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Gettysburg is the site of one of the most important battles of the American Civil War, and the largest land battle ever fought in North America.
The battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1-3, 1863. The fighting started accidentally when Union and Confederate troops converged just north of the town of Gettysburg. Three bloody days of fighting ensued, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. The Confederate forces fell back after Lee's final frontal assault broke on the third day. After touring the three days of Gettysburg, follow the Confederate Retreat through Fairfield, just 8 miles west of Gettyburg on PA Route 116, through beautiful rolling countryside and farms. As you drive the 8 miles try to imagine a soldier who has just participated in what will become the largest battle ever fought in North America, tired, hungry, possibly wounded, retreating from the Union in a driving rain storm through mud into the town of Fairfield — most likely the longest 8 miles ever marched! The town, itself, was raided by the Confederates in 1862 and during the retreat on July 4, 1863. It is worth the drive. You can pick up an area tour guide and map at the Fairfield Inn located in the center of town.
Flat meadows surrounded by rocky hills, with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains looming in the distance. In the countryside north of Gettysburg is the "Fruit Belt" of Pennsylvania with thousands of acres of apple and peach orchards and vineyards.
Flora and fauna
Gettysburg has a humid continental climate, with hot, humid summers and cold moist winters. Spring and Fall are mild and pleasant. Heavy winter storms occasionally strike the area, but these are fairly rare. Heaviest snowfall occurs during February and early March. Severe thunderstorms may occasionally hit the region, mostly in July and August.
Several airports are in the region, although none of them are particularly close by. Airports in Harrisburg (MDT), Baltimore (BWI), Washington Dulles (IAD), and Philadelphia (PHL) are the closest. Flying into Baltimore would probably be your best bet, as the drive to Gettysburg is approximately 60 miles.
Gettysburg can be reached via US Rt 30 from Philadelphia, or via State Rt 97 from the Baltimore area. From the south, US 15 runs through the town for visitors arriving from the Washington DC region.
By train Amtrak has stations in both Harrisburg and Lancaster. Taxi service and car rentals are available to Gettysburg from there.
Access to the battlefields are free at all times. However, museums carry a small fee. The cost to get into the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center is $10.50 for adults and includes a short film and entry to see the Gettysburg Cyclorama Painting.
By far the best way to see the park is with your own vehicle. Roads wind extensively throughout the battlefields, and include many places to pull off and allow visitors to walk around. Use caution when using these roads, as there may be many people walking or bicycling on these roads. The speed limit throughout the park is 15 MPH. When in your car, you may navigate by map or purchase a CD at several locations throughout Gettysburg that will orientate you to the battlefield.
Guided tours on buses are available for fees of $22-25 for adults, and $12-15 for children aged 4-11. More information can be found at the tour bus website.  There are several different types of bus tours — one's with Licensed Battlefield Guides and one's with headphone narration.
By bike If you have the time and have an average level of fitness, bikes can be rented reasonably in Gettysburg and can provide an enhanced experience in the park. Cycling the major sites of the July 1-3 campaign can be completed in one day and allow the visitor to experience battle lines and topography in a much more realistic fashion than car or bus.
By horseback The battlefield features a couple horse trails where you can either bring your own horse or rent one from places around town, including Artillery Ridge Campground and Hickory Hollow Horse Farm.
By Segway There are two places in town — SegTours, LLC and Segs in the City that lease Segway personal transporters for battlefield and town tours. Some feature a licensed battlefield guide.
By foot One of the best ways to tour the battlefield is by foot — either running, walking or hiking. There are 26 miles of roadway and several hiking trails, both flat and rugged.
Tour the battlefields, see the various museums throughout the town, and visit many of the gift shops.
- Jennie Wade House, 548 Baltimore Street, ☎ . 9AM-5PM. The only Gettysburg citizen killed during the Battle of Gettysburg was 20 year old Jennie Wade, fiancée of Corporal “Jack” Skelly. The old McClellan Home, now the Jennie Wade House and Museum, with but few minor changes and repairs, remains much as Jennie Wade must have known it more than 100 years ago. The walls of the old house, which lived through the Battle of Gettysburg and witnessed the tragic death of Jennie Wade, tell the story of the building and of those in it during the Great Battle.
