2017-11-01 / Features

Best of State College 2017

Maggie Anderson
Jennifer Fabiano
Samantha Lauriello
Robyn Passante
Photos by Matt Fern

You voted, we counted, and the results of the “Best Of State College” 2017 Reader Survey are here! From the best bites in town to where to work off those extra calories, we got the scoop on what makes these winners the best. After much anticipation, here it is — your “Best Of State College” 2017!

Restaurants, Food & Drinks

Best Lunch Special
Best Italian
Best Pasta Dish
Best Pizza

Faccia Luna Pizzeria
For 17 years now, Faccia Luna (left) has won “Best Pizza” — it’s just not even close. General Manager Mike Corbett credits the wood-fired oven and the fact that everything is made fresh daily. Plus, the lunch special doesn’t hurt — you get two slices of the daily pizza and a soup or salad. “You can see it’s a local hangout here,” says Corbett. “Everybody kind of knows everybody else.”

Best Coffee Shop
Best Cup of Coffee
Rothrock Coffee
Since opening less than two years ago, Rothrock Coffee has been brewing up some of the best java in town. Named after its capacity to fuel adventure, the joe at this cafe is roasted, tested and brewed in house. The South Atherton Street shop, with its industrial chic vibe, is a refreshing alternative to the buzz of downtown. Keep an eye on their Instagram for gorgeous pics and fun events, like a recent barista throwdown.

Best Breakfast Place
Best Wait Service
Best Pancake/Crepe/Waffle

The Original Waffle Shop
At The Original Waffle Shop, not only can you expect the best breakfast in town, but you can expect it delivered to your table by the best waitstaff in town. The endless breakfast menu is sure to satisfy the largest of breakfast clubs. And when that waffle craving hits, it’s the favorite place to go for golden deliciousness.

Plaza Mexican Bar & GrillPlaza Mexican Bar & Grill

Best Mexican/Southwest Grill
Plaza Mexican Bar & Grill
Escape to Mexico with the flavors of Plaza Mexican Bar & Grill’s authentic dishes. When ordering “Table Side Guacamole,” you have the chance to customize your appetizer by choosing what and how many add-ins you would like. You also get to see the beauty of creamy guacamole come together right before your eyes. In addition to a menu full of every classic Mexican plate imaginable, Plaza Mexican dishes up speedy service with a smile. 1550 S. Atherton St.

Best Delivery Service
Order Up (now Grubhub)
Earlier this year, the delivery service that took over (and started in) State College was bought by Grubhub — which really meant very little disruption in getting you your food fast. When you can order General Tso’s chicken and a fruit-forward smoothie from the same app, you know the future is here.

Best Place for a Business Lunch
The Allen Street Grill
With an unrivaled view of both campus and downtown and a menu that will leave you unable to decide, The Allen Street Grill creates an unforgettable dining experience. A sophisticated yet comfortable daytime atmosphere lends itself to both casual and formal mealtime meetings. Plus, it’s a great part of the bar scene on weekends when live music arrives to entertain guests sipping and singing along.

Best Brewpub
Best Vegetarian Offerings
Best Kids’ Menu
Best Local Craft Beer
Best Bartender (Mike Knipe)

Otto’s Pub & Brewery
From bartenders to vegetarian options to beer, Otto’s knows how to keep State College happy. Otto’s seasonal brews add a festive flair to any delicious meal. Next time you’re in, ask Mike Knipe, State College’s favorite bartender, what’s on draft. Otto’s kids’ menu was created “by children, for children,” so no wonder it was voted the best in town! For a daring kiddo, try the salmon with lemon herb butter, or play it safe with two slider sandwiches. The folks at Otto’s also know how to keep their vegetarians happy. The black bean burrito will never disappoint, but try something new from the all-vegan featured menu every Wednesday.

Best Asian
Little Szechuan
Get your Chinese fix with an authentic dish from Little Szechuan’s sizable selection. With a menu that changes every year, restaurant president Sharon Ngan says customers keep coming back to try new things. For those who like their dinner with a bit of a kick, Little Szechuan has hot pot flavors ranging from cauliflower to frog leg. But if frog isn’t your forté, choose from customer favorites such as dumplings and spring rolls.

Best Outdoor Dining
American Ale House
You can’t ignore the fabulous décor that sprawls throughout the American Ale House, the unique hideaway nestled back in the Toftrees neighborhood. Forget the hustle and bustle of downtown State College and dine amid nature in an abundance of laid-back outdoor seating. The large patio allows for the perfect spot for friends to gather, grab a drink from the extensive bar and enjoy the delicious menu.

