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FAQs: Parents & Families Weekend

Parents and Families Weekend is hosted in the fall semester. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding this event. If you have additional questions, please contact the Penn State Parents Program at 814-863-1313.

What happens during Parents & Families Weekend?

Parents & Families Weekend is more than a campus tour. With over 80 events, planning your visit is key. We will begin posting events in August and will be adding events throughout the fall.

Beaver Stadium Tours, housing sessions, and academic events are hosted throughout the weekend. There will also be several varsity athletic competitions and theater performances. You will see the incredible talent and skills of Penn State students at almost every event hosted during the weekend.

Other favorite events include:

Friday: Old Main open house, Parents & Families Ice Cream Social, Pumpkin Festival at the Arboretum,  academic events, and more

Saturday: United in Song: A Student a Capella Concert, Family Tailgate Lunch, Pumpkin Festival at the Arboretum, campus trolley tours, Beaver Stadium tours, housing fair, Family Photos at the Lion Shrine, Astronight, academic college events, and so much more

Sunday: Off-Campus Housing Fair, housing sessions, Family Photos at the Lion Shrine, and THON 5k

Why should we attend Parents & Families Weekend?

Students are typically ready for a visit from home by this time in the semester. They may be tired and overwhelmed and in need of a little TLC (and, maybe cookies). They are also somewhat settled into their new "home" at Penn State and may be excited to share what they have discovered with you!

It's also a chance to experience something new at Penn State. Many of the events offered during Parents & Families Weekend are not frequently open to families and guests including tours of Old Main, Beaver Stadium, and the Brezeale Nuclear Reactor.

What does it cost?

There is no registration fee for Parents & Families Weekend and most events are free; however, some events require a ticket purchase or additional registration. More details will be shared during the registration process in August. 

An example of events that require a ticket purchase or fee include the Beaver Stadium Tours, Family Tailgate Lunch, some athletic events, and theater/music performances. 

When is the 2020 Parents & Families Weekend?

We will be announcing the dates in early 2020.

What day should we arrive? When do events begin and end?

Events typically begin after lunch on Friday and end at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Many families choose to come for the entire weekend, while others may drive in for a day (we would recommend Saturday). Some events only happen on Friday (Old Main Tours), while some events such as Housing Sessions and Beaver Stadium Tours are held multiple times throughout the weekend. The Off-Campus Housing Fair is hosted on Sunday only.

When does registration begin? Do we have to register?

Registration typically begins in August.  We ask families to register so we can prepare for your visit; however, if you don't register and decide to come at the last minute, we are happy to have you. 


Should we bring other family members?

Yes, everyone is welcome. Family-friendly events will be marked with a paw print on the schedule. This will help you select activities that may be enjoyable and appropriate for younger children. Keep in mind that Penn State is a large campus and you will be doing a lot of walking.

We can’t find a hotel. What should we do?

On busy weekends such as Parents & Families Weekend, football games, and graduation, many, if not all, of our local hotels sell out. If you do not have a place to stay, you may want to think outside the box (outside of State College). Bellefonte, Lewistown, and Altoona are within 15-45 minutes from campus. There are also several non-traditional options in the area including Airbnb, StateCations, and Rent Like a Champion that offer private homes for rent. The Central PA Visitor’s Bureau may be helpful in finding a place for your family.

Why isn’t there a home football game?

We want to plan a weekend that focuses on you and your student's Penn State experience. The crowds and other activities during a football weekend would prevent us from hosting many of the events that families enjoy each year. There would also not be enough lodging and accommodations for both families and football fans. If an away game is scheduled, we will host a tailgate watch party in the HUB.

Parking & Transportation



Where can we eat during Parents & Families Weekend?

We recommend planning at least one meal in your student’s favorite dining commons. Penn State typically offers a $7.00 meal deals at all you care to eat buffets in many of our locations throughout the weekend.

Downtown State College and the surrounding areas offer a wide variety of wonderful restaurants.

You won’t want to leave without getting ice cream at the Berkey Creamery.

Will my student have classes on Friday of Parents and Families Weekend?

Yes, the University does not cancel classes for Parents & Families Weekend. However, you are welcome to enjoy the campus and any scheduled activities while they are in class.

Getting Around Campus




Guests are encouraged to use CATABUS around campus. There is no fee for CATABUS service on campus.

Our plans have changed. How do we cancel our reservations?

It is not necessary to cancel your overall weekend reservation, however if you have purchased tickets to the Family Tailgate Lunch, you may request a refund before September 30. Refund policies for other events will vary. For other events, please contact the original ticket office or staff to ask about their refund policy. 

“ What I enjoyed the very most was the free time to see my child in his new environment. I have a new sense of calmness with seeing that he adjusted very well. ”
Penn State Parent, Fall 2017
Penn State Student Affairs
Penn State Parents Program