To start the summer off, my husband, two children and I took a short drive north to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We spent three nights and four days exploring the small historic town. Located close to Baltimore and Washington DC, Gettysburg has a rich history, and it offers plenty for children to do too.
Gettysburg Itinerary For Families
If you live on the East Coast, Gettysburg can easily be a weekend getaway, but there is much to do there! From day one to the last few minutes of our stay, we packed in as much as we could, but sometimes needed to unwind at the hotel with the kids. Check out some enjoyable activities to do in the first two days of your visit.
One advantage of living only hours from Gettysburg is that we arrived early in the afternoon. After dropping our bags at the Gettysburg Wyndham, we ate lunch at the Appalachian Brewing Company at Gateway Gettysburg. Then, we drove downtown and began exploring.
Walk Around Downtown
Walking is a good way to get familiar with the area. Using my husband’s memory of visiting Gettysburg as a child, we drove past the roundabout downtown. On Steinwehr Avenue, street parking was easy to find.
Looking in tourist shops, walking past ghost tours, and checking out the Old Time photo shops showed us the many options we had for the first evening of our visit.
Mr. G’s Ice Cream
For a delicious treat, get ice cream from Mr. G’s. This was our first stop downtown. Conveniently located on Baltimore Street, Mr. G’s offers a nice variety of homemade ice cream. Everyone ordered an ice cream cone in a different flavor.
Getting ice cream was a highlight of the day to my daughters. It was nice to sit down and enjoy a treat together.
Visit The Memorials Downtown
Only a short walk from where we parked our car, we reached an overlook with memorials. This spot is East Cemetery Hill.
Seeing a historic site got us excited for the many other Civil War attractions we would see. The weather was perfect, and the view was incredible.
My daughter had been listening to a read aloud of a book called What Was The Battle Of Gettysburg. I enjoyed watching history come alive for her. For a detailed, kid-friendly explanation, read this book aloud before you come. The book helped my daughter understand that she was looking at more than just pretty fields and blue skies.
With wide open land, this space was ideal for letting the children stretch their legs after driving. Until a field trip of students arrived, East Cemetery Hill had few visitors. No one seemed to mind that my younger daughter got some of her energy out here.
Check Out Soldier’s National Cemetery
Across from East Cemetery Hill is the Soldier’s National Cemetery. Since this area is more somber, I recommend only bringing your children if they are calm so as not to disturb the other guests. I was impressed with how large and breathtaking the memorials were.
On the second day of our visit, I planned a carriage ride tour of the battlefield and a special dinner for my husband’s birthday.
Take A Carriage Ride Tour Of The Battlefield
For a unique experience, I planned a carriage ride tour of the battlefield through the Victorian Carriage Company. Riding in a carriage appealed to my daughters, while my husband and I enjoyed learning about the history of the battlefields. Our two-hour tour left from the Gettysburg Heritage Center, which conveniently had restrooms and water fountains to use before leaving.
The horses receive very good treatment. Even though it was hot outside, the temperature had not yet reached a certain heat limit that would have meant the horses couldn’t ride. In between rides, the horses rest and rehydrate before continuing.
Starting out on the tour, we continued down Steinwehr Avenue. Seeing the battlefield for the first time, I realized how helpful it was to have a knowledgeable tour guide.
Another benefit of taking a tour was that I learned the roads. Some sections, such as Little Round Top, I knew I would want to come back and visit later.
I enjoyed learning how Gettysburg became so well-preserved. Civil War General Dan Sickles (who is controversial due to his choices during the Battle of Gettysburg) did a commendable job in keeping the battlefield preserved with monuments for all the Northern states that fought here.
Eat At Dobbin House Tavern
Finally, we ended our second day with a dinner at Dobbin House Tavern. Not only is Dobbin House home to a restaurant, but it is also a building that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1776, the building is claimed to have been part of the Underground Railroad.
The seating at Dobbin House is unique. Not only do they have traditional tables, but they also have tables shaped like beds in the Bedroom historic room. That’s where we ate and enjoyed our meal.
Dining at Dobbin House Tavern was a fantastic end to our day, and a wonderful way to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Since he remembers eating here when he was a child, it was neat to come back with his recommendation and to see it as a family.
The first two days at Gettysburg were packed with plenty to do. From eating delicious food to seeing the views of the battlefields, we enjoyed our stay.
Looking for more ideas for visiting Gettysburg? Learn more in Part 2, and click on the below images to check out more articles!