Best Ethnic
India Pavilion
With a lunch buffet featuring multiple main courses, a salad bar, appetizers, dessert and all the naan you can handle, India Pavilion offers a wide selection of traditional Indian food. For dinner, the Calder Way restaurant is BYOB, so you can match your favorite wine to the flavors of the East.

Best Fine Dining
Best Romantic Dining

Carnegie Inn & Spa Fine Dining
With Chef Paul Kendeffy in the kitchen, everything in the dining room at Carnegie is fresh, modern and decadent. When he can, Kendeffy stays local, with dishes like Wild Pennsylvania Mushroom Soup and Chilled Local Corn & Avocado Soup gracing the menu. Carnegie is the perfect spot for a special occasion, but just heading to this top spot in Toftrees will make any day special.

Federal TaphouseFederal Taphouse

Best New Restaurant
Federal Taphouse
One of the newest kids on the block, Federal Taphouse has quickly garnered local fans since its July opening. “We are really trying to be a part of the community,” says General Manager Dave Chubb. “We want our customers to feel like a part of Federal Taphouse.” The restaurant in the new Fraser Centre features a wide-ranging menu, with everything from smoked wings to the popular bison burger (above), and 100 beer taps with hard-to-find brews. “We don’t want to have what everyone else has,” says Chubb.

Best Sunday Brunch
The Gardens Restaurant
Sunday isn’t complete without brunch, and brunch isn’t complete without omelettes made to order, fresh fruit and smoked salmon, all of which can be found in The Gardens’ Sunday brunch buffet. Between a Belgium waffle station and a seafood bar, this delectable assortment will please the whole family. You’ll even be treated to a complimentary glass of champagne or one mimosa to start the day the right way.

Best Buffet
Ni Hao Asian Cuisine
Ni Hao’s made-to-order buffet gives you more options than most. Choose from an assortment of fresh ingredients as well as how you want them prepared. Ni Hao’s chefs can cook your meal hibachi style or on the Chinese wok. You can also choose from various types of hot entrées, dim sum and sushi made right in front of you.

Best Appetizer
Happy Valley Brewing Company
When Happy Valley Brewing Company starts their menu with “Killer Apps,” they mean it. State College loves HVBC for their wide variety of unique pre-dinner snacks. For many voters, it is all about the Short Rib Nachos that come piled high with braised short rib meat, smoked cheddar cheese, cheddar sauce, pepperoncini and tortilla chips, but there’s something on the menu for every taste.

Best Salad
Forget the concept of a boring salad — Fiddlehead doesn’t know the definition of boring. With 45 topping choices and 20 different dressings, customers can make the salad of their dreams. If that’s simply too much choose from, check out the café’s menu of nine set salads, soups and wraps. The College Avenue location makes it the perfect daily lunch spot for those in downtown State College.

Best Sushi
Tadashi reminds us of some of our favorite little holes-in-the-wall in big cities, but, luckily for us, it’s right on College Avenue. Come for the ramen and stay for the sushi, which you can watch being prepared right in front of your eyes if you sit at the bar — or if you peer over from just about any table in this small place. If there’s a wait, it’s worth it.

Best Soup
Harrison’s Wine Grill & Catering
For years, Harrison Schailey and his team have focused on local ingredients and the freshest flavors. Nowhere is that more evident than in his soups, which are voted “Best” year after year for good reason. This fall, seasonal soups like the butternut squash bisque and creamy parsnip & parmesan take the cake. Plus, if you join the frequent diner rewards program, you’ll get a free cup of soup each time you dine.

Best Local Hot Sauce
When it comes to quality wings, the secret is in the sauce, a secret Bonfatto’s seems to have all figured out. With many awards under his belt, owner Dave Letterman says Bonfatto’s keeps customers happy by developing fresh products, such as their new all-natural Artisan Blend Bloody Mary Mix. “All you have to do is add vodka, ice and maybe some hot sauce,” Letterman says. “It’s a very clean and high-end product that can also be used for cooking.” This zesty concoction is now on sale at the restaurant and is on its way to other stores around State College, including Target.

Best Artisan Bread
Gemelli Bakers
For the fifth year in a row, Gemelli Bakers has been your choice for artisan Bread. Tucked away on McAllister Alley, the bakery itself is open Wednesday through Saturday, but its bread can be found at various local restaurants and farmers markets throughout the week. Gemelli’s genius doesn’t stop at bread — they also sell pastries, donuts, cakes and more. 129 McAllister Alley

Best Cheesesteak
CC Peppers
If you’re a recent transplant and no one has told you about CC Peppers, now you know. Tucked into the North Atherton Wal-Mart plaza, this simple sub shop has been grilling up steak and onions for decades. Go for the Coast to Coast, which combines Philly and Cali styles in one delicious sandwich. 1625 N. Atherton St.

