Things To Do in Gettysburg: The Battle and Beyond


 

If you’re fascinated by American history, there’s no better destination than Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

More than 160 years since the Battle of Gettysburg ended, this picturesque town with one monumental story continues to inspire millions of visitors each year. While best known as the site of the Civil War’s most pivotal battle and where President Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address, there’s so much more to discover here beyond its rich history.

In Gettysburg, you’ll also find a charming downtown, unique shops, delectable dining, and rolling farmland just waiting to be explored. From wandering hallowed battlefields, to sipping along the Adams County Pour Tour, and even snuggling baby goats – there’s something here to delight every traveler. 

Let’s explore the best things to do, where to shop, and where to stay in this captivating corner of the country. 

The Charm of Downtown Gettysburg

Shops at Lincoln Square in Gettysburg. Summer day, clear sky.

Lincoln Square – Gettysburg, PA | Photo: Better Living

Our Gettysburg adventure begins at Lincoln Square, the heart of the historic district. With metered parking readily available, we set off on foot to explore the inviting storefronts and stately brick buildings that seemed to transport us back in time.

The interior of retail store "LARK". The store has a rustic, wooden interior with exposed beams on the ceiling. The shop features a wide variety of merchandise displayed on wooden tables and shelves, including plants, figurines, jewelry, candles, soaps, and other decorative items. A large illuminated "LARK" sign is visible on the back wall. The overall atmosphere seems cozy and inviting, with warm lighting and an abundance of greenery from the many potted plants throughout the store. The wooden floors and natural materials used in the displays contribute to the shop's charming, bohemian aesthetic.The interior of retail store "LARK". The store has a rustic, wooden interior with exposed beams on the ceiling. The shop features a wide variety of merchandise displayed on wooden tables and shelves, including plants, figurines, jewelry, candles, soaps, and other decorative items. A large illuminated "LARK" sign is visible on the back wall. The overall atmosphere seems cozy and inviting, with warm lighting and an abundance of greenery from the many potted plants throughout the store. The wooden floors and natural materials used in the displays contribute to the shop's charming, bohemian aesthetic.

Lark Gifts – Gettysburg, PA | Photo: Better Living

Lark Gifts, a modern marketplace featuring a curated collection of handmade, design-oriented pieces, was our first stop. From home decor and jewelry to clothing and unique gifts, the shop’s commitment to supporting small businesses and offering one-of-a-kind items made browsing a delightful experience.

The image shows an interior view of a charming vintage-style café. The café features a beautifully intricate ceiling with a colorful, geometric pattern, and two elegant stained-glass chandeliers hanging from above. The floor is a classic black and white checkered design. The seating area includes black wrought iron chairs and small wooden tables, adding to the old-fashioned aesthetic. The counter area displays a variety of sweets, pastries, and other treats, with antique wooden cabinets and stained-glass panels enhancing the nostalgic atmosphere. A touch of modernity is seen with the presence of various products and menus behind the counter.The image shows an interior view of a charming vintage-style café. The café features a beautifully intricate ceiling with a colorful, geometric pattern, and two elegant stained-glass chandeliers hanging from above. The floor is a classic black and white checkered design. The seating area includes black wrought iron chairs and small wooden tables, adding to the old-fashioned aesthetic. The counter area displays a variety of sweets, pastries, and other treats, with antique wooden cabinets and stained-glass panels enhancing the nostalgic atmosphere. A touch of modernity is seen with the presence of various products and menus behind the counter.

Gettysburg Chocolate Market | Photo: Better Living

Next, we indulged our sweet tooth at the charming Gettysburg Chocolate Market, which felt like stepping into a vintage Victorian soda shop. Sampling decadent chocolates and sipping on lattes, we admired the market’s antique soda bar and connection to the neighboring Christmas Haus, where it’s Christmas everyday.

While exploring downtown, we loved the friendly atmosphere and the obvious pride the community takes in its history and hospitality.

Step Back in Time at the Gettysburg National Military Park and Museum.

A bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln seated on a stone bench, holding a book on his lap, located in a serene outdoor setting. The statue is surrounded by lush green grass and trees, with large rocks positioned nearby on a wet stone pathway, adding to the tranquil ambiance.A bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln seated on a stone bench, holding a book on his lap, located in a serene outdoor setting. The statue is surrounded by lush green grass and trees, with large rocks positioned nearby on a wet stone pathway, adding to the tranquil ambiance.

A bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln outside of the Gettysburg National Military Park and Museum | Photo: Better Living

No visit to Gettysburg is complete without immersing yourself in its history, and the Gettysburg National Military Park and Museum is the perfect place to start. This sprawling complex brings the Battle of Gettysburg to life through engaging exhibits, artifacts, and experiences.

The theater at Gettysburg National Military Park and Museum | Photo: Better Living

Begin your journey with the soul-stirring, 20-minute film “A New Birth of Freedom” that sets the stage for the Civil War and Gettysburg’s climactic battle. From there, you’ll be ushered into the mesmerizing Gettysburg Cyclorama, where a massive 360-degree oil painting longer than a football field depicts the famous Pickett’s Charge in vivid detail. Dramatic narration and lighting make this 1884 masterpiece truly come alive.

Next, dive into the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War, home to over 1,000 authentic artifacts that tell the story of this defining conflict. From the humblest soldier’s belongings to the weapons that shaped the war, each piece adds depth and dimension to Gettysburg’s history.

Explore Gettysburg National Military Park

John Buford and John Reynolds memorials at Gettysburg National Military Park | Photo: Better Living

Once you’ve visited the museum, it’s time to venture onto the battlefield itself. Spanning over 6,000 acres where approximately 165,000 soldiers clashed, Gettysburg National Military Park is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made here.

Major General Henry Slocum Memorial on Stevens Knoll Major General Henry Slocum Memorial on Stevens Knoll

Major General Henry Slocum Memorial on Stevens Knoll | Photo: Better Living

Taking the self-guided auto tour is an excellent way to grasp the gravity and significance of what happened here. The 24-mile route includes 16 stops that will guide you through the most important sites within the park.

The Eternal Light Peace Memorial | Photo: Better Living

As you make your way through the tour, you’ll come across places like The Eternal Light Peace Memorial, where an ever-burning flame serves as a somber reminder of the sacrifices made on this battlefield. You’ll also have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the soldiers who fought at Devil’s Den, a rugged area of large boulders where intense fighting took place.

The Pennsylvania Memorial | Photo: Better Living

The Pennsylvania Memorial, the largest monument on the battlefield, is another must-see stop. If you climb the hidden staircase inside, you’ll see a panoramic view of the area, giving you a better understanding of the landscape’s role in the battle. You can also reflect on President Lincoln’s immortal words at the Gettysburg Address Memorial in the heart of Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Overlook History At Seminary Ridge

Seminary Ridge Museum | Photo: Better Living

For a different lens on the Battle of Gettysburg, head to the Seminary Ridge Museum, perched atop the former lookout point used by Brigadier General John Buford. More than just a museum, this hallowed space once served as a Civil War field hospital, its halls filled with hundreds of wounded soldiers.  

As you climb to the building’s cupola, you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the battlefield and beyond, seeing Gettysburg as Buford did in 1863. It’s a poignant reminder of the history that unfolded here, as well as the United Lutheran Seminary’s legacy of faith and service.

The view of the battlefield from the Seminary Ridge cupola | Photo: Better Living

Take your time exploring the exhibits within, which paint a vivid picture of the battle’s harrowing aftermath. Through artifacts, accounts, and interactive displays, the Seminary Ridge Museum brings Gettysburg’s untold stories to life in a truly moving way.

At every turn, Gettysburg’s history comes to life in profound and powerful ways, offering a glimpse into our nation’s past. While the battlefield is the main draw, the town itself is also brimming with charming attractions and experiences that showcase its vibrant present.

Unwind In Style At The Historic Union Hotel

the Union Hotel at night. It is a historic-looking multi-story building with a white facade, arched windows, and a tiled roof. Several cars are parked in front of the hotel, which is illuminated by warm lighting coming from the interiorthe Union Hotel at night. It is a historic-looking multi-story building with a white facade, arched windows, and a tiled roof. Several cars are parked in front of the hotel, which is illuminated by warm lighting coming from the interior

The Union Hotel – Gettysburg, PA | Photo: Better Living

For a stay that’s equal parts luxurious and historic, book a room at The Union Hotel. This beautifully restored 200-year-old building has served many roles, from Civil War hospital to art gallery, but has been reborn as Gettysburg’s premier boutique hotel.

a closer look inside a room at the Union Hotel. A small bronze statue of Abe Lincoln is the focal point, with a room key labeled "Union 201 Hotel" in the foreground. Green velvet armchairs and a small wooden table can be seen in the background, giving the space an elegant, classic feel.a closer look inside a room at the Union Hotel. A small bronze statue of Abe Lincoln is the focal point, with a room key labeled "Union 201 Hotel" in the foreground. Green velvet armchairs and a small wooden table can be seen in the background, giving the space an elegant, classic feel.

