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Follow the Footsteps of American History with a Summer Day Trip to Gettysburg image
Historic Sites
May 19, 2023
Follow the Footsteps of American History with a Summer Day Trip to Gettysburg

Commemorate 160 Years Since the Battle of Gettysburg

Despite its reputation as a landmark of American history, Gettysburg is much more than a field trip destination. The town transformed a war-torn battlefield into a living monument to the American experiment, ensuring that future generations will continue to learn and grow from the past.

Gettysburg is a two hour and thirty-minute drive, give or take, from Northeastern Pennsylvania. With the 160th anniversary of the pivotal Civil War battle coming up in July, this summer makes the perfect opportunity to visit our neighbors to the south.

Photography by: Destination Gettysburg


A classic summer vacation destination.

There’s a lot of ground to cover in Gettysburg. The National Military Park encompasses the battlefield, cemetery, monuments and historic markers. The Downtown area combines the historic and the modern with shops, restaurants and museums around every corner. The best way to do Gettysburg is by exploring a bit of both.

Photography by: Gettysburg Foundation


Stick to an itinerary.

Getting an early start on the battlefield is essential. If you’re able to cover museums and join a tour before the afternoon crowd arrives, you’ll be in good shape for the rest of your day.

After a pitstop for some caffeine and a bagel, The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center is the place to kick things off. With multiple exhibits, a film and an authentic Cyclorama experience, you’ll get an overview of the history you’re about to experience firsthand.

Photography by: Gettysburg Foundation


Who said history is just for adults?

If you’re visiting with smaller historians, you might opt for the Children of Gettysburg 1863 Museum. Filled with interactive exhibits and hands-on history, this museum puts complex topics into perspective for young minds. It’s only a five-minute drive from the Military Park and Visitor Center, so you can still easily access tours after your time in the museum.

Photography by: Destination Gettysburg


Drive, cycle or walk through the past.

Speaking of tours, Gettysburg has enough options to make your head spin. Don’t stress. If you’re already at the Visitor Center, you’re in the right spot to embark on a Licensed Battlefield Tour. All you have to do is choose your method of transportation.

A classic bus tour takes larger groups on a 2-hour ride through the most legendary locations. Car tours are a bit more personalized, giving you the opportunity to ride with a guide in your vehicle. This option is ideal for those interested in specific locations or aspects of history. And for those who prefer a bit of outdoor action, bicycle tours led by Gettysbike allow you to see the battlefield up close and personal.

Be sure to check tour durations before making your decision. Most run an average of two hours, but some, like the Historian Bike Tour, last up to seven.

Photography by: Destination Gettysburg


Tour on your own time.

More independent day trippers can experience Gettysburg at their own pace with a self-guided driving tour. Download the official app, complete with an interactive GPS map and audio narration, and see the sights on your own time. This tour includes 22 locations, and because it’s self-guided, you can spend as much or as little time as you want at each stop.

Photography by: Destination Gettysburg


Dine & shop your way around town.

With so many sights to see, you could easily spend a whole day in the Military Park alone. But when the hunger starts to creep in, it’s time to hit the town. Plenty of restaurants, especially casual breweries, pubs and burger joints, are only a short drive from the battlefield. Even a quick walk around Lincoln Square presents a variety of cuisines and dining options.

And it’s not a road trip without a few souvenirs to prove you were there. The Museum Book Store & Gift Shop has all the Gettysburg books, t-shirts and magnets you could need. If you’re a collector, a military antique store is right up your alley. And for something a bit more outside-the-box, uniquely-themed stores and sweet shops offer a quirkier side of Gettysburg.

Photography by: Destination Gettysburg


Meet Gettysburg’s permanent residents.

Day trips typically end with an ice cream stop or a scenic sunset view, but when night falls in Gettysburg, there is one more tour opportunity to cap off your visit. Hear spooky stories and visit eerie locations on a Gettysburg Ghost Tour.

Not only will you have some scares (and a few laughs), but you’ll leave with an even deeper understanding of the people and places that made Gettysburg what it is today. Believe it or not, a ghost tour might be the thing to make you an annual Gettysburg visitor.

If you want to get to know Gettysburg, start planning your trip with the help of Destination Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Foundation. Make your itinerary, book your tickets and hit the road.

* Featured Image (top) courtesy of Destination Gettysburg.