Best Burger
Best French Fries
Best Happy Hour

The Field Burger & Tap
The Field offers farm-to-table dining all day long, starting with breakfast and ending with dessert. Their signature stamped buns top burgers with local flare, such as the Lancaster Burger, which features Amish smoked cheddar. During happy hour, try anything from The Field Old Fashioned to a slew of Pennsylvania brews on tap. In the mood for something special? Add alcohol to any signature milkshake, like the Salted Caramel Pretzel or Chocolate Dream.

Best Sub
Jersey Mike’s Subs
State College knows that Jersey Mike’s Subs knows their subs — that’s why they’ve been voted best sub for five years in a row. With a wide variety of cold subs, hot subs and signature wraps, this sub shop brings a little taste of Jersey to Central PA. Try the #2 Jersey Shore’s Favorite if you’re looking for a classic. The combination of provolone, ham and cappacuolo will make you just fuggedaboutit.

Best Breakfast Sandwich
State College knows Irving’s is the place to go when the breakfast sandwich craving hits. The convenient downtown location makes it the perfect stop while strolling down College Avenue. Plus, it’s served all day — no judgment. Go for the Very Veggie wrap to veg out for a healthy breakfast. Or get the classic Breakfast Special with egg, cheese and your choice of meat on Irving’s famous bagels.

Local WhiskeyLocal Whiskey

Best Bar for the Over-30 Crowd
Local Whiskey
Whether it’s Tiki Tuesday, Whiskey Wednesday or Good Old Fashioned Thursday, Local Whiskey has our cocktail cravings covered. It’s hardly ever crowded, though sometimes there’s a wait, but it’s truly a far cry from the action-packed Irish bar downstairs. Plus, the kitchen’s open until 2 a.m. just in case you find yourself out as late as the under-30-year-olds.

Best Dessert
The Deli Restaurant
State College has yet again declared The Deli as “the king of dessert.” With 13 permanent options on the menu, there is a dessert for every sweet tooth. Chocolate lovers will be in heaven with the Gooey Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake or the Triple Chocolate Cake. Non-chocolate lovers will be equally satisfied with options from Key Lime Pie to the Ten Pound Apple Pie. Of course, the Killer Cookie for Two still takes the cake. The giant chocolate chip cookie is topped with vanilla ice cream, banana, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. This dessert is so large and fresh that it is asked you order it in advance.

Best Wings
Wings Over Happy Valley
When Happy Valley craves wings, it looks to Wings Over to deliver. While Wings Over makes other dinner options, they are known for their creative wing flavors. Regardless of boneless or regular wings, Wings Over offers 20 sauces over an expansive spectrum of spiciness. They also offer five different flavors of dry rubs. From “wimpy” to “caution,” there is a flavor for every wing lover.

Best Barbecue
Doan’s Bones Barbecue
With the new(ish) downtown location of Doan’s Bones Barbecue, you can get your lunchtime barbecue fix. The Whippler sandwich will make your mouth water at the mere thought of it. Picture this: pulled pork BBQ, fresh coleslaw and potato stix fries all piled high on a steak roll. From Doan’s award-winning sliced smoked brisket to the Nachos Doanos, you won’t leave Doan’s hungry. What’s even better? Doan’s Bones will cater any event where barbecue is a must.

Best Steak
Best Seafood

Kelly’s Steak & Seafood
Some restaurants specialize in steak, some in seafood, but for Kelly’s, it’s surf and turf all the way. The seafaring crowd loves favorites like the halibut cheeks and sockeye salmon, while landlubbers go for perfectly cooked 28-day aged Nebraska steaks in various cuts.

Best Burrito
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chipotle is boasting the release of its new queso, but the burrito still remains supreme. With fresh ingredients laid out behind the glass display, State Collegians know exactly what they’re getting when they order their bundle of fresh mex.

Bagel Crust CafeBagel Crust Cafe
Best Bagel
Bagel Crust
Since Bagel Crust entered the bagel scene in downtown State College a few years ago, it has gained a strong following — and two more locations. Bagel Crust Café on Westerly Parkway has a steady stream of customers hitting up the shop for their New York-style kettle boiled bagels, homemade cream cheeses and breakfast and lunch sandwiches. And a new Bagel Crust in the Northland Center will give those near North Atherton a home base for lox, bagels and more.

Best Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt
Penn State Berkey Creamery
The Creamery is an iconic piece of Penn State. Originally an agriculture school, it only makes sense that Penn State has perfected an ice cream cone that will make mouths all over State College (or all over the country) water at the thought. We’re big fans of the newest flavor, Monkey Business, but Peachy Paterno and Keeny Beany Chocolate still top the list. Test the black raspberry or coffee frozen yogurt for a lower-fat frozen treat.

