American history is so much more than a few lines on some pages. In fact, when start digging into it, it’s downright fascinating. This rings particularly true in Gettysburg, PA. A recent trip proved it. From interactive museum tours to battlefield walks, here are 6 historically fun things to do in Gettysburg with kids.
Disclosure: We were graciously hosted by the fine folks of Destination Gettysburg to give you the scoop on what makes it so great for families. All opinions are my own!
Have you even been to Gettysburg, PA? If you love American history it should be on your bucket list. And even if you’re not a fan, there’s a good chance you may become one with a visit. From interactive museum tours to battlefield walks, here are my top picks when taking kids.
Of course, if you’re over 21, Gettysburg and Adams County have a very good beer, wine, and liquor trail. Here’s the scoop on the Adams County Pour Tour.
1. Fun Things to Do in Gettysburg with Kids: Walk in the Footsteps of Civil War Soldiers
If you have kids that love the outdoors there truly is no better way to experience the battle of Gettysburg than to hike the battlefield itself. This Fourth of July we headed to the Gettysburg National Military Park and actually took part in a family hike. By walking in the footsteps of the soldiers, both Union and Confederate, and hearing a detailed explanation from a national park ranger, the epic battle was retold beautifully.
When you visit, make sure to check the schedule for battle walk dates and time. Parking is first come, first served, too. If you’re planning a visit on a holiday or weekend make sure to save plenty of time to find a spot. Also, bring plenty of water to keep hydrated- the walks can last two to three hours or more.
Family History Hike and Battle Walks Location: 1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100 Gettysburg, PA 17325
2. Tour the City, Double Decker-Style
Maybe it’s too hot on the day you visit. Or maybe your kids aren’t the walking types. Or lastly, maybe you want a different view of the battle fields. Whatever the reason, Gettysburg Battlefield Tours is a really good choice. Double-decker bus style, you’ll have two options when you ride. If it’s nice outside you can sit in the upper open air sections. If not, grab some seat in the glass enclosed indoor area.
The bus tours fill up very quickly. So if you’re planning a visit lock down a tour very quickly. On our two hour bus tour, we had a very knowledgeable tour guide that gave us information via earbuds. There are also a couple planned pit stops including a coffee shop and Little Round Top. Again, stay hydrated and bring plenty of water. Especially on hot days. Oh, and don’t forget that sunscreen, you’ll need it.
Gettysburg Battlefield Tours Location: 778 Baltimore Street Gettysburg, PA 17325
3. Fun Things to Do in Gettysburg with Kids: See the City in a Cupola
One of the coolest things we did over fourth of July weekend was make the check over to the Seminary Ridge Museum cupola. Yes, it’s an additional charge apart from standard admission, but it really is worth it. You’ll get an 360 degree, unobstructed view of both the Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding area.
So let’s talk about the actual museum for a minute. With three floor and several interactive displays, there’s plenty of opportunities for kids to learn about the battle of Gettysburg and how the seminary played a key role. When you visit make sure to plan at least an hour at the museum and even more time if you’re heading up to the cupola.
Seminary Ridge Museum Location: 111 Seminary Ridge Gettysburg, PA 17325
4. Understand the Civil War with a Show
A must stop when visiting the Gettysburg area is a visit to the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. THE place to learn about the battle of Gettysburg, time tickets offer everything from a museum experience, Cyclorama, to a movie. The location is very popular (translation: very busy!) so my advise is to there early and get your tickets.
On our visit, we learned plenty of facts about the Battle of Gettysburg, saw plenty of artifacts, and came home with a new admiration for the soldiers and other folks that lent a hand in the battle.
Tip: When you visit, block out at least two or three hour so you don’t have to rush through everything.
Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center Location:1195 Baltimore Pike Gettysburg, PA 17325
5. Fun Things to Do in Gettysburg with Kids: Learn about the Lives of a Civil War Family
The last day of our visit we had the pleasure of visiting the Shriver House Museum (SHM). And while I won’t say we saved the best for last, it was certainly one of our favorite things to do when we visited.
What we loved about the SHM was the fact that the docents led the tour in full costume. During our walk around both properties, we learned so much about the Shrivers and how even nonmilitary folk had to help in the Battle of Gettysburg. Without writing any spoilers, the Shriver family definitely paid their military dues in more than one way. In my opinion, SHM is a must do when you visit.
Shriver House Museum Location: 309 Baltimore St Gettysburg, PA 17325
6. Stand Where President Lincoln Gave His Famous Speech
Look, I’m a self-professed American history nerd, er, buff. It’s the tiny details that really bring it to life for me. And, it’s those details I’ve always shared with my daughter. So, having the opportunity to stand where President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address was a remarkable moment.
It’s located inside the Gettysburg National Cemetery, so look for the signs to lead the way. Honestly, you can’t miss the tribute.
Gettysburg National Cemetery Location: 1195 Baltimore Pike Gettysburg, PA 17325