When most people think about a vacation in Pennsylvania, they probably think about a weekend in Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and other historic sites, a drive through the Amish country around Lancaster PA, or an outdoors vacation enjoying the camping, hiking, and hunting in Penn's woods. For one day in February, however, the place to be in Pennsylvania is Punxsutawney, a little town in the west of the state.
Punxsutawney Pennsylvania owes its fame to a Punxsutawney Phil, a famous groundhog/ meteorologist. Each year on February 2, thousands of people trek to Punxsutawney Pennsylvania to hear the groundhog's prediction the coming winter. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow when he comes up from his subterranean home on Gobbler's Knob winter will last another six weeks, if there is no shadow we can look forward to an early spring.
Residents of Punxsutawney Pennsylvania have been celebrating this unusual event since 1886. Groundhog Day rose to international fame with the release of the 1993 movie of the same name. Groundhog Day featured Bill Murray as a weatherman on assignment in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania to cover the annual event. Murray's character found himself in a temporal cycle, doomed to repeat the same day over and over again. After he came to terms with his unusual fate, the weatherman grew to love Punxsutawney and its interesting residents. Your trip to Punxsutawney is unlikely to be as strange as Bill Murray's, but visitors to Groundhog Day invariably become enamored with the small town. (Don't look for any landmarks for the movie, however, Groundhog Day was filmed in Ohio.)
There are several good Punxsutawney hotels, but rooms fill up very quickly for Groundhog Day, especially if it falls on a weekend. You are unlikely to find something unless you book well in advance, sometimes up to a year. The best of Punxsutawney hotels is the Pantall Hotel, where Bill Murray stayed to research his part for the film. Other good Punxsutawney hotels include the Hotel Punxsutawney on North Findley Street and the Country Villa Motel on Route 119. Rooms are at a premium for Groundhog Day so expect to pay well over $100 for a room on February 2.
For a more personal stay, choose a Punxsutawney B&B. Plantation Bed & Breakfast is a Punxsutawney B&B on Route 119 about two miles southwest of the town. It is a former hotel, so the five guest rooms are spacious and have their own bathrooms. Jackson Run is a pleasant Punxsutawney B&B about 5 miles from town with three elegant guest rooms starting at $75 a night.
Punxsutawney is an easy drive from Pittsburgh. Follow state Route 22 east to Route 119 north. Visitors from Philadelphia and other major eastern cities can take I-80 or I-76 towards Pittsburgh. The largest major airport in the area is in Pittsburgh, but there are also flights to DuBois, about 20 miles north of Route 119.