Best Mixed Drink
Best Cocktail Menu

Big Spring Spirits
Borne from the belief that “excellent spirits require excellent water,” Big Spring Spirits distills its spirits from the neighboring Bellefonte Big Spring. In fact, water isn’t the only local ingredient that goes into these drinks; products from local farmers are used to create a hometown taste. “We use fresh, local ingredients to create very unique and great tasting cocktails,” says co-owner Kevin Lloyd. After distillation, the spirits are transformed into quirky cocktails in the tasting room, such as the popular Milesburg Mule. Lloyd says their handcrafted spirits give classic cocktails a local twist.

Liberty Craft HouseLiberty Craft House

Best Beer Selection
Liberty Craft House
With nearly 50 taps covering brews from local and international suds alike, Liberty is pouring pints for beer lovers of all types, and an extensive bottle list features hard-to-find favorites. Plus, events with brewers, like the Nov. 9 visit from Voodoo Brewery’s Matteo Rachocki, bring top tastes right to their taps.

Best Wine List
Zola Kitchen & Wine Bar
Sommelier David Burkhard selects a new rotation of wines with every changing season, meaning Zola Kitchen & Wine Bar offers fresh flavors all year round. The kitchen’s ingredients are also determined by season, creating a new dining experience about every three months. On Friday and Saturday nights, live music can be found at the bar, where Burkhard is also available to discuss the latest additions to his wine cellar.

Best Bottle Shop
Brewsky’s Bottle Shop
With four locations in the State College area, Brewsky’s extensive selection is never far from home. From local microbrews to well-known classics, Brewsky’s is sure to have the brew for you. A list of what the shop has to offer can be found online, or stop in for custom advice from the experts themselves.

Champs Sports GrillChamps Sports Grill

Best Sandwich
Best Sports Bar
Best Bloody Mary

Champs Sports Grill
Champs offers the perfect atmosphere for sports lovers to grab a bite and watch the game — any game. With two convenient locations, North Atherton and Allen Street, all sports lovers should find themselves at Champs. Any baseball fan can enjoy Tommy Lasardo’s Favorite, a hoagie roll fully loaded with salami, capicola, prosciutto, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo and Italian dressing, while locals might go for the Chriss Law (above). And any time of day, Champs’ signature bloody mary, with a mix perfected through the years, hits the spicy spot.

Stores & Shopping

Best New Car Dealer
Best Used Car Dealer

Blaise Alexander Family Dealership
When your family needs to get to work, school or practice, you don’t have time to worry about car troubles. Blaise Alexander understands the importance of having a vehicle you can count on and they’ll make sure that’s what you drive off the lot. With a wide variety of both new and used cars, the dealership’s experts are confident they have the vehicle for you.

Best Grocery Store
Best Place to Buy Natural/Organic Food

Wegmans is known throughout the northeast United States as the go-to place for natural and organic food, and State College agrees. Whether it’s the organic food section, the market café or expansive bakery, Wegmans offers something for everyone.

Tony Ghaffari, Your Cigar DenTony Ghaffari, Your Cigar Den
Best Customer Service
Your Cigar Den
Patrons of Your Cigar Den consider it theirs, and that sense of community and belonging is sparked by the owner, Tony Ghaffari (above). “I am very outgoing and when somebody walks into the shop it’s like they’re in my second home,” says Ghaffari, a certified master tobacconist who has expanded the shop’s offerings and lounge space in recent years. “I want to get to know them and make sure they enjoy the visit enough so they want to come back.”

Best Farmers Market
Boalsburg Farmers Market
This year-round farmers market changes with the seasons, keeping the community stocked with locally grown and made products even in the coldest months. In the summer, find bright berries and crisp corn outside at the Pennsylvania Military Museum. In the winter, shop for fresh baked breads and spicy salsas at St. John’s United Church of Christ. Not only are the products local, but the music is too. Enjoy the sounds of local musicians as you browse through all the market has to offer.

Best Bank/Credit Union
PNC Bank
PNC provides the flexibility that everyone needs when it comes to banking. Whether you’re a student learning how to manage a first budget or a family looking to save up, the bank knows its community. With four locations around State College, a PNC Bank is always nearby when you need one.

Best Spa/Jacuzzi/Pool Dealer
Tubbie’s Spa & Patio
Though the summer weather may have faded, the cold winter days will have us all dreaming of patio living, and there’s no better place to update your outside space than Tubbie’s. With everything from hot tubs and spas to grills and wicker furniture, you’ll be California dreaming at this locally owned store.

Best Shoe Store
Rapid Transit Sports
Athletic shoes provide support at some of life’s most challenging times, whether it be a grueling workout, a sprint across the finish line or a steep weekend hike. For all of these occasions, State College trusts its sporting needs to be satisfied by Rapid Transit. A staff of experts will guide you through the steps necessary to find the shoe fit for your foot type and activity of choice. 115 S. Allen St.

