Pennsylvania has some great state parks and they are worth exploring. Especially if you live in this state and are looking for some nice weekends and want to get outside. Though most of them have campgrounds, most of them don't have any type of traditional hotel; except for Bald Eagle State Park. This beautiful state park is located about an hour drive from State College. The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle is the hotel within the park and has won the number one eco friendly lodge in the country by USA Today in the past; and makes their top 10 list almost every year.
Throughout the year they sometimes host event themed weekends. These weekends cost a little more than your average two night stay but includes all your meals, and activities focused around the theme. You can read about some of these weekends on their website here.
My husband and I chose to stay for a weekend in January for an event they host every year called Birds & Brew. The weekend event was focused around local brews as well as learning about various types of birds. The event started Friday evening after check in and finished up Sunday morning before check out.
When we arrived late Friday afternoon we were warmly greeted by the staff. The check in process was fairly short and simple. The staff made sure to go over important details and to answer any questions you may have. The inn has 16 guest rooms total, which is a nice amount in my opinion. Some of the rooms face the lake with the view of the water and a balcony; The others have a forest view. Some have a balcony and some have a terrace. Though I prefer a view of water, the forest one was just as nice that we had. Their were bird feeders outside I could watch the birds, which was fun. We had friends who joined us for the weekend and we ended up getting one of their two bedroom suites to share. We each had our bedroom but shared a living room, kitchen, and bathroom.
Picture I took (slightly crooked) of the outside of the Nature Inn. This is the backside facing the lake.
All the rooms are nice, clean, and the beds were comfortable. I didn't get any pictures but you can explore their site here for some images and pictures of the rooms and see their layouts. Bonus each of the rooms have a number but are also named after a local bird. The inn has various indoor and outdoor commons areas that guest can utilize while visiting. The nice part is that even though the inn isn't tiny, its not massive either. It makes me think of Goldilocks and that is just right. Enough space to stretch out and not be crowded by other guests, but still feels cozy and homey where you can mingle if you want. They really did a great job with the design where its focus's on embracing nature and its surroundings; but giving you the modern day amenities you may want.
Another picture I took of the outside area of the inn, where you can see some more of the outdoor common spaces.
For activities, there is plenty to do around the inn within the park. Several trails go by the inn that you can hike; not to mention the lake for water stuff in the warmer months. You can read more about the state park and what it has to offer here.
For us, the focus was birds and brews. For the brews they had a brewery and a cidery come in to give us samples of some of their products. Our first night there was a sip and paint experience, which was a lot of fun. Even though I am not a big fan of those and my husband hates to paint; we both enjoyed the experience. We also had a tour of the distilling process by Big Spring Spirits in Bellefonte as part of the weekend.
Birds was the big part of the weekend. I put a bird feeder out a few years ago and each year I have increasingly become a fan of learning about bird species. I was excited to learn more and have been considering expanding it as a hobby. A few times we were given slide shows of various types of birds and how to spot them. We would also go outside and try to spot some of the birds. It was very cold that weekend so our guide stuck by the hotel and we were never outside for long periods of time. The one night we did an owl prowl. Our park ranger played some owl calls to see if we got a response. First time we got a response from the coyotes, but at one point we did get a screech owl to respond. My favorite part though was the birds of prey demonstration. Centre Wildlife Care came and brought 3 birds of prey and gave us a great educational seminar on them. If you are not familiar with Center Wildlife Care check out their website and consider donating to their charity. They do great work!
Below are pictures of the owl we say and me with the red tail hawk; all part of the birds of prey speaker.
Included in our packages was all of our meals, and every single meal was delicious. Note that other than breakfast; meals are not included in a normal stay and they do not have a public restaurant. However, they do now have options where guests can have lunch and dinner prepared for take out. Read more about it on their site here.
In conclusion, The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle is a great place to check out. The birds & brews themed weekend was a lot of fun but this inn is a nice place if you are looking for a getaway. Its definitely a place to enjoy nature. Whether you want to get out and explore the beauty of the park and look for birds, or just enjoy the views with a book from the hotel; this is a good place to take a break from the hectic everyday stresses of life. I also have to acknowledge the staff. Everyone there is super friendly, accommodating and willing to share anything they know about the park with you.
Group picture of me, my husband, and our awesome friends who tagged along with us for the weekend.
Final note, I did a wedding there once and it is a beautiful place for a wedding and worth considering for an event. This final picture was taken by J&A Photo at that wedding. The wedding was early September and you can see the side Inn as well as the surrounding mountains and the lake peaks out below. Its a good picture to give you an idea of the outdoor feeling you get when staying here.