From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
With its rich civil war history and old school architecture, Gettysburg is a Pennsylvania destination like no other. A favorite among history buffs, the destination is home to famous attractions and landmarks such as the Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg National Military Park, and Gettysburg National Cemetery, where a memorial marks the site of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address.
Even those who have lived in the city for a decade would agree they haven’t experienced all that Gettysburg has to offer, while for those new to the region – well, they’ve got a lot to look forward to as well.
Ready to discover the best of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Gettysburg isn’t all hustle and bustle! There are also plenty of state parks and national parks both within and surrounding the area, all of which provide a tranquil escape for those looking to surround themselves by nature.
Gettysburg National Military Park covers almost 4,000 acres around the town of Gettysburg and is one of the best-preserved battlefields in the United States. We highly recommend that you get started at the visitor center for maps and brochures to guide you before going out on an educational tour of the park. Best of all, it’s located just minutes from the city center, so you don’t have to travel far at all!
The scenic Caledonia State Park will bring you closer to nature with its beautiful and scenic views. Don’t miss the watercourse as well as the park’s many picnic areas, camping regions, hiking trails, and even a blacksmith museum. While the park offers closeness to nature all year round, it shines best during fall.
Visit Codorus State Park if you are interested in outdoor activities such as picnicking, boating, and camping. The 3,329-acre state park has a huge lake that makes for a stunning backdrop for outdoor activities with the whole family. There is also a hiking and biking trail, as well as a community pool that the kids will love.
Greenbrier State Park is home to white, sandy beaches and a freshwater lake, which attracts lots of visitors – whether it’s lounging around or for enjoying the view. This spot is also quite popular for swimming, canoeing, boating, and fishing. Additionally, there are wide areas of wildlife habitats with scenic hiking trails and clean campsites. The state park is pet friendly and locals love to bring their pooches over the weekend.
A wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors, Patapsco Valley State Park offers hiking, fishing, canoeing down the Patapsco River, horseback riding, and mountain biking (with the park offering mountain bike-specific trails). The park is also ideal for large groups because of its popular pavilions, which are available for rent.
Still need to get your nature fix? If you’re craving seeing even more of the beautiful scenery that surrounds Gettysburg, then there are also plenty of hiking and walking trails for you and your family to enjoy.
The Billy Yank Trail is a loop trail that runs for 10 miles and will take you around various historical monuments and landmarks related to the Battle at Gettysburg. This is a dog friendly trail, but you will need to keep your pet on a leash if you wish to bring them along.
The Gettysburg Trail is much shorter than the Billy Yank Trail, only running for about 2.5 miles. It’s good for all skill levels, which makes it quite popular for locals and visitors alike. The trail offers stunning views of colorful wildflowers along the way, and is at its best from March until September. It is also a pet friendly trail, but bear in mind that you will need to keep your dog on a leash at all times.
The Big Round Top is the shortest trail of the three, coming in at just 1.5 miles long. It’s not as busy as the Gettysburg Trail, as it’s rated as a moderate hiking trail, and therefore isn’t as suited to children and the elderly, for example. This trail is fairly steep, so ensure you wear hiking boots with proper tread.
Gettysburg is home to a bustling and trendy dining scene, so there’s sure to be a restaurant, café, or diner to satisfy your cravings. If you’ve worked up an appetite after a long hike, or simply feel like treating yourself to a delicacy, then you’re in luck. Here are our top restaurant recommendations!
Dobbin House Tavern is a bed and breakfast, as well as a popular restaurant situated in the oldest building in Gettysburg. It features old school and quaint interiors with staff that also dress up in celebration of past eras to give guests the full historic Gettysburg experience. There’s plenty of indoor seating, or if it’s a particularly stunning day, outdoor seating lets you enjoy your food and cocktails in the sunshine.
Gettysburg Eddie’s is an All-American restaurant with comfort food to-die-for. You won’t go wrong with any of the mouth-watering burgers at this joint, while we hear the waffle fries are great too. Locals highly recommend the homemade ranch dip, so be sure to ask for some from the friendly staff to accompany your meal!
Montezuma is the best Mexican restaurant in the area, if not the state! The portions are generous, and the food is authentic, giving both you and your family or friends a fantastic dining experience. Be sure to try their refried beans, or if you’ve worked up quite the appetite, try the huge California burrito.
You’ll find Blue & Gray in an old school yet elegant building with interiors to match. They have an impressive selection of beer on tap and a solid menu with a good variety of burgers and fries to choose from. Local favorites include the jalapeno poppers, the Philly cheese steak, and the French onion soup.
