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Where to Take a Groundhog Day-Inspired Trip
See the world-famous Punxsutawney Phil make his annual
Will spring come early this year? Find out and take part Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the small town known for its weather-forecasting groundhog.(Getty Images)
If you've ever seen the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day," then you most certainly have heard of Punxsutawney, a small town in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Home to Punxsutawney Phil, Punxsutawney lures thousands of visitors each Groundhog Day to see the world-famous weather prognosticator communicate his annual prediction about the coming of spring.
With just three hotels in Punxsutawney (including a bed and breakfast), space is limited and fairly expensive around Groundhog Day at than $400 per night with a two-night minimum. Plan to visit Punxsutawney in the off-season, which is any time outside of the three or four days around the annual celebration, to learn all about Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil without the crowds.
Where to Stay
Consider staying at the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites, which opened up just over a year ago for amenities, such as free breakfast, a swimming pool and on-site parking. Plus, it's located just a couple of miles away from the center of town, making it a very convenient place to stay after a day spent exploring Punxsutawney.
The Barclay Bed & Breakfast, a Victorian home close to the center of town, is another ideal lodging option. The next best bet is staying in DuBois in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, the nearest town to Punxsutawney that boasts a variety of hotels, including the Hampton Inn DuBois.
What to Do
Start your visit with a trip to the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center. Located in an old post office, the center offers kids the chance to forecast the weather, create lightning and become a tornado as they zoom down a twisty slide and crash into a pile of foam blocks. It's very interactive and a favorite among school-age kids. Also, make sure to check out a new hands-on exhibit that teaches kids about emergency preparedness, where you can listen to an emergency siren, explore different types of severe weather situations like hurricanes and lightning strikes and learn what to bring (and leave behind) before visiting an emergency shelter.
The "Phantastic Phils," a public art project is another must-visit while in Punxsutawney. Pick up a map and snap photos with more than 30 six-foot-tall groundhog statues around town. Each one is colorful and distinct, including one dressed as the Statue of Liberty and another that resembles a firefighter. There's even one statue in front of Punxsutawney's Cobblestone outpost that's dressed up like a hotel bellman.
You'll see several of the Phantastic Phils in town near Phil's Burrow, a glass-enclosed home in the side of the Punxsutawney Memorial Library where Punxsutawney Phil lives with his wife, Phyllis. They sleep more than 23 hours a day, so you may not see them when you first visit but keep your eyes peeled.
And, of course, no visit to Punxsutawney would be complete without a trip to Gobbler's Knob. A mile or two from the center of town, this is where the magic happens on Groundhog Day. Look for a big tree stump up on the stage with a small door. This is where Phil will emerge to give his prognostication to the president of the Groundhog Club's Inner Circle.
At Gobbler's Knob, you'll also find a short, half-mile trail with plenty of signs and photos that tell the story of Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil. It's definitely worth a visit. If you are in Punxsutawney on a weekday, stop in the Groundhog Club Headquarters for more displays and memorabilia. You can even take home a "Flat Phil" (a photo of a groundhog on a postcard).
Where to Eat
Make a stop at Nick's Corner Lunch, which despite the name, is also open for dinner. It's not, however, open on Sundays. Also, keep in mind, the restaurant does not accept credit cards and it does not offer menus, but they're a favorite for their hamburgers made with ground beef and served up in a hot dog bun. Order two or three with everything, including onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard and special sauce.
Another favorite among the locals is Laska Pizza where you can get an entire pepperoni pizza for just $6.50. The sauce is sweeter than most pizza sauces, which may be why their pizzas are so popular. As a bonus, one of the Phantastic Phils sits in front of Laska's Pizza and he's dressed up as an Italian pizza chef. Snap an Instagram-worthy photo with pizza chef Phil and head on inside for a few slices.
Punxy Phil's Family Restaurant is another crowd-pleasing haunt. The food is served quickly and as a bonus, they serve breakfast all day. On Sundays the restaurant is jam-packed with the after-church crowd, so expect a full parking lot if you want to stop in before you head out of town.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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