The biggest true non-conference road game in quite some time comes up this Saturday as Auburn visits Penn State for a nighttime kickoff and a whiteout atmosphere at Beaver Stadium! If you’re one of the Auburn fans heading up north for the game, you may need some help getting the lay of the land, and you may need to know where to go and what to do.
Auburn and Penn State have never played outside of a neutral bowl atmosphere. What can the Tiger fans expect from your fans in terms of hospitality?
From what I can remember, both Alabama fans and Nebraska fans were pretty complementary of their trips to State College in recent years. Now, of course, you’ll have your idiot drunk college students who will probably be assholes, but as a whole it’s a pretty welcoming environment. The tailgate scene is great and would likely fit right in in the SEC, lots of food to be eaten, booze to be drank and friends to be made. There’s also just a shared love of football, so most Penn State fans will want to talk about how you guys see the game playing out as well as other goings on in college football.
Since we’ll have all day Saturday to tailgate, are there any campus must-sees and must-dos before the game when you venture out from your tailgate?
It’s a bit cliched, but I think a trip to the creamery is always fun for away fans. PSU is, first and foremost, an agricultural score and the dairy is all sourced from cows on campus in the barns that are not far from the stadium. In addition to ice cream, make it a point to try the cheeses and milk and other products that they have in the cases to the right inside the entrance. Otherwise, the Palmer Art Museum and the Penn State Arboretum are both very pretty, though have been under renovation in recent years so I can’t promise that they’ll both be open.
And since we have all day Saturday, there’s plenty of time to recover from Friday night. Which establishments might we want to know about if we were interested in a cold beverage?
I, for one, am partial to the Shandygaff (AKA The Gaff), but that would be for the younger crowd. As I am now washed and well past my prime, places I would recommend would be Zeno’s, Cafe 210 West, Liberty Craft House and Local Whiskey. For those looking for a more college bar feel, The Phyrst is always great, as are The Gaff and The Saloon. Champs Sports Grill downtown is the trendy (no) longer new place to go as well.
What are the top five restaurants in town? And are there are special dishes that everyone has to try?
If you’re looking for a nice, sit down meal, I recommend either The Tavern or the Corner Room. If you want something a step below that but still very good, there’s Happy Valley Brew Co., Faccia Luna (good pizza), Liberty Craft House, The Field, Federal Tap House and Otto’s. If you’re out late and looking for food to drunkenly inhale, Penn Kebab is a hidden gem and then there’s Wings Over, Canyon/College Pizza, and Yallah Taco.
Alright, brass tacks. What’s the parking situation like? Is getting into the stadium and getting to your seat a process or is it pretty quick?
Assuming you have your parking pass ahead of time, it shouldn’t be too bad. Penn State is trying a new parking system this year and I was actually shocked at how efficient everything was last week. If you don’t have a pass, you’re diverted slightly off campus to get one and getting back could be a pain in the behind. Getting to your seat is similar. All ticketing is mobile now so PLEASE be sure to download your ticket beforehand. If you have issues, PSU has “resolution boots” around the stadium to help. I would recommend heading in at least 45 minutes before kick, just because the sheer number of people can slow things down if you wait.
I would like to note with the parking, that there are a parking decks on campus that could be solid alternatives and are a bit easier to get out of. They’re $40 to park in during game days/overnight on game weekends. Obviously, if you’re bringing a whole tailgating setup you will want to park on the fields but if you’re more so someone like myself who leeches off my friends tailgates, then the parking decks work great. I prefer the Eisenhower Parking Deck which serves as a tremendous center location between downtown, the creamery, and Beaver Stadium itself. I believe Clay mentioned it but there are certain routes you have to take to park in certain areas in the lots or garages. If you choose to park in one of the decks, you will have to go through downtown.
We’ll have people starting to trickle in on Wednesday or Thursday. What are some good activities to kill time during the day?
As I mentioned before, I really dig the arboretum and Palmer Art Museum. If you’re hanging around campus, maybe head over to the stadium and do the all-sports museum tour. It’s relatively cheap and there’s some really cool stuff. Also, occasionally you can get into the barns northeast of campus and check out some cool ag. college stuff. If you have time and are mobile, I highly recommend going and doing some outdoors stuff. Hiking Mount Nittany at sunrise is cliche PSU thing, but you get a gorgeous view that looks back toward the stadium. Then there’s Black Moshannon State Park and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center nearby that offer some fun hikes and in Black Mo’s case, kayaking or canoeing. Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery and Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery are both nearby, as are a number of nice golf courses, including the Blue & White Courses which are right on campus.
And are there any absolute no-nos when it comes to making an enjoyable visit to Penn State?
Just don’t be an asshole, mostly. Like I said, you may run into some drunk college kids being drunk college kids, but mostly we’re pretty welcoming. The obvious no-no is jokes about child abuse, they’re not funny and you’re not clever. But bar being obnoxious, there’s not really anything huge that stands out.
***Also, if you have any additional questions for Clay, post them in the comments below and he’ll give you an answer!