Groundhog Day Again in Woodstock, Illinois | Midwest Living

Groundhog Day Again in Woodstock, Illinois

Years after the film's release, the setting for Groundhog Day still rocks with small-town charm.
  • Annual Groundhog Days festival

    An aging classic-rock cover band lays into a Bob Seger tune, and the flannel-wearing folks in Woodstock's Moose Lodge No. 1329 cheer and crack open $2.50 Miller Lites. Pasta buffet aside, the annual Shake Off the Winter Blues dinner-dance feels a little familiar, and not just because the setting in this Illinois town (50 miles northwest of Chicago) could pass for a Wisconsin North Woods bar. Actor Bill Murray lit up this 94-year-old lodge when he filmed Groundhog Day's bachelor auction scene here, and since then, fans return every year for a fun night out.

    Woodstock's annual Groundhog Days festival (January 26 to Feb. 2, 2014) will hold trivia contests, storytelling, a chili cook-off, free film showings of the movie--and a guided walking tour of 14 plaque-marked film sites. "Woodstock is an absolute all-American small town making the most of its movie-making legacy," says Bob Hudgins, who worked on the movie and leads the tours.

    After Woodstock Willie looks for his shadow, crowds head to Pirro's Restaurant for breakfast, a moment of homespun comfort before the journey back to reality.

    Woodstock Groundhog Days

  • A cool tour

    The two-hour tour of Groundhog Day's film sites draws crowds and includes lots of trivia. Guide Bob Hudgins starts at the 1890 Woodstock Opera House, which anchors the town's 19th-century square. (While he was scouting locations, director Harold Ramis looked out a window in the tower and thought Woodstock could represent Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in the movie; Bill Murray's character also tried to kill himself by leaping from this window.) Chic shops and restaurants fill the square. The tour shares stories from the six-month filming and ends at posh Royal Victorian Manor B&B, featured as The Cherry Street Inn in the movie.

    If you're in the area outside of the festival dates, you can take the Groundhog Day Walking Tour on your own; just download a map from the Groundhog Days site.

    Walking tour information

    Royal Victorian Manor B&B

  • Woodstock trip guide: Where to shop

    Seasons by Peg At this seasonal home decor and gift shop, patrons find home-decorating eye candy and tasty sweets. The glass counter displays as many as 30 kinds of hand-dipped chocolates, turtles and toffees, plus Cobblestones gourmet foods (pictured). (815) 206-3666;

    Designs by Maida Chicago interior-designer Maida Korte brings her HGTV style to this home-furnishings showroom. (815) 337-2046;

    Green Box Boutique You'll find fair-trade, local and ecofriendly goods sold in the gallery setting on the town square; wines from nearby Salute Vineyard are $24.95 a bottle. (815) 337-7303;

    Read Between the Lynes The staff of teachers, avid readers and aspiring writers offers encyclopedic insight at this cozy bookseller. (815) 206-5967;

  • Woodstock trip guide: Where to eat and stay

    Royal Victorian Manor Owners Karla and Everton Martin restored the 1894 Victorian mansion (pictured) and opened it to guests in 2010. This five-guest-suite B&B exudes luxurious touches. You won't find frou-frou here, and you'll enjoy the big breakfast, served on china and crystal. From $125. (815) 308-5432;

    La Petite Creperie Located in a Victorian home, this French bistro serves savory and sweet dessert crepes and specials, all big enough to share. The sauteed chicken and goat cheese Pagnol crepe pairs well with a glass of crisp white wine. (815) 893-0765;

    FOR MORE INFORMATION: McHenry County Convention and Visitors Bureau (888) 363-6280;

    (A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® November/December 2011. Prices, dates and other details can change; please check specifics before making travel plans.)

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