O’Rorke’s Family Eatery is a relaxed restaurant with a laid back ambience and a good selection of draft and bottled beer - as you would expect from any Irish pub! They have a huge menu with a lot of great comfort food on offer, whether it’s the crab cakes, crab stuffed pretzels, meatloaf, or apple fritters. O’Rorke’s is a dog friendly establishment too, so if you’re traveling with your dog, they will be very welcome in the outdoor patio area. Not so ‘ruff’, hey?
After feasting and enjoying all that the hiking trails and state parks have to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Gettysburg’s attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
Looking to entertain some little ones? Or perhaps you’ve got some teenagers in-tow who are starting to get a little bored? Either way, these attractions will entertain both children, teens, and adults alike!
The Gettysburg Diorama is an incredibly fun and interesting experience for kids of all ages. It shows the entire Battle of Gettysburg in miniature form, with hand painted soldiers, horses, and artillery to complete the look. Fully narrated and complete with sound effects, it’s a unique way to learn about an important event in American History.
Kids always love the Land of Little Horses for many reasons. Firstly, they get to pet the gorgeous, little horses and can also feed them as they walk around the grounds. You can also check out their events for the day, which often include educational and training displays, as well as pig races and cuddle-worthy photos.
What should you do in Gettysburg once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.
No trip to Gettysburg would be complete without the spookily-good Gettysburg Ghost Tours. As with any town that was once a site of a huge historical battle, Gettysburg has its fair share of ghost stories. Learn all the best ones from knowledgeable guides while on a candlelit walking tour of the town, have some fun, and get thoroughly spooked!
Cap the evening off with a trip to Mr G’s for a delicious cone of ice cream. They offer a wide variety of flavors, including seasonal flavors such as peach and blueberry ice cream. If you’re traveling with your dog, don’t be shy, bring them along and let them enjoy a “pup cup” while you enjoy your sweet treat.
What can you do in or around Gettysburg that won’t cost anything more than a few dollars? The answer: plenty! Here are just two of our favorite attractions within the area that can be enjoyed on the cheap.
The Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center offers a lot of things to do – such as an audio tour and cyclorama - that the whole family can enjoy. It’s a great place to start learning about the Battle of Gettysburg. Locals highly recommend the self-driving audio tour that lets you learn about the battle at your own pace, all in the comfort of your own car.
The Jennie Wade House is a way of honoring Jennie Wade, who sadly lost her life during the civil war due to a stray bullet. The House also honors the way of life from decades gone by and is a great way to learn more about the everyday living of a past era.
Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Gettysburg? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in Gettysburg that won’t cost you a cent.
Recently rebuilt, the Sachs Covered Bridge is a great historical spot that features classic architecture that’s perfect for taking photos. It’s also widely known to be haunted, meaning the experience could be different if you visit at night. Enter at your own risk!
The Gettysburg Museum of History is a great place for people who love learning about those little details of history. It showcases one of the most extensive collections of civil war items, as well as memorabilia from the first and second World Wars. Some replicas of the items are even for sale, and can make for great souvenirs for the history lover in your family.
Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Gettysburg has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.
The Gettysburg Day Spa is a full-scale spa housed inside a beautifully renovated farmhouse with vintage architecture. It’s a great place to relax and pamper yourself after a day of learning and hiking, while also still enjoying the historical value of the place. Whether you’re after a massage, facial, or body treatment, you’re sure to be indulged here.
Treat yourself to a spa day and a haircut at the Serenity Salon and Spa. If you’re feeling a little under the weather after a late night trapsing around Gettysburg, Serenity is a great place to freshen up and feel like yourself again. We hear the aromatherapy massage is like no other!
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Gettysburg is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
The Gettysburg Performance Gym is easily accessible from downtown Gettysburg and offers a great selection of classes and equipment. Sure, there are bigger gyms in the area, but GPG has reasonable prices, clean work areas, and knowledgeable and helpful staff that will always put a smile on your dial!
Gettyoga has yoga classes for all levels, as well as other fun classes such as Outdoor Fall Yoga and Fusion Belly Dance. Sign up for classes if you need to unwind after a day of walking or working, and connect with the local yoga community.
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Gettysburg without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.
York is around a 50-minute drive away from Gettysburg and is a quaint, historical town that’s rich in culture and architecture. The best spots to visit in York include the Victorian-era Bonham House, the Colonial Complex, and the Historical Society Museum, making it a history lover’s heaven on Earth.
The drive from Gettysburg to the Independence National Historical Park takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes from the city center, but it’s well-worth the trip. Must-sees at this Philadelphia park include their women’s history section, the Liberty Bell center, and the Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Gettysburg that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Gettysburg? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.