Since it’s my hometown, lots of people ask me, is Gettysburg worth visiting?
If you enjoy history, nature, brick-lined streets with pubs and restaurants and unique museums and shops, then Gettysburg might be worth a visit for you.
This small Pennsylvania town of less than 8,000 residents draws more than a million people each year — and the battlefield is not its only attraction.
So, if you’re thinking about visiting this historic small town, here is some information to help you decide if Gettysburg is worth visiting.
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Is Gettysburg Is Worth Visiting?
Yes, Gettysburg is worth visiting, not only for the battlefield that made it famous but for the bountiful agricultural area that surrounds it and the charm of the town itself.
Even if you’re not into history, you’ll find something in Gettysburg to do and enjoy.
In fact, even if you’re just “along for the ride” to this historic small town in Pennsylvania, you’ll discover a variety of activities that will help you answer the question, Is Gettysburg worth visiting?
Nine things that Make Gettysburg Worth A Visit
Still on the fence about visiting Gettysburg? Here are nine reasons why Gettysburg is worth visiting.
Whether you’re traveling alone, with a partner, or with your entire family — this small town serves up a wide range of things to see, do and experience.
1. The Battlefield And Monuments For Nature And Art Lovers
You don’t have to be a student of history to enjoy the scenic Gettysburg National Military Park battlefield. No matter what route you choose, you’ll find winding roads through wooded landscapes and gently rolling hills.
Nature is bountiful, and so is the wildlife. Don’t be surprised if you see deer, squirrels, racoons, possums and maybe even an occasional fox.
There are 1,300 monuments located within the 6,000-acre Gettysburg National Park—and many of them are stunning works of art. You can drive through and see them while moving or get out of your car and take a look up close.
You won’t believe the detail on these monuments that make a drive through the Gettysburg battlefield worth every minute.
A few that you shouldn’t miss are the spectacular Virginia Monument on Confederate Avenue, the Eternal Peace Light Memorial on Mummasburg Road, and the Pennsylvania Monument, which is the largest on the battlefield and has an upper viewing area.
Pro Tip: If you’re a history buff, you can hire a licensed guide to ride along in your car. You can also tour the battlefield by bike, horseback, carriage and Segway. If you’d rather explore at your on pace, you can purchase a self-guided tour.
2. Agriculture: Crop Hop Farm and Market Trail
Most people don’t know that Adams County, where Gettysburg is the county seat, is the 4th largest apple producing county in the country. Visitors can enjoy the bountiful harvest at the National Apple Harvest Festival that takes place the first two weekends in October.
To add to the agricultural fun, the county has developed a Crop Hop passport that lists a wide variety of stops where you can get your passport stamped. Prizes are given for those who visit 3, 10 or 20 of the sites on the trail.
But the agricultural opportunities don’t end there. In the area surrounding Gettysburg you can try your hand at “goat yoga” or take your kids to the “Land of Little Horses.” There are also a multitude of other agricultural places to visit including butchers, greenhouses, country markets and even an herb farm.
In the spring and summer you can pick fresh fruit like strawberries and blueberries. In the fall, take a selfie in a pumpkin patch or try your hand at a corn maze or hay ride.
Don’t overlook these wonderful (and delicious) opportunities—and you will see why Gettysburg is worth visiting.
Local Tip: Visit The Historic Round Barn
If you want to mix history with your outing, check out the Gettysburg Round Barn, one of only a few such architectural works of art left in the entire country.
Built in 1914, the Round Barn has fresh fruit, vegetables, antiques, hanging baskets, aprons, cookbooks, honey, handmade crafts and specialty food items.
It is truly a destination all by itself!
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3. Adams County ‘Pour Tour’
Here’s another activity that may help you answer the questions, Is Gettysburg worth visiting?
Even if your main focus is Civil War history, you’re likely to get thirsty along the way.
Adams County has a wide variety of quality hand-crafted beverages like Mead, Spirits, Cider, Beer and Wine.
There are downtown tasting rooms that you can walk to or take a drive into the countryside and enjoy the serenity of the rural landscape.
If you really want to experiment, you should grab a passport so you can collect digital stamps from the places you visit along the trail. Prizes are awarded at the 5, 12 and 20 stamp level. Once 30 stamps are collected, you will be entered to win a getaway trip to Gettysburg.
