According to a series of polls conducted by Gallup, February consistently ranks as America’s least favorite month. And, understandably so – even though it is the shortest month of the year, February often feels like the longest.
The reasons mostly relate to the weather, which is often blustery, frigid and dreary. Additionally, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), caused by reduced levels of sunlight and a disruption in the body’s internal clock, can impact our mood and levels of motivation. Being cooped up inside leads to a phenomenon known as cabin fever. It’s also prime time for colds and the flu. Toss in an ongoing pandemic and there’s no question that we need to especially look after all aspects of our health this month.
With that said, what follows are some things to do to get through February and only hope that spring is just around the corner.
1. Get a physical. According to Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health (lancastergeneralhealth.org), routine checkups are crucial for staying on top of important health screenings and immunizations, as well as identifying factors that may put you at risk for a variety of conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
It’s also National Children’s Dental Health Month, so be sure to make an appointment for those all-important checkups. Sponsored by the American Dental Association (ada.org), the month-long endeavor emphasizes the importance of oral health.
2. Wear Red. As a way to bring attention to heart health, February is American Heart Month. The American Heart Association’s women’s initiative – Go Red for Women – kicks off with National Wear Red Day (February 5). As has become customary on the first Friday in February, millions across the country will either don red from head to toe or add some red to their outfits to raise awareness about heart disease being the number-one threat to women’s health, as well as the leading cause of death in the United States. Even if you are working from home or quarantining, put on some red and post a photo with the hashtag #WearRedDay. For more information, visit goredforwomen.org.
3. Do a wine tasting at Nissley Vineyards (nissleywine.com) in Bainbridge, Grandview Vineyard (grandviewwines.com) in Mount Joy, Thorn Hill Vineyards Tasting Room (thornhillvineyards.com) in Lancaster, and Britain Hill Venue & Vineyard (britainhillvenueandvineyard.com) in Quarryville. (Be aware that Covid restrictions could affect the services they offer.) Another option is to visit your favorite wine shop – Waltz Vineyards (waltzvineyards.com), with locations in Manheim, Lititz and Intercourse, has suspended tastings but its shops are open for purchasing wine – or Wine & Spirits store and choose a selection for an at-home tasting. Although a direct link between heart health and wine has not been proven, studies have shown that the antioxidants in red wine may increase levels of good cholesterol and protect against cholesterol buildup, according to Mayo Clinic.
4. Go to Gobbler’s Knob. Punxsutawney Phil will be making a virtual prediction this year! On February 2, the famous groundhog will emerge from hibernation and forecast when spring will arrive. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club (groundhog.org) is developing live virtual events that will take the place of the traditional in-person celebration. Unfortunately, the Slumbering Groundhog Lodge in Kirkwood won’t be disturbing Octorara Orphie’s hibernation this year.
5. Take a cruise. While the pandemic has ruined most travel plans, an all-aboard staycation at the Fulton Steamboat Inn (fultonsteamboatinn.com) would make for a safe and relaxing getaway. Dine at Huckleberry’s Restaurant & Tavern, shop at The Emporium Gift Shoppe, feed the ducks, sit by a fire pit and relax in their heated indoor pool and hot tub. Outdoor recreation areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Indoor recreation areas (indoor pool, hot tub and fitness center) will be available by reservation. All guests are required to wear masks and follow all social distancing guidelines.
6. Go hiking. February might sound like one of the least appealing months to go hiking – the Norwegians are of the opinion there’s no such thing as bad weather only bad clothes, so be sure to bundle up – but staying adventurous keeps the winter months interesting. Lancaster County has become a hiker’s paradise, offering such destinations as the Enola Low Grade Rail-Trail, the Warwick to Ephrata Rail-Trail, the Lancaster Junction Recreation Trail, the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail and the many preserves maintained by the Lancaster Conservancy (lancasterconservancy.org). Frozen waterfalls are an especially beautiful sight and can be found locally at Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve and further afield at Ricketts Glen State Park and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
7. Perform a random act of kindness. February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day! Pay it forward at the café, volunteer at a local nonprofit or do something special for a friend or loved one that will make them smile.
8. Stream a show from Prima Theatre (primatheatre.org), Servant Stage (servantstage.org), Sight & Sound Theatres (sight-sound.com) or other local performing art venues. The performing arts industry is struggling right now. You can help the local theatre community by streaming their content, supporting their virtual events and buying gift cards and season subscriptions. On February 12, you can tune into Prima Theatre’s Stage Brawl to see local leaders perform famous songs and scenes while competing to be Champion of the Stage. All raised funds benefit Prima Theatre. The Ephrata Performing Arts Center (ephrataperformingartscenter.com) is slated to launch its 2021 season on February 21 with Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. The show will be offered virtually through EPAC At Home.
If you prefer live performances, Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre (dutchapple.com) plans to resume its season on February 21 with Happy Days. The American Music Theatre (amtshows.com) is hoping to resume shows in March.
9. Show your love. Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples. Host a virtual Galentine’s celebration with your closest girlfriends. Send a family member a Valentine’s card. Take yourself to your favorite restaurant, park or shop. Adopt or foster a dog or cat.
10. Watch the Super Bowl on February 7. Even if your team isn’t playing, it’s always fun to watch the final game of the season and rate the commercials. The Weeknd will provide entertainment for this year’s half-time show. Prepare a smorgasbord of tasty appetizers, snacks and local beers for the ultimate Super Bowl experience.
