Gettysburg is a popular tourist destination, so many visitors ask, “when is the best time to visit the Gettysburg Battlefield?”
The short answer is that there is no one perfect time to visit Gettysburg. Every season has its own unique charms, attractions — and perhaps a few drawbacks. However, if you are looking for the best combination of weather and events, here is a guide to the best times to visit Gettysburg from a local resident.
Spring In Gettysburg
Late March through May is one of the best times to visit the Gettysburg battlefield because of the beauty and majesty of spring in southcentral Pennsylvania. Pear trees are planted on most of downtown Gettysburg’s sidewalks, and the beauty of the white flowery blooms is truly stunning.
Lincoln Square in downtown Gettysburg is also beautifully landscaped with red and white tulips to make a spectacular splash of color.
Of course, the weather is also warming up, with temperatures ranging from the low 50s to high 70s. March is an “iffy” month in Gettysburg that can bring lots of rain and wind. On the other hand, it can be just warm enough to be quite comfortable for sightseeing and exploring.
The area surrounding Gettysburg is often neglected by tourists, but apple, peach and cherry tree orchards spread for miles over rolling hills just north and west of town. When in bloom, the trees provide endless photo opportunities.
As the temperatures rise, hotel room rates begin to climb and the tourist attractions get a bit more crowded, but both are still reasonable in the Spring.
Pro Tip: The weather can change from day-to-day and from sunup to sundown so pack layers of clothing.
The Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival is a key event in both May and August that takes place at the Granite Hill Campground. Some of the biggest names in Bluegrass play over the four-day festival, making these months great times to visit Gettysburg.
Pros of Visiting Gettysburg in the Spring
- The crowds are thinner
- Weather is cooler and scenery is beautiful for photographs
- Hotels are slightly cheaper
Cons of Visiting Gettysburg in the Spring
- The weather is unpredictable and can be quite chilly
Summer Is One Of The Best Times To Visit Gettysburg
Some people think the summer months are the best times to visit the Gettysburg battlefield for a number of reasons.
Peak tourist season in Gettysburg runs June, July and August as visitors take advantage of the warmer weather and a wide array of different activities. The anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg is July 1, 2 and 3 (1863) so the Fourth of July holiday is one of the busiest and most crowded weekends.
Temperatures range from the low 60s to mid-80s and can go well up into the 90s in July and the first part of August.
Many visitors are not aware of how hot and humid that Gettysburg can be. The high humidity can make it very uncomfortable for those who do not tolerate heat well (like me), so make sure you stay hydrated and wear comfortable, light clothing.
For those who don’t mind crowds and warm weather, the summer months are jam-packed with special events and opportunities to witness history.
To commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, a Civil War re-enactment is held at the Daniel Lady Farm each year. This event features unique items for sale, tours of a the Lady house and barn which were used as Civil War hospitals, and lots of demonstrations.
With the warm weather extending right into the evening, the summer months are a great time to line up a ghost tour.
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As far as hotels, you’ll want to make your reservations well advance—especially if you want to visit Gettysburg the first week in July. Expect to pay a little more for hotels for this peak season as well.
Pros of Visiting Gettysburg in the Summer
- The annual Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment which draws hundreds of re-enactors
- Lots of living history events through the National Park Service
- Weather is warm
Cons of Visiting Gettysburg in the Spring
- Weather may be “too” warm
- More crowded than at other times of the year
- Hotel prices are at their peak
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Fall Can Be The Best Time To Visit Gettysburg
My personal favorite time to visit the Gettysburg Battlefield is the fall months of September, October or November. The high humidity is gone by this time, and since kids are back in school, the crowds dwindle a bit as well.
The overall weather for exploring is spectacular with temperatures in the high 50s to low 70s and brilliant blue skies. You can’t beat the carnival of color the trees display as they their leaves turn gold, yellow and red in the late fall.
These cooler days make it a great time to book a Gettysburg horseback tour of the battlefield or take a carriage ride through downtown Gettysburg.
Of course, Halloween falls into this time of year and there are plenty of haunted sites to visit in Gettysburg. In fact, it’s considered one of the most haunted places in the United States!
In addition, Fall is harvest time. You can find everything from fresh apples, apple cider, pumpkins, wine and farmers markets complete with home-baked items. Many local orchards also allow you to pick your own.
Pros of Visiting Gettysburg in the Fall
- Weather is cool and great for outdoor exploring
- Changing of the leaves makes spectacular vistas
- Less crowded than summer months
- Harvest time!
Cons of Visiting Gettysburg in the Fall
- You miss the annual re-enactment
Some Say Winter Is The Best Time To Visit Gettysburg
If you want to plan a visit for December, January or February you will definitely find that crowds are thinner and prices are lower. Gettysburg still makes a wonderful getaway if you don’t mind cold weather.
You’ll always find an open door at the local pubs and bars to warm up with a hot toddy. There are plenty of other places to get warm in downtown Gettysburg as well, from shops and coffee houses to a movie theater and restaurants .
In some ways, December is one of the best times of year to visit Gettysburg. The shops offer many one-of-a-kind items that you won’t find anywhere else. And the battlefield appears peaceful and serene when it lies under a blanket of snow.
If you’re looking for a special event, plan to visit Gettysburg the first weekend in December for the Gettysburg Christmas Festival.
This unique holiday weekend features promotions, games, entertainment, activities and lots of holiday cheer, all wrapped up with Gettysburg’s special small-town charm.
If you enjoy being outside during the winter months, then you probably like to ski. You’re in luck because Liberty Mount Resort is less than 10 miles away. They offer skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing slopes.
Pros of Visiting Gettysburg in the Winter
- You will have a lot of attractions practically to yourself
- Lowest hotel rates
- Skiing and tubing close by
- Christmas in Gettysburg! It only happens once a year!
Cons of Visiting Gettysburg in the Winter
- Cold weather with a chance of snowy days.
The annual Remembrance Day Parade is held in November in Gettysburg.
My Absolute Favorite Time To Visit Gettysburg
In my opinion, the best time to visit Gettysburg is the weekend that falls nearest to November 19. This is called “Remembrance Day Weekend,” which commemorates Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and features a magnificent Remembrance Day Parade of re-enactors—both civilian and military—in their Civil War attire.
There are soldiers, horses, women in gowns, children, shopkeepers, preachers, etc. It is truly a sight to see.
Though you may have to brave cold weather, there are many special events that weekend. The temperatures can range from cold and sleeting rain to mild temperatures in the 50s. (The weather in November in Gettysburg is unpredictable as the seasons change).
ring plenty of warm clothes and sip on some hot cider that is readily sold along the street.
Wrap-Up Of The Best Time To Visit Gettysburg
Gettysburg and the surrounding area is a great place to visit any time of year, but each season has its own unique charm.
Keep in mind that Gettysburg is a small town of less than 8,000 residents that draws more than a million visitors each year. If you are looking for an interesting place to visit in Pennsylvania, Gettysburg is worth your time no matter what season it is.
The best time to visit Gettysburg really depends on your likes and expectations. No matter when you visit, you’ll experience a charming historical town with lots to offer.