Whether you’re an aspiring photographer or someone who wants to do a photoshoot for fun, knowing the best spots in town will help you spice up your Instagram feed and get that perfect shot. State College and the surrounding areas have plenty of scenic places that are great for photographing and exploring.
Whether you’re looking for a background in nature, or a more urban aesthetic, there is a huge range of places near Penn State’s campus. These spots are great for solo photoshoots, or if you want to get some memorable photos with friends.
Yes—the Arboretum is one of the most basic photoshoot spots in town, but you can really never go wrong with it. With such a diverse range of scenery, including various plants and structures, it’s easy to get a fun picture for your Instagram feed. If you angle your photos right, you can get some creative shots that may not even seem like they’re from the Arboretum.
The fountain, the Children’s Garden, the Rose & Fragrance Garden, and the main pavilion are some of the best places here to snap a photo. The Arboretum is also known for the seasonal decorations, which makes it an ideal place to get some festive photos with friends and family.
Downtown State College Mural Walls
If you’ve ever explored downtown State College, you may have seen some of the mural walls found in the alleyways and on various roads. These walls add a fun and creative background to any photo, and they’re a great pop of color. If you’re someone who likes sticking to a certain theme or color scheme on your social media pages, there is definitely a mural here that would be cohesive with your feed.
Two of these murals can be found on W Calder Way. The first is a notorious State College mural, found right by McLanahan’s Downtown Market on South Allen Street. It showcases a huge array of colors and the scenery changes as you walk along it. The second mural on W. Calder Way is slightly more tucked away, but it can be found close to Fraser Street. This backdrop boasts a bright blue color with painted purple faces.
Another mural can be found in Humes Alley, near Webster’s Bookstore Cafe. This mural is a more recent addition, which provides a creative geometric background for photographs. If you head over to the east side of downtown, you can find even more murals that feature prominent Penn State figures, such as the mural on Heister Street.
The Scotia Ruins
If you’re going for an edgier look for your photo shoot, the Scotia Ruins are for you. Even though it is slightly difficult to find, it’s unlike anywhere else in the State College area. The ruins are found in the woods of the Scotia Barrens, otherwise known as State Game Lands 176, and they are decorated with graffiti from over the years.
Since the ruins are in fact an old run-down structure, it is important to be cautious when taking photographs there. Watch out for pieces of metal and sharp edges, and make sure to wear durable shoes.
While you’re exploring the ruins, you can also check out the nearby pond at Scotia, which also serves as a great place for photographs. The pond is the prettiest during the summer and fall months. Both the ruins and the pond are just a 15-minute drive from downtown State College.
The Fraser Street Parking Garage
Parking garages are great for photoshoots, especially when you’re trying to highlight your outfit or a specific clothing piece. The Fraser Street Parking Garage provides a scenic spot for photographs, particularly when you’re using the rooftop.
The view on one side of the garage highlights the mountains in the distance, while the other side showcases campus and the top of Old Main. Either way, you’re bound to get some amazing shots if you use this spot for your next shoot.
The Millbrook Marsh Nature Center
The Millbrook Marsh Nature Center is only a quick 10-minute drive from campus, and it provides an amazing backdrop for photographs. This is a fantastic spot if you’re looking to have a photoshoot in nature, and it’s notoriously used for both senior photos and graduation photos. The gardens, boardwalk, and observation decks create a peaceful environment for exploring and capturing some amazing moments with friends.
What is your favorite photoshoot spot in State College? Tweet us at @VALLEYmag!