Gettysburg: Things to do on a Visit

Written by Alex Kallimanis: Gettysburg is most famous for the epic US Civil War battle that sparked the Union’s victory over the Confederacy in 1863. This history is well documented in the small Pennsylvania town that attracts around 4 million visitors a year. Today Gettysburg is also receiving acclaim for its food and drink scene. Adams County is the nation’s fourth largest producer of apples, making varieties of cider a specialty. The Gettysburg area is packed with good breweries, wineries and distilleries along its Pour Tour, adding fun to the history. Here are tips for things to do in Gettysburg!

Adams County Pour Tour

An abundance of orchards, vineyards and other farmlands that produce a variety of fruit, hops, honey and grains can be found in Adams County. Rich agriculture allows for an excellent assortment of locally produced craft beers, wines, ciders and spirits. The Pour Tour includes 21 area buisnesses with 34 unique stamps. Grab a Pour Tour passport and get stamped after a purchase at each stop. Prizes are awarded at 5, 12 and 20 stamps. We received 5 stamps in our passport and the prize we received was a set of coasters. When someone gets all of the stamps they are entered to win a Gettysburg getaway package. Drawings are in June and December.

Here are some great Pour Tour spots to visit in and around Gettysburg!

Reid’s Winery and Cider House

Reid’s Orchard Winery is a great stop for both wine and cider tastings, ranging from dry to sweet. We personally prefer dry wines and ciders and appreciate the selections they have to suit a wide range of palates. Country Bear is one of Reid’s most popular hard ciders, which is a refreshing blend of raspberry and apple.

Reid’s offers around 10 hard craft ciders on draft. Many are blends with a variety of fruits, including raspberries, pears, grapes and pumpkin. If you enjoy dry cider, try J.D. Hard Cider- made with estate-grown Pink Lady apples and aged in whiskey barrels. It’s $8 for a flight of 5 hard cider samples or $10 for 6 samples (pictured below).

Gettysburg weekend

Reid’s wine selection also has a variety to suit various palates. Their basic wine tastings cost $5 for five one-ounce wine samples. I especially enjoyed their Chardonnay, which is aged 6 months in Pennsylvania Oak barrels. Bell particularly liked the Gruner Veltliner, a dry white whose grape origin is Austrian. Reid’s is right in downtown Gettysburg so you may be able to walk from your bed and breakfast or hotel.

Mason Dixon Distillery

Mason Dixon Distillery produces small batch spirits. They distill vodka, rum and even a corn whiskey. Their raw grains are grown on the battlefield. Try one of their corn whiskey-based cocktails like an old fashion or whiskey sour. Or if you’re down for mixing your spirits, they offer a cocktail sampler, which includes cocktails made with their corn whiskey, vodka and rum.

Mason Dixon Distillery has an excellent internationally inspired menu, served up in a spacious and welcoming former warehouse. The knowledgable and friendly staff will help guide you through an extensive menu with items like jambalaya, shrimp and grits, skewer-less skewers, Greek salads, Bavarian pretzels and banh mi sandwiches. Many locals recommend their burger and it’s delicious – accompanied with corn whiskey-glazed pork belly, pickled onions, garlic aioli, beer jam, and arugula on a kaiser bun.

Adams County Winery

In business since 1975, Adam’s County Winery is one of Pennsylvania’s oldest wineries. It’s a great place to kick back on the weekend on a beautiful property and listen to live music on their patio. They make a good variety of whites, reds and sweet wines that you can taste before buying. They offer 3 free samples and there’s a nominal charge for additional samples.

Gettysburg weekend

We were fortunate to meet their winemaker Bernard during our visit, who originally hails from France. Bernard told us he appreciated having greater flexibility in the creative winemaking process compared to France, which has centuries-old regulations on winemaking.

Thirsty Farmer Brew Works and the Round Barn

Gettysburg Weekend

Thirsty Farmer is an excellent brewery set alongside the families hops farm. I especially enjoyed their hazy New England IPA, as it’s nicely hopped and refreshing. Their brown ale, at 50 IBU’s is a great beer for those that enjoy a balance of hops and malt. Their Apple Graff is also worth trying in a sampler tray. It’s an apple cider & beer blend made with fresh apple cider and fermented with a light beer wort.

