Centre County was created on February 13, 1800, from parts of Huntingdon, Lycoming, Mifflin, and Northumberland counties.
It was named for its central location in the state, and is probably best known as being the home of Penn State University.
From beautiful waterfalls to historic buildings to caverns to museums, here are 29 of the best things to see and do in Centre County, Pennsylvania!
Bald Eagle State Park
Bald Eagle State Park is a 5,900 acre recreational area in Centre County, approximately 25 miles northeast of State College.
At the heart of Bald Eagle State Park is 1,730-acre Sayers Lake, built by the the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1969 as part of a flood control project.
Bald Eagle State Park is one of the most-visited state parks in Centre County, and you’ll begin to understand why as you browse through this list of some of the best things to see and do there.
Black Moshannon State Park
Black Moshannon State Park is comprised of 3,394 acres of forests and wetlands in Centre County, and is further surrounded by 43,000 acres of the Moshannon State Forest.
At the heart of the park is the 250 acre Black Moshannon Lake, a fantastic spot for swimming, boating, fishing, and bird-watching.
Surrounding the lake are 20 miles of trails, perfect for spending a few hours or an entire day exploring the forest.
Poe Valley State Park
Poe Valley State Park is a 620 acre recreational area in Centre County, approximately 17 miles east of State College.
As the name implies, the park sits in a valley between Big Poe Mountain to the north, and Little Poe Mountain to the south.
At the heart of Poe Valley State Park is 25-acre Poe Lake, constructed by damming Big Poe Creek in 1937.
Poe Paddy State Park
Poe Paddy State Park is a 23 acre recreational area in Centre County, located 4 miles east of Poe Valley State Park.
Poe Paddy State Park sits in a valley between Poe Mountain to the west and Paddy Mountain to the east, thus the name.
Most of the activities at Poe Paddy State Park and the adjacent Penns Creek Wild Area involve the waters of Big Poe Creek and Penns Creek.
The Abandoned Coburn Railroad Tunnel
The abandoned Coburn railroad tunnel was constructed as part of the Lewisburg, Centre and Spruce Creek Railroad in the 1870s, and was in service nearly 100 years until it was officially abandoned by the Penn Central Railroad in 1970.
Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park
Penn’s Cave in Centre County offers the only cavern tour in the United States that is conducted completely by boat!
Discovered centuries ago by Native Americans, Penn’s Cave first opened to the public as a “show cave” in 1885.
In addition to the cavern tour, Penn’s Cave offers a wildlife tour that visits various large animal enclosures on their 1,600 acre property and working farm.
Woodward Cave in Centre County contains 5 large rooms, hundreds of yards of tunnels and passageways, and the largest stalagmite in Pennsylvania!
Operated as a “show cave” since 1926, Woodward Cave was known to the early European settlers in this region as Red Panther Cave.
Tours begin by passing through a bat-friendly gate – Woodward Cave is the third largest hibernating site for bats in Pennsylvania!
Centre Furnace Mansion
Centre Furnace Mansion in State College served as the home for a series of “iron masters” in the late 1700s through the mid 1800s.
This magnificently restored Victorian-style home was also the birthplace of Farmers High School in 1855, a school that would grow into what is known today as Penn State University.
Free tours (donations suggested) are given from 1-4 p.m. on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion
The Columbus Chapel is located on the grounds of the Boal Mansion in Centre County, and it contains the largest and most important collection of Christopher Columbus artifacts and memorabilia on the North American continent!
The Boal Mansion was built in 1809 by David Boal, a Scottish-Irish pioneer who founded the village of Boalsburg.
The Boal Mansion has been in the Boal family for over 200 years, and in 1978 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The village of Boalsburg in Centre County is recognized as the birthplace of Memorial Day in the United States.
A monument and plaques commemorating the birth of this national tradition stands just off of Route 322 in Boalsburg.
The Pennsylvania Military Museum
The Pennsylvania Military Museum in Centre County honors the service of Pennsylvanians in all branches of the military, from colonial times to the present day.
The 18,000 square-foot museum houses an impressive collection of weapons, uniforms, vehicles, and photographs of Pennsylvania’s citizen-soldiers answering the call of duty in all of America’s major armed conflicts.
Hiking Mount Nittany is a rite of passage for Penn Staters and a favored activity of visitors to Centre County.
There are 7 named overlooks along the 8 miles of maintained trails on Mount Nittany, trails maintained by Mount Nittany Conservancy volunteers.
Hobie’s Trail is a scenic and relatively easy-to-hike 2.6 mile trail that loops around the PA Fish and Boat Commission’s Colyer Lake in Centre County.
