Philadelphia

The Best Bars in State College, PA

Chrome Liquor Lounge
Chrome Liquor Lounge
Chrome Liquor Lounge

State College, PA, is one of the best college towns in America. We’ve got Penn State football, incredible natural beauty and outdoor activities, and some of the best restaurants in Central Pennsylvania — with a robust bar scene to match. Whether you’re looking for a quiet dive to enjoy a cold brew, the perfect place to root the Nittany Lions on to victory, or an expertly crafted cocktail, there’s a bar in State College for you.

The Phyrst
The Phyrst
The Phyrst

Most iconic Penn State bar: The Phyrst

111 East Beaver Avenue
For generations of Penn Staters, The Phyrst is almost a holy place, spoken of by alumni in reverent tones — and for good reason! This legendary bar has been going strong since ‘66, and is responsible for Penn State traditions like the game of Table Wars, which pits patrons against each other based on where they’re sitting; the singalongs with the Phyrst Family Band; and the pounding of the cowbell introducing a rowdy “PSU” chant. As anyone will tell you, no bar crawl in State College is complete without a visit to The Phyrst.

Best place to get a literal pitcher of liquor: The Saloon

101 Heister Street
Another long-standing member of State College’s bar scene, The Saloon has been offering live music and a bustling party atmosphere since 1976. In addition to its busy schedule of local musicians, bands, and DJs, The Saloon is also home to the one, the only, the legendary Monkey Boy: a neon-colored and delectably drinkable cocktail that comes in a pitcher. A literal beer pitcher, full of liquor. It’s just as amazing/night-blurring as it sounds.

Local Whiskey
Local Whiskey
Local Whiskey

Best booze selection and cocktails: Local Whiskey

107 East Beaver Avenue
Located directly above The Phyrst (and sometimes still affectionately referred to as “The Second”), Local Whiskey is a bar for liquor lovers. Boasting a selection so impressive it borders on ridiculous, this is the perfect place to get that obscure cocktail you read about online, or try a pour of scotch older than most of the students at Penn State. The house cocktails offer new twists on old favorites, the food menu is delicious and open late, and the daily specials (like Tiki Tuesday and Whiskey Wednesdays) will have you coming back for more.

Most welcoming and inclusive space: Chumley’s

108 West College Avenue
Chumley’s is a cozy, comfortable little bar offering a wide selection of liquor, knowledgeable bartenders, and a welcoming atmosphere for anyone who’s any shade of queer, trans, non-binary, or even just looking for a chill space to watch Jeopardy. As the local gay bar, Chumley’s hosts all sorts of fun events that are a favorite of the local queer community, including drag bingo, live and local music and art, and holiday parties. Even if you’re not queer and just want a perfectly mixed Manhattan, you’ll be welcome at this charming haunt.

Best dive bar: The Brewery

233 East Beaver Avenue
The Brewery is a shithole — and that’s 100% what makes it one of the most amazing bars in State College. The tables don’t sit right on the uneven concrete floor, there’s no door on the men’s room stall, and there’s graffiti everywhere… and it’s all so perfect. The Brewery is down-to-earth, no frills, and one of the most fun spots to drop in for a couple drinks, especially with their giant wall of punny specialty shots. (One, called the “Dirty Ashtray,” is actually served out of an ashtray.) They also welcome up-and-coming touring bands, host local musicians for punk and metal nights, and have an amazing and underappreciated daily special on $5 pours of the top shelf Basil Hayden’s Whiskey.

Liberty Craft House
Liberty Craft House
Liberty Craft House

Best place to try a new beer: Liberty Craft House

346 East College Avenue
You order your beer by the number — that’s how many beers Liberty keeps on tap. And the best part is, they’re always rotating, so there’s always something new to try. Whether you’re an IPA enthusiast, a fan of darker fare like porters or stouts, or looking for something more exotic like a sour or gose, Liberty Craft House will have a beer (and probably more than one) that fits just what you’re looking for.

bar bleu
bar bleu
bar bleu

Best place to watch a game: Bar Bleu

112 South Garner Street
Come gameday during football season, there’s nothing like being a part of the crowd cheering for Penn State — and if you can’t watch the game from inside Beaver Stadium, Bar Bleu is one of the most popular spots in town to root for the Nittany Lions. This local sports bar boasts plenty of screens to catch the action on, actual couches and comfy seating, and some of the best pub fare in town, including some legit Kansas City BBQ. The chicken wings, which come smoked instead of fried, are especially recommended, and their fishbowls (giant, shareable cocktails) are also an absolute must-get.

Best brewpub: Happy Valley Brewing Company

137 Elmwood Street
Craft beer drinkers rejoice! State College is home to several brewpubs, each offering a unique selection of brews, including the Happy Valley Brewing Company: a charming brewpub operated out of renovated barn that’s absolutely bursting with Pennsylvanian charm. With more than a dozen craft beers ranging from brown ales and IPAs to Belgian whites and sours, as well as a delicious menu of sandwiches and upscale tavern food, Happy Valley Brewing Company is the destination for local beer lovers.

