A Local’s Guide To Visiting Gettysburg In The Summer (2024)

Since I’m a lifelong resident of Gettysburg, I get asked a lot of questions about visiting Gettysburg in the summer.

It’s a good time to visit because there are lots of things to do, but you should also be aware of other factors before you book your stay.

Come along as we look at the pros and cons of visiting Gettysburg in the summer. Once you have the facts, you can decide if it’s the best time to visit Gettysburg for you.

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Visiting Gettysburg in the summer has benefits, like longer business hours and more activities, but it also entails crowded venues, uncomfortable temperatures and higher prices for hotel rooms.

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How Many Days Did The Battle Of Gettysburg Last?

First of all, let’s cover the basics. The Battle of Gettysburg took place over three grueling days, July 1-3 in 1863.

It occurred as a result of Confederate (South) General Robert E. Lee’s ambitious invasion into the North, and ended in a Union (North) victory.

The Battle of Gettysburg resulted in more than 50,000 casualties and was the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” which he delivered at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.

A book on a table with a blue cover and a horse monument advertising the Gettysburg handbook.

Tips For Exploring Gettysburg In The Summer

1. Pack Your Patience And Allow Enough Time

The Gettysburg National Military Park encompasses 6,000 acres and includes approximately 1,328 monuments, markers and memorials.

One of the monuments that visitors can get out and see when visiting Gettysburg in the summer is the N.C. monument. The bronze monument shows soldiers' faces close up as they lean forward toward the battle.
The North Carolina monument is one of the must-see monuments on the battlefield.

That’s just the battlefield! There are also a wide range of museums, shops and unique restaurants in downtown Gettysburg, as well as interesting sites to see within 10 miles of the town.

During the summer months, many of the park roads are busy, so travel will be slow. Museums and restaurants will also be busy so pack your patience and leave plenty of time.

Did you know that I can design a customized itinerary in Gettysburg for you? If you don’t have time to plan your trip, find a hotel, decide where to eat, I can help! Check out my Itinerary page and find out how I can help create a vacation that caters to your personal travel style and preferences.

2. Book Your Trip Early

There are plenty of hotels in Gettysburg, but only a handful that are located downtown or in the tourist district of Steinwehr Avenue. These fill up quickly.

There are also campgrounds just outside of town that offer everything from tent sites to cottages. Bed and breakfast options are plentiful, as are historic and unique places to stay.

Decide what type of accommodations you would like, and take the time to book immediately! Whether you need a hotel that takes pets, or want one with a pool, if you book early, you’ll be sure to get one that fits your needs.

3. Pick Your Tour: There’s More Than One Option

There are all kinds of ways to tour the Battlefield, from using an an audio tour to hiring a Licensed Battlefield Guide to accompany you in your car.

I highly recommend the two-hour bus tour, especially if you’re short on time. It gives a good overview of the entire 3-day battle so you can find places that you want to visit on your own later.

Pro Tip: For those who are visiting Gettysburg in the summer, the bus tour offers an open-air double-decker bus that kids love. There is even a sunset bus tour!

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Other ways to see the battlefield include by bike, Segway and by horseback. The horseback tours are my personal favorite, and luckily there are a number of different options for rides in Gettysburg.

You can choose a long, scenic ride or one that includes a Licensed Guide riding with you.

(There are carriage rides too).

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And I have to mention the ghost tours! They take place all year and there are lots of different options, from family friendly to deep investigations in the dead of night.

Check out these Gettysburg Ghost Tours.

4. Get Your Bearings

View a map ahead of your visit to see where landmarks and locations are so that you get a sense of where they are in relation to each other.

You can pick up a park map at the visitor center or download it onto your phone.

A map of the town of Gettysburg showing the downtown roads and the battlefield.

You may want to avoid driving through town if visiting Gettysburg in the summer months, unless it’s necessary to get to your destination.

Taking the streets parallel to Baltimore Street (Stratton or Washington streets), can help relieve congestion in the downtown area.

The cover of the book Duty Bound by Jessica James wit text about the book and a horse's flowing mane and back.

5. Dress For The Weather

Many out-of-state visitors don’t realize how hot and humid it gets in Gettysburg during the summer months. Dress comfortably with light clothing and drink plenty of water.

Also use sunscreen generously and wear a hat if you’re going to be exploring outside.

Visitors who are visiting Gettysburg in the summer look at period dresses during the Civil War reenactment.
Wear comfortable clothing and hats when visiting Gettysburg in the summer.

6. Timing For Your Summer Visit To Gettysburg

Want to know when to visit Gettysburg during the summer months? Well, the peak tourist season is March through October, with April through the second week of June being very busy with school trips.

If you are visiting during the busy summer months, plan to get an early start or explore late in the afternoon. Sidewalks, parking lots, restaurants and museums are usually most crowded in the middle of the day.

7. Take Advantage Of Seasonal Activities

If you visit Gettysburg during the Battle of Gettysburg anniversary week (Jul 1-3), you will have the opportunity to see a Civil War reenactment, as well as living history events that don’t take place all year.