Beer flight at the Thirsty Farmer Brewery

Right across the street from Thirsty Farm Brew Works is the Round Barn. The Round Barn is well worth stopping in for a great selection of locally produced artisan goodies like jams and whoopie pies. Built in 1914, it’s one of the few remaining round barns in the USA.

Farmers market produce in a barn

Gettysburg Battlefield Pour Tour Shuttle

Gettysburg Battlefield Tours recently launched an Adams County Pour Tour shuttle. Shuttles are currently scheduled for Friday evenings from 5 pm – 9 pm. Tickets cost $35 and include transportation between stops, a free gift, complimentary waters, and a guide to the wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries you visit. Locations alternate throughout the season. Beverage purchases are additional.

Things to Do in Gettysburg

Gettysburg Battlefield

7,000 people died during the 3 day Battle of Gettysburg during the US Civil War. It was Confederate General Robert E Lee’s second attempt to push further into northern states, and the strategy backfired. The Union’s victory in Gettysburg was a turning point in the US Civil War. Shortly after, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address declaring “all men are created equal.” This would ultimately lead to the formal abolition of slavery in the United States.

Gettysburg Weekend

Today Gettysburg’s battlefields are managed by the National Park Service. There’s a variety of ways to tour the battlefield from self-guided in your vehicle, to bus tours, horseback riding tours, Segway tours, bicycle tours and horse and carriage tours.

Devil’s Den

Devils Den - Alex and Bell

One of the most picturesque spots on the Gettysburg Battlefield is Devil’s Den. Devils Den is on the south end of Houck’s Ridge, and is packed with boulders. It was used by Union artillery and infantry on the second day of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, which resulted in a Union victory. Today it’s a great place for a short hike, offering wonderful views overlooking the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Gettysburg Battlefield Tours

Victorian Carriage Company

We took a 2-hour tour of the battlefield on horse and carriage with Victorian Carriage Company. It’s a throwback experience with a licensed guide who provides lots of interesting facts about the battle between the Union and the Confederates, many of the characters involved and the monuments. For example, the Greek goddess Nike sits atop the beautiful Pennsylvania State Monument along Cemetery Ridge (the tallest monument in Gettysburg. Nike is the goddess of victory.

Unfortunately, it rained all day on the Sunday we were scheduled to take the tour. But Victorian Carriage Company was accommodating and our 9am tour was rescheduled for 3:30 pm. The weather was still damp but the carriage was covered so we stayed dry. The 2 hour Gettysburg Battfield Tour on horse and carriage costs $52.50 per person.

Victorian Carriage Company offers several other horse and carriage tours including a 30 minute guided tour of the town of Gettysburg.

Alex & Bell posing with the horses
The horses are Fred and George, after the Weasley twins of Harry Potter, and according to the owners, just as naughty!

Segway Tours

SegTours offers Segway tours of the Gettysburg battlefield with a licensed guide. They offer several tour options like the Western (Main Battlefield) including Pickett’s Charge, the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Little Round Top, the Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, the High Water Mark, and more. That takes approximately 3 hours, covers around 9 miles and costs $70 plus tax and optional gratuity.

Gettysburg Battlefield Tours

Gettysburg Battlefield Tours offers guided tours of the battlefield by double-decker bus and coach bus. Some tours are with a licensed guide. Other tours feature dramatized audio tours as the sounds of cannons, rifles, drums and bugles blow, helping visitors relive the battle that forever defines Gettysburg. Guided bus tours are offered most days during the season and cost $35.

Shriver House Museum

Of all the historic attractions we visited, Bell’s favorite was the Shriver House Museum. This beautifully restored home was the home of the Shriver family before and during the civil war. There are no hyperbolic ghost stories told here, just the story of a family whose life was deeply impacted by the arrival of General Lee’s Confederate army. The small touches to how the home is decorated are indicative of the care the owners put into restoring the house. For example, the kitchen appears ransacked by the Confederates who occupied the home during the battle and there is a torn picture of President Lincoln in the stove.

