Written by Danielle Taylor | Header photo by David Schmude

For an inspirational Easter memory you’ll never forget, come to the Easter Sunrise Service under the trees in Cook Forest. Photo: David Schmude.

Spring has finally sprung, and this annual time of renewal offers plenty to see and do in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region. Easter marks the symbolic start of the season here, and you can come enjoy the holiday by participating in an adult Easter egg hunt, having breakfast with your family and the Easter Bunny, getting away with your significant other to a romantic lodge in the forest, or attending a sunrise worship service under a canopy of ancient trees. There’s plenty to see and do in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors around Easter, and we invite you to take advantage of the following events and opportunities.

On March 24, the Cameron County Chamber of Commerce will host Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at the Emporium Volunteer Fire Company from 9-11:30 a.m. Kids of all ages are invited to come and dine with spring’s favorite celebrity. Proceeds benefit the Cameron County Fourth of July fireworks display.

On March 31, runners can spend the morning at the 34th Annual Cook Forest Half Marathon and 5K, which kicks off at 11 a.m. near Pale Whale Canoe Fleet in Cooksburg. The course runs entirely on Cook Forest’s River Road alongside the National Wild and Scenic River System’s Clarion River, giving runners picturesque surroundings in which to race. Awards will be given to the overall male and female winners of the half marathon as well as the age group winners, and registration proceeds will support Clarion University’s track and field team and athletic scholarships.

It’s a hidden gem, but the view from the Cross on the Hill in Benezette is worth the effort to find. Photo: Marci Geise.

Also on March 31, grown-ups can join in an Adult Easter Egg Hunt, with two at the Winery at Wilcox at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. and a third in downtown Foxburg at 9:30 a.m. The Winery at Wilcox event will feature a food truck on site all day, plus more than $1,500 worth of prizes including a $50 winery gift card for the attendee wearing the best spring bonnet. Foxburg will have eggs hidden all over downtown, and “eggers” can win gift baskets filled with goodies as well as coupons and swag from businesses located throughout the Allegheny/Clarion river valley. Participants must be over 21.

On Easter morning, April 1, Cook Forest State Park will host its massively popular 68th Easter Sunrise Service at the Ridge Camp Amphitheater across from the Fire Tower Road on Route 36. The interdenominational service welcomes all interested worshipers, but come early – you’ll want to arrive by 6:30 a.m. to get a good spot. The event will feature a prelude, soloists singing hymns, an invocation, and an Easter message of hope. Please bring your own lawn chairs.

Both Dan Smith’s Candies (pictured here) and Divani Chocolatier pride themselves on quality, and their tasty products shine especially bright at Easter. Photo: Chris Lasher.

Another particularly popular local attraction during the Easter season is the Cross on the Hill in Benezette, located near the intersection of Mt. Zion/Gray Hill Road and Spring Run Road. Set against the backdrop of a sweeping countryside vista, this simple edifice has become one of most photographed points of interest in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region. It’s a great site for family Easter photos or just a moment of quiet reflection.

Easter baskets are a fun part of the holiday, and two local candy companies offer high-quality handcrafted candy in countless varieties you won’t want to miss. At Dan Smith’s Candies in Brookville, Clarion, and Ridgway, you can find everything from small batches of spice jelly beans to two-pound chocolate-covered cream eggs. Divani Chocolatier in Foxburg sells Honey Bunny chocolates filled with creamed wildflower honey in multiple flavors including blackberry, strawberry, orange, cherry, and raspberry.

Many restaurants throughout the area will feature Easter menus full of traditional dishes, such as ham dinners and buffets full of homestyle favorites, as well as their own spin on standard fare.

Gateway Lodge in Cook Forest specializes in creating unforgettable memories, and their Easter Weekend package showcases the very best of what they offer to guests.

Finally, Gateway Lodge is offering an Easter Weekend package that includes two nights in a fireside Jacuzzi suite, breakfast Saturday morning, and Easter brunch Sunday morning. Vacationers can also find tons of other lodging options from cozy cabins and vacation rentals to historic B&Bs to rustic campgrounds to well-known hotels and motels throughout the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region, so there’s something for every preference and budget to make your Easter getaway something to remember.

Find more interesting places to visit and things to do in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region by going to VisitPAGO.com or calling (814) 849-5197.

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