By Danielle Taylor

People come from all around the globe each February to spend time in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region and watch Punxsutawney Phil make his yearly prognostication, but there’s a lot more going on here this month than one groundhog getting his annual moment in the spotlight. Check out these events to keep you busy all month long.

If you head over to Gobbler’s Knob to watch Phil make his prognostication, bundle up! Punxsutawney’s forecast to hit a high of only 18 degrees on Groundhog Day this year.

With Groundhog Day on February 2, much of the hubbub at the beginning of the month does focus on Phil. Groundhog Day is a weeklong celebration in Punxsutawney, and you can find a rundown of the highlights here and the full schedule here. Phil makes his prognostication at 7:20 a.m. from Gobbler’s Knob on February 2, and if you want to see him in person, leave plenty of time to trek up the hill or catch a shuttle from Barclay Square, Punxsy Plaza, or Walmart. Don’t miss the popular Cutting Edge Dueling Pianos night at The Burrow on February 2 and the Inner Circle’s Groundhog Ball on February 3. If you’re planning to come and haven’t yet secured your lodging, check out these nearby options.

The waterways of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region are home to lots of river otters, but they’re sometimes a challenge to spot. Join the Otter Watch at Cook Forest State Park on February 3. Photo: Tom Dorsey.

For those who want to explore the region’s natural splendor and learn about other wildlife here, you’ll find plenty to do this month. The Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region is home to a rare and intriguing synchronous firefly species, and tonight and tomorrow night, join United Nations Arts Ambassador Ibiyinka Alao at West Forest High School for a special firefly art and inspiration program featuring firefly painting, creative writing and performing arts of students in the Forest Area Schools. Learn how to identify animal tracks in the snow at the Cross-Country Ski Cook Forest at Night event on February 2, or check out the Otter Watch at Cook Forest the morning of February 3. Also on February 3, Foxburg will hold a popular ice fishing tournament at Kahle Lake. The Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette holds regular wildlife education seminars, and you can learn all about Pennsylvania’s black bears on February 10, antlers on February 11, deer diseases on February 17, and Pennsylvania’s elk herd on February 18. Join in on a coyote hunt in St. Marys, Warsaw Township, or Sinnemahoning from February 16-18, and warm up at the Coyote Hunt Bonfire at the Medix Hotel in Weedville on February 17.

Other recreational opportunities include free cross-country skiing at Sinnemahoning State Park on February 3 and the family friendly Snowman in the Forest Day in Cook Forest State Park on February 17, which will feature ice skating, sledding, tubing, a chili cook-off, horse-drawn sleigh rides, a happy dog contest, and Smokey the Bear. Additionally, the Jefferson County Longrifles Annual Winter Rendezvous occurs February 17 and 18 in Ramsaytown south of Brookville.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the one you love by spending a romantic long weekend in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region.

This month also offers great opportunities for romantics, starting with the Down the Aisle Park Inn Style bridal showcase at Clarion’s Park Inn on February 4. On February 10, Gateway Lodge in Cook Forest will hold a Valentine Dinner Tasting and Music event, and many other lodging destinations throughout the region are offering winter lodging discounts and specials that would make a perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

If you just want to enjoy a night out with family and friends, check out the Elvis Tribute Night at Iron Mountain Grille on February 10, or live music on Saturday nights at Clarion River Brewing Company.

Finally, end out the month in Brookville at the Bowdish Birthday Bash on February 24, which will feature a special running of the newly redesigned Bowdish Model Railroad plus exhibits on the Greatest Generation and Toy Stories at the Jefferson County History Center, or in Benezette at the Elk Country Visitor Center’s Kids Korner event, where kids can make fun crafts to take home.

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

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