the week and plenty of TVs turned to various sporting events.
If you don’t mind taking a quick drive north on Atherton, you must be sure to skip all of the chain restaurants and pull right into Otto’s Brewery. The massive establishment brews a number of beers on site and serves them straight from the tap along with an amazing menu full of local food choices. After enjoying all the amenities Otto’s has to offer, don’t you dare forget to stop in the gift shop on the way out. There you will find six packs of your favorite Otto’s brew and then some. The shop offers everything from t-shirts to soap–in the scent of your favorite beer, of course.
If you’re traveling to State College, and interested in some nighttime entertainment, all of the above are sure to provide a great time. You can’t go wrong with any of the bars/restaurants in town. Don’t forget to take in the atmosphere, kick back and enjoy what State College night life has to offer. Statecollege.com provides daily drink/food specials, so be sure to give the site a look before hitting the town. Of course, please remember to drink responsibly and be respectful when visiting Penn State and its locals.
About: Tina Grasha
I was born a Penn State fan--it's almost like I didn't have a choice. In reality I did, and when it came down to the wire I chose PSU over another school four years ago, and not once have I regretted that decision. I graduated in May with a Visual Journalism degree and a minor in Art History. I have discovered a special niche in this town, and I want to share it with others.