If you ask any member of the Inner Circle of Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, or a local Punxsutawney business owner, they’ll tell you that the unique town has more to offer than just a trip to Gobbler’s Knob.
Marlene Lellock, director of the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center, says that Punxsutawney is the perfect destination for a day trip, offering a wide variety of activities and must-see spots for people of all ages. The town, located just south of Interstate 80, is part of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region.
Here’s how to make a day trip out of a visit to Punxsutawney:
Located just outside of Punxsutawney, Gobbler’s Knob is a familiar destination to most visitors. It’s where the Groundhog Day magic happens: Each year, Phil makes his prognostication. New to Gobbler’s Knob is a visitor’s center that’s open year-round, offering some history on Phil and the holiday; souvenirs and more.
According to John Griffiths, Punxsutawney Phil’s handler, the addition of the visitor’s center at Gobbler’s Knob helps the organization grow, while driving more visitor traffic to Punxsutawney’s downtown.
“On any given day, there are 30 cars in and out of (Gobbler’s Knob),” Griffiths said. Because that destination is so widely recognized, “people are going to come up here … that’s a way for us to steer traffic back down to the town.”
Phil and his wife, Phyllis, continue to live in their burrow downtown in the library — though he does make appearances at Gobbler’s Knob.
Gobbler’s Knob Trail
Just behind the visitor’s center, find the Gobbler’s Knob Trail, a trek through the woods that’s just under half a mile long. Throughout the trail, find informational signage on the history of Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil and more. The trail also features metal art displays.
Mahoning Shadow Trail
Continue to get your trail fix on the Mahoning Shadow Trail, a 15-mile rail trail that runs along Mahoning Creek. It’s perfect for walkers and bicyclists, and in the winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Maps are available at the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce and Souvenir Shop.
According to Lellock, of the weather museum, the trail is broken into sections naturally by roadways.
“There are some historic coke ovens on one part of it, it has a waterfall on another part — it’s just a really, really nice trail.”
Weather Discovery Museum
While the Weather Discovery Museum is designed with kids in mind, it’s a destination that’s a lot of fun for all ages. Each exhibit in the gallery is interactive: You’ll become a part of the exhibit! At the center, learn about tornadoes, the water cycle, weather emergency readiness and more. You can even take a shot at newscasting the weather — green screen and all — thanks to an exhibit provided by AccuWeather.
According to Lellock, a favorite exhibit of kids’ is the tornado exhibit, where they go down a slide that triggers a tornado-like experience — wind and all. At the tip of the tornado, kids knock over the “house” at the bottom of the slide.
Find a full list of exhibits and museum information at weatherdiscovery.org.
Punxsutawney Area Historical Society
The historical society features two historic homes, the Bennis and Lattimer Houses, with extensive exhibits and displays. Examples of exhibits include those on area coal mining and coke production history, local railroading history, quilts and clothing from Punsutawney’s early days, and more. To learn more, visit PunxsyHistory.org.
Across Punxsutawney, find whimsical six foot-tall Punxsutawney Phil, each an individual work of art created by artists from across the state.
Phil’s Favorite Eats
Laska’s Pizza is a local favorite — offering Punxsutawney Pilsner by Penn Brewery alongside their legendary pizza menu. Other groundhog-themed options include Punxsy Phil’s diner, and The Burrow bar.
Where to Stay:
Barclay Bed & Breakfast offers accommodations right across the street from Phil’s Burrow — the groundhog’s full-time home with his wife, Phillis. Their staff pays extra attention to detail, and the chef will send you off with a full belly before your day’s adventures.
Other local accommodations can be found at visitpunxsutawney.org.
Insider tip: Coming in from DC or Baltimore? BWI offers two flights per day to DUJ (DuBois Jefferson County Airport) for less than $50, making it an easy and affordable getaway opportunity. For an additional $7, take the MARC train to BWI from D.C.
Mark Your Calendar:
The Punxsutawney Groundhog Festival is held annually, featuring live entertainment, craft vendors, food vendors and more. This year’s festival is being held June 28 through July 4, at a new location: The Pennsylvania National Guard Armory Field at 461 North Findley Street in Punxsutawney.
Learn more at groundhogfestival.com.
If you’re planning to visit Punxsutawney or other parts of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region, consider making stops in historic Brookville, or at the Coolspring Power Museum, which will be featured in the May edition of Recreation News.
Plan your Pennsylvania Great Outdoors weekend getaway at visitpago.com.
See a gallery of day-trip locations on recreationnews.com.