Strike up the music the band has begun - Groundhog Day Celebration
February 2, 2012 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone here traveled to Punxsutawney, PA to celebrate Groundhog Day? Does anyone live there? What kind of stuff is there to do? What are the sites to see? Places to eat?

Groundhog Day is my birthday. As such I have a natural affinity for the movie Groundhog Day. When I was 27 or 28 years old I decided that when I turned 30, I would go to Punxsutawney and visit the sites from that movie and have an awesome time. So I started to research it and was disheartened to learn that most of the places don't really exist and that most of the movie wasn't even shot in Pennsylvania. It was a sad day.

Now (today), I turned 33. I have a wife and two kids. And at the moment, I think when I turn 35 I want to head out there to celebrate with my family. My kids will be two-and-a-half and four years old.

What are the must-dos and the must-sees? I imagine there's still a fairly large festival there? Maybe they play the Pennsylvania Polka? Maybe not. Will my kids be too young to enjoy themselves? What were great places you stayed at? I know things are bound to change within a two year timeframe, but still... I'd like to have a rough idea.

I know that there are travel guides and suggestions elsewhere online, but I'm just looking/hoping for more personal experiences. Thanks!
posted by mrzer0 to Travel & Transportation around Punxsutawney, PA (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There is a lot of drinking. A lot.
posted by Loto at 1:53 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So, would you say not really a kid-friendly place then? For example, I would never dream of taking my kids to Las Vegas and I'm baffled by people who do (I've been to LV twice). In your estimation, would it be a similar time? Or was that just your own experience?
posted by mrzer0 at 1:57 PM on February 2, 2012

My son attended technical school in Pennsylvania, and he and some classmates made the trek to Punxsutawney one year to do the event. He said it was a madhouse. Tons of people. Loud music. And, yes, there was a ton of drinking. At 8 in the morning.

From his description, I can't imagine taking small kids.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:01 PM on February 2, 2012

Aw, those answers make me sad!

Maybe Wiarton, Ontario has the old-timey charm you are looking for.
posted by looli at 2:11 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I loved that movie and my mother is from that area, but I found it hilarious that they actually filmed it in Woodstock, Illinois (which is the quaint little town that Punxsutawney isn't.) Western Pennsylvania is very rural, and very depressed. The nearest big city to Punxsutawney is Altoona, which was founded as a company town for the Pennsylvania Railroad, so if you're interested in trains and railroads there's some stuff to see around there, including the Horseshoe Curve and a railroad museum (where there's memorial to the railroad workers--among the names on it is my grandfather's).

There's also Johnstown, farther to the south, wiped out in the late 19th century by a flood that killed over two thousand people, and an interesting museum that commemorates the disaster.

And there are some nice state forests--at this time of year in the Alleghenies visibility is very good and you can get some good views if you're not averse to cold-weather hiking. The Gallitzin Tunnels Park is also to the south--more railroad stuff there, and you can watch the trains come in and out of the tunnels built through the mountains.

Other than that, I'd suggest an extended visit to Pittsburgh, which is actually a pretty nice city, with a day trip to Punxsutawney, if you're really that interested. Or come out to Woodstock, in northern Illinois--it really is a nice little town. And they have Groundhog Days!
posted by tully_monster at 2:16 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Phil's hotel in the movie is an actual building in Woodstock, and it's still a hotel! You can stay there! And walk to the town square, and eat at the diner, and tell people you're God. I've never been to Punxsutawney, PA, but I have been to Woodstock, and I'm pretty sure it's the Groundhog Day Experience you're looking for.
posted by theodolite at 2:31 PM on February 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

In case you're interested in celebrating there, here's an article in today's news regarding groundhog's day in Woodstock, IL and their groundhog days festival.
posted by scrambles at 2:48 PM on February 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

I was just coming in to suggest Woodstock too! It's a neat little town and they do have that festival.
posted by la petite marie at 3:11 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

You've only got a few hours left to claim the Groundhog Day Foursquare badge.
posted by K.P. at 5:27 PM on February 2, 2012

Response by poster: Aww, most of these answers make me sad too. I guess maybe I really do want to go to Woodstock, Illinois. I'm going to need to remember to ask about Woodstock, Illinois in about a year then. Thanks for all the info!
posted by mrzer0 at 6:20 PM on February 2, 2012

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