From battlefields and museums to cultural gems and countryside charm, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is prime for exploration.
In 1863, the pivotal U.S. Civil War Battle of Gettysburg and President Abraham Lincoln’s subsequent Gettysburg Address solidified Pennsylvania’s place in the history books. This important time in the nation’s history is showcased through museums, tours and events, including the town’s most famous attraction: Gettysburg National Military Park. Beyond the battleground, this family-friendly destination is full of fascinating places that explore the past and present.
Gettysburg National Military Park: Remembrance & Discovery
This vast park preserves the sites and stories of the U.S. Civil War conflict that unfolded in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, over three days in 1863. Walk the hallowed grounds to see monuments and markers commemorating the battle. Stop into the Museum & Visitor Center for park resources and to check out exhibits, a History Channel-produced film and the immersive painting-in-the-round the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama.
Pay tributes at Gettysburg National Cemetery, the final resting place of more than 3,500 U.S. soldiers who fought here during the Civil War. A memorial also commemorates the site where President Lincoln gave his profound Gettysburg Address.
Walk in the footsteps of soldiers with a number of tour options. While you can explore on your own, Licensed Battlefield Guides lead tours by car, bus and bicycle from the visitor center and can provide important insights, and local companies offer horseback, horse-drawn carriage and bicycle tours through the park. Living history programs, special events and other landmarks – including the Eisenhower National Historic Site – also engage visitors of all ages in understanding the intricacies of the Civil War era.
The 1st Minnesota monument at Gettysburg National Military Park
Downtown Gettysburg: Culture & History on Display
Founded in 1786 on land previously inhabited by the Susquehannock/Conestoga, Seneca and Shawnee Nations, Gettysburg played a pivotal role in the Civil War. There’s plenty to learn about the community’s townspeople before, during and after the epic battle as you explore the quaint downtown and surrounding attractions. Visit the Gettysburg Museum of History, where you’ll find exhibits on the U.S. military, presidents and pop culture, and the Gettysburg Mercantile Museum, where you can travel back in time and experience an 1800s general store.
It’s easy to get around on foot or bike, and a variety of tours dive deeper into local history. Gettysburg Licensed Town Guides hosts several different walking tours, including a Black history tour that delves into the lives of influential Black community members from the Civil War Era and beyond. Pedal through the past on GettysBike’s Grand Tour of the battlefield area. Destination Gettysburg offers a free self-guided tour of the historic downtown. If you’re in search of the paranormal, spooky tours like Mark Nesbitt’s Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tour recount haunting stories as you walk the town’s historic streets.
The arts also play an essential role in Gettysburg’s community culture. Local entertainment includes movies and live performances by Majestic Theater at Gettysburg College and Gettysburg Community Theatre. Christ Lutheran Church presents Songs and Stories of a Civil War Hospital, an immersive show which shares tales of Civil War soldiers. For a rousing musical experience, the Gettysburg Brass Band Festival takes place annually in June.
Pedaling past the Pennsylvania Memorial on a GettysBike Tour
Beyond the Battlefield: Countryside Charms
Gettysburg’s location in scenic Adams County, Pennsylvania, makes for convenient day trips to charming rural destinations nearby. Drive through fertile farmland — where farm stands, homesteads and museums punctuate the country roads — and pick up local produce from one of the many markets near Gettysburg for a taste of the county’s prolific agricultural background.
Winding through the countryside, you’ll also encounter historic covered bridges like Jack’s Mountain Bridge, built in 1894 and still used for vehicle traffic today. Uncover the area’s natural history at the Kings Gap Environmental Education Center in Carlisle and find year-round recreation and learning opportunities at state parks Pine Grove Furnace and Gifford Pinchot. When you want to venture farther afield, pull out of Gettysburg and cruise along the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor, a 322-kilometer stretch of the USA’s first coast-to-coast highway.
An aerial view of Gettysburg’s scenic countryside
Fly into Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and rent a car for the 2.5-hour drive to Gettysburg.
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