10 Mistakes To Avoid When Visiting Gettysburg Battlefield

As a lifelong resident of this historic town, I love to help those who are visiting Gettysburg Battlefield.

Gettysburg is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, and for good reason. It’s full of history and offers plenty of things to see and do.

However, if you’re not careful, you could easily make some mistakes that will make your trip less pleasant.

Here are 10 of the most common mistakes people make when visiting Gettysburg Battlefield.

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The haunted Sachs Covered Bridge is a favorite for those who are visiting Gettysburg battlefield. Red covered bridge with stone entranceway.
The Sachs Covered Bridge is a favorite FREE (and haunted) destination for tourists visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield.

1. Spending Too Much Money

One of the mistakes that people make when visiting Gettysburg Battlefield is not taking advantage of the numerous free things there are to do around the battlefield and downtown Gettysburg.

From watching the sunset on Little Round Top to climbing an observation tower or visiting a haunted covered bridge, you will find plenty of activities for your entire family to enjoy—without depleting your wallet.

If you need some more hints, check out my post on 15 Free Things To Do In Gettysburg.

Spend your money on the important things you want to see and experience while visiting Gettysburg—and enjoy some of the free things as well.

2. Forgetting to Hydrate When Visiting Gettysburg Battlefield

This is worth mentioning because it’s easy to forget to drink enough water when you’re exploring the Gettysburg battlefield or attending the annual Civil War Battle Reenactment.

Staying hydrated is key to avoiding dehydration and heat exhaustion, either one of which can quickly ruin a vacation.

Everyone these days has their favorite drinking bottle, but I love this Insulated Neoprene bottle for traveling.

It’s a full 64 ounces so you don’t have to keep filling it up AND it has a time marker on the side telling you when to drink.

(It’s also kind of cute).

A cannon ball can be seen above the "C" in Ice cream in this building -- if you know what you're looking for when visiting Gettysburg.
Can you see the cannon ball that remains lodged in the brick exterior of this downtown Gettysburg building? Look below the second window from the right on the second floor, above the “C” in Ice. A hidden gem most people miss when visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield.

3. Missing Out On Hidden Gems

With so much to see and do when visiting Gettysburg battlefield, many visitors tend to head to the well-known attractions and forget to seek out Gettysburg Historical Sites That People Overlook.

Make sure you keep your eyes open for some of the historical items that are hidden in plain sight.

For instance, did you know there is a Sycamore tree along Baltimore street that “witnessed” the Battle of Gettysburg and spread its branches over President Abraham Lincoln when he walked by on his way to deliver the Gettysburg address?

People walk by this piece of living history every day without realizing its significance. (It’s located right in front of Mr. G’s Ice Cream).

Other hidden treasures in Gettysburg include artillery shells sticking out of buildings and bullet pock marks in the bricks that show the severity of the fighting on the streets of downtown Gettysburg.

If you want to know where some of these historic treasures are hidden in plain site, (or you want to share some that you know), put them in the comments.

Downtown Gettysburg square showing the square town clocks with the Gettysburg Hotel and the Pub in the background under a gray sky.
Keep traffic moving when visiting Gettysburg by crossing the streets quickly.

4. Lingering In Crosswalks In Downtown Gettysburg

Gettysburg residents love that people want to visit their historic town, but one mistake people make when visiting downtown Gettysburg is lingering in the cross walks.

Drivers are happy to stop for pedestrians, but be aware that the square fills up quickly with other vehicles. Within seconds, a stoppage in the square brings traffic to a halt in the other three quadrants as well, and quickly spreads for blocks in every direction.

You’ll bring a smile to the faces of drivers if you proceed through the crosswalks quickly.

A group of Civil War reenactors on horseback under a dark, cloudy sky in Gettysburg.
Make sure you dress for any change in the weather when visiting Gettysburg.

5. Wearing The Wrong Footwear

Gettysburg is a great town for walking because you will see so much more on foot than you can from a car.

Avoid wearing heels or other uncomfortable shoes that will leave you sore by the end of the day.

If you’re planning to explore trails on the battlefield, make sure you’re prepared to walk on muddy trails or wet grass.

It’s no fun wearing wet sneakers all day!



6. Not Wearing Layers Or Being Prepared For The Weather

Pennsylvania weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always best to be prepared with layers when visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Even if it’s chilly when you start your day, temperatures rise significantly throughout the afternoon.

For those who have never visited Pennsylvania before, it can be quite a surprise to find out how very hot and humid it can get in Gettysburg during the summer months.