Best spot for live music: Zeno’s Pub

100 West College Avenue
State College has a wealth of incredibly talented artists in the local music scene, from folk singer-songwriters to multi-talented jazz performers (and everything between). Despite all these different styles, they have one thing in common: They can be found at Zeno’s Pub. This local staple of a bar has been around since 1972, been named one of the best college bars in America, and has made a name for itself for its dedication to bringing new and exciting beers to the taps and bands to the stage.

Sharkies Bar & Thrifty Bottle Shop
Sharkies Bar & Thrifty Bottle Shop
Sharkies Bar & Thrifty Bottle Shop

Best place to play pool: Sharkies

110 Sowers Street
Sometimes all you want is to grab a couple friends, get a few beers, and play some pool. State College has the perfect bar for just that: Sharkies, a dive bar with a relaxed atmosphere, a digital jukebox with a huge selection, and a whole line of pool tables. Kick back, relax, and try not to scratch. Pro tip: Sharkies also has its own bottle shop, so you can grab a six-pack to go on your way out.

Best place to enjoy a beer outside: Cafe 210 West

210 West College Avenue
When the sun’s out, there are few pleasures in life quite like enjoying a crisp, refreshing beer in the sunshine — and Cafe 210 West, often just referred to as Cafe, is the perfect spot for exactly that. Its outdoor patio is one of the few in town, and once the weather starts warming up, it becomes one of the most popular spots in State College to grab lunch and people-watch the folks strolling up and down College Avenue.

Best food: Champ’s Sports Grill

139 South Allen Street & 1611 North Atherton Street
Champ’s has a lot going for it: two locations, a ton of taps, and a great atmosphere for watching Penn State football games. That said, Champ’s real secret weapon is its kitchen, offering a full menu of everything from burgers and wings to pasta dishes and specialty entrees, many of them named after famous Penn State athletic figures or sport puns. While the names may be funny, the delicious food is no joke.

Chrome Liquor Lounge
Chrome Liquor Lounge
Chrome Liquor Lounge

Most unique place to grab a drink: Chrome Liquor Lounge

222 West Beaver Avenue
Chrome is one of the newer additions to the State College bar scene, but it’s carved out a distinct niche for itself thanks to its unique character and offerings you won’t find anywhere else. One of Chrome’s main draws is that, in addition to being a bar, it’s also a hookah lounge, making it the perfect place to take a load off and enjoy puffing on some flavored tobacco. With a wide selection of flavors for your smoke, as well as a menu with an eclectic mix of Mediterranean fusion dishes, there’s no place else quite like Chrome.

Best distillery: Big Spring Spirits

198 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte
Big Spring is technically located in Bellefonte (the next town over from State College), but any local will tell you that this distillery is more than worth the drive. Their expertly crafted spirits start with crisp, clean water from Bellefonte’s titular “big spring” (the town’s name translates to “beautiful fountain”), leading to bright, flavorful liquors made inside a converted section of Bellefonte’s historic Match Factory. Big Spring makes smooth vodkas, aromatic gins, delightful rums, smokey whiskey, and more. Stop by Thursday through Sunday, when the tasting room is open, and don’t forget to pick up a bottle of your favorite liquor before you go.Sign up here for our daily Philly email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Michael Garrett is writer, poet, and author who lives in State College, where he went to Penn State and spends his free time playing RPGs. His poetry has been solicited by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, and his horror and Central Pennsylvania noir fiction is forthcoming from Vagabondage and Flame Tree Press. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelMGarrett, where he sometimes appears on his friends’ podcasts.

Philadelphia

Museum Exhibits in Philly to Check Out Before They Disappear

Get in some culture (and selfies) at the best art exhibits in Philadelphia.

Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney

From the historical to the artistic, Philadelphia is jam packed with museums. Art aficionados of all ages can get lost inside the likes of tourist-friendly museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of the American Revolution or feast their eyes on unique exhibitions at institutions like the Fabric Workshop and Museum and the Museum for Art In Wood.

Between big-ticket exhibitions honouring the House of Mouse to collections showcasing the legacy of a prominent Black family in early America, there’s plenty of material to dig into. After you’ve planned a date night and rounded up friends to explore the city, here are the most exciting museum exhibits in Philly right now-before they’re gone for good.

Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney

The Franklin Institute

Exhibition: Disney 100: The Exhibition
Mickey Mouse, you look good for your age. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Disney is a retrospective exhibition, which got its world premiere right here in Philly. Between rarely-seen artworks and artifacts, costumes and props, and interactive installations where you can listen to hit Disney songs, the exhibit is a Disney lover’s wish-upon-a-star-come-true.
Dates: Until August 27, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Monday through Sunday. Tickets are available online and at the door.

