Snuggled up next to the thick thicket of trees in Rothrock State Forest with Beaver Stadium in the distance, Tussey Mountain pulls the State College community together from above.
“It’s more than just a ski mountain,” said Aaron Weyman, Marketing Director of Tussey Mountain. “It started like this and has grown into something much bigger.”
Originally opened as a public ski area in the 1960s, the mountain has grown into a hub for local snow sports, concerts, festivals, marathons, and more. Just a 10-minute drive from downtown State College, the year-round resort offers daily activities for Penn State students and community members.
During the snowy season, Tussey Mountain has 50 acres of slopes for all skill levels for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. The resort offers a variety of student specials and discounts to bring more visitors to the mountain.
On Mondays, students with a valid school ID receive a buy-one-get-one free deal for full-day or five-hour ski lift tickets. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, ski lift tickets cost USD 20 (cash only) from 7pm to 9pm. On Sundays, Tussey’s beginner lift, course, and rental package costs $ 60.
For students who cannot ski, they can enroll in a kinesiology class at Penn State that teaches beginners to ski and snowboard.
The sun sets over Oktoberfest in Tussey Mountain on Thursday, September 24, 2015.
Penn State director of kinesiology, Laura Gilham said it is an “amazing opportunity” to learn as she said via email that Tussey has the cheapest prices compared to other locations in the state, including discounts of more than 50% on the course fee.
Meeting a small group of five to ten students in each class with the same on-snow coach every week leads to a lot of personal teacher attention and close relationships, Gilham said.
“The bonds people make with others in their class often last beyond their time at Penn State – I still get updates from students who have invited me to their weddings where the wedding party is people from their snow class , even five to ten years later, ”Gilham said via email. “There is something magical about spending time on the slopes. It’s relaxing, fun and a challenge. “
However, those not interested in learning to ski or snowboard can hang out at the resort’s lodge for food, drinks and entertainment. Located at the foot of the Rothrock State Forest overlooking the Happy Valley, the lodge serves as a meeting place for people to listen to live local music every Thursday and Saturday during the winter season.
Stacked with fine dining and a fully stocked bar, The Lodge provides a great opportunity for students to enjoy live entertainment outside of downtown State College, said Lodge Manager Patrick Donaghy.
“Say you want to go out and see live music, but you don’t want to deal with downtown,” said Donaghy. “Thursdays and Saturdays at the lodge are fantastic because we have a lot of the same groups playing downtown – we get them out of here.”
Festival goers set up their seating and listen to live music while they enjoy their meal at Wing Fest in Tussey Mountain. Tussey Mountain held its annual Wing Fest on Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania.
During the summer months, the Tussey Mountain Amphitheater turns into a popular outdoor music venue.
The amphitheater overlooks Happy Valley sunsets while musicians perform for the State College community. Performing artists range from local bands like My Hero Zero to global artists like Post Malone.
During the summer season, Tussey Mountain has special events with live music. For 20 years, the resort has hosted WingFest, a competition in which Tussey showcases up to 30 local restaurants that are competing for the annual Tussey Mountain Wing King title, according to Tussey’s website. Guests vote on the winner each year while listening to live music from 14 top local and national bands.
According to operations manager Melanie Rosenberger, the event attracts between 1,500 and 3,000 spectators on Thursday evenings in summer.
In addition to the WingFest, Tussey Mountain also hosts an Oktoberfest, which highlights German beers and German cuisine with polka bands in the background.
The resort’s mockstock event celebrates the historic Woodstock Festival with tribute bands and local musicians to round off the summer season. The website provides additional information on the events that are held throughout the year.
As the weather warms up, the abundant activities that Tussey Mountain has to offer expand even more. The resort’s fun center opens with mini golf, par 3 golf, go-karts, a driving range, a skate park and batting cages.
Tussey’s Movies on the Mountain event gives families and friends the chance to meet on summer evenings to watch movies on the mountainside. The Rothrock State Forest Trails are open year round for hiking, biking, running, and various races.
Ever since Rosenberger was a college student at Penn State, she has said she always loved coming to Tussey Mountain. For them, the resort offered a relaxed atmosphere away from the world.
“It’s such a different place than anywhere else in the city, you can come here and ski, you can eat differently – it’s like a breath of fresh air from the city center,” said Rosenberger.
“And I love downtown, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just so different up here … You just see a completely different side of Happy Valley.”
She said it was important for her to have the opportunity to work at the resort to turn it into a communal space where everyone can enjoy as an escape from the overwhelming downtown atmosphere.
Surrounded by Happy Valley sunsets with views of Beaver Stadium and Mount Nittany, Rosenberger said the scenery is a unique experience for visitors.
“It’s like a panoramic view of everything that’s amazing about the area – you can see it from Tussey,” said Rosenberger. “It’s a pretty magical place.”
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