- Land of Little Horses Farm Park, 125 Glennwood Drive.
- Hall of Presidents, 789 Baltimore Street, ☎ . 9AM-5PM. Listen to the story of America by its Presidents and enjoy the fashions of different eras through the “authentic” reproductions of the First Ladies’ inaugural gowns. A-7.25 C(6-12)-3.50.
- Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, 1195 Baltimore Pike, toll-free: . Run by the Gettysburg Foundation, the non-profit partner of the National Park Service at Gettysburg. The new Visitor Center houses the museum collection as well as special exhibits from across the country and the fully restored Gettysburg Cyclorama, a must-see for any visit. You can also hire a Licensed Battlefield Guide here. These folks have forgotten more about the battle and battlefield than we will ever know. You can also purchase tour tickets for the Eisenhower Farm.
- Victorian Photography, 76 Steinwher Avenue, ☎ . 10A-8P. As seen on the Real World on MTV! Get a family photograph in period dress!
- American Civil War Museum, 297 Steinwehr Avenue, ☎ . Daily March — December 9 am — 5 pm. Extended Spring & Summer hours 9 am — 7 pm. Last tour begins 45 minutes before closing.. The American Civil War Museum presents the entire story of the Civil War era and the Battle of Gettysburg with remarkable realism. Learn the causes, effects and significant personalities that shaped the Civil War and as a result, ultimately, American history.
Throughout five hallways of scenes, the American Civil War Museum recreates history with life-sized dioramas of the Civil War. Visitors complete a self-guided museum tour that begins with the economical, social, and political causes of the war and ends with the untimely assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Following the self-guided tour, visitors enter into the internationally acclaimed, digitally enhanced Battleroom Auditorium. Amidst the sounds of thunderous battle cries and bullets, visitors will witness a life-sized recreation of the Battle of Gettysburg. Discover how a small town in rural Pennsylvania became known for one of the bloodiest battles in American history. An animated Abraham Lincoln delivering the immortal Gettysburg Address follows the battle recreation. $5.50 adults / $3 Youth (ages 6 — 17) / 5 & under FREE.
- Lincolns Lost Treasure, 53 East Middle St, toll-free: . Sun 12-4PM. Part Theatre, Part Adventure, Part Mystery. The streets of Gettysburg serve as a backdrop for a unique story, told with elements of improv theatre and scavenger hunt. Lincoln’s Lost Treasure is a live two and a half hour adventure across the streets of historic Downtown Gettysburg. Groups of 6 or 8 people are sent to uncover a lost secret sparked by President Lincoln’s final breath. Aided by a few historical artifacts, you are sent off to piece together hidden clues and traverse the city’s famous streets, hidden shops and historical landmarks. $38.
- International Museum of Spiritual Investigations (IMSI), 231 Baltimore Street, ☎ . Wed-Sun: noon-6PM. In their own words, this esoteric museum's "core mission is to educate, preserve, and facilitate spiritual investigations history, methodology, and evidence and present this to the public in a positive, supportive and non-judgmental manner." Knowledgeable staff, exhibits, educational classes, and introductory investigations. $1.50-$3.00.
- Gettysburg Majestic Theater, 25 Carlisle St, ☎ . For those who need a break from the Battlefield, there the Majestic, a theater in downtown Gettysburg recently renovated to its original 1925 Colonial Revival glory. There is a theater for live performances, as well as a cinema which plays the highest quality art films, including American independent films, foreign language films, documentaries, short subjects, and film festival prize winners.
- Gateway Theaters, 20 Presidential Circle (US 15 & US 30 at Gateway Gettysburg), ☎ . The state-of-the-art Gateway Theaters is one of the most technologically advanced movie theaters in the region. In addition to your favorite new-release Hollywood film, Gateway Theaters is the exclusive home of "Fields of Freedom". "Fields of Freedom" is a 30-minute Hollywood produced immersive film that is a must see before you tour the battlefields. Gateway Theaters features the two largest digital movie screens in the USA.
