The principal draw to the area is the expansive 6,000 acre Gettysburg National Battlefield. Over three days in July 1863 some 50,000 soldiers died at this crucial turning point in the American Civil War. Tour the plethora of stone memorials, giant obelisks, flags and statues paying tribute to their plight, then visit the cemetery site where Lincoln gave his powerful address – one of the best known speeches in US history. Guided tours and a visit to the impressive visitor centre help make sense of the sheer scale and chaos of the events that unfolded.
Beyond the battlefield, Gettysburg is awash with heritage bringing this remarkable period of US history to life in dramatic detail. Stop by Farnsworth House to learn about the realities of life for Civil War soldiers. Pay visit to the restored home of George Washington Shiver for a harrowing insight into the civilian experience of the infamous battle. When you’ve had your fill of history, there are many more worthwhile diversions to explore in the lively college town, including some excellent shops, theatres and restaurants.
The brutality of the battle – the longest and bloodiest ever fought on US soil – stands in stark contrast with the natural beauty and tranquillity of the area today. The National Military Park is surrounded by a bucolic landscape of rolling fields, woodlands and farms with the Blue Ridge Mountains looming on the horizon. Long before the Civil War, the region was an agricultural hub and this tradition lives on today with vibrant agritourism and foodie scenes beckoning visitors from far and wide.
Four reasons to visit Gettysburg
Tour the site of one of the most important battles in American history, either by car, bike, foot, horseback or Segway
Make sense of it all at the Gettysburg National Military museum and Visitor Center where guided tours, interactive exhibits, films and reconstructions inform and enthral
Just north of Gettysburg lies the “Fruit Belt” of Pennsylvania, a region awash with vineyards, orchards and farmers markets. Take a tour of a winery or a working farm, pick your own fruit, or dive into a range of recreational pursuits in the charming countryside
All this natural bounty has given rise to a resurgent culinary scene, with ethnic and period restaurants, speciality shops, dedicated food tours, beer, cider and wine events and food-themed festivals held throughout the year