Written by Danielle Taylor 

An audience enjoys a production of Peter Pan at Cook Forest’s open-air Sawmill Theater.

The Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region may be best known for its endless outdoor and natural attractions, but it also offers a wide variety of cultural destinations and experiences to explore. Whether you enjoy the performing arts, one-of-a-kind crafts, or striking visual art, you’ll find something to pique your interest here.

In Cook Forest State Park, the Sawmill Center for the Arts hosts a variety of arts and craft shows and classes throughout the year, and the popular Craft Market sells creative handmade works by local artists ranging from stoneware to paintings to barn decorations. Through the summer, community and university acting groups from around the region perform mysteries, comedies, and Broadway musicals at the open-air Sawmill Theater.

In Clarion County, the Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts in the charming resort town of Foxburg presents a widely varied performance series each year featuring jazz, Celtic, classical, and many other types of music. The center’s Red Brick Gallery and Riverstone Farms host a number of visual art exhibits each year, and its Lincoln Hall is home to the Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ, which performers showcase in a variety of concerts and recitals. Clarion University’s Marwick Boyd Fine Arts Center welcomes many local and touring performances throughout the season, everything from the classics to musicals to comedies. Also on campus, visit the Peirce Planetarium to learn about the stories different cultures have seen in the stars. In New Bethlehem, check out Pine Springs Pottery, a historic home studio and shop featuring handmade stoneware crafted by a highly talented potter. Nearby, check out the artist windows in East Brady, which showcase work by local artists and craftspeople in the storefronts of this riverside town.

Fusion Atelier in Brookville serves as an art gallery and cafe, and guests can enjoy and purchase creations by local artists here all year round.

Jefferson County is home to CREATE Brookville, a nonprofit organization that supports local creative expression and education and hosts a wide range of exhibits, workshops, classes, markets, and fun community events, like Art in the Park. This popular annual event, scheduled for June 15 in 2019, gathers dozens of local artists, crafters, musicians, dancers, and other creative types who share their talents with the public. CREATE Brookville is headquartered at Fusion Atelier and Cafe, which serves as a coffee shop, breakfast and lunch restaurant, art gallery, and more in the heart of historic downtown Brookville. North of Brookville, Quiet Creek Herb Farm and School of Country Living offers classes in natural arts, including mushroom propagation and herbal soap making, as well as cultural Appalachian events, such as a summer contra dance. In Corsica, stop by The Woodcrafters shop for handcrafted log benches, woven rugs, candles, and nature crafts. To the south, find more than 30 Phantastic Phil sculptures throughout Punxsutawney, all of which showcase different aspects of the Groundhog Day legend and life in this world-famous town.

In Forest County, travelers interested in combining art with their vacation can schedule a custom class or a full weekend art retreat at Kellygreen B&B in Tionesta. The owner and other area artists offer individualized instruction in colored pencil, pastel, pastel pencil, watercolor, oil, sculpture, silk scarf dying, stained glass, jewelry making, and other media. Tionesta visitors can also get their hands dirty at the Art on the Allegheny Festival, scheduled for August 31 this year, where a wide variety of artists invite attendees to participate in their hands-on demonstrations. On weekends from May through October, the charming Tionesta Market Village hosts local crafters, bakers, beekeepers, chefs, vintners, and other small-business owners who sell their wares from miniature Old West-style storefronts.

Cameron County’s Chamber of Commerce and Artisan Center, a stop on the Pennsylvania Wilds Artisan Trail, sells handmade wares and hosts art classes to bring out your creativity. The shop features work from more than 65 local artists, ranging from homemade soaps to fine paintings. While you’re in the area, check out the Cameron County Canvas project, which includes more than 20 outdoor murals in downtown Emporium.

Ridgway is well known for its many talented chainsaw carvers.

Elk County is known far and wide for wood crafts and chainsaw carving, and you can find evidence of this unique craft throughout Ridgway and beyond. The Elk County Council on the Arts, another Pennsylvania Wilds Artisan Trail stop, operates a sales gallery on Ridgway’s Main Street and hosts regular events that highlight the works of local and regional artists. Nearby, the Appalachian Art Studio offers classes in things like wood sculpture, print making, and pottery, and its gallery showcases work from internationally recognized artists. The Nuthatch Studio in Weedville features live chainsaw carving, sculpture, walking sticks, pottery, paintings, jewelry, heirloom toys, and cutting boards. Finally, Ridgway lets loose at the Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous each spring, where skilled chainsaw carvers from around the world create gorgeous works of art within a fascinating cloud of sawdust.

Many wineries, breweries, distilleries, and restaurants throughout the region offer paint-and-sip classes, where you can enjoy delicious local flavors as you create something beautiful to help you remember your visit to the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region. Stay tuned to our event calendar for updates.

Learn more and find other interesting places to visit in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region by going to or calling (814) 849-5197.

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