Best New Business
The Barn at Lemont
The Barn at Lemont’s unique co-op format was revealed this spring, and the focus on organic and local has not gone unnoticed. “We’re hoping to grow and be a staple in the community,” says co-owner Brian Kinney. With products from more than a dozen local businesses, The Barn is a one-stop shop for anyone interested in organic gardening, hydroponics, home brewing, beekeeping and naturally derived home and self-care products. Kinney says the niche market is the key to success. “There’s nobody around that does what we do. We’re providing something to the community that they used to have to travel out of town to get.”

Best Place to Buy Gifts
Kitchen Kaboodle
With seemingly neverending birthdays and the holidays right around the corner, Kitchen Kaboodle has a gift for everyone, even the person who has everything. A range of products sure to satisfy the needs of any kitchen are updated regularly based on the latest cooking and home trends. For the friend who isn’t a foodie, this shop also has home accessories suited for the most stylish abodes.

Best ATV/Motorcycle dealer
Kissell Motorsports
This summer, Josh Nolten and Dave Myers bought Kissell Motorsports from its founder, Craig Kissell, and have big plans for the future. “We’re moving out of State College to Tyrone,” says Nolten. “But it’s only 25 minutes away and a great bike ride down 550.” The new location will offer twice as much space for all the dealer’s brands, including the most popular BMW bikes. And you can expect the same top service at the new location, set to open this month. “We have the best team around,” says Nolten. “Our people make the customer number one, and that’s the most important thing.”

Best Furniture Store
Wolf Furniture
Whether you need one new piece to complete a room or a whole new set to start over, Wolf Furniture is where you should start your search. Wolf Furniture offers pieces for bedrooms, living rooms, entertainment rooms and even home offices. The two-story showroom and store on Valley Vista Drive will spark joy for even the most décor-challenged shoppers.


Best Local Clothing Store
With a new and expanded store just down College Avenue from its former location, Harper’s has something to offer everyone. From the Varisty Club with cool Penn State gear downstairs to custom suiting and a women’s section, Harper’s brings grown-up fashion back to downtown.

Best Car Wash
RedLine Speed Shine
With three locations in the State College area, RedLine Speed Shine keeps State College drivers sparkling. Take an easy self-serve drive through for a quick clean, or spoil your ride with interior detailing to remove dirt from all cracks and crevices. Plus, take Spot in for a spiff-up at the North Atherton location, which has two private dog wash rooms.

Best Florist
Woodrings Floral Gardens
Since 1922, Woodrings has been a part of the downtown State College scene — and Bellefonte too. From anniversaries to “just because,” the floral shop has an arrangement to help you say just the right thing. Plus, Woodrings supplies the flowers for many of the weddings that happen right here every year.

Best Greenhouse/Nursery
Sammis Greenhouse
As the weather grows colder and green starts to fade from trees, Sammis Greenhouse will close for the winter, but they’ll be back in the spring with plants galore. This family-owned greenhouse in Centre Hall works hard through the winter to grow and pot the plants that will decorate your home and fill your garden when the weather turns warm again. Sammis houses plants of all shapes and sizes, including hanging, ornamental, potted and more.
Moyer JewelersMoyer Jewelers

Best Jewelry Store
Moyer Jewelers
When you buy a piece of Penn State jewelry at Moyer Jewelers, you’re not just getting a beautiful way to showcase your pride. You’re getting a unique piece exclusive to the downtown jeweler that’s been designed by Moyer’s own knowledgeable and creative staff. The “other” corner of College and Allen is home to a family-owned business now in its third generation of helping locals celebrate engagements, anniversaries, graduations and more.

Best Place to Buy a Christmas Tree
Tannenbaum Farms
Whether you’re a day-after-Thanksgiving type or more last minute, take a trip out to Centre Hall for this year’s Christmas tree experience. The Weidensauls grow fraser firs, Douglas firs, balsam firs, Colorado blue spruces and concolor/white firs on their 150-acre farm 10 miles east of State College.

Places & Events

Best Community Space
The Makery
With its funky vibe helping to keep State College cool, The Makery is also bringing the community together in its Calder Way space via craft classes, evening events and community partnerships. In October, owner Amy Frank announced a partnership with the Stormbreak Runaway Shelter, a group home for girls aged 12-19. The residents have free Open Studio access, and a portion of The Makery’s proceeds will be donated to the shelter each month.

Best Conference Center
The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center
Forty-nine different event rooms make the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center the go-to place for all of your event needs. Whether your event is small or large, casual or fancy, the hotel has the space for you. In addition to their capacity to entertain, the Penn Stater has luxurious guest rooms and two award-winning restaurants. To get downtown, just hop on the hotel’s shuttle, which goes directly to campus.

