Located a mere 82 miles from Washington, DC, just into the south central part of Pennsylvania, the borough of Gettysburg welcomes visitors today to some of the most famous real estate in the country’s history.
This beautiful little town of less than 8,000 inhabitants sees millions of visitors each year. No wonder. In addition to the battlefields, Gettysburg is surrounded by natural beauty: Michaux State Forest, the Appalachian Trail and three state parks. Top that off with a fabulous wine trail and a hot new food scene, and you’ve got the makings of a great vacation.
The Gettysburg Battlefield
When people first hear the name Gettysburg, minds swiftly try to fathom the bloodshed in those three famous days of July 1863. Incomprehensible to most, 51,000 died and the town was devastated. Today, through a wonderful reconstruction and restoration, people can come and learn about those events in a variety of ways:
- Licensed battlefield tour guides
- Horseback tours
- Ranger led walks on the battlefield
- Group tours
- Self-guided driving tours
- Walking tour of the Soldiers National Cemetery
- Ghost and paranormal tours
- House tours
- Segway and scooter tours
We hadn’t allowed ourselves enough time (a commonly heard complaint) and had to see as much as possible in a short amount of time, so we opted for the self-driving tour of the battlefield. Be sure to pick up the free map at the Ranger Station as you enter the park for great background on the sites you’ll be seeing.
As you drive around the battlefield, you’ll be assisted by signage that helps retell the account of what happened during those horrific three days. Allow a minimum of two to three hours.
Take the time to climb the tower for a panoramic view of the battlefield.
Soldiers National Cemetery
Just on the outskirts of town, you find the Soldiers National Cemetery on Taneytown Road. No vehicles are allowed in the cemetery, but parking is available just on the other side of the road.
It was here that Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address. After opening remarks by Edward Everett, which went on for two hours, Lincoln stepped up and delivered his 272-word speech in two minutes. Guess whose remarks were remembered?
But there’s more:
Stay tuned (or better yet Subscribe) and we’ll tell you about the fantastic wine, fruit and food trails around Gettysburg that make it definitely a long weekend excursion or better. Foodies will want to read it right now.
For more information to plan your trip, see the Destination Gettysburg Visitors Guide.