I just got back from a week-long visit to my sister, the lovely Cambria from Live to be Inspired. She moved across the country to Pennsylvania and just had her first beautiful baby girl! I was spoiled with dozens of newborn snuggles – in between making meals and doing tiny, adorable laundry, of course.
On the last day of our visit my sister decided that she was up for a road trip. We made the drive to Gettysburg and had just enough time to see the highlights of the historic city. Here are our top five recommendations if you only have a day or a few hours in this amazing place!
1. David Wills House
Many of the museums close between 4-5 pm, but we were able to spend about 45 minutes at the The David Wills House. This was perfect to help us get our bearings of the city! The Civil War refresher course was definitely needed as well. With several interactive exhibits and short films, it easily kept the attention of my five year old nephew. Plus we were able to get maps and brochures to help us navigate the rest of Gettysburg.
Seeing the room Abraham Lincoln slept in and must have pondered the Gettysburg address in was awe-inspiring. There is something uniquely special about learning history in the places where it actually occurred. I could scarcely imagine the more than 50,000 soldiers descending upon this tiny town, much less losing their lives there. The statistics were astounding and the accounts of brother vs. brother, friend vs. friend where heart-wrenching.
2. Gettysburg National Military Park
My father, the history officiando who we had on speed dial during our trip, highly recommends beginning your visit at the National Park Service and Museum for the Gettysburg National Military Park. We arrived after hours so we were out of luck! But if you do have time, the Gettysburg Cyclorama is an excellent way to see the scope of the battle before going out into the fields.
You could truly spend hours walking the paths, but with evening approaching we spent a few quiet moments on the ridge across from the cemetery admiring the beauty of Gettysburg and feeling humbled by what took place there.
3. The Soldiers National Cemetery
We crossed the road to the Soldiers National Cemetery – something I definitely did not want to miss as part of our evening in Gettysburg. My sister paused at the entrance with her little boy to talk about silence and respect for the soldiers and what took place there. It was a sweet moment to witness. It is important to teach our children facts and dates, but it is just as vital to teach them the morals and feelings that encompassed such events.
As you walk the paths of the cemetery, you truly get a feeling of treading on hallowed ground. The sacrifice of each man buried there became very apparent and embedded in my heart.
4. The Pub & Restaurant
To round out our visit to Gettysburg, our last stop was dinner. As we poured over restaurant recommendations in the area, we all agreed that we wanted to eat somewhere unique to Gettysburg. Hoping to find a place with a touch of history, we discovered The Pub & Restaurant in Historic Lincoln Square. Right across the street from the David Wells House! Our request to eat out on the patio gave us a perfect view of the history-steeped establishments on the square. Be sure to have quarters on hand for the parking meters around the square.
I love dining family style so we selected several appetizers and a pizza to share. The food was as amazing as the surroundings. The fresh baked Italian bread smothered in cheese and flavored with garlic was a favorite as well as the Southwest egg rolls with an avocado dipping sauce that stole the show. The Caprese pizza was just as much a crowd-pleasure with its fresh spinach, house Bruschetta mix, and mozzarella and Fontina cheeses. Feast your eyes on the ooey-gooey yumminess!
5. Child-Friendly Gettysburg
Our visit to Gettysburg was relatively child friendly. With more time I would do the junior ranger program for children at the Visitors Center. The interactive programs allow the children to experience for themselves what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War by handling equipment, documents, and uniforms from the era (in a safe and age-appropriate manner, of course!)
While I was at the David Wills House, I picked selected a board book, The Story of Abraham Lincoln for my children’s souvenir. My children are ages 2-7 years old so it was right on their level of reading and understanding. It is available for purchase at the store or you can order it ahead of time to prepare your children for their visit to Gettysburg. My five year old nephew and I talked about Gettysburg in a simplified manner on the ride there and I think that it helped to pique his curiousity.
My evening in Gettysburg was just enough to whet my appetite for a return visit. While I am grateful for the brief time I had to walk the hallowed paths, I am eager to return to places of such historic significance. There is so much we can learn from our past and pass on to our children!
Have you been to Gettysburg?
What is your favorite historical place that you have visited?
What historical place is on your bucket list to visit?