History buffs abound in the D.C. area and, if you’re one of them, chances are you’ve explored every war memorial, battlefield or museum in Washington, D.C. For a deep dive into American history that’s a quick weekend trip from the DMV, take a drive up to Gettysburg, PA.
The quaint town is filled with sites that will spark the interests of every family member (history enthusiast or not) and hold the attention of kids as well.
Take a Battlefield Tour
A major turning point of the Civil War occurred on the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania when Union General George Meade and his army stopped General Robert E. Lee from invading the North, resulting in the largest number of casualties of the war.
The two-hour licensed guided battlefield tour by Horse Tours of Gettysburg will transport you to where it all happened. Expert guides give step-by-step accounts of the historic battle, leaving you with a deep knowledge of the intricacies involved in battle strategy, as you wander through Gettysburg National Military Park.
You’ll have goosebumps listening to a Civil War expert eloquently describe the failure of Pickett’s Charge as you gaze out at the battlefield where American history was made.
For artifacts and additional interactive stories, head to the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War.
Don’t forget to historic site where President Abraham Lincoln made his famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, on November 19, 1863.
Stand in the Gettysburg National Cemetery, maintained by the National Park Service, to give your kids a chance to see what they are already learning about in school.
What they learn in Gettysburg will stay with them long after you return home.
Book Some of Our Favorite Gettysburg Tours!
Go Apple Picking
Pennsylvania is one of the top apple-producing states in the country, and scenic orchards are a 10 to15 minute drive from downtown Gettysburg.
Put Adams County (also known as Apple Country USA) on your weekend itinerary and stop by Boyer Nurseries and Orchard in Biglerville—the charming, fifth generation family-owned business offers fruit picking and a farm market in addition to a tasting room with a selection of red, white and sparkling wines and hard cider.
Fill up a bag with apples and then relax at the bar with a glass of apple wine.
Over the first two weekends of every October, the National Apple Harvest Festival sets up shop nearby with local crafts, music and every apple product you can think of.
If you’d rather make the goodies yourself, Hollabaugh Bros. offers apple dumpling cooking classes.
Headed to Shenandoah National Park too? Don’t miss these epic waterfall hikes!
Check Out Distilleries and Breweries
Gettysburg’s spirits scene goes beyond cider and wine (and the ghosts rumored to inhabit the battlefield). With a growing number of breweries and distilleries in and around town, these establishments are fun and even family-friendly spots to enjoy a beverage or a meal.
FourScore Beer Co.
At FourScore Beer Co., burgers, wings, salads and wagyu hot dogs are on the menu. Order the beer flight to try four tasty selections, from smooth IPAs to refreshing fruit beers.
Mason Dixon Distillery
Small-batch spirits at Mason Dixon Distillery include corn whiskey and Genever. Enjoy them with a side of comfort food like hot chicken sandwiches, poutine and fried brussels sprouts.
*What is Genever? Also known Jenever, it is as juniper-flavored traditional liquor in the Netherlands, Belgium and adjoining areas in northern France and northwestern Germany. It is similar to a gin, but not quite a gin because it is made from grains like rye, malted barley and corn.
Dobbin House Tavern
Dobbin House Tavern, established in 1776, is a beautifully restored colonial manor restaurant that brings history to your dining experience; the house served as a field hospital after the Battle of Gettysburg. Inside, you can enjoy an assortment of Tippling Drinks along with hearty entrees; no amputated limbs included.
Stay at a Historic Gettysburg Hotel
Stay in a Civil War era building for a truly authentic experience when visiting Gettysburg, PA.
Inn at Lincoln Square
The Inn at Lincoln Square, located in an early 19th century brick townhouse in the center of town, is within walking distance of museums, restaurants and shops. It’s also surprisingly affordable and offers free onsite parking.
The Gettysburg Hotel was established in 1797 and has seen its fair share of history. With an outdoor pool the kids will be in heaven. Walk to everything the town has to offer and the Gettysburg national park is just a short drive away.
For a more modern hotel experience, the Wyndham Gettysburg is an excellent choice. Its grand lobby boasts period furnishings and greets you with a Civil War canon in the lobby!
It features an indoor swimming pool and a convivial restaurant/bar.
Shop for Unique Gifts
One-of-a-kind specialty shops abound in Gettysburg, one of our favorite towns to do a little holiday shopping or just browsing for unique finds.
Carver’s Toy Trains
Carver’s Toy Trains is stuffed to the brim with vintage and collectible toy trains; model train enthusiasts will be in heaven.
The Christmas Haus sells authentic German Christmas decorations. It’s fun to just poke around and see what they have in stock, especially the German candle carousels.
Bring your kids to the candy store SWEET! for more than 3,000 items including retro treats. Just remember to have the kids pace themselves or they could have a sugar overload.
If you are looking for unique gifts, jewelry, artists’ crafts, paper goods and everything in between, Lark Gifts has exactly what you need. Best of all, it’s connected by a thruway to Mt. Hope Estate and Winery where you can pick up cider, beer, wine and spirits for friends or yourself.
The Regimental Quartermaster
The Regimental Quartermaster sells attire and accessories for Civil War reenactments for all of the Civil war enthusiasts in your family. Other gift shops and art galleries specialize in historical and patriotic merchandise, including Blue & Gray Gift Shop, which is a local favorite.
The Outlet Shoppes of Gettysburg
For more mainstream fare, The Outlet Shoppes of Gettysburg boasts more than 60 stores including GAP Factory, Under Armor and POLO Ralph Lauren. The shops aren’t too far from from downtown Gettysburg and you are sure to see them on your way in and out of town if you are headed to or from Washington, D.C.
Looking for more Gettysburg Hotels? Here are a Few of our favorites
- Gettysburg Hotel: Historic hotel in the center of downtown Gettysburg
- Federal Pointe Inn: Boutique hotel in a former school
- James Gettys Hotel: Free breakfast and Wi-Fi plus suites available
- Wyndham Gettysburg: Pets allowed and a pool
- Hilton Garden Inn: Free parking, pool and spa
Still can’t find what you are looking for? Check Booking.com
Need more space? Check out a Gettysburg Airbnb!
- 1890s Victorian – Heritage House: 9 guests · 4 bedrooms · 4 beds · 1.5 baths
- Historic Stahle House 1st Floor: 4 guests · 2 bedrooms · 2 beds · 1 bath
- Thaddeus Stevens’ Gettysburg Log Home: 6 guests · 3 bedrooms · 3 beds · 1.5 baths
- Historic house in the heart of Gettysburg: 6 guests · 3 bedrooms · 5 beds · 1.5 baths
- Lovely apartment in the heart of Gettysburg: 4 guests · 1 bedroom · 2 beds · 1 bath