The Abraham Lincoln Suite at The Union Hotel | Photo: Better Living

Each of the 12 gorgeously appointed suites offers distinctive style, modern amenities, and unparalleled convenience in the heart of downtown.

We stayed in The Abraham Lincoln Suite, a 500-square-foot room with a spacious living area, king bedroom, and spa-like bathroom complete with heated floors and a dreamy freestanding tub.

The king bedroom area in the Lincoln suite at the Union Hotel. The room has hardwood floors, a canopy bed with yellow and black patterned bedding, colorful throw pillows, and a seating area with armchairs and ottomans in various prints. French doors lead to an adjoining room.The king bedroom area in the Lincoln suite at the Union Hotel. The room has hardwood floors, a canopy bed with yellow and black patterned bedding, colorful throw pillows, and a seating area with armchairs and ottomans in various prints. French doors lead to an adjoining room.

The king bedroom in the Lincoln suite at Union Hotel | Photo: Better Living

We loved the special touches, from the decadent Beekman 1802 toiletries to the suite’s own Nespresso machine and fully-stocked kitchenette. Thoughtful extras like cozy Brooklinen sheets, ambient noise machines, and smart TVs make the Union Hotel feel like a true home away from home.

But the real star is the hotel’s unbeatable location. Mere steps from downtown’s shops, restaurants, and attractions, the Union Hotel puts the best of Gettysburg right outside your door.

And with perks like complimentary on-site parking and a delightful breakfast basket delivered each day, you may never want to leave.

Savor Creative Cuisine at Sign of The Buck

Sign of the Buck – Gettysburg, PA | Photo: Better Living

Hungry? You’re in luck, because Gettysburg’s food scene is positively booming. For an unforgettable meal, head to Sign of the Buck, the Union Hotel’s connected restaurant that transports diners with elevated New American fare and craft cocktails.

The name may harken back to an 1804 tavern, but the cuisine is decidedly modern, drawing inspiration from French traditions and the bounty of local farms. Dive into decadent starters like Crab & Hashbrown Royale with caviar and white cheddar, or warm up with a luxurious French Onion Soup smothered in gruyere.

Mussels & Frites at Sign of the Buck | Photo: Better Living

Dishes like tender venison steak with potato rösti or plump mussels and crispy frites highlight the brasserie’s commitment to fresh, high-quality ingredients. Paired with an inventive cocktail or glass of wine, it’s a meal that you’ll remember long after the last bite.

On weekends, Sign of the Buck’s brunch is not to be missed. Indulge in breakfast classics reimagined, like croque madame or quiche overflowing with local mushrooms and chives. 

Quiche Du Jour at brunch at Sign of the Buck | Photo: Better Living

With its chic ambiance, stellar service, and commitment to sourcing the best local ingredients, Sign of the Buck is quickly establishing itself as a must-visit destination for food lovers in Gettysburg.

Cuddle Up With Cuteness At Gettysburg Goat Yoga

Gettysburg Goat Yoga | Photo: Better Living

For a unique and adorable experience, head to Gettysburg Goat Yoga for a session of stretches, snuggles, and shenanigans.

Located just minutes from downtown on a picturesque countryside farm, owner Meagan offers a one-of-a-kind attraction that combines fitness with furry fun.

Upon arrival, prepare for a cuteness overload as you meet the farm’s herd of friendly goats. These curious creatures are the stars of the show, roaming freely among yogis during class and often striking silly poses of their own. 

Even if you’re new to yoga, the expert instructors make the experience accessible and enjoyable for all. The focus is on having fun and connecting with these delightful animals, so don’t worry if your poses aren’t perfect. The goats certainly won’t judge!