Shriver House Museum admission is $9.50 for adults and $7.50 for children.


Gettysburg Weekend

Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center

“Those who lived the events at Gettysburg in 1863 still have something important to teach us about citizenship, leadership, conflict and conciliation in American democracy that remains timeless and relevant to our lives today.”

The National Park Service runs the Gettysburg National Park visitors center, which includes a museum, film and cyclorama. The Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War is home to many rare Civil War artifacts. There are also interactive exhibits and short films. Civil War history is depicted fairly, including information on many northerners who benefited from slavery and did not want to see it abolished in southern states.

Visitor Center Museum, Things to do in Gettysburg

A 30-minute long film on the Battle of Gettysburg is narrated by actor Morgan Freeman. After exiting the cinema, visitors head up to view the impressive “Battle of Gettysburg” cyclorama by artist Paul Philippoteaux. Cycloramas were especially popular in the late 1800s, both in the USA and Europe. The amazing oil on canvas painting is 42 feet high and 377 feet long, filling the large circular room. A central platform allows visitors to move around to view various scenes from the battle, including Picketts Charge (the final day of the 3 day battle of Gettysburg). Philippoteaux and his team of artists completed the work in Paris in 1884. He signed it by placing himself in the painting leaning up against a tree.

Gettysburg Weekend

Adult (ages 13+) = $15.00
Seniors (65+) and Military Veterans = $14.00
Active Duty U.S. Military Personnel = FREE
AAA Discount = $14.00
Youth (ages 6-12) = $10.00
Children (5 and under) = FREE
More information and to purchase tickets.

National Park Passes Not Accepted

Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center does not accept America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes, Golden Age and Golden Eagle passes.

Haunted Orphanage Ghost Tour at Ghostly Images

Ghost tours are popular in Gettysburg and we took a 9:30 pm tour with Ghostly Images. A storyteller guide takes guests to various locations including Dobbin House and Soldiers National Cemetery. The orphanage was previously run by an abusive woman who allegedly tied and locked up children for behaving badly. Ghost Adventures called it one of the “Top 10 Freakiest Places in the USA.”

Building where the Ghoslty Images tour starts in Gettysburg

As Bell is a scientist, and I’m a journalist who’s bachelors degree is in history, this was not a favorite tour for either of us. Too much of the storytelling is not based on facts or real science. But we recognize that ghost tours are popular in Gettysburg, so if you like that kind of storytelling you may enjoy the tour!

Where to Eat in Gettysburg

Pub and Restaurant

The Pub and Restaurant features a tasty selection of American dishes at affordable prices. The cajun diablo pasta with spicy sausage and shrimp over linguine packs some heat. Their Angus beef burgers and beer battered fries are also good; with a choice of a kaiser roll, white, wheat, rye or pumpernickel bread. We appreciated that the rye bread was good quality too. They serve southern-influenced dishes like catfish marinated in a traditional Alabama cajun sauce.

a collage with a burger and plate of pasta

Garryowen Irish Pub

Garryowen is run by an Irish couple and has the authentic feel of an old Irish pub, with lots of great choices on their menu. The Shepard’s Pie is excellent and you can even get a proper Ulster fry up (aka Irish breakfast). The fry up includes imported Irish bacon, black and white pudding and homemade soda bread. Garryowen usually has live music on Friday nights, so that’s a great time to stop in!

Alex & Bell with their Irish dinners at Garryowen pub

Food 101

Food 101 might be the best bang for buck restaurant for foodies in Gettysburg. Their dinner menu includes dishes like shrimp orzo with pan-fried pearl pasta, gulf shrimp, cherry tomatoes, crumbled bacon, garlic lime crema and cilantro for $17.95. Another great dish is their rack of lamb with rhubarb chutney, baby bok choy, roasted yukon gold potatoes and apricot glaze for $18.95. Food 101 is one of our favorite restaurants in Gettysburg that we enjoyed on a previous trip passing through town.

