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Road Trip: Penn State

Posted: Wednesday October 11, 2006 10:26AM; Updated: Wednesday October 11, 2006 4:39PM
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Penn State's Nittany Lion enjoys a game with 100,000 of his closest friends.
Penn State's Nittany Lion enjoys a game with 100,000 of his closest friends.
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By Mark Myers

When Americans think of Pennsylvania, the general thought is that it's Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and about 10,000 cows and farms. But amid the cows and farms, the state's third-largest city (at least on Saturdays), State College, appears within a mountain chain, the home of Penn State University. The university has an enrollment (about 45,000) that is almost equal to the population of the town that surrounds it. Penn State is a city in and of itself -- it has it own zip code -- so it's no wonder that graduates of the university have no problems adjusting to the real world.

Voted the best place to tailgate in America by fans on ESPN.com, Happy Valley isn't just a road trip -- it is an experience. Here's just a snippet of things to do in the land of Paterno.

Best place to tailgate: Penn State. This one's a no-brainer. Where else can you hang out and party with 100,000 of your closest friends?

Best place to watch an indoor sport: Rec Hall. When the women's volleyball team plays a big match at home, there's no louder place. The capacity is only 4,000, but the acoustics in the building give the home team a huge advantage. If you're looking for a place to prepare for Saturday's game, or need to continue to root for a team in blue-and-white, Rec Hall is the place to be.

Best place to see someone rap Ice, Ice, Baby: The Saloon. Every Monday night is karaoke night at this bar on College Avenue. It is the perfect hangout for those who have dreams of American Idol but, in all honesty, are really talentless. Warning: This place may include multiple bad covers of Bon Jovi songs.

Best place to eat during happy hour: Cafe 210 West. For some, a night of drinking ends with a trip to either a local pizza shop or a hot dog stand, but the whole standing-in-line thing is no fun. Have no fear, because the folks at Cafe 210 West will satisfy your appetite from the comfort of your table. Whether it's a chicken parmesan sandwich or the famous 210 fries (fries covered in cheese, bacon and diced tomatoes and topped with sour cream), you will be satisfied while still being able to drink. If you're legal, of course.

Best place to eat breakfast without sleep: Waffle Shop. There have been a number of nights when my friends and I would count down the hours until the Waffle Shop opened on Sunday (7 a.m.). Nothing is better in State College than ending a weekend -- hopefully after a win -- with three chocolate-chip pancakes and slowly remembering what has happened in the previous 12 hours. If you decide to have breakfast here, be aware that lines start forming prior to the doors opening, and last till mid-morning.

Best place to celebrate a big win: Beaver Canyon. The three-block area between Pugh and Garner streets on Beaver Avenue is home to the postgame celebrations for night-game victories (one is scheduled for this weekend). The strip has five apartment buildings on it, three with balconies that face the street, and it's not uncommon for residents standing on their balconies to start chants, bang on frying pans or blast Zombie Nation as they cheer in unison with the mass of humanity below.

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