A travel lesson in history: Gettysburg, PA.

Gettysburg – Now we know what you are thinking…Civil War! History class! Blah! Blah! And for the most part you are right. Most of us are familiar with Gettysburg because of the massive part it played in the Civil War and thus in American history. But a trip to Gettysburg can be so much more than just an 8th grade field trip. We have to admit we had no idea what to expect before rolling into town. We were picturing a museum, a field with an old wooden fence around it, and some guy in colonial garb recalling obscure facts at will. So, we were pleasantly surprised to discover beautiful farms full of sprawling hills dotted with bright red barns surrounding a quant downtown bustling with vintage charm. Having said that- there is a museum, a bunch of fields, and that guy is in fact there, but more on that later. Lets start with the views!

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Unless you are downtown, you cannot drive anywhere without being completely surrounded by corn, barns, and fields full of monuments. Oh, the monuments! Over 1,328 of them to be exact! The monuments were all different shapes and sizes, ranging from a tiny square to two story archways where you can climb to the top. There are about a dozen different monuments in your line of sight looking in any direction. To be honest, we didn’t know what to make of this at first. We obviously respect the reason they are there, and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into each one. However, as the day went along, the more we realized what a completely unique situation we found ourselves in. How many places can you go and experience this mash of agriculture, history, and art brought together on such a large scale?

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Now on to that museum we mentioned before. Yeah that’s right… we are going to try and sell you on a history museum, And we are going to do it in one word: Cyclorama! The Gettysburg Museum is a great stop if you are truly interested in the historical part of this area. There is always a demonstration or reenactment going on, making not learning something new almost impossible. However the real reason you are want to make this a stop is the Cyclorama. Included with the price of admission is an unexpectedly well-done movie about Gettysburg produced by the History Channel and narrated by Morgan Freeman. Once the movie has finished you are taken upstairs to a huge circular room that houses the 42ft tall, 377 ft wide 360-degree oil-on-canvas painting. The sheer size of this thing is worth the trip but add that to a light show and narrative that brings the painting to life, and this was a very unexpected highlight to our time in town.

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Now if you are doing it right, you should be getting ready for lunch and that means it’s time to head into town. Not far into town you will come across The Dobbin House. This is the place you want. When you make your way inside, you will come across a gift shop followed by a banquet room. So that means, like us, you missed it, probably because you were trying not to make eye contact with those guys in colonial garb that you still can’t figure out if they are employees or just really enthusiastic. So you want to take about 4 steps back and look to your left. Yep there it is! A tiny, poorly lit staircase leading you to what appears to be the basement where you will meet your untimely demise. Thankfully once you brave the unknowing stairs, you will find yourself in The Springhouse Tavern. Dripping candles light all of the tables and you feel as though you have stepped back in time. We would recommend the French Onion Soup paired with any of the sandwiches. You’re good and full and now it’s time to shop!

We are only going to touch on shopping briefly because honestly, we were not that impressed. Walking from street to street you get your run-of-the-mill souvenir shops mixed in with a few restaurants and places to book ghost tours. That’s pretty much it. If you are in the market for civil war t-shirts and miniature cannons then you are in luck, but you don’t get the broad appeal that you find at most souvenir stores. However, while Gettysburg didn’t quite deliver on the souvenir shopping, they did bring it with the farmer’s markets.

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There is nothing we love more than supporting local farmers and brands that hail from the area we are traveling in. So obviously we had to make the short drive to the outskirts of town and check out the local produce scene. We enjoyed The Round Barn in particular where we picked up a sampling of local apples, peaches, pickles, and lemonade.

Ok so it’s getting late, the sun is starting to set, and you are getting ready to head out of town – but not before you make one last stop at Sachs Covered Bridge. Like basically the entirety of Gettysburg, there is talk of this bridge being haunted. While we didn’t meet Casper, we did get to spend some time walking the bridge, originally built in 1854, and soaking in the last drops of sunlight while reflecting back on a very unique day of history, art, and nature.

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*Pro-tips from an unprofessional*

Tip #1: The Abraham Lincoln Memorial located in Soldier’s National Cemetery is deceivingly not where President Lincoln actually gave the Gettysburg address. If you would like to head over to the exact spot those famous words were spoken, the address was given at the Soldier’s National Monument, just a short walk roughly 300 feet towards the middle of the cemetery.

Tip #2: If you want the best ice cream in the city, run-don’t walk- to Mr G’s for their soft serve and root beer floats. Sooo good.

Hey! We are always looking for the opinions of locals to tell us where to go next! Let’s talk down in the comments!

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