Can’t-miss stops during a day trip to Punxsutawney
Punxsutawney Phil is an international household name. Each year, the celebrity groundhog prognosticates the coming of spring. And each year, thousands of visitors flock to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney to see whether we’ll have an early spring or if we’ll have to endure six more weeks of winter.
The community, located in the I-80 Frontier landscape of The Pennsylvania Wilds, has more to see than just Gobbler’s Knob though. In fact, there’s a whole host of groundhog-related activities that you can participate in during a day trip. I recently had the opportunity to visit Gobbler’s Knob and experience the full groundhog treatment.
We did, in fact, start our visit to Punxsutawney with a trip to Gobbler’s Knob. Located just outside of Punxsutawney, Gobbler’s Knob is a familiar destination to most visitors. 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.
While there, we were greeted by John Griffiths, Punxsutawney Phil’s handler, along with Phil himself (normally you can meet Phil in downtown Punxsutawney). We were able to talk a lot about the new visitor’s center and why the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club built the new facility.
“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.”
At the visitor’s center, I picked up a Punxsutawney Phil Christmas ornament to remember the day that I met the famous groundhog.
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
While we weren’t able to take a trek on the Mahoning Shadow Trail during our visit, it’s worth noting it as a stop during a day or weekend trip to Punxsutawney. The trail is a 15-mile rail trail that runs along Mahoning Creek. It’s perfect for walkers and bicyclists, and in the winter for snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Maps are available at the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce and Souvenir Shop.
Weather Discovery Museum
We really enjoyed our stop at the Weather Discovery Museum. While it 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: We got to become part of the exhibits.
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.
Marlene Lellock, director of the center, said that a favorite exhibit for 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.
Punxsutawney is a great community to take a walk in, and thanks to the Phantastic Phils planted around the area, there’s a good excuse to go for one. Across Punxsutawney, find whimsically-decorated, six foot-tall Punxsutawney Phils, each an individual work of art created by artists from across the state.
We weren’t able to track down all of them during our visit, but loved the ones that we did seek out.
Where to Eat
The groundhog theme doesn’t stop at attractions. There are plentiful opportunities to find groundhog-themed restaurants and bars too.
Laska’s Pizza is a local favorite, offering Punxsutawney Pilsner by Penn Brewery alongside their legendary pizza menu. It’s the best pizza I’ve ever had, hands down.
Other groundhog-themed options include Punxsy Phil’s diner, and The Burrow bar.
Mark Your Calendar:
The Punxsutawney Festival in the Park will feature live entertainment, craft vendors, food vendors and more. This year’s festival is being held July 2-9 at Barclay Square.
Don’t miss out on the 2022 Groundhog Day festivities!
February 2, 2022 is Groundhog Day, and what better place to celebrate than in Punxsutawney! You can learn more about the annual event in the PA Wilds here! The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s website showcases What to Expect, Traveler’s Resources and more. Check out their website for more activities, resources, and planning tools. See you on Gobbler’s Knob!
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