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Visiting the Gettysburg National Park & Museum with Kids

We rolled into Gettysburg, PA on a cold Sunday afternoon right after our dogs were sprayed by a skunk at our stop in Ohio. The drive from Ohio to Pennsylvania was rather interesting as we weaved back and forth along the PA and WV lines and eventually ended up in Maryland before heading north to Gettysburg. The mountains driving from OH to PA reminded us of our time exploring out West. It was worth the trip, even without Gettysburg.

My goal with this Guide to Gettysburg is to give you a sample of what there is to do and what we felt worked best for us. Be sure to DM on IG @Wander.Awaits if you’d like more details.

THE GETTYSBURG MUSEUM & VISITOR CENTER

I want to start by saying that I feel you should head to the museum and visitor center FIRST. While seeing the monuments and the hallowed ground there is educational and informative, it is all brought together if you go the museum and watch the video, see the cyclorama and do the museum tour BEFORE you head out to see the rest. We all felt that it put things into perspective for us. We learned things we had never heard (or realized) before.

Side note: Join the Friends of Gettysburg for discounted tickets if you’re a large family. We saved nearly $50 by becoming friends vs purchasing the entry at the museum booth.

You aren’t allowed to record or photograph the video or cyclorama so we don’t have anything to share from either of them.

WHAT TO SEE IN GETTYSBURG

There’s A LOT to see in Gettysburg. If you’re looking for monuments, historical locations, battlefields – this is the place for you.

The State of Pennsylvania Monument is by far one of the most gorgeous in Gettysburg. Topped with an angel with a sword and palm, the monument features four pillars. Each side is adorned with carvings, names, bronze statues and quotes.

There is a door in the inside of one of the pillars. You can enter and go up a winding staircase that goes all the way to the the top just below the dome. The winding staircase is wet, so watch your step. It’s lined with copper and there’s no way for the moisture to escape.

From from the top.

The eternal light peace memorial is located at the top of a stronghold that was held by confederate troops. There are many monuments that line the road here. There’s also a lookout tower where you can look over the battlefields.

A row of cannons perched at the hilltop near the eternal light peace memorial.

Row of monuments from the lookout tower.

An old farm sits just below the ridge of the hill held by confederate forces.

OTHER PLACES IN GETTYSBURG YOU SHOULD SEE

When Lincoln was preparing to give the Gettysburg Address, he stayed at the David Wills House. This house is free to explore and is part of the National Park Service.

Sachs Covered Bridge was used by both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War. The bridge is closed to traffic, but you can pull up and see it. You can learn more about Sachs Covered Bridge here.

If you’re going to spend any amount of time in Gettysburg, you really should visit the shops. There are several antique shops, relic shops and other unique stops we recommend stopping at. There are many places like the Jennie Wade house and others that might be worth a look.

WHERE TO EAT IN GETTYSBURG

A friend suggested a few places to eat while we were in Gettysburg. We really tried to hit them all, but long waits or closures when we were there meant we missed out on some of the top recommendations.

We tried to get to the Dobbin House Tavern, but there was an hour wait. It came highly recommended by a friend and the locals.

When Dobbin House didn’t work out, we hit The Upper Crust. The pizza was hand tossed and baked in an oven. The toppings were first class, fresh and delicious.

We left them a four star review. The boys all agreed that they deserved a five star, and honestly, they did for the food, but that check – whew. For six of us we were well into $$$ at $18 a piece for a 12 inch pizza.

The Blue & Gray Bar & Grill came highly recommended and ended up being the only place we ate at twice. The boys loved the burgers (they are burger snobs). There were many choices and styles to choose from, but they chose the Jennie Wade. I had the hand battered chicken strips and waffle fries. Everyone loved their sweet potato waffle fries as well. Service at the Blue & Gray was stellar. It’s worth a stop, 100%.

WHERE TO STAY IN GETTYSBURG

We stayed at the Artillery Ridge Campground that is literally a minute from the park. If you’re traveling by RV, there are many campgrounds in the area. We choose Artillery Ridge because they had miniature golf, a play set, waterpark and horse riding. They were all, except for the playground, closed for the year. There are also many hotels, but we get the feeling you’re going to want to book well in advance for either if you’re going during a popular time of year.

THE WRAP UP

Gettysburg is full of rich history and turning-point moments for our nation. We learned so much during our week there and were so grateful that it has been preserved for us and others. We highly recommend it. We left Gettysburg and headed to Washington, DC where we immediately went to the Lincoln Monument and Arlington National Cemetery. The Civil War fresh in our memory, seeing these locations and taking the bus tour with a host really helped our kids learn the magnitude of the Civil War.

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