A lot has changed in Gettysburg since the famous Civil War battle that altered the course of history. While it is a vacation destination that brings the pages of a school textbook to life, families also enjoy an emerging food scene, hands-on farm experiences, tons of outdoor recreation and much more in a small town culture.
1. Tour Gettysburg National Military Park
Let’s start off by saying that no visit to Gettysburg is complete without spending time in the Gettysburg National Military Park. Definitely put it on your to-do list as it is where the Battle of Gettysburg actually took place.
When visiting, start at the visitors center and museum. Then, hop in the car for the 24-mile, self-guided audio tour of the battlefields.
As part of the National Park Service, kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge here as well as participate in a one-hour program where they can learn what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War. (Note that as part of the Every Kid in a Park program, fourth graders and their families can visit for free with one of these passes.)
2. Visit Apple Country, USA
Just minutes from Gettysburg is 20,000 acres of fruit trees—primarily apple trees—in the heart of the Pennsylvania Fruit Belt.
A significant amount of the nation’s freshest fruit is grown here. The area is also the top producer of apples in the state, clocking in at #4 in the USA for apple production.
This means that spring is a fantastic time to visit when millions of blossoms appear. The fall Apple Harvest Festival is also another very popular thing to do in Gettysburg should your trip align with this season. Visitors can also u-pick blueberries and cherries at certain times of the year.
3. Stand in Lincoln’s Footsteps
Gettysburg National Cemetery is the final resting place of over 3500 Civil War soldiers. At the commemoration of the cemetery, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the speech that is now known as the Gettysburg Address. Kids will love standing in the same spot as President Abraham Lincoln when he spoke these famous words.
4. Take a Haunted Tour
Did you know that Gettysburg has been featured on a number of television shows because of suspected paranormal activity (mostly tied to the Civil War)? Visitors can take a variety of tours that explore these haunts via walking tours and campfire chats… many of which are family-friendly.
5. Get Nose-to-Nose with Animals
The entire family will love up-close encounters with the miniature horses and other farm animals at the Land of Little Horses Farm Park. Here, tortoises actually race hares and families can help groom the animals as well as learn about what it’s like to care for them. And, the day concludes with the herd being released into the pasture for grazing.
6. Tour the Battle Grounds and More on Wheels
Imagine pedaling through history! Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian (HABPI) has created a number of routes at varying lengths for self-guided rides through the battlegrounds and town, in addition to offering organized bike rides. And, in warm weather months, GettysBike Tours also provides memorable, guided experiences.
Ages 16 and older can opt to tour on a Segway as simply a ride through the battlefields, with an audio tour or on a tour with a Licensed Battlefield Guide.
What is your favorite thing to do in Gettysburg with kids?
*Thanks to Destination Gettysburg for sponsoring this post. My husband has fond memories of traveling to Gettysburg frequently as a kid.