Photo by Ramon Torres, courtesy of ANS
Photo by Ramon Torres, courtesy of ANS
Photo by Ramon Torres, courtesy of ANS

Academy of Natural Sciences

Exhibition: Conversations With Birds
No, not an allusion to the Eagles, this exhibition is dedicated to actual birds, their migration patterns, and humans’ relationship with avian creatures. Expect avian photography and video by local birders and wildlife photographers along with an interactive exhibit showing five migratory birds that pass through the Philadelphia region on their seasonal passage between North and South America.
Dates: Until May 21, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Barnes Foundation

Exhibition: Sue Williamson & Lebohang Kganye: Tell Me What You Remember
The work of two contemporary South African artists-Sue Williamson and Lebohang Kganye-are shown side by side, offering a cross-generational dialogue. Both artists utilize video installations, photographs, sculptural installations, and textiles “to consider how the stories our elders tell us shape family narratives and personal identities.”
Dates: Until May 21, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Thursday through Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

Photo by Jonathan Horowitz
Photo by Jonathan Horowitz
Photo by Jonathan Horowitz

Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History

Exhibition: The Future Will Follow the Past: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz
Exploring the rapid change of societal issues in America since 2020-antisemitism, racial violence, immigration, women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights-Jonathan Horowitz designed installations inspired by recent occurrences. His works explore specific events like the infamous far-right rally from white supremacists in Charlottesville as well as recent themes in American history, like attacks on those within the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.
Dates: Until July 4, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Friday through Sunday. Admission is available online and at the door.

Photo by Hoda Tawakol
Photo by Hoda Tawakol
Photo by Hoda Tawakol

The Museum for Art In Wood

Exhibition: The Mashrabiya Project
The newly renamed Museum for Art in Wood (formerly The Center for Art In Wood) celebrates the rebrand with a brand new project. Focusing on mashrabiya, the traditional Islamic architectural design, The Mashrabiya Project is a first of its kind effort in the U.S. to examine this aesthetic. As a part of the larger mission, a new exhibition Seeing Through Space features newly-commissioned, never-before-seen works by six female-identifying artists.
Dates: Until July 23, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets are not required.

Photo by Carlos Avendaño
Photo by Carlos Avendaño
Photo by Carlos Avendaño

Fabric Workshop and Museum

Exhibition: Henry Taylor: Nothing Change, Nothing Strange
Combining painting and sculpture, Henry Taylor utilized recycled objects in this exhibition, the product of an 18-month residency. The entire second floor of the museum houses the large scale assemblages, tapestries, and textiles. Think: 30-foot billowing canvases and towering totems created from compressed blocks of paint buckets, vinyl home siding, and black plastic planters.
Dates: Until July 23, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Walk up admission is available but advanced registration is encouraged.

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibition: Judith Joy Ross
More than 200 photographs from renowned portrait photographer Judith Joy Ross will be on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, chronicling her career from the 1980s to today. Her black-and-white portraits are intimate reflections of everyday Americans, and this show features work from all her major projects, plus, never-before-seen images.
Dates: April 24 to August 6, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Thursday through Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

American Swedish Historical Museum

Exhibition: Radically Marimekko
Famous for their bright and bold fabrics, Finnish textiles, clothing, and home furnishings, the company Marimekko is showcased at this special exhibit. Drawing attention to Finnish design, the collection traces the brand’s path from industrial art house to fashion icon.
Dates: March 30 to September 24, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Walk up admission is available.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and African American Museum in Philadelphia

Exhibition: Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America
A collaboration between the African American Museum in Philadelphia and PAFA, Rising Sun showcases new work from 20 artists examining the question of Is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy? With pieces shown in both museums, visitors can reflect on, challenge, and expand their view of democracy through art.
Dates: March 23 to October 8, 2023
How to visit: The African American Museum in Philadelphia is open Thursday through Sunday; admission is available online and at the door. PAFA is open Thursday through Sunday; admission can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Museum of the American Revolution
Museum of the American Revolution
Museum of the American Revolution

Museum of the American Revolution

Exhibition: Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia
James Forten may not be a familiar name within early American history, but this new exhibit at the Museum of the American Revolution is looking to change that. Telling the story of Forten and his family through 100 historical artifacts, Black Founders explores the Forten family’s roles in the Revolutionary War, business in Philadelphia, and the abolitionist movement.
Dates: Until November 26, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open daily. Admission is available online and at the door.

National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center

National Constitution Center

Exhibition: The 19th Amendment: How Women Won The Vote
That lofty document known as the Constitution and its values, interpretations, and amendments are explored in great detail at the National Constitution Center, naturally. This semi-permanent exhibit examines the 19th Amendment-the one which granted women the right to vote-and the road to its ratification. Out of the near 100 artifacts, expect to see a rare printing of the Declaration of Sentiments from the first women’s convention at Seneca Falls, a ballot box used to collect women’s votes in the late 1800s, Pennsylvania’s ratification copy of the 19th Amendment, and various “Votes for Women” ephemera.
Dates: Semi-permanent, no end date announced
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Mütter Museum

Exhibition: Spit Spreads Death
Eerily topical, the Mütter’s latest special exhibit, Spit Spreads Death, an exhibit about the 1918 flu pandemic, opened in the fall of 2019, less than six months before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The exhibit traces the disease’s spread throughout Philadelphia neighbourhoods a century ago and how the pandemic impacted the city with artifacts like photos, newspaper clippings, and more.
Dates: Now through 2024
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Monday. Advanced tickets are required.

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Allie Volpe is a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn’t slept in days. Follow her on Twitter: @allieevolpe.

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