Most people think of Gettysburg PA as a summer destination, but if you’re wondering about things to do in Gettysburg in the winter, I have you covered.
As a lifelong resident of this historic town, I know that winter can be a great time to visit Gettysburg — but it also has its drawbacks.
Read on to find out if visiting Gettysburg in the winter lines up with the things you want to see and do.
Don’t Want to Read To The End? Pros and Cons
|Visiting Gettysburg In The Winter PROS
|Visiting Gettysburg In The Winter CONS
|Crowds are thinner. Easier to explore.
|Museums and restaurants may have limited hours
|No leaves on trees helps to see & understand the battlefield
|Weather can be unpredictable
|Hotel rooms are less expensive
|Some NPS Roads could close due to snow.
|More parking spaces available!
Background On Gettysburg
Gettysburg PA is well known for its pivotal role in American history, particularly the famous Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Since the battle took place on July 1, 2 and 3 of 1863, many people like to plan their visit over the Fourth of July holiday.
For one thing, snow can transform the Gettysburg Battlefield into a picturesque wonderland that makes a great place to explore for history buffs, nature lovers, and families alike.
The winter season in Gettysburg has other advantages as well, such as fewer tourists, a more relaxed pace, and cheaper hotel rooms.
Read on to find out the many different things to do in Gettysburg during the winter.
10 Things To Do In Gettysburg In The Winter
1. Historical Tours and Museums
Like History and Travel? Sign up for my newsletter!
With the variety of museums that Gettysburg offers, visitors should be able to find one that aligns with their interest.
From realistic tours that explore what Gettysburg residents endured (like the Jennie Wade House Museum and the Beyond the Battle Museum), to a new museum that tells about the American Experience during World War II, museums are a great way to spend an afternoon in Gettysburg in the winter months.
And don’t forget about the Gettysburg ghost tours! They run all year long.
Pro Tip: For a unique museum that will appeal to all ages (especially cat lovers), check out Civil War Tails.
2. Winter Outdoor Activities
Did you know there is a ski resort with a snow tube run less than 15 miles from Gettysburg?
Liberty Mountain Ski Resort is located in nearby Fairfield, PA, which is a charming small town with its own Civil War history. Even if you have no skiing experience, Liberty Mountain offers both ski and snowboarding lessons and they have a tubing hill for those who just want a quick thrill.
For a little history, as you travel through Fairfield, you will be passing along Robert E. Lee’s retreat route. It is also close to a little-known Civil War battlefield called Monterey Pass.
You can find beautiful walking trails at Monterey Pass that offer stunning views in the winter.
Book A Room at Liberty Mountain Ski Resort
3. Historic Taverns and Restaurants
Dining in Gettysburg during winter presents its own charm, with cozy restaurants and local eateries offering warm, hearty meals that reflect the town’s culinary heritage.
What could be better than eating a dinner in a historic restaurant with flickering candlelight and fireplace? You can do that in Gettysburg in the winter at the Dobbin House Tavern.
Another cozy pub with a fireplace is the Reliance Mine Saloon. (But don’t tell anyone. It’s one of Gettysburg’s best kept secrets).
Whether you’re looking for quick sandwich, pizza, wings, or fine dining, you’ll find a great selection of restaurants that are open all year in Gettysburg.
4. Visit Local Wineries and Breweries
Gettysburg is also home to numerous wineries, breweries, and distilleries that showcase the region’s rich agricultural background.
You can even take a Beer, Wine and History Walking Tour, but don’t forget to bundle up!
If you have some free time during your winter trip to Gettysburg, I recommend taking a drive to explore the beautiful farmland and orchards that surround the historic town.
5. Shop For Unique Gifts and Souvenirs
As a local, I love shopping in Gettysburg! There are so many unique shops with items that you can’t find anywhere else.
For instance, you can get a made-to-order hat at Dirty Billy’s Hats.