- Hollabaugh Bros., Inc., 545 Carlisle Rd. (Located 9 miles north of the square in Gettysburg on Rt. 34), ☎ . Mon-Thurs 9-6, Fri-Sat 9-5, Sun 12-5. Hollabaugh Brothers is a third generation, family farm with a retail farm market offering fresh fruits, vegetables, gifts, jarred goods, home-style baked goods, and fruit gift baskets. The Hollabaugh family also provides scheduled educational orchard tours. Hollabaugh Brothers is a 500 acre working, family farm. Buses welcome, adequate free parking.
- Lord Nelson's Gallery, 27 1/2 Chambersburg Street (one half block off of downtown Lincoln Square), ☎ . Mon — Saturday, 9:30AM — 6PM. Sunday 12:00 — 4PM. Established in 1990, the gallery specializes in wildlife, nostalgic, Eastern Frontier/American Indian and Colonial art, sculpture, fine handcrafts and related historical books.
- Gettysburg Gift Center, 297 Steinwehr Avenue, ☎ . Daily March — December 9AM — 5PM. Extended Spring & Summer hours 9AM — 7PM.. Gettysburg's largest and finest gift shop, catalog, and online store. Specializing in gifts, books for children & adults, art, home decor and collectibles, as well as games & toys.
- Majestic Theater, 25 Carlisle Street. Live performance venue featuring various traveling acts ranging from jazz, ballet, musicals, and much more. The theater also has a two-screen movie theater showing a mix of arts films and popular films.
- Gettysburg Bicycle & Fitness, 307 York Street, ☎ . Sells excellent American Bikes (Specialized, Trek, ..) in all price ranges. You will get excellent advises, perfect service and good prices. The shop also lends Bikes for tours on the battle field and organizes a yearly Mountainbike race called "Maximus" in Michaux State Forest.
- Bluebrick Gallery, 18 North Washington St (1 block W of the square), ☎ . Seven artists and friends come together to exhibit an eclectic mix of artwork in a variety of mediums.
Restaurants abound throughout the town, from nationally known chains, to local Mom & Pop diners.
- Ernie's Texas Lunch, 58 Chambersburg St. Old-time lunch counter with a few booths. Famous for their "Texas wieners" and home made soup.
- O'Rorkes Pub, 44 Steinwehr Avenue. Casual American and Irish food downtown. Huge menu and good beer selection.
- Dobbin House Tavern, 89 Steinwehr Ave. Casual and fine dining. Due to its historic ambiance (Revolutionary War to Civil War) and reasonable prices, the Dobbin House is well worth visiting. For budget and casual dining with the same historical charm, there is the Springhouse Tavern room downstairs.
- Appalachian Brewing Company, 401 Buford Avenue, ☎ . Located on Seminary Ridge, across the road from the Lutheran Seminary and directly next door to General Robert E. Lee's HQ, this is a brew-pub with history. Outstanding Cheeseburgers and personal pizza's accentuate the wonderful selection of micro-brews.
- Rita's Italian Ice, 523 Baltimore St. Amazing Italian ice and custard available from this regional chain. Only open in the summer.
Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the park at any time.
- Garryowen Irish Pub, 126 Chambersburg Street, ☎ . Good Irish pub with great music entertainment on special days like St. Patricks. It's traditional Irish menu is very tasty.
- Ragged Edge Coffee House, 110 Chambesburg Street, ☎ . The Ragged Edge serves breakfast, sandwiches, salads and coffee. They offer a free wireless connection. The local products, beautiful gardens, and in house art gallery all add up to an award winning experience.
- Café Saint-Amand, 48 Baltimore Street, ☎ . Restaurant with reasonable prices. They also serve breakfast. Free wireless connection. Due to policy no alcoholic drinks.
- The Pub, 20-22 Lincoln Square (Southeast corner of The Square), ☎ . Monday: 8AM - 10PM Tuesday & Wednesday: 11AM - 10PM Thursday: 8AM - 10PM Friday & Saturday: 8AM - 11PM Sunday: 8AM - 9PM (Closed on Sundays December thru January - Closed on Five Major Holidays). Casual dining with an extensive menu. Plenty of vegetarian options.
- Antrim 1844, 30 Trevanion Rd Taneytown, MD, ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Nestled at the foot of the rolling Catoctin Mountains in Central Maryland. Built in 1844, Antrim was once a thriving plantation and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Owners Dorothy and Richard Mollett have restored the mansion and the estate buildings on this 24-acre site. Located 15 minutes from Historic Gettysburg 160-400.
