Best Self-Guided Woodstock Groundhog Day Movie Walking Tour

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties because it’s COOLD out there today.” Happy Groundhog Day! Today we’ll take you on a virtual tour around Woodstock, Illinois, where much of the filming of the famous movie “Groundhog Day” took place. However, if you find yourself in Woodstock, here’s how to retrace the scenes of this cult-movie classic.

We’ll present an overview of the top filming locations in Woodstock, IL, explaining why this town was chosen and the significance of each spot. Woodstock’s appeal lies in its charming small-town atmosphere and diverse filming locations suitable for various movie scenes. We’ll also recommend a nearby budget-savvy accommodation for those interested in visiting these sites and overnighting.

As a special surprise, we’ll reveal one lesser-known movie location that often goes unnoticed. This spot, #16 on the list below, although often overlooked, holds its own unique charm and adds to the richness of Woodstock’s cinematic history.

Why Woodstock, IL?

The official Groundhog Day celebration is held in a field near a forest, as seen above.

Pennsylvania’s official Groundhog Day ceremony occurs in a field just outside the town. During location scouting, it was found that Punxsutawney wouldn’t work for the film due to its forest-like backdrop. Additionally, it lacked a visually appealing town center suitable for filming.

Relive the “Groundhog Day” movie magic!

Film crews were instructed to find a suitable destination within a 5-hour radius of Chicago. The team searched southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. A town in Wisconsin was close, but Harold Ramis told Bob Hudgins, the location manager, that it just wasn’t “it.”

This Ned “The Head” Ryerson Poster Metal Tin Sign makes me laugh. Also, here’s a suggestion: don’t forget to bring your favorite Groundhog Day sweater!

The production crew finally arrived in Woodstock, Illinois, climbed the Bell Tower (an opera house with fantastic concerts and events), and realized they found the perfect place. The small charming town was ideal for filming because everything could be set around the picturesque, historic square. Today, it’s easy to visit the sites of one of America’s favorite movies.

“Groundhog Day” Filming Locations

Around town, gold plaques mark the “Groundhog Day” filming location stops. Some highlights on the walking tour include the historic Alpine Theater, the Woodstock Opera House, and Gobbler’s Knob. Our favorite part of the tour was the Mural Pedway down Main Street—this lane is a cool part of the town with some great photo opportunities.

Use this self-guided map to explore Woodstock’s “Groundhog Day” filming locations.

1. Pennsylvanian Hotel (Woodstock Opera House)

Historic Woodstock Square is picturesque in any season.

Interestingly, the Woodstock Opera House was never used for any inside footage, only for exterior shots. However, the iconic bell tower is a memorable backdrop for Gobbler’s Knob and Bill’s infamous sad jump.

2. Gobbler’s Knob (Historic Square)

A bird’s eye view of Woodstock’s version of Gobbler’s Knob.

Woodstock’s historic square serves as the location for Gobbler’s Knob. Upon arriving at Gobbler’s Knob, Phil always hears the “Pennsylvania Polka.” Woodstock lovingly embraces its correlation to the 90’s movie. So much so, that the speakers in the town’s square play various polkas and the movie’s token song, “I Got You, Babe.”

This may be one of the hardest plaques to find during winter.

The Gobbler’s Knob and Bill Murray’s Puddle plaques are the only ones to lay flat on the ground. Please note that visibility might be compromised if there is snow on the ground.

3. Band Stand Dance

Dance in the iconic gazebo as seen in the movie “Groundhog Day.” The soundtrack from the movie plays inside and adds to the ambiance.

“Groundhog Day” fans can recapture the magic of Phil and Rita’s romantic snow dance in the historic square gazebo. We had fun recreating the romantic moment where Andie MacDowell and Bill Murray dance in the gazebo as seen in the beloved film “Groundhog Day.”

4. Bar Scenes (Old Courthouse and Public House of Woodstock)

After your tour, consider celebrating with a beverage and toast to world peace. Amen.

This was the bar depicted as being within the Pennsylvania Hotel. It’s the place where Phil shared a Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks (with a twist) with Rita. Consider enjoying a drink and toasting to world peace. The plaque commemorating the location is situated inside near the bar.

5. Bill Murray’s Puddle

If you don’t get a walking map brochure, look for the plaques. This one says, “Bill Murray Stepped Here.’

Walk in the steps of Illinois-born actor-comedian Bill Murray but be sure to “whoa-ho-ho-howatch out for that first step, it’s a doozy!” Four cobblestone blocks were removed from the street to make way for the puddle during the filming which had to be reinserted back into place by the end of the day.

6. Tip Top Cafe

Initially, the Tip Top diner was a vacant storefront. The design team created an entire fake restaurant inside the space. After filming wrapped, the town wanted to maintain it as an operational diner. However, their attempt to sustain it ultimately proved unsuccessful.

While ownership continues to change at what was once the Tip Top Cafe, the plaque celebrating the filming site stays the same.

Bill Murray was presented with a spit bucket during the diner scene, where he indulged in pastries and various breakfast items, but he declined the offer. He was recorded stating that the angel food cake made him feel ill, likely due to overeating.

Today, the iconic Tip Top Cafe is now a Mexican restaurant. You can see the gold rectangular movie plaque near the entryway.

