Parts of the magnificent Cook Forest State Park are old growth stands, which means that the areas haven’t been disturbed by logging or other activities. Many of the trees have been allowed to grow to a great age and height. Standing among them is said to cause a sense of awe as if you’re standing in a cathedral. It’s a good thing to just bring the kids, stand or sit there for a while and commune with nature. But there are other things to do as well.

There are areas for picnics, and you can fish and canoe in the Clarion River. Hike, ride your bikes or travel around on horseback. In the winter there are opportunities for ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Find a Cook Forest Vacation Rental within Pennsylvania for a rustic cabin or quaint house perfect for your family.

1. Cooksburg

 Cook Forest
Source: Flickr/Jarrod H

This town is the main gateway to the park itself. If you don’t feel like cooking and want to get out into civilization anyway, visit a couple of Cooksburg’s restaurants. Trail’s End serves American and pub food, as does the Gateway Lodge. The Cooksburg Cafe is also known for its ice cream, which is a pleasure after a hot day of hiking.

2. Tylersburg

Tylersburg
Source:Wiki/Nyttend

About eight miles northwest of Cooksburg, Tylersburg is the home to Fox’s Pizza Den. It’s the place to go when your craving for pizza, subs and other delights becomes uncontrollable. Two things to keep in mind are that you can bring your own wine and that the room for finer dining is just behind the pizza joint.

3. Tionesta

 Allegheny River
Source: Flickr/Elyse

Tionesta is dominated by its beautiful lake and dam, and those bodies of water are just right for canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, and tubing. There’s also a trail and shingle beaches. Interestingly enough, there’s a lighthouse on the river that’s dedicated to the Sherman family and opened to groups on certain days of the week.

4. Brookville

Skyway
Source: Flickr/Nicholas A. Tonelli

One thing your kids will absolutely adore about Brockville is Jesses Dream Park, which is some kind of dark maze with creepy music and strobe lights. If your nerves are still intact after this, visit the Jefferson County History Center with its diorama. BWP Bats is a factory where they make baseball bats and offer tours to see how this is done. Nearby vacation rentals include chalets that come with their own pontoon boats and apartments in large houses.

5. Clarion

 Clarion
Source: Flickr/Lindsay Bowman

Sign up for horseback riding tours through Cook Forest in this town, then do some shopping in the Clarion Mall. One place that you and the hubby might want to escape to is called Wasteland Live, a club/bar on Veterans Drive. More kid-friendly eateries include the County Seat Restaurant and Daddy’s Main Street, a Pennsylvania restaurant that serves oyster po’boys.

6. Sigel

 Sigel
Source: Flickr/Elisha Pospisil

You’ll find Clear Creek State Park in this town. It’s a lovely little park with a swimmable, fishable river and beautiful views. It’s dog-friendly, so bring Fido. This is another place where you can rent a cabin for a night or two. Take the kids to the Farmer’s Inn, which has a petting and feeding zoo with goats and at least one large tortoise. If a good day’s hike is on your repertoire, go to Beartown Rocks, which not only has good trails but house-sized boulders left by ancient glaciers.

7. Brockway

Brockway
Source: Wiki/Doug Kerr

Brockway is home to the Clarion and Little Toby Creek trails. At least part of this 18-mile long trail used to be railroad tracks, and it’s kid friendly. Just bring water and bug spray. Later on, enjoy some vittles at the Hut Family Restaurant or Morelli’s Family Restaurant.

8. Punxsutawney

Punxsutawney
Source: Flickr/Jon Dawson

Yes, this is the town where the groundhog does or does not see his shadow every February. Phil actually lives in the Punxsutawney Library, so take the kids to say “Hi.” After that, go outside to the yard, and check out the groundhog monuments. Another interesting site is the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center, another great place to bring the kids. It has tons of interactive displays about the weather.

9. Fryburg

Fryburg
Source: Flickr/Doug Kerr

Come to Fryburg to attend the annual Mayfest and Light up Night. Mayfest happens during the Memorial Day Weekend, and Light Up Night is the first Saturday in December. They’re celebrated together with the nearby town of Marble and have all kinds of entertainments, food, local vendors and other pleasures associated with town festivals. Vacation rentals include comfortable cabins and cottages, lodges and even an old, renovated church.

10. Marienville

Marienville Church
Source: Flickr/David Casteel

Marienville is right at the edge of the Allegheny National Forest and is famous for being the site of an all-terrain vehicle road. One place to shop is Yeany’s Maple, a natural food store famous for its fine maple syrup. Head to the Bucktail Hotel for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For some potent potables or ice cold beer, go to Ray’s Hot Spot Inc.

11. West Hickory

 Bridge
Source: Flickr/ Theresa

Found on the west bank of the Allegheny River, vacation rentals near West Hickory include snug wood cabins near trout streams in the woods. Go to Riverside Recreation to rent kayaks and canoes, and don’t forget to visit the West Hickory Bridge or the site of where the West Hickory Bridge once stood before it was replaced. Right next to the bridge you’ll find the West Hickory Sportsman’s Bar, which has live entertainment. Despite being a bar, it’s family-friendly, and the food is good.

12. Brockport

 Brockport
Source: Wiki/Doug Kerr

Not to be confused with Brockway, this town is the home of the Scottish Heights Golf Club, which gets rave reviews for its restaurant, which offers indoor and outdoor dining. The golfing is also good, and the views are spectacular. It’s a good time to go in the fall when the foliage is blazing, and the air is cooler.