Gettysburg: Beyond the Sites, Smells, and Sounds of 1863

Volume 1, Number 2

by ESC
April 28, 2015

GETTYSBURG, PA—Earlier this month, America commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Civil War surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. There, in that little country town in central Virginia, US Grant and Robert Lee–two of the greatest military generals in American history–laid down their weapons as their two countries united once again under the same Union flag. Just a short two years before, however, the Civil War was at its height. The war’s high water mark came in July of 1863, when the two armies met on land outside of a small Pennsylvania town—Gettysburg. The name is so part of American history classes that almost everyone knows it.

But Gettysburg is full of the known and the yet-to-be-discovered. There’s more to the tourist town than the sites, smells, and sounds of 1863.

Located within a couple of hours drive of Lancaster, Harrisburg, Baltimore, Washington, and even Pittsburgh, the little town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is full of the known and the unknown. Besides being rich in history, Gettysburg has ample shopping, food, wineries, and outdoor adventures that you’ll be continually amazed. It is the perfect day trip for your group–from history buffs to shopaholics and foodies and everyone in between!

Gettysburg is well known for its history located around every corner. There are several must-do things if you’ve never visited the town. If this is your first time in Gettysburg, your first stop should be the Gettysburg Visitors Center ( It’s nearly a destination itself. There you’ll find all the essential information for visiting and touring Gettysburg. It’s also home to the famed cyclorama painting, along with an acclaimed museum, a cafeteria, a movie theater, and more. You’ll also want to do a guided bus tour of the actual battlefield with a license Park Service guide. Another “must-see” for first timers is the Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower estate on the outskirts of town. You’ll get up close and personal with the personal life of America’s 34th President who once called Gettysburg home.

But, as I mentioned, Gettysburg is full of the unknown too. For every known, in Gettysburg, there is the unknown…and that can be just as fun. If you’re more of a seasoned visitor to the Gettysburg area or want something a little different than the typical civil war sites, there is plenty to do! Some of Gettysburg’s hidden gems include:


The Majestic Theater ( After a $16 million renovation a few years ago, the Majestic often hosts award winning comics, Broadway stars, and top-notch dancers.




The Land of Little Horses ( Located just outside of town, the Land of Little Horses is a unique, interactive farm of miniature horses. Daily horse shows, hands-on activities, educational displays, pony rides, wagon rides, and special seasonal events keep groups of all ages intrigued during the visit.




Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum ( Home to over 10,000 elephants, it is the world’s largest museum dedicated to elephants of all kinds–real and otherwise. You won’t want to miss the unique gift shop, Pez room, and candy displays. On-site gardens and woods are open for you and your group to wander for a relaxing time outdoors.



Adams County Winery ( and Hauser Estate Winery ( After a full day of exploring the Pennsylvania countryside and absorbing the area’s antebellum heritage, sit back and relax  while sipping a glass of rich, aromatic wine from local Pennsylvania winery.


  • If shopping is more your groups desire, spend the day exploring the quaint downtown shopping district. Browse the wide selection of unique offerings in the shops on Steinwehr Avenue, Baltimore Pike, Emmittsburg Road, Tannytown Road, and Chambersburg Street.  Antiques, art, pottery, furniture, and more can all be found in the locally-owned shops downtown.  If your group is more into outlet shopping, the Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg ( provide that perfect opportunity for tax-free shopping (on food and clothes) in venue that boasts over 70 stores, a food court, restaurants, a movie theater, and hotels.


Anytime is a good time to visit Gettysburg, but if you’re looking for a specific time of year centered around a specific event, you may want to consider these two events:

GettysburgAnniversary0041372623971Re-enactment Weekend (July 3-5, 2015): This year’s theme is “Crossroads of Destiny.” Returning to the Yingling Farm on Pumping Station Road (aka the “Gettysburg Movie” field), thousands of Civil War enthusiasts will recreate the historic events that we call the Battle of Gettysburg. Re-enactors, visitors and staff all love the this site that sits beside the Gettysburg National Military Park with its pastoral terrain and magnificent views overlooking the historic Sachs Mill Covered Bridge, the Eisenhower National Historic Site and both Little and Big Roundtops. Your history book will come alive as you turn back the clock and experience the battle first hand with the sites, smells, and sounds of 1863. Watch as the commanders lead their army into battle with booming cannons and bellowing yells. The highlight of the three-day event is the monumental Pickett’s Charge. The streets will be abuzz with civilian men donned in top hats and coats while ladies navigate the quaint downtown in their flowing hoop skirts. The Living History camps are an added specialty. Visit the civilian and military camps to physically experience 1860s American life. The camps are open all day, so spend as much or as little time as you choose. Children of all ages and groups of all kinds enjoy the annual re-enactment. Tickets are on sale now for this event. Visit or call 1-800-514-3849 for reservations. General admission prices range from $29.00 to $99.00 per ticket depending on seating options and single-day or multi-day passes. Group prices are available for groups of 15 people or more. Please call 1-800-514-3849 for group prices and reservations.

applesNational Apple Harvest Festival (October 3-4, 10-11, 2015): The National Apple Harvest Festival ( is held just outside of Gettysburg in Bigglerville, Pennsylvania during the first two weekends of October. The even celebrates the traditional fall treat–the apple! From a wide range of food all featuring the apple to activities, games, and events all with an apple theme, there is surely something for everyone. For the crafter in your group, a craft fair is held in conjunction with the Festival. Advanced and group ticket sales are available. For more information, call the National Apple Harvest office for more information at 717-677-9413.

For a complete list of events in and around Gettysburg, please visit



  1. Choose a time of year you want to visit. Outside of the busy summer season, the best time to visit is either April and May or September and October. If you’re going to the re-enactment, make plans early. Tickets sell quickly. Even if you don’t get tickets to the re-enactment event, there are plenty of things to do. Plan your itinerary so that you arrive in Gettysburg early to make the most of your day.
  2. Bring an appetite. There are great downtown eateries from the Lincoln Dinner on Carlisle Street to the Hotel Gettysburg on the square. The outskirts of town also offers several choices including the Dobbin House Tavern and Pickett’s Charge Buffet. Most places accept groups, but be sure to call ahead to reserve your seats.
  3. Dress appropriately. Wear seasonally appropriate clothing and comfortable shoes. If you attend a specific event, it can include a lot of walking.
  4. Bring spending money. You’ll want to take a memento home with you. Gettysburg has plenty of gift shops, antique shops, and niche market stores for all price points.
  5. Have fun! Whether you visit the off-the-beaten path attractions like Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum or the Land of Little Horses or if you attend the annual re-enactment, Gettysburg will put a smile on your face and provide an enjoyable time for your group.


(Administrative Offices)
Destination Gettysburg
571 West Middle Street
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

(Brick and mortar location)
Gettysburg National Military Park
Visitors Center
1195 Baltimore Pike

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