Updated at: 07-10-2023 - By: John Lau

If you’re a Penn State student or alum, you know that State College, PA is one of the best college towns in America.

With Penn State football, incredible natural beauty and outdoor activities, and some of the best restaurants in Central Pennsylvania, it’s no surprise that State College also has 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.

In this article, we’ll explore the best bars in State College, PA, near Penn State, according to various sources.

Top 15 Best Bars Penn State

The Phyrst

Best Bars Penn State (1)

The Phyrst is a subterranean Irish pub located at 111 East Beaver Avenue, State College, PA.

It is known for its daily live, local music, drink specials, billiards, and games. The bar is open 365 days a year, with different hours depending on the day of the week.

The Phyrst has a friendly atmosphere, pool tables, and a wide selection of drinks. They also serve food, with a menu that includes items such as burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers.

The bar has an Instagram account where they post photos and videos of their events and drinks.


Champs is a popular sports bar and grill in State College, Pennsylvania, near Penn State University. There are two locations: Champs Downtown and Champs Sports Grill.

Both locations offer a variety of food and drink options, and are known for being great places to watch Penn State games on big screens.

Champs Downtown is open from 4pm-2am Monday through Friday, and 12pm-2am on weekends. Champs Sports Grill has over 45 beers on tap and a pub menu.

Doggie’s Pub

Best Bars Penn State (2)

Doggie’s Pub is a bar and restaurant located in State College, Pennsylvania. They offer a variety of quality drinks and mouthwatering pizza, and have an outdoor “beer” garden.

Some of their refreshing drinks include the State Side, which is a mix of pineapple, orange, black cherry, and lemon cucumber mint. They also have a lineup of events at the pub.

If you’re interested in visiting Doggie’s Pub, you can find them at 108 S Pugh Street in State College, or call them at (814)-230-2200 to learn more.

The Saloon

The Saloon is a bar located in State College, Pennsylvania. It is known for its signature drink, The Monkey Boy, which is a beloved drink that has gained fame near and far.

The Saloon is also known for its live music, which is played seven nights a week. The bar is located at 101 Heister St, State College, PA 16801.

Zeno’s Pub

Zeno’s Pub is a campus-area tavern located at 100 W. College Ave. State College, PA 16801. It is known for its vast selection of international brews, pub fare, live music, and friendly atmosphere.

The pub has a dark, cozy basement bar with live jazz and blues music. They have more beer on tap than anywhere else, including Lambic on tap.

Zeno’s also serves food, and their menu includes items such as the Black Manhattan and Barrel Aged Old Fashioned.

The pub is open for takeout and offers a full menu. Zeno’s has an Instagram account with over 2,300 followers, where they post photos and videos of their pub.

The Shandygaff

The Shandygaff is a storied neighborhood bar located in downtown State College, Pennsylvania. It is one of the oldest bars in the area and is located near Penn State University.

The bar offers cocktails in upbeat digs, DJs, dancing, and karaoke. The current location of the bar is not the original, but it has been a popular spot for many years.

The menu at The Shandygaff includes signature shots, such as a blend of Captain Morgan Grapefruit Rum and fruit juices that create a uniquely fruity cocktail with hints of melon and pineapple mixed with Captain. The bar is known for its well-mixed drinks.

The Shandygaff is a popular spot for college students and recent graduates. It has a small dance floor and plays decent music.

The bar has a lively atmosphere and good vibes. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7 pm to 2 am.

Bill Pickle’s Tap Room

Best Bars Penn State (3)

Bill Pickle’s Tap Room is a sports bar located at 106 S Allen St, State College, Pennsylvania. It is a popular spot for watching sports games, with many TVs and a lively atmosphere.

The bar offers wings and bar bites, as well as a full menu. They also have daily specials, such as $4 Blue Moon drafts and $12 pitchers.

On certain nights, they have entertainment such as DJ State Smokes and legendary country night.