What could be better than mixing history with a refreshing spirit or hand-crafted beer? You can be sure to do that at places like Battlefield Brew Works, a brewery located in a (haunted) barn that was used as a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg.
History is definitely on tap here—and so are the “spirits.”
There really is nowhere else in the world where you can experience so much history while enjoying good food and drink.
4. Is Gettysburg Worth Visiting For The Shopping?
Downtown Gettysburg is home to a wide variety of shops, from women’s boutiques to gift shops. You’ll also find antiques, candy, soaps, cigars, second-hand shops, art studios and comics.
One of my favorite places to shop in Gettysburg is the Antique Center at 30 Baltimore Street. It’s fun just to browse through their books and look at the numerous Civil War-related items.
Another local favorite is Lark Gifts, which is tucked into the northwest quadrant of Lincoln Square, as well as A & A Village Treasures at 53 Chambersburg Street. Both of these stores have extra special events on the “First Friday” of every month.
If it’s historical items you’re looking for then, The Horse Soldier on Baltimore Street is the place you want to go. You can shop or just browse. Either way, it’s entertaining!
5. Dining In Gettysburg Makes It Worth A Visit
Of course, after exploring Gettysburg all day, you’ll need a place to sit down and refuel. No matter what your preference, you should be able to find something in Gettysburg to suit your needs.
Just like any other town or city, there are plenty of pubs, restaurants, pizza shops and bars—but Gettysburg also offers one-of-a-kind dining experiences that you can’t find anywhere else.
For instance, you can eat at the beautiful Dobbin House Tavern which serves up plenty of history with dinner. Built in 1776, this beautiful stone structure is the oldest building in Gettysburg.
Owned by the Rev. Alexander Dobbin, it was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad as well as a field hospital during and after the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Dobbin House offers both fine dining and lighter fare at their Springhouse downstairs.
Another downtown Gettysburg restaurant that is one-of-a-kind is the Farnsworth House. It was also used as a Civil War hospital after the Battle of Gettysburg, and now serves as a restaurant, pub, B&B Inn — and the site of ghost tours.
Pro Tip: If you’re the type of person that enjoys sampling a variety of food from the places you visit, then don’t miss out on the Gettysburg Food Tour.
6. Ghost Hunting In Haunted Gettysburg
Speaking of “spirits,” some people come to Gettysburg for the paranormal activity that is so well documented that Gettysburg has been called the most haunted town in the United States.
Is Gettysburg worth visiting for its ghost hunting tours? Yes!
One place that is a favorite “haunt” for local is the Sachs Covered Bridge, which is considered one of the most haunted bridges in America!
Another one of the spookiest places in Gettysburg is the Daniel Lady Farm. (It was used as a Civil War hospital and there are blood stains on the floor in the house… lots of them).
Want to sleep in a haunted hotel or haunted Bed and Breakfast? Gettysburg has plenty of spooky places to spend the night.
7. Visit the Gettysburg National Park Visitor Center
Not only can you look at artifacts and the museum at the Gettysburg Visitor Center, you can also pick up maps decide what you’d most like to see during your visit.
The Gettysburg Visitor Center also has a large gift shop with thousands of books for sale.
(If you love history and love reading, the book store alone is enough to make Gettysburg worth visiting).
8. Gettysburg Is Close To Everything
If you are traveling a long distance and want a nice relaxing home base for exploring other areas of the East Coast, Gettysburg is the perfect destination.
Because it is less than four hours to Manhattan, three hours to Philadelphia and about 90 minutes to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Gettysburg is a great place to book a rental.
9. Gettysburg Is Worth A Visit In Every Season
People often ask is Gettysburg worth visiting in the winter?
The answer is, yes, Gettysburg is worth visiting any time of year, including the winter.
Believe it or not, there is a ski and tubing slope within 10 miles of Gettysburg, called Liberty Mountain, so winter is a great time to visit Gettysburg. And the small town of Fairfield, which you pass on your way, has some fabulous restaurants.
Gettysburg makes a charming holiday town to visit during the holidays and is even the main character in a film called A Gettysburg Christmas that you can watch on the big screen.
Every season offers something different so the best time to visit Gettysburg depends on your interests and likes.