- Best Western Gettysburg Hotel, One Lincoln Square, ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. This historic hotel offers guests lodging with 19th century ambiance and has been operating since 1797. 119 guest rooms, Roof top seasonal swimming pool, business center, fitness center. Restaurant Centuries on the Square and pub McClellan's Tavern are located on the premises.
- Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, 1857 Gettysburg Village Drive (Located at the intersection of Routes 97 and 15 on the site of The Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg.), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. The Country Inn and Suites Gettysburg Hotel is less than one mile from the New Gettysburg Museum and Visitors center and several other historic Gettysburg attraction
- Comfort Inn (Gettysburg), 871 York Road (Route 15 N. to York Road), ☎ . The Gettysburg Comfort Inn is on Route 30, just 1 mile from the Historic Downtown area. All rooms include a free continental breakfast, wireless internet, 24 hour business center, indoor pool with jacuzzi, in room irons and ironing boards, in room safes, hair dryers.
- Dobbin House Tavern. Includes Gettystown Inn Bed & Breakfast.
- Fairfield Inn 1757, West Main Street, Fairfield (8 miles West of Gettysburg on Rt. 116), ☎ . The oldest continuously operated inn in the Gettysburg area dating to 1757. Rooms are decorated with antiques and have full private bathrooms. Free breakfast. The Inn is on The Confederate Retreat from Gettysburg, July 4, 1863, and was used as a Civil War Hospital, Colonial Meeting House, Stagecoach Stop and as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
- Hilton Garden Inn Gettysburg, 1061 York St, ☎ .
- James Gettys Hotel, 27 Chambersburg Street (One half block west of downtown Lincoln Square), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM — 8PM, check-out: 11AM. An elegant 12 room suite hotel in historic downtown Gettysburg. Every suite is individually styled and has kitchenette, bedroom and private bath. Home baked continental breakfast served in room, free on-site private parking $140-$250.
- Wyndham Gettysburg, 95 Presidential Circle (US 15 & US 30 at Gateway Gettysburg), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. Upscale hotel with fitness center, business center, 1863 Restaurant, and within walking distance of Gateway Theaters. $99 — $199.
- Bluebrick Place, 18 North Washington St (one block W of square, across from 7-eleven), ☎ . Check-in: Su after 2PM, check-out: Su by 11AM. A vacation rental for two. S modernized room with fully equipped kitchen, eating area and sleeping accommodations.
- Farm at Red Bridge, 785 Pumping Station Road, ☎ . Historic 60-acre farm just south of the Gettysburg National Military Park. The four bedroom farmhouse is a vacation rental. $300-400.
There are seven campgrounds in Gettysburg: Artillery Ridge Campground, Drummer Boy Campground, Gettysburg Campground, Gettysburg KOA, Round Top Campground, Granite Hill Campground, Gettysburg Battlefield Resort (Membership)
Hiking, camping, and grilling can be done at nearby Caledonia State Park, located approximately 25 miles west of Gettysburg on US Rt 30. Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve in nearby Fairfield, Pa., has more than 600 acres and miles of trails for hiking as well.
Gettysburg is very safe. However, it can get very crowded during the summer, and especially on summer weekends. If large crowds are not pleasing to you, especially avoid the anniversary dates of July 1-3.
The best time to see Gettysburg is year round. There is something to do for everyone. The Spring brings the Apple Blossoms to the area's orchards and is fantastic for the golf enthusiast with over a dozen courses nearby. Summer is hot and crowded with families although mid-week is still comfortable for sightseeing. The Fall brings Apple Harvests and beautiful changing of the leaves, while Winter boasts sweeping vistas and great skiing and snow boarding in Fairfield, PA, only 8 miles west of Gettysburg on PA Route 116.
Nearby destinations suitable for day trips include:
- Harrisburg — Explore the Capital of PA.
- Hershey (Pennsylvania) — Explore chocolate country.
- Lancaster (Pennsylvania) — Explore Amish country.
- York (Pennsylvania) — Explore Central PA country.
|Routes through Gettysburg National Military Park|
|Pittsburgh ← Chambersburg ←||W E||→ York → Lancaster|