Gettysburg: A Visitors Guide to Gettysburg, PA

Gettysburg Cannon

Rachel Cooper

Gettysburg is known for its three-day battle in 1863, but today the historic town is a year-round destination with a wide range of attractions and events. History lovers from around the world visit the Gettysburg Battlefield to learn about the Civil War and explore the Pennsylvania countryside. More than 165,000 soldiers fought in the Battle of Gettysburg and 51,000 soldiers became casualties in what remains the largest battle ever fought in North America.
Even if you are not a history buff, there is plenty to do in the Gettysburg area to keep you busy for a full weekend getaway. Gettysburg is a charming historical town with great antique shops and art galleries. The beautiful countryside of Adams County is apple country and home to the National Apple Museum and the Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail. The area is quickly evolving into a prime destination for food tours and agritourism experiences.

The Majestic Theatre offers live theatrical performances, concerts, and movies. Over the last few years, many new attractions and tours have been added to appeal to a wider range of visitors. A "must see" is the Gettysburg Cyclorama, a massive 360-degree oil painting of the Battle of Gettysburg that was first exhibited in 1884 and refurbished in 2008.

Getting to Gettysburg

Gettysburg is located 84 miles north of Washington DC, in Adams County, PA just north of the Maryland line. It is easy to get to - just take I-270 North to US-15 North and follow the signs to Gettysburg. Don't have a car? Take a tour from Washington DC. (Departing from Union Station March through November).

Main Attractions in Gettysburg

  • Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center - 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg PA. The Visitor Center tells the story of the American Civil War and Battle of Gettysburg through a variety of exhibits, interactive displays, films, and the Gettysburg Cyclorama. There’s also an education center, bookstore, computer resource room and restaurant. This is the best place to start your visit to Gettysburg.
  • Gettysburg National Military Park - Along over 40 miles of scenic roads, 1,400 monuments, markers, and memorials commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg. The National Park Service offers 2.5 hour guided bus tours and private car tours (a licensed guide will drive your car). You can also purchase a CD audio tour for your car from the museum book store. During the summer months, visitors enjoy summer ranger programs like battlefield walks, evening campfire programs, and special living history programs and concerts.
  • Seminary Ridge Museum - Located on the Seminary campus and part of the Gettysburg Battlefield’s hallowed ground, the museum interprets the first day of the battle, the care of the wounded and human suffering that took place within Schmucker Hall during its use as a field hospital and the moral, and civic and spiritual debates of the Civil War era.
  • Eisenhower National Historic Site - 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg PA. Dwight D. Eisenhower retired in Gettysburg after World War II. Visitors can tour the President's home, enjoy a self-guided walk around the farm, or join a park ranger for a guided tour.
  • David Wills House - 8 Lincoln Square, Gettysburg, PA. The historic home of the Gettysburg attorney where President Lincoln stayed on the eve of delivering his Gettysburg Address is open to the public with exhibits about Gettysburg and the Soldiers' National Cemetery.
  • Shriver House Museum - 309 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, PA The museum provides a glimpse at the civilian experience during and after the deadliest battle ever fought on American soil. The home of George and Hettie Shriver has been restored to its original 1860's appearance and displays many artifacts from that time period.
  • Gettysburg Diorama - 241 Steinwehr Ave. Gettysburg, PA More than 20,000 hand-painted miniatures bring the Battle of Gettysburg alive with a sound and light show describing the battle.
  • American Civil War Museum - 297 Steinwehr Ave Gettysburg, PA. The wax museum presents the story of the Civil War era and the Battle of Gettysburg with remarkable realism.
  • Land of Little Horses - 125 Glennwood Drive, Gettysburg, PA Enjoy one of Gettysburg’s most popular family-friendly attractions where you’ll meet and feed the farm’s miniature horses and other farm friends and see a show in the main arena.
  • National Apple Museum - 154 W Hanover Street Biglerville, PA. This museum, located 6 miles north of Gettysburg, is housed in a restored pre-Civil War bank barn and displays exhibits of early picking, packing, and shipping of fruit, pest management, and commercial fruit processing equipment.
  • Majestic Theater Performing Arts Center - 25 Carlisle Street, Gettysburg, PA The historic theatre was beautifully restored in 2005 and offers a wide range of performing arts and cinema.

While there are many ways to enjoy visiting Gettysburg, some of the best experiences include taking a guided tour or attending a special event. Following are a variety of resources to help you plan an excursion that best suits your needs.

Bus Tours of the Gettysburg Battlefield

  • Gettysburg National Battlefield Park - The National Park Service offers 2.5 hour guided bus tours departing from the Gettysburg Visitor Center.
  • Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides – Take a ride with a Licensed Battlefield Guide through the Gettysburg Battlefield and stop at major points such as Little Round Top, Pickett’s Charge and Devil’s Den. Hire a guide to ride in your own car and customize a battlefield tour to meet your needs.
  • Historic Battlefield Bus Tours - Enjoy your Battlefield tour in a restored classic 1930's Yellowstone bus.
  • Gettysburg Battlefield Bus Tours – Take a guided battlefield tour on a double-decker bus.

Private Battlefield Tours in Your Own Car

  • Gettysburg National Battlefield Park - The National Park Service offers private car tours (a licensed guide will drive your car).
  • Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides – Hire a guide to ride in your own car and customize a battlefield tour to meet your needs.

Walking Tours of Gettysburg

Lincoln’s Lost Treasure - Explore historic Downtown Gettysburg during a LIVE two and a half hour interactive scavenger hunt. Aided by a few historical artifacts, you are sent off to piece together hidden clues that can unravel the location to treasury gold that has been lost for over a century. Encounter eccentric and engaging cast members, decode cryptic clues, and dodge FBI agents as you traverse the city’s famous streets, hidden shops, and historical landmarks.

Segway Tours

Segway Tours of Gettysburg - Take a Segway personal transporter on a spin through the town of Gettysburg and join a Licensed Battlefield Guide for a unique experience. Along the way, you’ll learn about the Battle of Gettysburg, with rest stops at key locations on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Horseback Riding Tours of the Gettysburg Battlefield

  • National Riding Stables at Artillery Ridge Campground – Join the cavalry unit and tour the Gettysburg National Military Park by horseback.
  • Hickory Hollow Horse Farm – Enjoy a 1 to 4 hour scenic rides led by a professional Park Service historian.
  • Confederate Trails of Gettysburg – Take a 1 or 2 hour guided horseback tour of the battlefield.

Ghost Tours

  • Ghostly Images - With so much death that occurred in Gettysburg, the town is known to be one of the most haunted places in the country. Hear the stories of paranormal activity.
  • Farnsworth House Candlelight Ghost Walks - Visit the most haunted B&B in Gettysburg and hear stories of the ghosts who live there. Take a walk through the haunted town and learn more.
  • Gettysburg Ghost Tours - Hear the stories of paranormal activity in Gettysburg.

Annual Events in Gettysburg

  • May - Apple Blossom Festival
  • June - Gettysburg Festival
  • July - Annual Civil War Reenactment - 19th Century Baseball Festival
  • August - Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival
  • September - Gettysburg Wine & Music Fest - Eisenhower WWII Weekend
  • October - National Apple Harvest Festival
  • November -Anniversary of Gettysburg Address
  • December - Holidays in Historic Gettysburg