When you hear “Happy Valley,” you probably think first of Penn State football and the long list of fall activities that go along with one of Pennsylvania’s biggest tourism draws. But in a fall without football, there’s still plenty to see and experience in the scenic center of the state.
From geocaching and exploring the wilderness, to seeing all of what the area’s Happy Valley Agventures destinations have to offer during the fall — here’s a few ways to spend a weekend (or week day) in the happiest of valleys.
Heritage Driving Tour
Family farms are spread across Happy Valley’s landscape as far as the eye can see, in and around the communities founded nearly 250 years ago. The Happy Valley Agriculture Heritage Driving Tour takes you on the area’s most beautiful roads, lined with working farms, Amish homesteads and family restaurants sourcing their menus from the bountiful local harvests. Along the way, you can explore the rich agricultural history while taking a well-deserved time out from the hectic pace of life.
The Heritage Driving Tour features 12 points of interest, from the well-known Grange Fairgrounds park, to hidden gems in communities like Millheim, Aaronsburg and others. Learn more about Happy Valley’s abundant Agventures destinations at HappyValleyAgventures.com.
Visit Centre County GeoTour
You only need your phone to lead you to some of Happy Valley’s top spots. The Visit Centre County GeoTour lets you get outside and start exploring the area without any prior geocaching experience: It’s like a scavenger hunt guided by your phone.
This particular tour incorporates dozens of new caches and several pre-existing caches, for more than 50 caches to uncover all across the county.
To participate, pick up or download your Visit Centre County GeoTour passport from either the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau office or the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau or Centre Region Parks & Recreation website (there are both adult and kids versions available). Then, sign up for a geocaching.com account and download the app to your phone.
Outdoor Adventure Opportunities
Geocaching is just one way to get outdoors this fall in the area. Every corner of Happy Valley offers opportunities to get outdoors. Take a hike at Black Moshannon State Park, ride the trails in Rothrock State Forest, rent a pontoon boat to see fall foliage at Bald Eagle State Park, or check out activities at Tussey Mountain.
Exploring the outdoors is one of the safest ways to enjoy Happy Valley in uncertain times.
Insider tip: The Star Mill and Shingle Mill trails at Black Moshannon State Park are the writer’s favorite spots to hike.
Central PA Tasting Trail
What better way to cool down after a day exploring the outdoors than with a craft beverage? Though there are plenty of single-discipline trails all over the Mid-Atlantic for wine, beer, and whiskey, Happy Valley’s trail experience was the first to bring together all of the local adult-beverage producers in a single trail that has the ability to please everyone.
“The Central PA Tasting Trail offers patrons the opportunity to see where these quality products are made; sometimes you can even meet the people who make them!,” writer Sam Komlenio said in a blog. “Happy Valley is a beautiful place in and of itself; a drive over the ridges, through the valleys, and past creeks, lakes and fertile farms would ordinarily be its own reward. Now, however, there’s even more reason to make the trek, with a local oasis popping up every now and again to refresh the thirsty traveler.”
Where to Stay
Happy Valley is home to a wide variety of unique accommodations. Most unique, though, are the area’s bed and breakfasts. Bed and breakfasts in Bellefonte, Boalsburg, and other communities across the county are tried-and-true favorites for visitors. You’ll head home feeling like a local.
Plan even more by checking out the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau’s fairly new blog: The Adventure Bureau Dispatch. You’ll find the popular “Spend a Day” series featuring itineraries from different communities across the region, outdoor adventure spotlights and more. Drop in at dispatch.happyvalley.com.