Cuddle baby goats at Gettysburg Goat Yoga | Photo: Better Living

During our visit, although no yoga classes were scheduled, we had the opportunity to enjoy a private, 30-minute baby goat cuddle session. The playful, curious goats were happy to frolic around the farm, be cuddled, and even bottle-fed, providing a therapeutic and joyful experience.

The Suds From the Bucket shop at Gettysburg Goat Yoga | Photo: Better Living

Meagan’s passion for her goats and commitment to creating a fun, memorable experience for visitors was evident in every aspect of our visit. We also learned that the goats’ milk is used to create luxurious soaps and lotions under the brand Suds From the Bucket. There’s even a self-serve, tiny farm shop onsite.

Definitely make some time to visit Gettysburg Goat Yoga to get a dose of nature, make some furry friends, and leave with a smile that will last all day.

Sip Your Way Along The Adams County Pour Tour 

Mason Dixon Distillery | Photo: Better Living

After all this history, you’ve earned a drink (or two). Luckily, Gettysburg is the heart of the Adams County Pour Tour, a craft beverage trail featuring over a dozen breweries, wineries, distilleries, and cideries.

Sign up for the free digital passport, then sip your way through downtown Gettysburg’s many tasting rooms. Appalachian Brewing Co. pairs perfectly poured pints with juicy burgers, while Mason Dixon Distillery serves up creative cocktails in a hip, industrial space. 

Dinner and drinks at Appalachian Brewing Co. | Photo: Better Living

Craving something different? Try a crisp cider at Reid’s Winery or a funky experimental pour at Fourscore Beer Co. With so many thirst-quenching stops, you’ll want to pace yourself – or plan for a repeat visit.

No matter your poison, the Pour Tour offers a delicious way to explore the Gettysburg craft beverage scene. So, raise a glass, swap stories with locals, and discover a whole new side to this historic town.

Discover Curiosities At The Museum Of Haunted Objects

The infamous haunted dress and urn at Museum of Haunted Objects | Photo: Better Living

For a glimpse into Gettysburg’s spookier side, make your way to the Museum of Haunted Objects. This quirky collection explores the town’s paranormal past through an array of eerie artifacts, each with its own chilling tale.

Uncover the secrets behind possessed dolls, ghostly photographs, and inexplicable items, carefully researched and curated by the museum’s founders. As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll gain a new appreciation for Gettysburg’s enduring mysteries.

Whether you’re a die-hard ghost hunter or simply curious about the unknown, the Museum of Haunted Objects offers an intriguing peek behind the veil. It’s a testament to the many stories woven into Gettysburg’s rich tapestry.

Dine In Period Style At The Dobbin House Tavern

The Dobbin House Tavern – Gettysburg, PA | Photo: Better Living

For a truly transportive meal, reserve a table at The Dobbin House Tavern, Gettysburg’s oldest building.

Originally built in 1776 by an Irish Reverend, this National Register of Historic Places property has been meticulously maintained as a colonial restaurant and tavern.

The upstairs dining room at Dobbin House | Photo: Better Living

Dine by flickering candlelight as you savor traditional dishes like the house specialty French onion soup, swimming in melted cheese and tender bits of beef. Entrees range from perfectly broiled crab cakes to hearty game pies, each historically inspired and utterly satisfying. The Seafood Isabella was cooked perfectly and loaded with fresh seafood. 

Seafood Isabella. A close-up photograph of a plate of grilled seafood and vegetables. The dish features large shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, and other vegetables, all seasoned with herbs and spices. A lemon wedge is placed on the side for added flavor. The plate is set on a decorative tablecloth, and the background shows part of a glass and another dish, slightly out of focus.Seafood Isabella. A close-up photograph of a plate of grilled seafood and vegetables. The dish features large shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, and other vegetables, all seasoned with herbs and spices. A lemon wedge is placed on the side for added flavor. The plate is set on a decorative tablecloth, and the background shows part of a glass and another dish, slightly out of focus.

Seafood Isabella at Dobbin House | Photo: Better Living

What truly shines is the Dobbin House’s ambiance, which envelops you in the romance of the past. Cozy wooden booths, roaring fireplaces, and period-garbed servers create an immersive experience that’s both comfortable and captivating. 

