Back in 1863, Gettysburg was the location for the three-day Civil War battle that keeps history lovers from across the country coming back to the area year after year. Historic Gettysburg attracts history lovers wanting to explore the battlefield, learn more about the Civil War and wander through Pennsylvania’s countryside.
In addition to the historic value, Gettysburg is home to a variety of antique shops, art galleries, apple orchards, museums and unique restaurants. Making it possible for even those who are not history buffs to enjoy a vacation getaway to the area.
Attractions And Landmarks
You do not want to miss the Gettysburg Cyclorama, a 360-degree oil painting of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Cyclorama was originally exhibited in 1884 and was eventually refurbished in 2008. You can see the Cyclorama and other exhibits, interactive displays and movies at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. This is definitely the best place to start your Gettysburg adventure.
You will be able to explore more than 40 miles of scenic roads that will take you to 1,400 monuments, markers and memorials that commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg. You can purchase a CD audio tour from the museum’s book store that will take you on a self-guided tour or book a tour guide to take you on a private driving tour of the battlefield.
Other historical attractions in Gettysburg include:
- Seminary Ridge Museum
- Eisenhower National Historic Site
- Gettysburg Diorama
- Gettysburg Heritage Center
- National Apple Museum
- Majestic Theater Performing Arts Center
- Gettysburg Black History Museum Visitor Center
- Sach’s Covered Bridge
- Jack’s Mountain Bridge
There are many homes that were the backdrop of the Battle of Gettysburg and are still standing in the area today. Many of these homes served as safe havens for the wounded and helped hide the residents of the area who stayed in the city during the battle. Some of the homes served as a place for politicians and generals to stay before, during and after the battle.
The David Wills House was the location where President Lincoln stayed on the eve of his delivering of the Gettysburg Address. This building is open to the public and features exhibits about Gettysburg and Soldiers’ National Cemetery.
The home of George and Hettie Shriver is home to the Shriver House Museum, which offers a look into what civilians experienced during the three-bay battle in their home town. The home has been restored to its original 1860s appearance and houses many original artifacts from the Civil War era.
Other historic buildings throughout the Gettysburg area include:
- Historic Gettysburg Train Station
- The Rupp House
- Jennie Wade House Museum
- John Brown House
Enjoying a guided tour through Gettysburg will give you a look into the battle and what life was like for civilians during the three-day battle. Experienced tour guides offer narration as they take you on guided tours of the battlefield and other points of interest throughout the area. All guides are very knowledgeable and are able to answer questions about the battle, civilians, historical sites, trivia and even where to get the best burger in town.
The Gettysburg National Battlefield Park offers visitors a 2.5 hour guided bus tour of the battlefield. This tour departs daily from the Gettysburg Visitor Center.
Guided tours are available with a Licensed Battlefield Guide through the Gettysburg Battlefield with stops at major points of interest along the way. Your tour guide from the Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides will take you to points of interest including Little Round Top, Pickett’s Charge and Devils Den. Your personal tour guide will customize your tour based on what you want to see and will ride along with you in your own car, making it possible to explore at your leisure.
Explore the Battlefield with Historic Battlefield Bus Tours in a 1930s restored Yellowstone bus. This bus will take you on an enjoyable and informative tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield. Or you can join Gettysburg Battlefield Bus Tours for a tour of the Battlefield aboard a double decker bus with stops along the way at the many points of interest.
Other guided tours include:
- Guided Historic Walking Tours
- Lincoln’s Lost Treasure – A Gettysburg Scavenger Hunt
- Segway Tours of Gettysburg
- National Riding Stables at Artillery Ridge Campground Horseback Riding Tours
- Hickory Hollow Horse Farm Horseback Riding Tours
- Confederate Trails of Gettysburg Horseback Riding Tours
- Ghostly Images
- Farnsworth House Candlelight Ghost Walks
- Gettysburg Ghost Tours
In addition to all of the historical sites and tours, residents, business owners and historians work to keep the spirit of Gettysburg alive by hosting annual events. These events include everything from living history displays, guest speakers and other celebrations.
Annual events in Gettysburg include:
- Gettysburg Festival
- Annual Civil War Reenactment
- Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival
- National Apple Harvest Festival
- Anniversary of Gettysburg Address
- Holidays in Historic Gettysburg
- Civil War Park Day
- Celebrate Lincoln
- Chamberlain at Gettysburg
Staying in a historic hotel when visiting Gettysburg will put you in the center of Civil War history throughout your entire getaway. From sun up to sun down and even through the night, you will feel like you are experiencing everything this area has to offer a history buff. Everything from traditional hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts offer historic accommodation options for those visiting Gettysburg.
The Gettysburg Hotel was established in 1797 and is located in the heart of Downtown Gettysburg. Staying here will keep you within walking distance of many area historical sites and attractions. You will definitely be in the center of everything by staying at the Gettysburg Hotel.
Other historic hotels in the Gettysburg area include:
If you are a history buff and looking for something new to do for your upcoming vacation, make plans to explore Gettysburg. You will find many attractions, landmarks and plenty of things to do centered on this three-day battle. Who knows, maybe you will learn something new during your historic getaway.
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.