Best Playground
Bernel Road Park
From an air traffic control tower to swings reminiscent of saucers, Bernel Road Park is the most unique playground around. With separate play spaces for little tykes and bigger kids, there’s something for everyone at the “airport park.” And don’t forget to bring your bikes or scooters, as the playground’s wide walkways are painted like runways, making this sunny spot the perfect place for little legs to take off.

Best Museum/Gallery
Palmer Museum of Art
The massive lion paws cannot be missed on the Penn State University Park campus, and neither can the Palmer Museum of Art. Since 1972 the Palmer Museum has been an art hub for Penn State and for State College. This fall, don’t miss the BIG Idea exhibit, featuring huge paintings from the permanent collection, and a new configuration of American art in the permanent galleries.

Best Charter/Private School
State College Friends School
For 37 years, State College Friends School has been educating students using an approach founded on the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship. Head of School Dan Hendey says the school, which serves pre-K through eighth grade, emphasizes academics as well as social, emotional and physical growth. “Nowadays where everyone is so linked into technology, a lot of times social and emotional aspects of growing up can be ignored,” Hendey says. “We want to make sure our students can navigate social situations and handle emotional difficulties.”

Best Spa
Designer’s Denn Salon & Spa
Designer’s Denn Salon & Spa is constantly adapting to accommodate the latest beauty trends. By attending trainings in major cities like New York and Philadelphia, a staff of experienced technicians brings the most modern techniques to State College. Offering full hair, nail and spa treatments, Designer’s Denn is the one-stop shop for all of your beauty needs in an upstairs oasis right on Calder Way.

Best Park
Tom Tudek Memorial Park
Plenty of parks in the area have great features, but Tom Tudek Memorial Park has all of them. A new playground added within the last two years is icing on a cake made of open fields and covered pavilions, walking trails, a dog park, Snetsinger Butterfly Garden and much more. Tons of special events are held at Tudek throughout the year, and with good reason — it’s an 87-acre community gem.

Looks Hair DesignLooks Hair Design
Best Hair Salon for Women
Best Place for a Men’s Haircut
Best Place for a Manicure

Looks Hair Design
Anyone in need of some pampering is sure to get their fix at Looks Hair Design. “We want to be the best part of our clients’ day,” says Aaron Gilson, assistant manager. Not only does the Looks staff pride themselves on offering great services and products, but also on creating the best customer experience from start to finish. “We’re a family and we want everyone to feel like they’re a part of that,” Gilson says. “We support all [kinds of] beauty.”

Best Place to See Live Music
The State Theatre
The State Theatre strives to be “the creative soul of the Centre Region arts scene.” It’s clear that when it comes to the performing arts scene, this community-owned nonprofit organization is at the top of the list. With children’s shows, local theater performances, national musical acts and community events, The State’s stages run the gamut. As a result, the theater reaches arts lovers of all generations. Plus, there’s hardly a bad seat in the house.

Best Fundraising Event
Centre Gives
For more than 30 years, Centre Foundation has been inspiring our region to give, and perhaps nothing is more all encompassing of the local nonprofit community than the annual Centre Gives. Last year’s 36-hour online fundraising event raised more than $1.4 million, which benefited more than 100 local organizations.

Best Retirement Community
Foxdale Village
Foxdale Village turns retirement into a time to enjoy the finer things in life, such as good friends and great fun. An emphasis on community makes it easy to form new friendships when transitioning into a new environment. Daily activities such as group dining, art classes, woodworking and more keep residents entertained at all times. But one of the greatest benefits of retirement is having the freedom to relax at will on the village’s beautiful 21-acre campus.

Best Community Event
Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
From buckets of water dropping on little heads on Allen Street to exceptional artists selling their goods along campus sidewalks, Arts Fest is a 51-year-old tradition with a little something for everyone. Live music, fair food, festive banners and the creativity and camaraderie of multiple generations — Arts Fest is a crowded community reunion that keeps us coming back summer after summer.

Best Local Theater Group
FUSE Productions
With the wildly popular — and locally connected — Fun Home starting off FUSE Production’s 2017/2018 mainstage season, local audiences are in for a treat. Merrily We Roll Along, Feb. 22-24, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, June 21-23, will wow from the stage at Schwab Auditorium. You can expect FUSE to subtly tie in current events and keep audiences thinking as much as singing along.

Best Hiking Trail
Mount Nittany trails
For one of the most stunning views of the State College area, head to the Mount Nittany hiking trails. The mountain is extremely manageable for children and pets, but still offers exercise for all. More advanced hikers can explore the whole mountain in about 3 or 4 hours. The Mike Lynch Overlook offers the best view of the Penn State campus and Beaver Stadium. For the average hiker, the round trip takes about an hour to an hour and a half to complete.

