BY JODIE DELLO STRITTO
Special edition of the newspaper
Derived from the French “pique-nique,” the term picnic originally referred to a meal where everyone contributed, but evolved to mean eating al fresco, or al fresco, especially in a scenic setting. Happy Valley picnic areas offer beautiful views and options for extra fun or a little extra excitement. Here are our top Happy Valley picnic picks.
OLD MAIN LAWN
Visitors to Penn State, including prospective students and families, should take advantage of this location to both enjoy the beauty of the campus and get a feel for the university’s surroundings.
The Old Main’s location, directly across College Avenue from downtown State College, makes it a convenient place to find parking and enjoy a perfect picnic lunch or dinner. Stick to the basics with sandwiches, salads and fries from the deli at McLanahan’s Downtown Market or choose some artisan-inspired baked goods and coffee at the Crust & Crumb Café.
For more substantial meals, head to State College’s classic The Corner Room or one of the many international restaurants downtown, such as Cozy Thai Bistro or Tadashi Japanese Restaurant.
WHIPPLE DAM STATE PARK
A short drive from downtown State College on Route 26, Whipple Dam State Park offers plenty of opportunities to picnic and enjoy a day outdoors.
The park features three large picnic pavilions and many picnic tables throughout the wooded area near the beach and lakefront. Drinking fountains, charcoal stoves, and restrooms are located throughout the park. The three picnic pavilions can be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first come, first served basis. Pavilion #1 is ADA accessible.
Relax and enjoy the views of the lake and surrounding forest, or go for a hike or swim depending on the season. The lake is popular for fishing and is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, sailing and electric motor boating. Boat concessions are available seasonally on weekends.
A winter wonderland with activities in the colder months, Whipple Dam offers ice skating, cross country skiing and ice fishing (ice thickness is not monitored so use caution).
Happy Valley is home to several state parks that also offer excellent picnicking, wildlife viewing, and outdoor recreation.
Visit DCNR.pa.gov/stateparks for information on Bald Eagle State Park, the largest of the state parks near State College, featuring a 1,700-acre lake; Black Moshannon State Park, located in a natural basin just a few miles from the Allegheny Front, has cooler summer temperatures and diverse habitat including three species of carnivorous plants and other species typically found farther north; and several others.
Located in the heart of charming and historic downtown Bellefonte, The Talleyrand offers picnics on the banks of beautiful Spring Creek.
With two cafés adjacent to the park – Bonfatto’s Corner Market & Café and My Café Buzz – and restaurants and pizzerias lining the downtown streets – try The Governor’s Pub on the High Street or the nearby Pizza Mia on Spring Street – have a great time You’ll enjoy plenty of dining options at one of the many picnic tables in the park.
Are you planning a special occasion, like a birthday, anniversary or engagement, or do you want to create the most romantic first date ever? Spring Creek Picnics will help you “upgrade your picnic”.
Owner Renea Nichols Nash started the company after witnessing the “pop-up picnic” trend in California. As a Bellefonte resident, she knew the idea was perfect for the scenic surroundings of Talleyrand. Luxury picnics, she says, are “more than just eating together” and a very special experience.
Packages are designed for two to four guests, but customized packages can accommodate up to 10 people.
You bring the food and Spring Creek Picnics will create a memorable dining experience complete with reclaimed, locally handcrafted wood tables, woven rugs, cushions, lighting, music, games and more.
KEITH SPRING, ROTHROCK STATE FOREST
Located on the Mid-State Trail, Keith Spring is a freshwater spring used primarily by hikers, but the surrounding forest and overlooks make it a nice off-the-beaten-track picnic spot.
At an elevation of 2,323 feet, Keith Spring is close to the Big Flat Natural Area and Indian Wells Vista. Load up your daypack and set off, starting at the trailhead bit.ly/BigFlatParkingArea.
Keith Spring is not too far from the historic village of Boalsburg, the birthplace of Memorial Day, and just over two miles from the Alan Seeger Picnic Area and Bear Meadows Natural Area.
Jodi Dello Stritto is a writer/editor at Happyvalley industry.com . This article originally appeared on the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau website.
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