I visit the hallowed battlefields of Gettysburg as often as possible and I never come away disappointed. There is “something” that remains and I have heard many people say the same. Maybe it is simply a feeling of realization about what happened there, but there is a draw to go back that can not be easily shoved aside.
Gettysburg is located in Adams County, Pennsylvania, just minutes from the Maryland state line. The severe battle that took place here in July of 1863 was one of the bloodiest Americans have ever seen. Visitors are taken back into the past with countless markers and monuments that are found in town and the surrounding territory.
The first thing I would definitely recommend is to plan for at least two days in Gettysburg. I have done day trips in the past and there simply isn’t enough time to see everything in a day. If you are not familiar with the area, it may be a good idea for you to take a guided tour the morning of your first day there. That way you will have a little history of the battle and can still drive around on your own for the rest of your visit. You will also be able to buy an auto tour cassette or CD at the visitor center.
In fact, the visitor center should be your first stop. They are currently in the process of building a new structure and changing location, but there are signs pointing to the visitor center at various strategic places throughout town. While there, or later in the day you may want to catch a bus to visit the Gettysburg home of Ike and Mamie Eisenhower. It is a very short drive, but everyone needs to go there by bus. No private vehicles are allowed on the grounds.
As you enter the lovely town of Gettysburg, start looking at the buildings. If a building was standing during those first three days of July in 1863 and thus witnessed the battle, many of them have a plaque on the home or other building reading “Civil War Building.” There are also a few trees around town that are called “Witness Trees” having been standing during the battle.
There are various hotels from which to choose when visiting Gettysburg. Many are found in the main part of town but some are also a couple miles outside of town on Rt. 30 also called York Street. The variety of hotels will fit into any budget from the smaller motels to a Hampton Inn on Route 30. If you are traveling with a pet, as I often travel with a feisty feline “fur child” as well as my human daughter, I have stayed each time at the Holiday Inn Battlefield and they have accommodated pet owners very well.
Be prepared for some great shopping and eating here, too. From antiques to Civil War related items, there are many stores and shops in town if you want to do some shopping. Restaurants are found all around town, too. I have had some very memorable meals in Gettysburg.
Watch for my next blog that will cover some of the great places to see in Gettysburg from Devil’s Den to Pickett’s Charge and everything in between.