As you’d probably expect with a lake loop trail, there are plenty of excellent views of Colyer Lake along this trail.
The Penn State Arboretum
The Arboretum at Penn State is a peaceful oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of Penn State’s main campus in State College.
Admission to the Arboretum at Penn State is free, parking costs $1.00 an hour.
The Penn State All-Sports Museum
The Penn State All-Sports Museum at Beaver Stadium honors the history, heritage, and accomplishments of Penn State athletes and Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics.
The museum features archival images and memorabilia from 34 sports played at the varsity level at Penn State.
Yost Run Falls
Yost Run Falls is located in northern Centre County, in the Sproul State Forest.
Comprised of several tiers, Yost Run Falls is the tallest waterfall in Centre County.
Kyler Fork Falls
Kyler Fork Falls in Centre County is located in the Sproul State Forest, on a tributary of Yost Run.
Kyler Fork Falls is the second-tallest waterfall in Centre County.
Indian Wells Overlook
Indian Wells Overlook is an exceptional scenic vista located along the Mid State Trail, near the Centre-Huntingdon county line.
Indian Wells is perched high above Bear Meadows Natural Area, an 890 acre parcel of forest surrounding a fen wetland that is classified as a National Natural Landmark.
Jo Hays Vista
Jo Hays Vista is the easiest scenic overlook to get to near State College.
Jo Hays Vista is literally roadside along Route 26 near Pine Grove Mills.
Ralph’s Majestic Vista
Ralph’s Majestic Vista is located along the Allegheny Front Trail in the Moshannon State Forest.
Both Ralph’s Majestic Vista and nearby Ralph’s Pretty Good View are named in honor of Ralph Seeley, founder of the Allegheny Front Trail.
Bells Majestic View
Bells Majestic View is a remarkable roadside scenic overlook in eastern Centre County.
Bells Majestic View is one of 8 roadside scenic overlooks in this portion of the Bald Eagle State Forest.
Historic Bellefonte is both the county seat of Centre County and the “Victorian Jewel” of Pennsylvania!
Located 12 miles northeast of State College and Penn State, Bellefonte is considered one of the best preserved historic towns in the United States.
Talleyrand Park is one of the crown jewels of historic Bellefonte in Centre County!
Talleyrand Park covers 3.5 acres along the banks of Spring Creek, close to the shops and restaurants in the downtown Bellefonte business district.
The American Philatelic Center
The American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte is the home of both the American Philatelic Society and the American Philatelic Research Library, making it the epicenter of the stamp collecting hobby in the United States!
Curtin Village and Eagle Ironworks
Curtin Village is a beautifully-preserved and restored 19th century iron plantation, composed of the iron master’s mansion, the iron furnace, and the workers village.
On the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month from June through September , you can tour the insides of both the mansion and the iron works with docents who provide a wealth of information about the iron-making process, the Curtin family, and life in this company town in the 1800s.
The Bellefonte Cruise
The Bellefonte Cruise has been a popular Father’s Day weekend event in historic Bellefonte since 1988.
If you love Victorian architecture and classic cars, trucks, and motorcycles, make plans to check out the Bellefonte Cruise on Father’s Day weekend in historic Bellefonte, PA!
Arts Fest in State College
Arts Fest in State College is a mid-July tradition, where hundreds of artists from around the country sell everything from sculptures, paintings and decorative glass to jewelry, housewares, and one-of-a-kind clothing.
You’ll also encounter several outdoor performance stages along the route of Arts Fest, featuring everything from bluegrass to rock to jazz to gospel music.
The Nittany Antique Machinery Show
The Nittany Antique Machinery Show is a celebration of America’s agricultural history and heritage!
Vintage farm equipment collectors and enthusiasts from all over the eastern United States converge on the grounds of historic Penn’s Cave in Centre County every year for this show, to enjoy events like tractor pulls, a flea market, a farm toys show, and equipment demonstrations.
The Tallest Santa in Pennsylvania
For a few weeks every year, Philipsburg in Centre County is home to the tallest Santa display in Pennsylvania!
Standing 37.5 feet tall, with a bag of toys nearly 20 feet tall, “Phillipsburg Santa” has occupied this spot at Cold Stream Park every December since 2005.
15 Must-See Attractions in Blair County is your guide to the best things to see and do in Centre County’s neighbor to the southwest.
18 Must-See Attractions in Huntingdon County is your guide to the best things to see and do in Centre County’s southern neighbor to the south.
10 Must-See Attractions in Clearfield County is your guide to the best things to see and do in Centre County’s neighbor to the west.
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