Nightlife

Location
University Park, PA
Undergrads
37,917
Tuition (in-state)
$28,746 ($16,444)
Admission Difficulty
Average
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Reviews

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4 College Senior

Nightlife: There is an immense bar/party scene at the school that is beyond compare of anywhere else I have ever been.

4 College Junior

Nightlife: Penn State has a great bar life, however, the prices could be a little lower. Yes happy hours and specials can be great but bars here don't hesitate to raise prices to the roof during special events, furthermore most bars charge 3-5 dollar covers even during the evening time. One thing I do like about State College bars though, is that there is literally a bar for every type of mood/person out there.

4 College Sophomore

Nightlife: The best parties I like to go to are at frats. They're always a good time and give everyone a chance to cut loose for the weekend.

3 College Junior

Nightlife: I have only been here a short time and have not experienced the party life yet. Throughout the summer the bars on the weekend have a good crowd and are fun.

5 College Sophomore

Nightlife: There are so many options of places and people to party with whether it be a bar or club if you are over 21 or an apartment or a classic frat party.

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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 9th
    Biggest Party Schools
  • 27th
    Best Drink Prices
  • 1364th
    Tamest Party Scenes

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

James Bunting
Hometown
Whitehall, PA
Major
Journalism
View all previous student authors

“State College: A Drinking Town with a Football Problem.” That’s the slogan posted on many T-shirts in the downtown shops. The fall semester is dominated by activities surrounding football Saturdays. Visitors come in from across the country and double the population of State College. During the spring, as more people turn 21 through out the year, the bars become the place to be seen. Indigo and Cellblock are the premier dance clubs in town. Most students enjoy the feeling of drinking outside at Café 210 and the Gingerbread Man. Smaller bars like the Rathskeller and the Phyrst have a strong cult following.

Penn State tries to compensate for the local atmosphere by offering a lot of different activities through the HUB late at night. Many students do take advantage of what the HUB has to offer. However, the University simply can’t offer enough for a large student population crammed into a small area. The lack of nightlife accounts for the large drinking problem at Penn State, and, while the town is mostly safe, it is impossible to avoid roving groups of drunken students after 10 p.m. The best advice for finding things to do around State College is to find a group of friends and be creative—everyone is in the same situation, and many choose not to drink. As a result, some of the best times can be had outside of bars and large parties.

Facts & Statistics

Primary Areas with Nightlife
The most popular bars are located on or directly off of College Avenue.
Student Favorites
  • Café 210
  • Indigo
  • Tony's Big Easy
Other Places to Check Out
  • Adam's Apple
  • Chumley's
  • Lion's Den
  • Mad Mex
  • Otto's Pub & Brewery
  • Shandygaff Saloon
Local Specialties
  • Café 210's Long Island Iced Teas :
  • Fish Bowls from Bar Bleu:
  • Monkey Boys from the Saloon:
  • The Tavern's Original Sin:
Favorite Drinking Games
  • Beer Pong
  • Flip Cup
  • King's Cup/Circle of Death
Useful Resources for Nightlife
  • The Bar Tour at 9 p.m. on radio 101.1FM
  • statecollege.com/bartour
  • Thursday's Venues section of The Daily Collegian
  • The Weekender (published Fridays by the Centre Daily Times)
  • www.latenight.psu.edu
  • www.lionbars.com for nightly specials
  • www.statecollegemusic.com
Closing Time
2 a.m.
Cheapest Place to Get a Drink
Cellblock The Lion's Den

Club ListingsWhat's This?

Lulu's

Lulu's is the premier hip-hop club in State College. It features many live bands during the week, but on Friday and Saturday nights the DJs take over for one big dance party.

131 S. Pugh St.

(814) 867-5683

Cellblock

Wednesdays are actually Cellblock's most popular night because it is the only place in town which promotes an under-21 night. Dollar shots and 25 cent drafts attract a nice crowd to Cellblock.

420 E. College Ave.

(814) 272-5000

www.statecollegemusic.com

Club Indigo

Indigo is the most popular dance club in State College. The line regularly stretches a full block down College Avenue. The drinks are cheap, and the girls look good.

112 W. College Ave.

(814) 234-1031

Bar ListingsWhat's This?