11. Embrace the snow and ice. Take a trip to Roundtop Mountain Resort (skiroundtop.com) in York County for some skiing or snow tubing. Or, grab your sled and head for the highest hill in your neighborhood or nearby park and become a kid again. You could also stroll through Lititz, February 12-20. Because of Covid, the annual Lititz Fire & Ice Festival has pivoted to the Lititz Ice Walk. Sponsored by Venture Lititz, visitors will be treated to DiMartino Ice Company’s artistic ice sculptures throughout the downtown area, as well as trees hung with Edison bulbs. For more information, visit lititzpa.com.
12. Have breakfast in bed. There’s nothing better on a Sunday morning than a stack of pancakes and bacon, a hot cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice (or better yet, a mimosa). Turn off the TV and put on some music. Pair all that with your warm, cozy bed and it’s a sure cure for the Sunday scaries.
13. Indulge on Fat Tuesday. Eat as many fasnachts as you want on February 16. Find them locally at Oregon Dairy, Central Market and bakeries all over the county. We hate to break the news, but Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Columbia, whose Holy Rollers have been making fasnachts since 1924, will not have fasnachts available this year. Now, that is a sacrilege!!! It’s also time to celebrate Mardi Gras, so put your baking skills to the test and make a King Cake.
14. Celebrate Black History Month. Stream movies and shows by Black creators (most streaming services have a section dedicated to Black stories). Don’t miss the late Chadwick Boseman’s final role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which is generating Oscar buzz and can be seen on Netflix. Support local Black-owned businesses and Black-led organizations, like Blazin’ J’s, Crispus Attucks Community Center and A Concrete Rose Book Bar, just to name a few.
15. Buy yourself some flowers. Brighten up your home and show yourself some love with a beautiful bouquet. Or, for a glimpse of spring, force open some blooms like forsythia or quince. You deserve it!
16. Binge something new. Get cozy on the sofa and finally tune into that new show or watch that new movie you’ve been wanting to see. With all the new streaming options available – Peacock, CBS All Access, Disney+ and discovery+ – not to mention Netflix, Hulu, HBO and more, you’ll forget the NFL season has ended.
17. Go Wild! You could visit the Wolf Sanctuary of PA (wolfsanctuarypa.org) and stay at the very cozy Speedwell Forge Bed & Breakfast, which is located on the property. It’s been over 100 years since the last wild wolf was known to exist in Pennsylvania, but thanks to the sanctuary, wolves and wolf dogs are being given back their dignity. Reservations are required to meet the beautiful animals and learn their touching stories. Or, you could visit ZooAmerica (zooamerica.com) in Hershey and get up close and personal with more than 200 animals native to North America, including owls, alligators, bears and wildcats.
18. The Chinese New Year is February 12! Already slacking on your New Year’s resolutions? Give yourself a fresh start and new motivation with the Chinese New Year. This will be the Year of the Metal Ox, which, according to Reader’s Digest, will bode success for those who work hard.
19. Start a DIY project. Whether it’s a home renovation or crocheting a scarf, the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a project by yourself is awesome.
20. Pamper Yourself. There’s nothing quite as soothing and relaxing as a facial or massage. The Lititz Springs Inn and Spa (formerly the General Sutter Inn) is home to the Däs Spa (lititzspringsinnandspa.com) and offers such indulgences as Red Wine and Salted Lime Tequila body polishes and Wine, Hops and Rum wraps. The Spa at The Hotel Hershey (chocolatespa.com) offers services that involve chocolate.
22. Support Local Restaurants. Dress up and go out to dinner at your favorite local restaurant. If you aren’t comfortable with indoor dining yet, create the experience at home with take-out. Either way, you’ll be showing your love for the hard-hit hospitality industry.
23. Take a virtual grocery store tour with a dietician or nutritionist. Giant offers a variety of free grocery store tours and classes for both kids and adults through Eventbrite.com.
Get ideas for healthy dinners and snacks and receive personalized advice for dietary restrictions.
24. Get away. Head for a secluded cabin in the Poconos, western Pennsylvania or upstate New York for a cozy winter getaway and spend a weekend ice fishing, cross-country or downhill skiing and relaxing by a fire. Or, rent a cottage at your favorite beach destination and spend quiet time shelling and birdwatching.
25. Take a cooking class. Perfect as a Valentine’s date, Zest! (zestchef.com) offers cooking classes throughout the month of February, including pizza night, bread making and Southern comfort foods. You can also book a private class with Sylvie’s Recipes (sylviesrecipes.com) and choose from a variety of French appetizers, entrées and dessert options.
26. Get active in a new way. Try a new activity or class at your local gym or rec center. Explore a new trail or park. At home, give yoga a shot; West End Yoga Studio (westendyogastudio.com) has a slew of virtual instruction videos on YouTube. Also, be sure to check out Lancaster’s newest fitness center, The Your Life Gym, which is the brainstorm of Jake Luhrs, the lead singer of the Grammy-nominated metal band August Burns Red. Always cognizant of mental health issues – both his and those of his fans – Jake initially founded the organization, Heart Support, which addresses mental health. Realizing that mental and physical health are intertwined, it became his goal to open a comprehensive fitness center that offers physical exercise, mental health classes, physical therapy, nutrition counseling, personal training and more. Check it out at theyourlifegym.com.
27. Visit Longwood Gardens. During February, Longwood (longwoodgardens.org) will be shrouded in the beauty of winter. Walk through towering trees and contemplate their winter garden. Inside, enjoy hanging baskets and flowers bursting with color that will surely get you excited for spring.
28. Experience all things chocolate during Chocolate-Covered February® in Hershey. Indulge in decadent events throughout the month like chocolate and wine pairings, chocolate dinners and more. Certain events have been postponed until 2022, so be sure to check their website (hersheypa.com) for the latest updates.