I grew up in Harrisburg, PA. I love visiting the battlefield.
I take my boys to Gettysburg every summer for multiple visits.
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.
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.
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).
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!
- Pennsylvania Memorial (this is a two story monument, so climb the stairs and take in the view, especially love at dawn and dusk)
- Bloody Angle/Copse of Trees —the high water mark of the Confederacy If you can go on a ranger walk for Pickett’s Charge, you will never forget it.
- Trostlers Barn (barn with a bullet hole in it)
- Devil’s Den
- the Wheat Field
- the Peach Orchard
- Little Round Top
- Monument to Irish Brigade (with wolfhound and celtic cross)
- Monument to John Burns, civilian hero of Gettysburg
- Soldiers National Cemetery/Spot where Lincoln made the Gettysburg Address
A couple of great DVDs to add to your Gettysburg experience are:
of course the Ken Burns documentary about the Civil War (links to IMDB review).
and the movie Gettysburg (links to review by Roger Ebert)
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.
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.