July and August are particularly oppressive, with September and October being known for cool nights and warm days.

The winter and spring months can range from extremely cold and windy to pleasant temperatures in the high 50s or low 60s. However, there are many reasons why winter is a good time to visit Gettysburg.

Related Post: The best time to visit Gettysburg battlefield and why.

A horse carriage passes a monument on the Gettysburg Battlefield. The grass is green and sky is blue but very cloudy.
Make sure you get outside in take in the sights while visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield. You can explore by bike, car, bus, Segway, horseback or carriage.

7. Spending Too Much Time Inside

Yes, there are some great museums in Gettysburg that you won’t want to miss, but don’t forget to enjoy what Gettysburg has to offer outside.

From ghost walks in the evening to climbing the castle on Little Round Top or exploring Devil’s Den, Gettysburg is a place to stretch your legs and immerse yourself in history.

There are three observation towers on the Gettysburg Battlefield that can give you a nice workout, as well as miles of walking trails.

You can also explore the Gettysburg Battlefield on horseback or by bike or Segway.

American flags are prominent with Yankee reenactors walking in a parade, with more reenactors as far as the eye can see in Gettysburg during Remembrance Day.
The annual Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade in November.

8. Not Leaving Enough Time When Visiting Gettysburg

If you want to know the number one mistake people make when visiting the Gettysburg battlefield, it is not leaving enough time.

Many visitors don’t realize that the Battle of Gettysburg took place over a three-day period in 1863. The field of action was the town itself and the farmland and fields surrounding it—a very big area.

Not all of the Gettysburg battlefield has been preserved, but 6,000 acres are under the control of the National Park Service, which offers Licensed Battlefield Guides to take you through and explain the highlights.

(Or you can explore on your own or on a tour bus).

Downtown Gettysburg was the site of heavy street fighting and has many historical buildings that are worth seeing.

There are also ghost tours, food tours, and even brew tours to occupy your time.

When you add in the time it takes to explore the battlefield, see a few museums and explore the downtown Gettysburg shops, pubs and restaurants, you will easily need at least three days.

You should definitely allow plenty of time when visiting Gettysburg battlefield. You don’t want to be in a hurry!

The 5th Pa. cavalry monument of a man on horseback is in the foreground with the towering PA monument in the background on the gettysburg battlefield.

9. Not Pulling Off The Road To Read Monuments

I just want to mention that a pet peeve of many locals is visitors who don’t pull off to the side of the road when they want to read the inscription on a monument or take a picture.

In most cases, there is plenty of room to pull off to the side and avoid interfering with traffic.

When you’re visiting Gettysburg, be courteous while driving through the Gettysburg National Military Park and you will make a lot of local residents very happy.

This is one of the most important things to remember when visiting Gettysburg battlefield.

Related Post: Don’t miss historical sites that no one ever sees in Gettysburg.

Downtown Gettysburg sidewalk with American flag hanging on building and pedestrian traffic.

10. Not Being Aware Of Pennsylvania’s Strange Liquor Laws

When visiting Gettysburg battlefield, many people are confused by the Commonwealth’s liquor laws. (I live here and I don’t understand them).

Unlike many other states, Pennsylvania does not sell beer and wine at convenience or grocery stores.

They have only just begun to offer six-packs at a handful of stores, including Giant and Sheetz in Gettysburg.

Beer, for the most part, is sold by the case at beer distributors and wine and spirits can be purchased at the State Liquor Store, located in the Marshalls Shopping Center, across from Wal-Mart on Route 30, east of Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg Beer Mart is located in the same shopping center as the State Store, and High Street Brews is located on High Street, two blocks South of Chambersburg Street in downtown Gettysburg.

Luckily, there is no shortage of wineries, distilleries and craft beer breweries spread throughout downtown Gettysburg and the surrounding area.

For a cold craft beer that is located in a haunted barn that  was used as Civil War field hospital, you can check out Battlefield Brew Works.

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Visiting Gettysburg Battlefield Wrap-Up

Visiting Gettysburg Battlefield is a bucket list travel item for many people — and for good reason.

It is one of the most famous and historically significant battlefields in the United States that is still used to teach future leaders important tactics and strategies.

More than a million visitors flock to this small southcentral Pennsylvania to learn about the people and places that played such a big role in our nation’s history.

Now that you know a little more about the mistakes people make when visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield, you should be able to relax, take advantage of what is offered and enjoy a wonderful visit!

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