7. Alpine Theater

This location is where Phil and his girlfriend adorned costumes to attend a movie. He opted for a Clint Eastwood look, while she chose to dress as a cocktail waitress.

Guess what movie the Woodstock Theatre features around Groundhog Day?

The small movie theater typically features “Groundhog Day” around the holiday. It has since been refurbished and the oldtime ticket counter in the front has moved inside. Of course, as the town’s iconic movie theatre, there are a few memorabilia pieces you may want to stop and see.

This plaque is not one of the signature 15, but diehard fans may want to stop in to see the memorabilia dedicated to director Harold Ramis located inside.

Screen 1 is now known as the Harold Ramis Auditorium and there is a commemorative plaque in his honor. There is also a thank you letter from Director Harold Ramis to the city of Woodstock and some movie posters.

8. Mural and Groundhog

This was one of our favorite stops on the walking tour. Since this is not an official filming site, there is no plaque to find.

Be sure to stroll down the little alley. It offers movie murals and informational signs from Illinois film culture. Woodstock’s also home to Dick Tracy cartoonist Chester Gould and actor Orson Wells.

9. Gas Station

The old gas station was renovated but here you can see the gold plaque next to the door.

This is where Bill Murray makes his phone call outside the gas station. In 2021, the decrepit building was remodeled into an insurance agency.

10. Bowling Alley

Look for the gold filming site plaque outside Wayne’s Lanes.

Conveniently located near the historic square, this is where Phil drank with two companions, one of them being Gus (Rick Ducommun from “The Burbs”) before they all left, engaging in a high-speed chase through town with the police in high pursuit.

11. The Dance

Normally a private lodge, some fans take advantage of Groundhog Day celebrations to take a sneak at the interior which remains the same.

In the film, the scene is set at the Pennsylvania Hotel, but in reality, it’s the interior of the Moose Lodge. No alterations were made to the interior, preserving the same setting as depicted in the movie. It is typically closed to the public unless open for a Groundhog Day celebration. Finally, there is movie memorabilia inside.

12. Old Man’s Alley

The alley where Bill Murray tries to save the old homeless man from dying. The representatives from the studio seemingly had reservations about the segments involving the elderly homeless man whose death is inevitable, regardless of Phil’s attempts to prevent it. Ramis, rightly so, believed that this element was crucial to Phil’s character development and his realization that he is not a god, nor God.

13. Ned’s Corner

We found this old picture of us from the fall of 2007 when we were a lot younger! Woodstock is always a fun day trip from the Chicago suburbs.

Phil encounters Ned Ryerson, his former high school classmate turned insurance agent, while walking to Gobbler’s Knob. Ned goes on to say:

Phil Connors? I thought that was you! Don’t tell me you don’t remember me. I sure as heck-fire remember you. Ned Ryerson! Needlenose Ned. Ned the Head. Come on, buddy. Case Western High. I did the whistling belly button trick at the high school talent show. Bing! Got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn’t graduate. Bing again! I dated your sister Mary Pat till you told me not to anymore.

14. Piano Teacher’s House

This is the residence where Bill Murray attended piano lessons to learn how to play. Also, if you look a few feet down the street, you’ll see where Bill Murray catches the boy falling from a tree.

15. Cherry Tree Inn

While exploring beyond the city center, take a short drive through the surrounding neighborhood to see the Cherry Tree Inn. This is the historic B&B featured in the movie, where Bill Murray stays while living his Groundhog Day.

Cherry Tree Inn is a prime example of Victorian architecture prevalent in the region.

During filming, the property was a private home utilized for external scenes only. Thus, no filming was done inside the house. Instead, the interior scenes were filmed in a soundstage constructed inside a warehouse about 15 miles from Woodstock. Today, the inn embraces the movie’s contribution to the city. Finally, it’s a great example of Victorian architecture prevalent in the region.

💰 Budget Tip: Rooms are typically $250+ per night at the Cherry Tree Inn. For this reason, a good nearby option is the Hampton Inn McHenry County which has been recently renovated and has a pool, fitness center, a much better buffet breakfast, and costs half the price!

16. Escape Tunnel

The bridge is located here, about 4 blocks southwest of the Woodstock Square Historic District.

Not mentioned in the printed guide is the tunnel where Phil drove the red truck during the groundhog theft scene. Moreover, it serves as a passage for the Metra train that makes stops in Woodstock, and its construction dates back to 1897.

Woodstock Weekend Getaway

With lots of boutique shops, restaurants, pubs, and Groundhog Day memorabilia, Woodstock can be a fun unique getaway in the Midwest. For example, we organized a weekend exploring McHenry County and ended up having a really fun staycation.

Everywhere around Woodstock are nods to Groundhog Day. Notice the time on the alarm clock and the movie script in the store window.

Woodstock, Illinois, a truly charming town, beautifully captures the essence of movie magic! Furthermore, we hope this inspires you to watch “Groundhog Day” tonight.

Woodstock Walking Tour Guide

Woodstock has made it easy for visitors to explore historic Woodstock Square. Also, there are 3 options to help you see all of the filming sites. They include:

  1. Download the self-guided map.
  2. Walk around town looking for the bronze plaques.
  3. Visit the tourism office to get a free brochure.
Take a self-guided walking tour to check out the locations where the movie scenes were filmed.

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