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School of Public Policy

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Living in Happy Valley

Living in Happy Valley

Affectionally known by Penn Staters and locals as “Happy Valley”, the State College area is a vibrant and welcoming community known for its beautiful landscapes, friendly atmosphere, and wide range of recreational opportunities. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a sports fan, or someone seeking a close-knit community, Happy Valley has something for everyone.

Outdoor Recreation

For recreation seekers, State College is full of parks, green spaces, and trails and boasts a handful of golf courses, multiple community pools, and even a ski resort. Seated within the Appalachian Mountains, the community is surrounded by many national and state forests, lakes and rivers, state parks, and game lands perfect for hiking, biking, camping, climbing, fishing, and hunting. No matter where you are in town, you can see the stately Mount Nittany and its neighbors, Tussey, Bald Eagle, and Shiner mountains. To really consider yourself a local, you need to make the mile-long trek up to Mount Nittany’s peak and take in the majestic views of of State College and the wider area.


Sports enthusiasts will feel right at home in Happy Valley. With Penn State’s Nittany Lions competing in a variety of NCAA Division I sports, including football, basketball, and wrestling, there’s no shortage of exciting games and events to attend. 

Arts and Culture

Happy Valley celebrates its cultural diversity through a wide array of artistic and cultural offerings. The area is home to numerous art galleries, theaters, and music venues, where you can immerse yourself in the local arts scene. Enjoy live performances, browse unique exhibits, or participate in workshops to nurture your own creative side. The Bryce Jordan Center on campus also hosts concerts, shows, and performances throughout the year, ensuring a vibrant entertainment scene for all. Another must-visit attraction is the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts (also known as “Arts Fest”), which is held annually during the summer.

Quality Education

Families are also drawn to Happy Valley for its excellent education system. The region boasts top-rated schools, providing children with exceptional learning opportunities. The commitment to education extends beyond the K-12 system, with Penn State University offering world-class education for those pursuing higher education studies.

Community Spirit

Happy Valley is more than just a geographical location; it’s a close-knit community that fosters a strong sense of belonging. Residents take pride in their town and are known for their warm hospitality. From community events and festivals to neighborhood gatherings and local initiatives, Happy Valley residents come together to create a supportive and inclusive environment for all.