Morgan Christopher Winter 2018
Within a few hours of most places in Pennsylvania, you can choose to surround yourself with the hustle and bustle of some of the best thriving metropolitan areas in the country or you can opt to immerse yourself in areas of great natural beauty guaranteed to soothe the soul. Visitors craving the latter will discover an idyllic destination at The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County.
Located minutes off the Milesburg exit of I-80 and a half-hour from the campus of Penn State, the Nature Inn at Bald Eagle offers guests an oasis of natural beauty in the heart of the state. Sitting on land owned by the Pennsylvania State Park system, the privately contracted inn welcomes visitors throughout the year. Each season features a wide array of outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, kayaking, hiking and bird watching. The inn’s public spaces and guest rooms open out onto spectacular views of forests and lakes offering panoramic views of remarkable scenery. This bed-and-breakfast-style inn and meeting facility emphasizes rustic charm while offering guests modern amenities rooted in the “green” practices of sustainable living.
From the lobby at check-in, guests look out at 1,730-acre F. J. Ayers Lake. The cold temperatures of the winter months offer anglers a haven for ice fishing. Winter recreationists will discover miles of trails for winter hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. During warmer months the lake and other park waters offer access to shorefront and marinas for fishing and docking of watercraft like kayaks and boats.
Locals and the State College community have discovered the Nature Inn to be a destination for special events like weddings, reunions, and meetings. Innkeeper Charlie Brooks and staff offer special event packages that highlight premier dining and event services as well as themed weekend programs that include lodging, meals and special activities for one price. Each morning guests are served an extended continental breakfast with daily “Chef’s Special” hot items to energize them for a day of recreation. At breakfast, guests can order box lunches prepared daily to take with them on their hike or activity.
An interesting convenience to having a working inn operating in the middle of an outdoor area like a state park is the option for members of a multigenerational travel group to lodge in a comfortable, traditional-style hotel room while other members of the group can enjoy their vacation camping out at a nearby campsite or sleeping under the stars. Some of the region’s most popular campsites are within walking distance of the inn. These options make Bald Eagle State Park ideal for addressing the needs of all family members when planning a get-together or vacation in the great outdoors.
Native birds and homegrown lumber are themes guests will discover accentuated in the décor of the inn. Guest rooms are furnished with binoculars and guidebooks for visitors to use to discover the many species of native and migratory birds making their home in the park. Audubon prints in the guest rooms, which are named for birds; “One Wild Library” on the second floor offering a collection of aviary reference works; and the stained glass Bald Eagle that serves as the centerpiece of the inn’s lobby let bird watchers know the Nature Inn is a haven for those who share this interest. Handcrafted tables in the dining room, as well as the architectural wood accents found throughout the inn, celebrate Pennsylvania’s rich lumber heritage, with most of the pieces produced locally with homegrown lumber. The themes of birds and lumber complement the aesthetic beauty of the inn and tie it in with the lush landscape of the park surrounding it.
Environmentally conscious travelers may want to learn about the Nature Inn at Bald Eagle’s award-winning green practices. From a 2,800-gallon rainwater harvesting system to the use of Green Seal certified cleaning products throughout, the property exemplifies the practices of sustainable living. Water-efficient landscaping, a solar thermal hot water system and linens recycled as holiday decorations are just a few of the unique green features guests will discover visiting the property.
The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle’s schedule of special events combined with the seasonal activities of the park combine to offer families an ideal destination at this treasure in Centre County when planning a getaway in Pennsylvania.
Photo credit: Nature Inn at Bald Eagle