Families from around the country love Gettysburg and Adams County not just because it offers a one-of-a-kind educational experience, but because it also provides families with children of all ages with a wide variety of opportunities for fun, for exploration and for long-lasting memories.
There are so many fun and exciting ways to enjoy Gettysburg as a family, and we’ve compiled a list of 12 experiences that will make you want to pack up the car and take that family road trip this year.
1. Land of Little Horses
We’ll start small – miniature even. Land of Little Horses is a place where families can spend the entire day socializing with a variety of animals – ranging from pint-sized horses to pot-belly pigs, goats, chickens and alpacas. The farm park features daily programs and animal talent shows throughout the day giving families plenty of time to roam the park on their own or relax and be entertained.
2. Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum & Candy Emporium
When it comes to roadside oddities, Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum & Candy Emporium is among the best. Mister Ed has shared his collection of pachyderms with passing motorists for more than 40 years. Today, his gallery of more than 10,000 elephant figurines is only the beginning. Families will find an eclectic array of candy – homemade fudge, hard candy and Mister Ed’s renowned Pez collection.
3. Explore & More Children’s Museum
This is Gettysburg’s hidden gem. Tucked just a block off the beaten path, Explore & More Children’s Museum is the perfect place to let kids unwind, have fun and get creative. With eight interactive play rooms, the museum provides families with plenty of ways to let kids be kids.
4. Farmer’s Markets
Beyond the battlefields of Gettysburg is a scenic countryside rich in agriculture. Don’t miss this opportunity to bring your family closer to farm-fresh fruits and vegetables at one of the area’s many farm markets. There, families can grab some edible souvenirs, sweets or take part in a variety of children’s programs – even mazes – held throughout the year. In the fall, head out to Fields of Adventure for some pumpkin picking, an autumn adventure in the corn maze and other games.
5. Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve
With 10 miles of trails in 600 acres of preserved forestland, Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve is a great place to get families up-close and personal with nature. Hiking ranges from scenic walks to more aggressive hikes throughout the preserve. Don’t miss the nature center – filled with live critters, turtles and other reptiles. During maple sugaring season, kids and parents alike can learn how to tap a maple tree, and then sample the tasty maple syrup that’s produced.
6. Interactive Civil War Museums
Gettysburg is famous for making history come to life. Interactive museums that allow families to engage history hands-on – are great for keeping children interested in history and making them understand the significance of what happened in Gettysburg. Ranging from detailed dioramas to touch-and-feel exhibits and interactive technology, museums can take families back in time. Several museums feature programs throughout the year that brings history even closer through artifacts, uniforms and a marching drill here and there.
7. Steam Into History
A short drive from Gettysburg brings you to New Freedom, Pa., where the Steam Into History train ride boards for a two-hour adventure through the countryside and through history. With special themed rides throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons, the Steam Into History ride is an incredible way to take in the sites of Pennsylvania. Rides include entertainment along the way with living historians, and some even follow the path of Abraham Lincoln’s journey to Gettysburg in 1863.
8. Eastern Museum of Motor Racing
Kick it into high gear at this undiscovered museum just north of Gettysburg. With a variety of dirt track, NASCAR, Indy and sprint race cars throughout the decades, the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing is thrilled to share its story of automobiles, drivers, racetracks and more. Kids of all ages will enjoy getting up-close to these speed machines that have carved their own place in history.
9. Gettysburg National Military Park
Can’t miss Gettysburg’s most popular attraction … the battlefield. Gettysburg National Military Park isn’t just chocked full of history – it’s 6,000 acres of preserved ground that makes it ideal for tours of all shapes and sizes – bus tours, auto tours, bicycle tours, hiking tours, iPad tours, and if your kids meet the age requirements – horseback, scooter and Segway tours. During the last spring, summer and early fall seasons, don’t miss the free ranger programs that take place throughout the day on various parts of the battlefield.
There is no better way to bond with your family than setting up camp in Gettysburg. With campgrounds that offer everything from tent and RV sites to rustic and luxury cottages, there’s comfort for everyone. Gettysburg campgrounds feature swimming pools, arcades, miniature golf and fishing ponds – plenty of ways to keep the kids running around until it’s time to huddle around the fire for s’mores at the end of the night.
11. Candlelight Walking Tours
Get a glimpse of Gettysburg’s “night life” with a walk through Downtown Gettysburg after the sun goes down. Year-round, ghost tours make their way through the streets and alleys of this historic town telling stories of history and tales of the paranormal. Ghost tours are family-friendly and can be a great way to cap off a day in Gettysburg.
The next family trip, pack the clubs and hit one of many golf courses in the Gettysburg area, ranging from challenging to more scenic, family friendly courses that give some of the best views of the Gettysburg countryside. If you’re more of a waterfalls and windmills kind of golfer, well, Gettysburg’s got those too. Miniature golf, capped off with ice cream, is the perfect end to any Gettysburg getaway.
Throughout the year, Gettysburg features a variety of family-friendly events including the Annual Battle of Gettysburg Reenactment, National Apple Harvest Festival, 19th Century Base Ball Festival and parades.
For a list of all family-friendly experiences and events in the Gettysburg area, visit www.destinationgettysburg.com.