Downtown Gettysburg is also home to women’s clothing stores, gift shops, vintage clothing and shoe stores.
It is a vibrant downtown that is great for walking–as long as you’re dressed for the weather!
Another option for shoppers is the Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg, which is located less than 5 miles from town.
Pro Tip: There is no sales tax on clothing in Pennsylvania!
6. Antique Shopping
Hunting for historical treasures is one of my favorite things to do in Gettysburg in the winter.
The Gettysburg Antique Center is located on Baltimore Street and offers a wide assortment of military items from all wars, as well as coins, ladies jewelry and books.
Another great place to spend a winter afternoon in Gettysburg is The Horse Soldier on Steinwehr Avenue. It is part antique store and part museum. You can explore for hours!
Inside you’ll find weapons, books, paintings, original documents and photographs and thousands of other items, all of which are for sale.
7. Winter Festivals and Events
If you’re planning a trip to Gettysburg during the winter months, and think you’ve missed out on all of the special events, you’re wrong.
One of Gettysburg’s most famous events is the Remembrance Day Parade that is held on the Saturday closest to November 19.
If you’re visiting the first weekend in December you can attend Gettysburg’s Christmas Festival, which is a three-day extravaganza that will get you into the holiday spirit.
New Year’s Eve is another fun time to visit Gettysburg. The town usually rings in the New Year by closing down the square and hosting free music and fireworks.
8. Winter Hiking Trails
I’m not really a cold-weather lover, but it is fun to explore the battlefield and hiking trails in Gettysburg in the winter.
Perhaps the best thing about winter walking is NO humidity. Gettysburg is famous for its hot and humid summers, so spending time in Gettysburg during the winter can be refreshing.
Another bonus is no flies and mosquitoes. I’d still be aware of ticks if you visit before a good hard freeze.
The photo below is a walk I did across Pickett’s Charge in winter. Although the snow made walking a little difficult, it was a very fun 4-mile hike.
9. Cozy Bed and Breakfasts
If you just want to relax and enjoy the experience of visiting Gettysburg in the winter, you have plenty of choices in booking a historical bed and breakfast or hotel in Gettysburg.
Some campgrounds also offer small cabins and cottages.
As far as prices, there is no better time to book a room or lodging in Gettysburg.
10. Catch a Show
Gettysburg is home to the Majestic Theater, known as “the greatest small town theater” in the country. First opened in 1925, the theater underwent a complete renovation and reopened in 2005.
It now features two cinemas, as well as a live performance stage. Shows range from comedic acts to country shows, ballet and opera to children’s shows, and everything in between.
In December, the theater hosts the popular Charles Dickens Christmas show “A Christmas Carol.”
Helpful Tips For Visiting Gettysburg In The Winter
- Wear layers of clothes. It’s not unusual for temperatures to be in the teens or 20s early in the morning and warm up into the high 30s and 40s during the day. The colder weather requires appropriate attire, especially for outdoor activities like hiking and touring, to ensure comfort and safety.
- Watch the weather forecast. The weather can be unpredictable, especially in January and February.
- Check the hours of museums and restaurants before your visit. Gettysburg does not close down over the winter, but there are reduced hours at some places.
- If you plan to walk on the battlefield, wear proper footwear, suitable for mud or snow.
Winter Things To Do In Gettysburg Wrap-Up
As you can see, Gettysburg in winter offers a unique experience, very different from the bustling summer months.
The colder winter season transforms the historic town and its surrounding landscapes into a peaceful retreat, ideal for those who appreciate a quieter exploration of history and nature.
The best part about visiting Gettysburg during the winter months is that the crowds are thinner, and you can take your time while exploring, instead of feeling rushed.
However, winter visits to Gettysburg do come with certain considerations. The best time to visit Gettysburg really depends on your own particular tastes,
Overall, a winter trip to Gettysburg is a rewarding journey for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and anyone looking to explore this iconic destination in a tranquil setting.