Best place for After-School Activities
The State College Area School District doesn’t stop teaching its students when the school day is done. Its Community Education Extended Learning (CEEL) Program offers elementary students the chance to learn a foreign language, play chess, work on homework, take art classes, play sports and more both before and after school for a reasonable price. It’s the best option around for working families to keep young students safe and stimulated.

People & Services

Best Hairstylist
Lauren Vaught, Evolve Studio
At Evolve Studio, Lauren Vaught and her team are all about bringing current trends to hair styles in State College. From chic cuts to blended color, Vaught started Evolve after working her way up in New York City and then in State College. And it’s not just cut and color — Vaught works many weekends as a bridal hairstylist.

Best Doctor
Dr. Kristen M. Grine, Penn State Hershey Medical Group Windmere Centre
For the second time, voters have recognized Dr. Kristen Grine and her focus on patients. “I believe it’s important to let the patient talk,” says the osteopathic physician. “And you have to keep an open mind and never judge.” The Bellefonte native has been with Penn State Hershey for 10 years, and though her schedule might be pretty full, she is still accepting new patients on a referral basis because, as she says, “I enjoy doing women’s health, and it’s hard sometimes to find female providers.”

Laura Sogor, Laura's Home CookingLaura Sogor, Laura's Home Cooking

Best Caterer
Laura’s Home Cooking
Laura Sogor got her catering start almost four years ago, when her son built the homegrown cook a website to urge her to turn pro. Since then she’s gained a foothold in all catering areas, from weddings and formal functions to tailgates, small parties and sporting events. Sogor (and her husband, a trained chef who helps in the kitchen) makes everything from scratch, and though her menu is as varied as you can imagine, her homemade turkey burgers are always a crowd favorite.

Best Dentist
Jocelyn L. Anderton DMD, LLC.
From her convenient outpost on North Atherton, Jocelyn Anderton has been keeping smiles bright since 2009. Specializing in cosmetic and restorative dentistry as well as preventive dental care, Anderton can care for the whole family.

Best Veterinarian
Dr. Jeffrey Miller, Halfmoon Valley Animal Hospital
No one likes to see their fluffy companion feeling under the weather, but Halfmoon Valley Animal Hospital helps you take the stress out of a sick day. Dr. Miller makes it clear he cares about each pet’s well-being, giving patients’ owners peace of mind. Pets are sure to feel pampered by the quality care provided at this animal hospital. 1070 Smith Rd., Port Matilda

Best Eye Doctor
Dr. Fred H. Carlin, Nittany Eye Associates
Dr. Fred Carlin has been keeping an eye on our eyes since 1975, and once again he takes the top spot for Best Eye Doctor in the area. He specializes in lasik surgery, glaucoma and contact lenses, but the skilled optometrist is also known for his dedicated community service. This year Carlin and his colleagues at Nittany Eye Associates celebrate the 20th anniversary of an optometry practice that, with Carlin’s help, boasts four locations and an excellent reputation.

Best Chiropractor
Dr. Roy M. Love
Nittany Valley Chiropractic and Wellness Center has been in practice for 31 years. Dr. Roy M. Love has been practicing in State College and Centre Hall for 30 years and has been voted “Best Chiropractor” for the third year in a row. Love credits the success of the practice to the dedication of his entire staff. “I have a wonderful, incredible staff,” Love says. “We’re thrilled that chiropractic has played more of a role in mainstream health care, and we’ll continue to serve our patients well and help them get better.”

Planet FitnessPlanet Fitness

Best Health Club/Gym
Planet Fitness
Open 24/7, Planet Fitness allows you to stay in shape on your own schedule. Workout classes ranging from “PF 360 Strength” to “Back and Triceps” make it easy to find motivation on the days you feel like you need it most. If you’re not sure how to get started or which class is right for you, ask a member of the gym’s experienced staff on site at all hours.

Best Remodeling/Home Contractor
Veronesi Building and Remodeling
Robert Veronesi started his general contracting company in 1981, with his brother Brent joining the next year. Those 36 years have involved a lot of growth, but the Veronesis still do it all. “We still do little repair jobs for a couple hundred bucks and we’ll go all the way up to $15 million projects,” he says. “The secret to our success is always trying to put the customer first and doing what we say we’re going to do.” Recent projects include the Mount Nittany Health building on Blue Course Drive, Harper’s new store downtown and the stadium project at the Phillipsburg Osceola Senior High School.

