The view from Cemetery Ridge over cannon barrels takes in a mist shrouded field and narrow country lanes. But it’s easy to imagine an unseen Confederate force –grouping for an attack on Union lines — guarding the ridge. This is just one stop on the sprawling Gettysburg battlefield, an important place in American history. All of the struggle’s locations are easily accessed in a region that is rich in attractions, eateries and taverns. A Gettysburg getaway is an easy-to-reach weekend destination that’s less than a three hour drive from most of the Delaware Valley. It’s also the ideal spot to explore the history, colorful town, challenging golf and memorable meals of the area. –Jay Lloyd
GETTYSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK
1195 Baltimore Pike
Gettysburg, PA 17325
We arrived by 10 a.m. and stopped at the visitor center to get oriented and to collect some maps. Visitors are encouraged to tour in their own cars, with the obvious advantage being the ability to pick spots of personal interest. Parking is easy at all the major battle sites. Breathtaking views are in store at Cemetery Ridge, where we found the spot where Abraham Lincoln delivered his riveting Gettysburg Address, a message of sacrifice and determination. It’s surrounded by the National Military Cemetery, which cradles the graves of men and women who fought from here to Vietnam. Other options for touring include hiring a guide to ride in your car, a bus tour of the battlefield and a ranger-guided walking tour. Or, you can simply rent a CD that narrates the three-day battle and gives instructions on driving from point to point. A visit to the Visitor Center Museum, a Morgan Freeman-narrated film and the dramatic Cyclorama display of one day in the wrenching battle enhances and puts into context the epic struggle that helped determine the course of the war.
WHAT IT COSTS:
Admission to the park and the battlefield sites is free. The basic fee for admission to the museum, including the film and Cyclorama, is $12.50 for adults (with a variety of available discounts). A certified guide for your car is $65. Bus tours check out at $30. Find all the fees at: www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm
WHERE TO STAY:
LIBERTY MOUNTAIN RESORT
78 Country Club Trail
Carroll Valley, PA 17320
We chose the Liberty Mountain Ski and Golf Resort, located about 15 miles south of Gettysburg. In the winter, it’s a popular ski area, but until the snow flies, golfers can enjoy the broad Carroll Valley fairways in the shadow of the surrounding mountains. Comfortable rooms are accented by a variety of restaurants, bars and lounges that feature weekend entertainment. Golf packages — including 18 holes of play, accommodations, breakfast and dinner — start at $155 a night.
1 Lincoln Square
Gettysburg, PA 17325
The Gettysburg Hotel is an enduring part of downtown Gettysburg. Dating back to 1797, this 119-room inn occupies a central location right on the town square. It’s a comfortable old world hotel that’s just steps from shopping and in-town attractions or a short walk to nearby Gettysburg College. Rooms here start at $98 a night.
You’ll also find most of the major hotel chains represented in or near Gettysburg and a variety of country inns and B&B’s on the outskirts of town.
WHERE TO EAT:
Our favorite dining stop here is the Fairfield Inn, one of the oldest continuously operating inns in America. It opened its doors in 1757 about 10 miles south of Gettysburg and hasn’t closed them since. However, during the celebrated battle it became a field hospital, commandeered by a retreating Confederate army that left its wounded behind for treatment. Local folklore says the ghosts of “Johnny Reb” still prowl the inn.
First, enjoy a drink at the early American bar, then head for a table near the fireplace in the period dining room. My favorite dish is the moist, tender oven-roasted duck. My wife, Mary, enjoyed the chicken and biscuits, the house’s signature dish. Don’t forget that the building was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and an after dinner tour is a big part of the experience.
One note: The Inn is for sale, and a prospective buyer is expected to continue current operations. Check before going.
A centerpiece at The Inn at Liberty Mountain Resort is a stone fireplace that puts a glow on the dining room during fall evenings. The menu at the golf club lodge ranges from fin food to familiar beef, pork and poultry. Mary tucked into a crab cake, following a chicken sate appetizer. I needed a beef fix and chose a tender Delmonico steak. It was a solid dinner.
A top lunch stop in the heart of Gettysburg is The Pub Restaurant. Located on the town square across from the Gettysburg hotel, The Pub’s colorful façade is easy to spot, and the menu is crammed with pub favorites and a selection of pizzas. We picked the pepperoni pie and washed it down with a draft from the selection of regional, domestic and international brews.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Take the Pennsylvania Turnpike West to Route 15 South (past Harrisburg). Follow Route 15 South to Baltimore Pike (Route 97). Proceed north on 97 to the entrance of the visitor center. The signs will take you right there.