The legendary pecan pie at Dobbin House | Photo: Better Living

We couldn’t resist ending our meal on a sweet note, and the homemade pecan pie did not disappoint. The flaky crust, gooey filling, and crunchy pecans, topped with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream, was the perfect ending to a truly memorable dining experience. You’ll definitely want to take a slice (or entire pie) to enjoy at home. It’s that good.

Before you leave, be sure to check out the tiny museum dedicated to a small section of the house that was part of the Underground Railroad. It’s a powerful reminder of the many layers of history woven into Gettysburg’s story.

Soak In The Countryside At Historic Round Barn & Thirsty Farmer Brewing 

Historic Round Barn & Farm Market | Photo: Better Living

For a taste of Gettysburg’s bucolic beauty, take a scenic drive to the Historic Round Barn & Farm Market. Built in 1914, this architectural gem is one of the only truly round barns left in the country, surrounded by rolling hills and lush orchards.

Inside the historic Round Barn & Farm Market | Photo: Better Living

Inside, an expansive market brims with just-picked produce, small-batch specialties, and mouthwatering baked goods. Sample heirloom apples, peruse handcrafted gifts, and say hello to their friendly resident farm animals. It’s a delightful slice of Adams County’s rich agricultural legacy.

A craft beer flight at Thirsty Farmer Brew Works | Photo: Better Living

Just across the street, the Thirsty Farmer Brew Works serves up craft beer in a laid-back atmosphere. Grab a pint of small-batch brew made with the farm’s own hops and kick back on the patio. On weekends, live music and food trucks make this the perfect place to spend an afternoon.

Wake Up To History At Best Western Gettysburg

Best Western Gettysburg | Photo: Best Western Gettysburg

For those looking to stay closer to the battlefield, we also recommend the Best Western Gettysburg

This brand-new hotel offers modern amenities and comfortable accommodations, all within walking distance of shops, restaurants, museums, and historic sites on the other side of town. ‘

With its prime location adjacent to the Gettysburg battlefields, the Best Western provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the town’s history while enjoying contemporary comforts.

One of the standout features of the Best Western Gettysburg is its complimentary hot breakfast buffet, served in the third-floor SkyBreakfast room. Guests can enjoy a delicious meal while taking in panoramic views of the battlefield and Pickett’s Charge. It’s a truly memorable way to start the day!

The Allure of Gettysburg: A Destination for Everyone

Lincoln Square – Gettysburg, PA | Photo: Better Living

As we bid farewell to Gettysburg, we reflected on the incredible array of experiences this charming town had offered. From meticulously preserved historical sites and thought-provoking museums to a thriving food and craft beverage scene, there truly is something for everyone.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply seeking a relaxing and enriching getaway, Gettysburg delivers. The town’s warm hospitality, combined with its unique blend of past and present, makes it an ideal destination for couples, families, and solo travelers alike.

Gettysburg seamlessly blends education and entertainment, offering visitors the chance to learn about our nation’s past while enjoying modern comforts and delights. From the engaging exhibits at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum to the hands-on fun of a goat cuddle session at Gettysburg Goat Yoga, every moment is designed to inform, inspire, and delight.

Tips for Planning Your Own Gettysburg Getaway

If our experience has inspired you to plan your own Gettysburg adventure, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your visit:

  1. Allow plenty of time: While it’s possible to see the highlights of Gettysburg in a weekend, we recommend allowing at least three to four days to fully immerse yourself in the town’s history, culture, and natural beauty.
  1. Book accommodations early: Gettysburg is a popular destination, especially during peak travel seasons. To ensure you have your pick of the best hotels and bed and breakfasts, be sure to book your accommodations well in advance.
  1. Take advantage of guided tours: While exploring on your own can be rewarding, consider joining a guided tour of the battlefield or other historic sites. Knowledgeable guides can provide valuable insights and help bring the story of Gettysburg to life in a way that’s both engaging and informative.
  1. Support local businesses: One of the best ways to experience the authentic charm of Gettysburg is to support its many local businesses, from family-owned restaurants and craft breweries to independent shops and galleries. Not only will you be treating yourself to the best the town has to offer, but you’ll also be helping to sustain the community that makes Gettysburg so special.
  1. Leave time for reflection: Gettysburg is a place that demands contemplation and introspection. As you explore its historic sites and monuments, take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made here and the lessons we can learn from this pivotal chapter in our nation’s history.





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