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Welcome to Happy Valley USA


"Happy Valley" is sometimes used as a colloquialism for the State College area with commentators at Penn State athletic events often giving the location as "Happy Valley" rather than mentioning State College or the specific campus facility. The term "Happy Valley" was coined during the Great Depression when the town was not hit as hard by the economic situation due to Penn State University’s influence.

In a survey conducted in the late 1980s by Psychology Today, State College was ranked as one of the least stressful places in the United States. A more recent rating put State College 19th among "50 Smart Places to Live." The same source states: "Sperling's BestPlaces research group has previously ranked State College the No.1 safest small city in America, and Forbes, thanks in large part to the tremendous amount of research conducted at the University, listed State College among the top 10 smaller metro areas in which to start a career or business." In 2007, CNN Money said State College was the number one "single" city based on percentage of unmarried people living there. Most recently, in 2012-2013, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) ranked State College the third “Best College Town and City” in the under 250,000 residents category.

The Corner of College Avenue and Allen Street in downtown State College, taken from the gates of Campus

In the August issue of Rolling Stone magazine, State College received honorable mention in best music scenes throughout the country. Small bands that have formed in State College include Swiss Alps, The Fiddlercrabs, The Imperial Orgy, Cootie Brown, and Katsu.

There are dozens of restaurants and bars unique to State College, most of which are concentrated in the downtown area along College Avenue and Beaver Avenue and their cross streets.

The town is surrounded by hills and forests ideal for hiking.


The State College area typically enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the State. Penn State is by far the largest single employer in the region, employing nearly 25,000 full- and part-time workers in 2012. Other industries in the area include healthcare, retail, hospitality services, and government.

Praise for State College

  • Best Places to Live & Launch, CNN Money

  • Twenty Best College Towns in America, Business Insider

  • #1, Happiest Small Place in America, Movoto

State College is served by the State College Area School District which operates nine elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school for residents in and around State College. Situated in the heart of Pennsylvania, State College is a thriving, dynamic community. The State College Area School District draws its students from a 150 square mile attendance area encompassing the Borough of State College and the surrounding townships of College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, and Patton, totaling an enrollment of approximately 6,900.

Competitive pay for teachers and challenging staff development programs help enable SCASD to select from the top personnel available. The average per pupil ratio for classroom teachers is 23 to 1 at the elementary level and 24 to 1 at the secondary level.


While State College is most known for the Penn State Nittany Lions, it is also home to the State College Spikes, a minor league baseball team. The team is part of the New York-Penn League and has played in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, also home to Penn State baseball, since 2006. In 2014, the Spikes were the NY-PL Pinckney Division and league Champions.

Praise for Penn State

  • Recruiter Ranking, Wall Street Journal

  • Top 100 Universities in the World, World University Rankings

  • Top 50 Best National Universities, U.S. News & World Report


The Nittany Valley Symphony has been part of the State College community since 1967 and offers regular concert performances on campus at Eisenhower Auditorium. The group also holds and participates in numerous special events throughout the area. Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra was founded in 1991 as a professional chamber orchestra. They regularly perform at the 400-seat Esber Recital Hall on campus as well as various other venues throughout the State College area. State College is also home to the Central Pennsylvania Youth Orchestra, part of the Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania.


The State College Community Theatre group offers regular performances at venues such as The State Theatre in State College and Boal Barn Playhouse in nearby Boalsburg. Additionally, Pennsylvania Centre Stage offers regular performances at the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center in State College and the on-campus Pavilion Theatre and Playhouse Theatre.

Major events

Crowds Enjoying First Night Celebrations in Downtown State College

First Night State College" is a New Year's Eve celebration that takes place in downtown State College. First Night is known for its display of carved ice sculptures, musical and vaudeville performances in downtown churches and theatres, and many other activities.

The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, usually referred to as "Arts Fest", is held downtown every July. The five-day festival features artists from around the country and draws more than 125,000 visitors. Streets are closed off and lined with booths where people can buy paintings, pottery, jewelry, and other hand-made goods. There are also numerous musical performances and plays to take in, and food vendors selling everything from funnel cakes to Indian cuisine.

Central PA 4th Fest is a day-long event, highlighted by many activities, crafts, food vendors and entertainers, all of which typically attracts 60,000 to 80,000 people. According to the International Fireworks website, it is ranked the third largest annual Fourth of July fireworks in the United States; the Travel Channel has called the celebration "one of the best fireworks displays in the world."

The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, commonly referred to as THON, is a 46-hour Dance Marathon that takes place every February on the University Park campus with the purpose of raising money for the Four Diamonds Foundation. A number of events throughout the year pave the way to February's THON weekend.

Blue-White Football Weekend occurs in April and includes a carnival, fireworks, food vendors, the student entertainment stage, live music, a parade, and more. On game day, an autograph session with the football student-athletes is held in Beaver Stadium, prior to kickoff of the Blue-White football intrasquad scrimmage game.


Homecoming Weekend is celebrated annually by Penn State students, alumni, faculty, staff, and fans alike. Numerous events take place in State College and on the University Park campus including charity fund raisers, socials, pep rallies, tailgate competitions, a parade, and a football game.

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