So you want to visit the Gettysburg Battlefield? A local perspective

I grew up in Harrisburg, PA.  I love visiting the battlefield.

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I take my boys to Gettysburg every summer for multiple visits.

Looking at Little Round Top from Devil's Den

Looking at Little Round Top from Devil’s Den

Our visits are built around the energy level and attention level of our kids.  This post is written for a busy family that may not know very much about the Civil War.

Climbing Devil's Den

Climbing Devil’s Den

Come on boys! Let’s give ’em the cold steel! General Armistead –Pickett’s Charge

The fastest place to get your little ones to like the battlefield is at Devil's Den. At first, this was the only place I went. Then I just drove around when they were tired and satisfied my own agenda.

The fastest place to get your little ones to like the battlefield is at Devil’s Den. The rocks are AWESOME. This never gets old. We play here for hours and then squeeze in a little on the side gradually covering the battlefield. But this is the reason they cheer when I say we are going to Gettysburg.

Before you go, buy this auto tour CD. It can stand alone, listen to it even if you are not at Gettysburg. Wayne Motts makes the battle come alive, he’s amazing. This title is not in print anymore, but you can find it used if you look for around 15.00 or less.

Gettysburg Field Guide by Wayne Motts

Gettysburg Field Guide by Wayne Motts

We go to the visitor’s center, parking is free. We skip the museum and interactive exhibits. It’s too tempting to head to the battlefield. We drive using the map the guides marked for us. I also have a copy of  Colonel Jacob Melchoir Sheads’ guidebook.

 

I’d rather invest that time at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg. Call and ask about their community free days. ((866) 258-4729).

If you go in the summer the hills are covered with honeysuckle. This is Brady sipping the nectar. A happy summer memory for me!

If you go in the summer the hills are covered with honeysuckle. This is Brady sipping the nectar. A happy summer memory for me!

Ask a park employee to mark a map. These are my favorite destinations for a quick visit that does not overwhelm. It is so easy to get overwhelmed at Gettysburg!

we buy foam swords and squire guns at a drugstore. in the spring/summer they are stocked in this sort of thing. if you visit in winter you might have to order online.

We buy foam swords and squirt guns at a drugstore. in the spring/summer they are stocked in this sort of thing. if you visit in winter you might have to order online. We like popguns too.  

A couple of great DVDs to add to your Gettysburg experience are:

This is on my wish list, it's expensive. I hope it's worth the price.

This is on my wish list, it’s expensive. I hope it’s worth the price. Have you seen it?

of course the Ken Burns documentary about the Civil War (links to IMDB review).

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and the movie Gettysburg (links to review by Roger Ebert)

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There are thousands of books about Gettysburg, if I had to choose a few to read before you came, it would be The Killer Angels or Hallowed Ground, a Walk at Gettysburg (short!) or for the kids I survived the Battle of Gettysburg.

After a busy day on the battlefield, we always go to Friendly’s. It is a three minute drive from Devil’s Den. On certain days, kids eat free. Another place to call ahead about.

look up the ghost stories online to give yourself a chill

look up the ghost stories online to give yourself a chill

of if a crowded kid restaurant is not to your liking, picnic at the Sach’s Covered Bridge. It was built in 1852, it’s haunted and very pretty. Directions to the bridge link here. Trip Advisor comments here.

I hope you love visiting Gettysburg as much as we do.

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