Thanks to the Polar Vortex, we are more ready than ever to say so long to winter. This weekend, you’ll find out if spring is really around the corner, courtesy of a rodent in Pennsylvania and his psychic shadow. But in case you’re looking for some groundhog fun a little closer to home, here are four events that make it worth leaving the house.
Groundhog Daze. Get up close and personal with real groundhog fur and a groundhog skull and learn about some of the groundhog’s cousins, including beavers, mice and muskrats. For crafty types, there’s an opportunity to make your own groundhog, too. Free with admission. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 1-2. Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle. (630) 968-0074, mortonarb.org.
Family Day/Open House: Groundhog Day. Big Run’s resident groundhog is named Wilson, and he’s ready for a party. Enjoy a bonfire with hot dogs and hot chocolate available for purchase, dogsledding demonstrations from the Z Team and a chance to meet new tiger Shere Khan. $5. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 1. Big Run Wolf Ranch, 14857 Farrell Road, Lockport. (815) 588-0044, bigrunwolfranch.org.
Groundhog Day. This guest of honor simply dwarfs his Punxsutawny pal – the groundhog is 5 feet tall! He’ll share the secrets of his life and invite kids 3 and up outdoors to visit his home. Don’t worry about the cold: inside, there are shadow puppet crafts and hot chocolate. $5. 2-3:30 p.m. Feb. 1. Emily Oaks Nature Center, 4650 Brummel St., Skokie. (847) 677-7001, skokieparks.org.
Groundhog Day. Other than checking their shadows, what are groundhogs really up to in February? Kids 4-13, with adult, learn the truth, plus play some games and go for a winter hike. $3, free resident. 1-2:30 p.m. Feb. 1. Rush Creek Conservation Area, 20501 McGuire Road, Harvard. (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.