Check the Gettysburg National Park Service website for special events on the dates you are visiting.

A band of Civil War horsemen ride forward in a smoky field during a battle reenactment.
If you visit Gettysburg in the summer, you can see a battle reenactment.

8. Go Off The Beaten Path

There is so much to see in Gettysburg, that many visitors miss the history that is hidden plain sight.

A black artillery shell in a brick wall in Gettysburg.
An artillery shell stuck in a building in Gettysburg.

In fact, even locals are often unaware of some of the historical artifacts that they pass every day. Did you know there is a cannon from the War of 1812 that is embedded in the sidewalk downtown?

The Gettysburg Handbook is a great resource for finding hidden gems.

9. Don’t Know Where To Start?

If you’re visiting Gettysburg in the summer, the best place to start is the Visitor Center at 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg. It has an Information Desk, ticket sales, Museum Bookstore, Refreshment Saloon and restrooms.

Entrance to the Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg National Cemetery are free, however, there is a fee to enter the exhibit galleries at the visitor center, see a Civil War film and experience the Cyclorama program.

Don’t forget to grab a copy of my TRAVEL PLANNER. This 16-page PDF guide helps you organize your trip, from what to pack, to preparing a budget and keeping a schedule.

I recommend that you save time in line by buying your tickets online. This is especially useful when visiting during peak season. (It gets very busy!)

Backpacks and big parcels are not allowed inside the Museum and Visitor Center. Leave them in the trunk of your car.

Pro Tip: Allow plenty time to browse the Gift Shop/Book Store. It’s big!

10. Beware Of Ticks

Be aware that ticks are common in the Gettysburg area, especially in tall grass and around trees. Reduce your chances of getting a tick-borne disease by using repellents, checking for ticks, and showering after being outdoors.

Tip: If you have a tick bite followed by a fever or rash, seek medical attention.

Cannons near Oak Hill in Gettysburg against a blue sky.

11. Where Should I Park In Gettysburg?

Parking in Gettysburg is scarce especially during the busy summer months, so familiarize yourself with the location of lots beforehand.

In addition to the limited (and expensive) metered street parking, you can find Horse Alley Parking Garage behind the Gettysburg Hotel.

There are a few other metered Short-Term Parking Lots , and some free parking options if you don’t mind walking. The Gettysburg Rec Park on Long Lane is one option, as is the Gettysburg Middle School off Baltimore Street.

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12. Tips For Traveling With Kids

For younger children, make sure you visit the Kids of 1863 Museum on Baltimore Street. It’s free for the children with a paying adult and provides lots of hands-on fun.

A man in a blue shirt points to sign at the Children's Museum in Gettysburg with children watching.
Kids get hands-on experiences at the Children’s Museum.

Another great experience to get the kids involved is to pick up an Activity Guide for Junior Ranger Candidates at the information desk in the Visitor Center. Kids can receive a patch and certificate making them a Junior Ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park.

If you need a place to let the kids get out and stretch their legs, plan to spend some time exploring Devil’s Den and Little Round Top.

Special Note: Monuments and cannon were placed to honor the sacrifices made by our brave ancestors. Please help preserve these irreplaceable historic objects by not climbing, sitting or hanging on them.

13. Tips For Saving Money In Gettysburg

Everything is expensive these days and especially travel! For my last tip, I’d thought I’d give you some tips about free things to do in Gettysburg.

Visiting Gettysburg in the summer, you'll see flower baskets on the lamp poles in Lincoln Square and the Gettysburg Hotel.
Downtown Gettysburg in the summer is beautiful and charming.

Believe it or not, there are some things to do in the summer in Gettysburg that won’t leave you broke.

As mentioned before, the battlefield is free and it’s worth exploring to see the beautiful monuments, many of which are works of art.

The Gettysburg Museum of History at 219 Baltimore Street, is also free of charge. Make sure you read the post about free things to do for a full list.

FAQs About Visiting Gettysburg In The Summer

Can You Drive Through Gettysburg Battlefield At Night?

National Park Service roads are open dawn to dusk. There are state roads through the battlefield that can be used at any time.

Is Little Round Top Free?

Yes, Little Round Top is free to visit. Keep in mind if visiting Gettysburg in the summer that the area will be congested during the day and weekends.

Where Can I Walk In Gettysburg?

You can walk anywhere you want on the Gettysburg Battlefield although it is advised to stay on trails to protect vegetation. The town of Gettysburg is very safe and walkable.

Wrap-Up: Visiting Gettysburg In The Summer

While the warm weather and diverse range of activities make summer an enticing time to visit Gettysburg, visitors should be prepared for larger crowds and higher costs.

This increased foot traffic may lead to longer wait times for attractions and dining establishments, requiring visitors to plan their itinerary accordingly and exercise patience.

With proper planning and flexibility, however, a summer trip to Gettysburg can still be a rewarding and memorable experience.

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