For most travelers, Gettysburg is a place that takes at least a few days to experience. Even then, it sometimes takes a trip back to fit in the rest. The historic town, the hallowed battlegrounds and scenic countryside all give visitors a unique look into this small Pennsylvania community.
But, sometimes, visitors can be short on time, and want to make the best of just a day in Gettysburg. It’s tough to determine what, however, to include in a day-trip. Check out the ideas below for how to spend one day in Gettysburg!
A Day for History Lovers
If you’re traveling for Gettysburg’s Civil War history, a good place to start is Gettysburg National Military Park – you’ll not only learn about America’s most defining event, but you’ll feel the magnitude of the sacrifice made on those farm fields 155 years ago.
While heading out on your own may seem logical on limited time, there’s no better way to get the scoop on the battle than by taking a tour with a licensed battlefield guide. The two-hour tours can bring to life the history of Gettysburg and help navigate travelers around the 6,000-acre battlefield. Today, tour guides can be hired for tours in cars and buses, or on bicycles, scooters, Segways or horses.
When your tour is over, be sure to stop by Soldiers’ National Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln, just five months after the battle, delivered his famous Gettysburg Address. There, you’ll also reflect on the words of the 16th president as you walk past grave markers for 3,512 Union soldiers and veterans from more modern wars.
Eat lunch in one of Gettysburg’s historic taverns – a great way to get a unique look at history while enjoying a hearty meal in places that were once Civil War hospitals or watering holes for soldiers as they came through town in 1863.
Round out the day with a tour or museum that focuses on Gettysburg’s own civilians during the battle. Both guided and self-guided tours of the town are available throughout the day, and museums such as the Jennie Wade House or Shriver House Museum help visitors understand that the war wasn’t only about soldiers and military maneuvers. Civilians were often caught in the cross-fire and were forced to help with the aftermath of the battle for many months.
A Day Discovering the Town
The town of Gettysburg is chocked full of experiences, ranging from shopping, to dining, to culture and history. The eclectic shops, trendy eateries and art galleries, as well as the history tucked away down every street makes a trip downtown a great day trip for both new and return visitors.
Grab a late breakfast and coffee at a local café downtown before walking around Lincoln Square. Shopping is everywhere downtown and is a great way to start off the day. For lunch, swing into any one of the taverns, ethnic restaurants, or trendy eateries that are all within a block or two from the traffic circle in the center of town.
Before heading off too far, make time for a sip of wine, cider or other craft beverages that are scattered throughout the downtown area. If you don’t have time to make it out into the countryside, these tasting rooms are a great way to get a look at the region’s beverage scene without leaving town.
After lunch, take a walk to Gettysburg’s Baltimore Street and Steinwehr Avenue, a hub for souvenir shopping, historic attractions, ice cream and, if you stay late enough, ghost tours. You can leave your car downtown, hop a trolley or walk – swinging into museums, shops and other businesses along the way.
If you can stay for dinner, Steinwehr Avenue has a great collection of restaurants with a variety of menu choices, or you can venture back toward Lincoln Square for a bite before leaving town.
A Day in Gettysburg’s Countryside
Gettysburg’s scenic countryside is something that many travelers don’t discover until they’ve visited a few times, but it’s truly one of the region’s hidden gems.
Take a self-guided tour to some of the area’s best landmarks, including the Gettysburg battlefield, Sachs Covered Bridge and Historic Round Barn. Along the way, you’ll find many more historic sites and points of interest, but it’s the orchards, farm markets and wineries that will likely have you pulling over the car for a quick stop.
Start the day with a big breakfast and spend the rest of the morning and afternoon snacking on homegrown fruits and vegetables, local cheeses and other authentic foods grown right here in Adams County, Pa.
Depending on your visit, save some time to pick-your-own fruit at one of the countryside’s orchards.
Travelers can get a great experience in a day but make plans to come back and see the rest. For longer itineraries, more ideas of how to explore the history, downtown or countryside, visit www.DestinationGettysburg.com.