A quiet little town
With the exception of 3 days back in 1863 Gettysburg, PA is a relatively quiet little town with no real claim to fame. But those 3 fateful days back in 1863 were the bloodiest days ever seen on North American soil. Since the fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg, the town has remained small but swells considerably in the summer months with visitors coming to tread in the foot steps of those brave soldiers.
Downtown Gettysburg has lots of quaint little shops to visit in the evening after trekking the battlefield all day. Treat yourself to some ice cream, or maybe a horse drawn carriage ride. Many of the downtown buildings are still the ones that were standing back in 1863.
Touring the battlefield
The first stop to make when touring the Gettysburg Battlefield will be the National Park Service Museum and Visitor Center. At the visitor center you will be able to pick up maps of the area, visit the gift shop and a quick bite to eat.
There is no fee for visiting the park and visitor center, but the musuem at the visitor center does have a $10.50 per adult fee which includes museum exhibits, film and cyclorama. These are not things you'll need to visit everytime you come to Gettysburg but are worth seeing for the first time visitor. The cyclorama was recently restored and is finally available agan for the public to view. It is magnificantly presented.
Credit: Allen StonerThere is any number of ways to tour the actual battlefield. Some people may like to try to view the area in a chronolical order as they happened in the battle, others may just want to visit key sites. No matter how you want to go about seeing the battlefield here are a some definite must stops:
- Little Roundtop
- Devil's Den
- Highwater mark - the culmination of Pickett's Charge
A good way to make sure you don't miss anything would be to avail yourself to the auto tour by purchasing a cd that gives a narrative of each location along a define car route. If you would like a more personal touch you may consider hiring a licensed guide to actually ride in your car with you. If you want to use a licensed guide be sure to check ahead as during the busy season it could difficult to get one.
Gettysburg's Special Events
Different times throughout the year there are small groups of reenactors putting on demonstrations throughout the park. During early July each year though Gettysburg is fairly over run again by Confederate and Union troops and the sound of cannon of gun fire ring across the hills.
By far the biggest event in Gettysburg is the reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. This doesn't actually take place on the battlefield, but is put on at a nearby farm. Visiting the reenactment allows the visitor to immerse themselves in a time of the battle. Visitors can walk throught rows of tents and talk to different reenactors, most of whom also happen to know A LOT about the Civil War and probably the Battle of Gettysburg in particular.
Another big event for Gettysburg is the reenactment of the Gettysburg Address in November. There is a parade of troops and tributes to many of those that fell during the battle.
Other Gettysburg Sites
Haven't gotten enough history yet? The Eisenhower National Historic site is also in Gettysburg and can be visited by riding a shuttle from the battlefield visitor center.
History not really your thing? How about shopping at the Gettysburg Outlets while the history buffs tour the battlefield.
No matter what sites you visit in Gettysburg you'll want to be sure to wear comfortable shoes and be ready to do a lot of walking.