The bar has a history dating back to prohibition, where Bill Pickle was Penn State’s most popular figure, bootlegging and delivering alcohol across campus.

The bar is open from 3 pm to 11 pm Monday through Thursday.

The Lion’s Den

The Lion’s Den in Penn State is a bar and nightclub located at 118 S Garner St, State College, PA 16801. It is known as Happy Valley’s premier hip hop bar and nightclub.

The bar was established in 1959 and is still owned by the same owner. The Lion’s Den is also the name of a student idea competition held at Penn State Beaver, which is similar to the TV show Shark Tank.


Best Bars Penn State (4)

There are two places related to pickles in Penn State: Bill Pickle’s Tap Room and In a Pickle.

Bill Pickle’s Tap Room is a sports-centric bar that offers wings and bar bites in a lively atmosphere.

It is a popular spot that dates back to prohibition and is known for its specials and entertainment. The tap room is located at 106 S Allen St, State College, Pennsylvania.

In a Pickle is a restaurant that offers made-to-order subs and wraps. It is located on the first floor of Redifer Commons and currently only accepts in-person orders. The restaurant recently reopened on October 25th, 2021.

Mad Mex

Mad Mex, a made-to-order Mexican restaurant chain, had a location in State College, Pennsylvania, for about two decades.

However, the restaurant’s parent company confirmed that the State College location would permanently close on November 28, 2021.

The closure was due to the sale of the Days Inn by Wyndham Penn State, where the restaurant was located. As of the search date, the restaurant was already closed.

Bar Bleu

Bar Bleu was a bar located at 114 S. Garner Street in State College, Pennsylvania. It was part of downtown State College’s nightlife scene.

However, as of September 2021, it appears to be closed for good, with locked doors and an empty interior. There is no official indication of what happened to the bar.

The Brewery

The Brewery is a bar located in State College, Pennsylvania. It is known for its cheap drinks and dark, minimalistic atmosphere.

The Brewery is one of several breweries in the State College area, including Otto’s Pub and Brewery, Robin Hood Brewing Company, Happy Valley Brewing Company, and Axemann Brewery.

In August 2023, a petition was created to “save” The Brewery, which received over 2,500 signatures. The State College Borough Council had previously considered exercising eminent domain on The Brewery and Canyon Pizza for a parking garage, but later reversed their decision.

Cafe 210 West

Best Bars Penn State (5)

Cafe 210 West is a student and alumni hangout in State College, Pennsylvania. It serves classic American fare and has indoor seating as well as front and back patios.

The cafe is located at 210 W. College Ave, State College, PA. According to Yelp, Cafe 210 West is open from Monday to Sunday, from 11:00 am to 2:00 am, except for Sunday when it closes at 10:00 pm.

The cafe is a popular spot for day-drinking and is known for its skillet fries.

Cafe 210 West has an Instagram account where it shares photos and updates on its hours of operation. It also has a Twitter account where it shares similar information.

The Darkhorse Tavern

The Darkhorse Tavern was a bar located in State College, Pennsylvania, near the Penn State campus. It was a beloved bar that had been in business for over 20 years.

The bar offered pub food, draft beer, and creative cocktails. Unfortunately, the Darkhorse Tavern closed its doors for good in the summer of 2018.

The Rathskeller

The All-American Rathskeller was a beloved drinking establishment for generations of patrons, especially Penn State students. It was the longest-operating bar in State College until it closed in 2017.

The Rathskeller opened near the corner of Pugh Street and College Avenue on November 6, 1933, the same year Prohibition ended

The owner of the Greenroom Restaurant in State College, “Pop” Flood, thought there was an opportunity to expand his business by selling beer and food.

The Rathskeller became a favorite place for Penn State students to gather and regular customers became known as “Skeller Rats”.

The back bar and outdoor patio were remodeled in 2010. The Rathskeller remained popular a State College fixture for loyal customers, including Penn State alumni who returned when visiting the campus.