Around the world, the name “Gettysburg” stands out among the places and moments in history that helped shape the future of the United States. On the hallowed grounds surrounding this small Pennsylvania town, thousands of men lost their lives in just three days of fighting, but as importantly, Gettysburg became the national podium for the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, to deliver what would later help secure his own place in history.
But today, more than 154 years after the cannon smoke has cleared from the battlegrounds, Gettysburg is a thriving destination welcoming visitors from around the world. Not only are visitors treated to a glimpse of where history was made, but there’s also an abundance of cultural, recreational and culinary experiences rarely found in a town of Gettysburg’s size – just 8,000 people.
Now that we’ve got your attention, here’s how to make the most of your time in Gettysburg, PA.
Gettysburg National Military Park stands as a reminder of the most tragic battle of the American Civil War. More than 1,300 monuments and markers represent the bravery and sacrifice made by the nearly 170,000 soldiers who showed up on Gettysburg’s doorstep in July 1863. Visitors tour the battlefield by horseback, bicycle, bus, and automobile, watching as history comes to life before their eyes. Museums around the town engage visitors with hands-on exhibits, state-of-the-art technology, living history demonstrations, and touch-and-feel artifacts.
trivago hotel pick: Gettysburg Hotel
Stay close to the action of the town’s past at the Gettysburg Hotel. Established all the way back in 1797, this historic hotel is only a quarter of a mile away from the Battlefield and 1.5 miles from the Gettysburg National Military Park. trivago users are big fans of the summertime rooftop pool, private dining in the hotel vault as well as suites with Jacuzzi tubs.See hotel on trivago »
Soldiers’ National Cemetery, one of the United States’ first national cemeteries, is the final resting place for 3,500 Union soldiers – just a portion of the men killed in Gettysburg during that summer battle. Its peaceful, somber reflection helps put Lincoln’s short, but immortal speech, the Gettysburg Address, delivered on that very ground, into the perfect symbol of healing.
In the town of Gettysburg itself, a thriving culture is abloom – perfectly blending the community’s rich history with modern day restaurants, shopping, art galleries and museums. Tours of visitors from near and far make their way down the historic streets and alleyways of Gettysburg during the day listening to stories of heroic civilians and a horrific aftermath, while ghost tours guided by candlelight tell haunted tales throughout the evening.
The Dobbin House Tavern, a visitor-favorite for four decades, serves up a traditional Colonial menu while Fidler & Company Craft Kitchen and Food 101 bring farm fresh ingredients to a variety of American dishes.
Lincoln Square in Downtown Gettysburg is the hub of the growing culinary scene with many great restaurants, historic taverns, cafes, and wineries. Chefs and restaurant owners, many with roots around the world, are designing dishes that put the agricultural scene in Gettysburg’s countryside at center stage.
Food tours navigate visitors around Gettysburg sharing both delicious cuisine and anecdotes from the town’s civilians during the battle. Stops include historical dining, ethnic dishes, and modern fare.
In the fields beyond Gettysburg’s historic battlefield lies 20,000 acres of apple trees – the heart of the Pennsylvania Fruit Belt. Here, farmers, winemakers, and cider makers harvest the fruits of the field to offer an emerging craft beverage scene and farm-to-table experience, as well as provide visitors with an up-close look at beautiful blossoming orchards, markets brimming with fresh produce and food events such as the National Apple Harvest every October.
Visitors interact with America’s heritage through overnight stays in historic homes and buildings – many used as Civil War field hospitals following the battle. Even a 130-year-old school stands tall at the west side of town as a remodeled, upscale boutique hotel.
trivago hotel pick: Federal Pointe Inn
One such example is the 130-year-old Meade School which now has been re-outfitted as the Federal Pointe Inn. Under the grandeur of 12-foot ceilings, the Innkeepers Pete and Liz Monahan honor this 19th-century establishment’s place in Gettysburg municipal history. Two Queen rooms and suites are perfect for families of four while afternoon tea and scones sweeten the deal.See hotel on trivago »
History truly is everywhere in Gettysburg, from the majestic battlefield to the center of town and into the inns, taverns, and restaurants that fuse history with great hospitality.
Indeed, it was that epic battle in 1863 that changed the course of history – not only in Gettysburg but for the United States. It was also an event that altered the future of Gettysburg from a thriving carriage-making town to a place where visitors from around the world would come and learn, reflect and pay respects to the thousands of soldiers who fought on this farmland — soldiers who “gave the last full measure of devotion,” as Lincoln so eloquently put it on that November day just four months after the battle swept through this town.
For more on Gettysburg, the surrounding countryside and the array of experiences for visitors throughout the year, visit www.DestinationGettysburg.com.
Articles photos courtesy of Destination Gettysburg.