Best Flooring/Carpeting
America’s Carpet Outlet
At the America’s Carpet Outlet showroom on North Atherton, there are hundreds of styles of carpet, hardwood, rugs, tile, laminate and vinyl, but for owner George McMurtry, it all comes down to one thing. “Without question, the best feature of our business is our people,” he says. “We try very hard to stress that people do business with people.” Plus, ACO is the exclusive area dealer of top brands Karastan, Stanton and Shaw Flooring.

Best Landscaper/Lawn Care Company
Scott’s Landscaping
Scott Burk founded his own landscaping company in 1990, and in 27 years it’s grown to include every manner of landscape-related service, from residential landscape design and installation to job site erosion and sediment control. Now with its own sister nursery, created to fulfill the needs of its customers and expanded to serve the community at large, Scott’s Landscaping knows the grass is always greener on its side of the fence.

Best Local Photographer
Heidi Lewis, Heidi Lynne Photography
Photographer Heidi Lewis captures what you want to remember at each of life’s milestones. Specializing in portraiture, Lewis’s inspiration comes from the simplicity of everyday life. She photographs what’s already in front of her, ensuring her images are authentic. From a baby’s first birthday to a teen’s senior portraits, Lewis’s portfolio is full of the moments that matter the most.

Bobbi Deardorff, Artemis Massage StudioBobbi Deardorff, Artemis Massage Studio
Best Massage
Artemis Massage Studio
Best Massage Therapist
Bobbi Deardorff
Take time to relax at Artemis and trust the well-trained hands of nine massage therapists. Between Swedish, deep tissue, sports, prenatal and hot stone massages, Artemis knows how to pamper. And this year’s Best Massage Therapist, Bobbi Deardorff, practices multiple kinds of massage and relaxation therapies, including Hawaiian lomi lomi, which Deardorff describes as “using the forearms and elbows to create complete waves of massage from the feet to the shoulders.” And Artemis is expanding its offerings with a new line of salves and aroma rollers in scents like “Headache Hero” and “Sweet Dreams.”

Best Artist
Michael Pilato
Michael Pilato’s murals characterize the streets of State College, like Heister Street, where his “Inspiration” mural decorates the side of the Student Book Store. Since winning this category last year, Pilato has taken his work to Orlando, Florida, where he’s creating a mural in memory of those affected by the Pulse Nightclub shooting. “I get to work closely with the victims’ families, loved ones and all of the amazing people in this city,” Pilato says. After that mural is completed next year, Pilato plans to return home to Happy Valley and continue his work.

Best Mechanic/Place to Fix Your Car
Tire Town
Since 1964, Tire Town has been about way more than just tires. A full-service garage, Tire Town techs are ready to tackle anything from a state inspection to a brake repair. Of course, it’s also a great place to get your new tires, with many top brands available and typically at promotional rates.

Jerry ValeriJerry Valeri

Best Broadcast Personality
Jerry Valeri, Big Froggy 101
Jerry Valeri has been coming to State Collegians across the radio waves since 2001. “I keep waiting for everyone to say, ‘He’s a fraud!’” he jokes. But his move to Forever Broadcasting’s Big Froggy 101 country music station three years ago has been a great fit. “Country music fans are the best,” he says. “They’re so engaged.” And does he love the music? “It took about a year for the transformation, but I have come to love country music.”

Best Realtor
Bob Froehlich, Keller Williams
Bob Froehlich of Keller Williams prides himself on placing importance on his relationships with clients. He wants your home buying experience to be more than just a business transaction, but rather a fun experience for everyone involved. Even outside of the workplace, Bob prioritizes making people happy, just as doing what he loves makes him happy.

Best Local Band/Musician
Pure Cane Sugar
For the past decade, the sultry voices and powerful lyrics of Natalie Race and Kate Twoey have amped up the local music scene with their band Pure Cane Sugar. The band, with accompaniment from drummer Daryl Branford, slide guitarist Jason “Junior” Tutwiler and bassist Bob Hart, performs a mix of Americana and soul that wows every crowd. In fact, Pure Cane Sugar recently opened for
Nancy Wilson of Heart when she performed at The State Theatre.

Best Yoga Instructor
Erica Kaufman, Lila Yoga Studio
Amid the hustle and bustle of Downtown State College lives Lila Yoga Studio, a spot where owner Erica Kaufman invites any and all to practice yoga with her and others. “I put ‘Lila’ together with ‘yoga’ for ‘Harmony within the larger rhythm of life,’” Kaufman says on the origins of her studio’s name. Kaufman is excited that so many from State College have joined her in her practice. “Yoga can really be one of those fabulous tools to help us calm so that whatever our unique talent is can be realized with the greatest brilliance,” Kaufman says. She appreciates the chance to practice yoga and share it with so many different people. “I’m very committed for the long run, for my full life, and I’m happy to join along with anybody else who’s interested.”

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