Last fall we ventured to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as a family. Rich in history, this beautiful area of the country is a great weekend getaway for the family.
After traveling to South Dakota last summer, you could say that we were bit with the travel bug. With our schedules wide open because the kids were homeschooling, we visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania over a long weekend with my parents last fall.
Based on feedback, many of you wanted to see our itinerary for this trip as well. I truly enjoy researching and scheduling our family vacations. You can probably guess we are not a sit and relax vacation family but one that enjoys seeing new places, discovering history in that area, and exploring every minute we can.
Because of Covid-19 we made our plan based on what was open. We felt very safe as most of what we did was outdoors or with guidelines in place. Of course, only travel when you feel comfortable.
Why Visit Gettysburg?
You’ve probably heard of Gettysburg because of the famous Gettysburg Address that was given by President Lincoln. But the town, in the state of Pennsylvania, is known for the Gettysburg National Battlefield which was a turning point in the Civil War. There’s the Gettysburg Museum, Civil War artifacts, a National Cemetery, and more for all history lovers to explore during a long weekend.
What I love most about Gettysburg is how intentional they have been to preserve the battlefield so that people today can have the same views of what the soldiers saw years ago. The same houses are there without the distraction of modern buildings. It is truly impressive.
Ohio to Gettysburg Pennsylvania Long Weekend Road Trip
The first day was a travel day for us. We chose to drive the entire way on the first day without any stops except for lunch at a rest area. We ended the day by arriving late afternoon at our Airbnb and went to the grocery store to stock up on groceries for the weekend.
Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Welcome Center – This is the best place to start your weekend at Gettysburg. The welcome center allows for a fantastic overview of the time period with a documentary, the museum, and cyclorama. The cyclorama in itself is worth the visit. Don’t skip it. Make sure to make a reservation online before visiting to book your tour time for the morning.
Gettysburg National Cemetery – Our second stop was to visit the national cemetery. We had the unique highlight of visiting the grave of an ancestor which made it all the more special.
Evergreen Cemetery – Right beside the National cemetery is the Evergreen Cemetery which is home to the private citizens of the area. There are many notable people buried there including James Gettys of whom Gettysburg is named after and Jennie Wade who was the only civilian killed during the battle of Gettysburg.
4th Infantry Ohio Monument – Across the road from the Evergreen Cemetery is the marker for the 4th Infantry Ohio Monument. For us, our ancestor was listed there so it was a true highlight. If visiting from another state, you can find your state monuments by visiting here.
General Lee Headquarters – This was a quick stop that held quite a bit of history. Recently renovated it was an interesting historical find to visit.
Eisenhower National Site – While we were not able to tour the inside of the home due to Covid restrictions, we thoroughly enjoyed walking outside on the grounds. Things were very well marked to tell the story of their lives there and we found the National park service to be very helpful and knowledgeable.
Victorian Carriage Tour – This tour was our splurge and it was worth every single penny. After spending the day before learning about Gettysburg this tour brought it to life. There is so much we would not have understood without going on this personal tour and I highly recommend it. Our tour guide was absolutely incredible. Traveling at the speed of a horse made you notice so much more than you would in a car. We loved this part of our trip.
Shriver House Museum – This small house comes alive with fantastic tour guides. I was a little nervous about this stop due to the price but it was so highly rated, we decided to go for it. It was absolutely fantastic because it highlighted the lives of regular citizens during Gettysburg which you don’t learn much about through the other places we visited. The kids were really into this one.
Gettysburg Monuments – It is worth driving around, parking, and visiting many of the monuments. As we learned from our tour, many of them were placed by those who fought at Gettysburg and returned years later to mark the place where they fought.
Flight 93 National Memorial – On our way home we stopped at the Flight 93 memorial. It was incredibly moving. It would also be a convenient stop on the way to Gettysburg, but our visit coincided with September 11th so we visited the following Monday on our way home. Many flowers from family were still there when we visited, and it made it all more real. This was an important stop for my kids to see and understand what happened on that fateful day. Plan to stop there for at least a couple of hours.
Tips for Traveling with Kids
Stay in an Airbnb or rental home. Just like our other trips, we find that staying in a home is so much more relaxing for us as a family. Because we went with my parents on this trip, it was nice for everyone to have their own space. We were able to cook our breakfast and dinner at the home with saved us money but also made us feel more at home.
Pack your Lunch. Because we only had a weekend to experience as much of Gettysburg as possible, packing our lunch allowed us to stay on the go for more of the day.
Travel with Older Kids. My boys are 11 and 9 and really enjoy history. They were really into our visit. However, because Gettysburg is packed with a lot of reading and understanding a unique time period, I’m not sure how much younger children would get out of it.
Prepare your Kids. Before you travel to Gettysburg, read books about the Civil War and Gettysburg before you arrive so they have a basic understanding of what to expect. I also recommend the carriage tour I mentioned above so they can directly ask questions to help them understand.
Structure your day for success. After having a few road trips under our belts, we have found that we have the most success in packing it in as family when we structure our day so that we have downtime. Like our other trips, we start early and go all day until about 4 pm. We then head back to our rental home to cook dinner and relax for the evening. It gives our kids a break and allows us to keep a fast pace and also feel like we’re on vacation.
If you have any questions about our trip, leave a comment below. There is much to experience at Gettysburg and it’s the perfect weekend getaway to saturate yourself with history. I highly recommend it!