Dobbin House

Dobbin House is one of the finest and most popular restaurants in Gettysburg. The house was built in 1776 and today it’s home to a colonial-themed experience. It’s a AAA rated establishment where you can experience an 1800’s feel over a candlelit dinner. For large gatherings like banquets and meetings, their Abigail Adams Ballroom can accommodate up to 130 guests. If you visit Gettysburg for a special occasion, you should plan to include a meal at Dobbin House in your itinerary. 

Ragged Edge

Bell and I love a quality coffee over a nice breakfast, and Ragged Edge hits the spot on both counts. This wonderful coffeehouse serves up specialty coffees and light fare for breakfast and lunch. For those that enjoy a kick, their spicy Mexican latte packs tasty heat. Bell loved their baked oatmeal breakfast, which is both satisfying and delicious. Ragged Edge is a relaxing spot to enjoy a good breakfast or lunch.

Where to Stay in Gettysburg

We stayed at the Wyndham Gettysburg, about 3 miles outside the historic center. Rooms are comfortable, spacious and warmly decorated. Amenities include an indoor swimming pool for year round swimming. The hotel was built in 2006 in federalist style architecture. An antique canon in the lobby along with paintings depicting the 1800’s makes it a fitting stay in Gettysburg. Their on-site restaurant, 1863, serves traditional American fare.

Alex in the hotel lobby with a civil war canon in Gettysburg

Gettysburg is also home to many historic bed and breakfasts that are especially great for couples getaways. Many are right in the heart of Gettysburg, walking distance to restaurants, pubs, cafes, shops and attractions.

Brickhouse Inn B&B occupies 2 ornate Victorian buildings in the heart of Gettysburg. Quaint rooms have period furnishings, some with balconies. Breakfast is served in 2 elegant dining rooms or on the patio overlooking manicured gardens, featuring a koi pond and waterfalls.

Farnsworth House Inn is a popular bed and breakfast in Gettysburg. The building dates to 1810 and rooms feature antique decor. There’s an adjacent civil war themed tavern and beer garden as well.

Gettysburg Weekend or Road Trip Stop

Things to Do in Gettysburg, Gettysburg Battlefield

Recently was our first time spending a weekend in Gettysburg to explore Adams County in depth. But Bell and I had previously visited Gettysburg while passing through on a few road trips. That provided us the opportunity to experience a few more things to do in Gettysburg.

If you’re taking a family trip, you can also consider a stop in nearby Hershey and Harrisburg, PA, as the birthplace of Hershey chocolate and the state capital are packed with more tasty treats and important history. Of particular interest to children is Chocolate World at Hershey. But there are plenty of things to do in Gettysburg to keep you occupied over a weekend!

Disclosure: We were hosted by Destination Gettysburg and Wyndham Gettysburg on a media visit. Special thanks to Rachel Wright for planning a great itinerary. Photos and opinions written here are our own. This article contains some affiliate links.

*Gettysburg has personal significance as the battlefield was where I took my first steps in life – according to my father as I certainly don’t remember. Just a fun little footnote!

 

12 thoughts on “Gettysburg: Things to do on a Visit

  1. The food and wine experiences in Gettysburg look so interesting. It’s always so much fun to experience a place through its gastronomy.

    1. Well said, Renuka! You certainly learn a lot about a place through its gastronomy – between interactions with people and understanding what’s grown locally. Happy travels!

    1. So Mark Pardis: When are you coming back to play? You did such an outstanding job last year, I want to come hear you play again!

    1. You really nailed the best places to visit while you are here. And just an FYI, Gettysburg doesn’t have to be ALL Civil War! There’s a Saturday WWII Tour the Gettysburg Bus Tours offer too! A nice change of pace for folks who don’t know of G’burg’s significance to WWI and WWII.

      1. Thanks for sharing about the WWII Gettysburg Bus Tour, Tara! So much history in Gettysburg for visitors to discover!

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