What Is Gettysburg Known For?
If you’re asking yourself is Gettysburg worth visiting even if I don’t know anything about the Civil War, the answer is yes.
You don’t have to learn everything about the three-day battle, but the history that took place in the town itself is fascinating.
For a quick history lesson, Gettysburg is known for being the site of a 3-day battle in 1863 that left more than 50,000 casualties.
The battle raged on July 1, 2 and 3 in the town and across the farms and fields surrounding the town.
The conflict impacted every citizen, since houses, barns, churches and every available building were used to treat the injured following the deadly battle.
The town also had to handle the influx of thousands of family members who came to the town looking for their loved one, as well as had to deal with burying the dead men and horses.
Many buildings in Gettysburg still show signs of the historic battle, with bullet-riddled walls and artillery shells still visible in the walls.
Two big events in Gettysburg are the Civil War battle reenactments, held on the weekend closest to July 1, 2 and 3; and the annual Remembrance Day events to commemorate Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address anniversary on the weekend closest to November 19.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gettysburg
Is Gettysburg Open?
Yes, Gettysburg is a small town and most of its shops and restaurants stay open year-round, though hours may be shortened. The Gettysburg Battlefield that surrounds the town is also open all year, unless roads are impassable due to weather.
Is Gettysburg A National Park?
Is Gettysburg National Park Free?
Yes, the Gettysburg National Park is free. It’s also massive, so make sure you do some research before your visit.
Is Gettysburg Safe?
Gettysburg is a very walkable town, especially along the main routes. The distance from the downtown shops to the more commercial tourist direct on Steinwher Avenue is about a mile with museums, gift shops and restaurants along the way.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself walking beside someone dressed as a Civil War soldier. (It’s probably a re-enactor — but you never know).
Can you walk the Gettysburg Battlefield?
Yes, you can walk and explore just about everywhere on the Gettysburg Battlefield, including walking across the field where Pickett’s Charge once took place.
This is an awesome experience that you can do on your own, or you can do it on its anniversary on July 3, when thousands of others join in.
For some spooky fun, do a small group ghost investigation!
Is One Day Enough To Spend At Gettysburg?
Even if your interest is very general and you just want to “see the battlefield,” one day probably isn’t enough to do much more than hit the highlights.
The Battle of Gettysburg took place over a three-day period (July 1, 2 and 3 in 1863), and many visitors only go to the locations of the second and third day of fighting, which is Little Round Top and Pickett’s Charge.
How Many Days Do You Need To See Gettysburg?
Deciding how many days you need to see Gettysburg depends on your interests and how deeply you want to delve into the surrounding history.
Of course, those who have an interest in the Battle of Gettysburg will want to spend more time. Many people don’t realize however, that the fighting also took place in the town of Gettysburg itself, so there are lots of interesting museums and tours that feature how the civilians were affected by the battle.
Keep in mind, they suffered severe loss in property damage, as well as having to feed and treat those who were wounded and bury thousands of dead.
In addition to the more famous places, don’t forget to check out the hidden things to do in Gettysburg Pa.
You can find out a lot about the history of the town with a downtown walking tour.
Why Visit Gettysburg?
If you enjoy history, nature, ghost hunting, shopping, hiking, exploring, learning new things and eating, then you have lots of answers to the question, Is Gettysburg worth visiting.
What Is The Closest City To Gettysburg?
Gettysburg is located in southcentral Pennsylvania, just 10 miles from the Maryland line.
However, Gettysburg is in close proximity to New York City (less than 4 hours); Philadelphia (less than 3 hours); Baltimore (90 minutes); and Washington D.C. (90 minutes), all of which have major airports.
Wrap-Up Of Is Gettysburg Worth Visiting?
As you can see, there is a lot more to Gettysburg than just its Civil War history. The nine activities above did not even include the Battlefield itself or the many Museums in Gettysburg that are fun for young and old alike.
Whether you want to spend a Romantic Weekend in the town at a local Bed and Breakfast, explore the surrounding countryside, or walk around downtown Gettysburg, you will find plenty of activities to fill your day.
I hope this post helped answer the question, Is Gettysburg worth visiting? Even though it’s a small town, Gettysburg offers a variety of things to see and do.