Shandygaff

The `Gaff is a long-standing PSU tradition. On football weekends, the Shandygaff is filled with a mix of young and old. The wooden floors and benches show the bar's age.

212 E. College Ave.

(814) 237-9632

www.shandygaff.com

The Phyrst

The Phyrst is State College's second-oldest bar, with 15 beers on tap and live entertainment nearly every night. Conveniently located on Beaver Avenue, it's only a few blocks from campus and centrally located in downtown State College. Phyrst's unique, Irish themed atmosphere has given it a strong following throughout the region.

111 E. Beaver Ave.

(814) 238-1406

The Saloon

The Saloon has more of a "party" atmosphere than many of the area bars; it plays host to live music, karaoke, and DJs during the week, and offers a variety of special mixed drinks. These drinks, including "Monkey Boys," are big sellers and a great way to start the night. Monkey Boys are available in many flavors and served in pitchers topped with a handful of alcohol-soaked cherries.

101 Heister St.

(814) 234-0845

Zeno's

Zeno's carries what is probably the largest selection of beer in the entire region. This bar is known for its friendly atmosphere, and it offers live music most weekends; these make for an interesting contrast with the dark, smoky basement atmosphere. Zeno's is located right across from campus, and the food comes straight from the Corner Room!

100 W. College Ave.

(814) 237-2857

The Brewery

Overall, it's a very small joint, and it doesn't have the best ventilation-definitely a place to avoid if you don't like smoke-filled rooms. Home to frequent live performances and open-mic nights, you can also find frequent drink specials throughout the week. The fair variety of on-tap beer is served in mason jars, and there are also bottles available for take-out.

233 E. Beaver Ave.

(814) 237-2892

The All-American Rathskeller

The Rathskeller is located in a dark basement and known for cheap drinks and an electric atmosphere. Thanks to Spats Café upstairs, the Skeller is also home to some great food.

208 S. Pugh St.

(814) 237-3858

www.theskeller.com

Darkhorse Tavern

Located across from campus, the Darkhorse has a low-key atmosphere similar to the Brewery and the Phyrst. The Darkhorse has a reasonably large menu and hosts live music from local bands throughout the week.

128 E. College Ave.

(814) 237-0490

www.darkhorsetavern.com

Café 210 West

For many Penn State students, the Café is a frat away from frat. Known as "the place to be" on Friday nights in many circles, the Café is also known for less-than-wonderful service and large waiting lines during peak hours. Nevertheless, the outdoor patio seating (except for the worst winter months, of course) is a great draw, and many feel comfortable within the packed atmosphere and large student population. The Café also offers an extensive food menu for late night munchies or midday meals.

210 W. College Ave.

(814) 237-3449

cafe210.com

What to Do if You're Not 21What's This?

Campus Events

Not being 21 is usually not a deterrent for drinking at Penn State. But for those that want to obey the law and stay sober on the weekends, there are many alternatives. Movie theaters and bowling alleys are spread through the area. LateNight-PennState organizes sports and gaming tournaments in the HUB and White Building. Cellblock offers an under-21 night on Wednesdays, which is very popular. For a list of upcoming events, check out www.latenight.psu.edu.

Student Polls

Rate the off-campus bar and club scene on the following topics    Based on 252 responses

Very poor
Excellent
  • Convenience to get to
  • Cover charges
  • Distance from campus
  • Drink prices
  • Fun
  • Variety/number of options

What's the best way to get to the popular nightlife spots?    Based on 226 responses

  • 3% There are no good options.
  • 7% Use a designated driver.
  • 25% School-provided shuttles/buses.
  • 15% Public transportation.
  • 4% Taxis.
  • 46% Walk.

What is the party scene like on campus?    Based on 240 responses

  • 7% Parties? What parties?
  • 3% Good parties are few and far between.
  • 10% Some decent frat/house parties, weekends only.
  • 51% Lots of options Wednesday-Saturday.
  • 29% Tons of raging parties almost any night of the week.

What is the biggest party event of the year?    Based on 64 responses

  • 39% State Patty's
  • 38% Anyday when we play football especially home games
  • 14% Honestly, every party event is the biggest party.
  • 8% Blue and White Weekend
  • 2% Halloweekend

Where can you find the best parties?    Based on 50 responses

  • 35% Frats
  • 35% Apartments
  • 16% Houses
  • 13% Bars

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