Gettysburg is a great place to visit if you’re interested in history. Not only is Gettysburg home to the breathtaking Gettysburg National Military Park, where a pivotal Civil War battle took place, but it also features a wide variety of early American structures, such as the Shriver House Museum and the Jennie Wade House.
The Gettysburg Diorama & History Center, the Gettysburg Museum of History, and the Eisenhower National Historic Site are all highly recommended by visitors interested in the Civil War.
Don’t worry if you don’t want to spend your entire trip learning about the region’s past; there are plenty of shops, restaurants, and wineries in and around town.
Best Places to Visit in Gettysburg PA
Check out our recommended Gettysburg sights and activities for some inspiration.
1. See the Monuments and Battlefield
One of the largest collections of outdoor sculpture is located in Gettysburg National Military Park, with nearly 1,400 monuments and statues placed across the vast battlefield. Most of these memorials are placed on the ground at the actual battle sites, with rows of small square stones denoting the formation lines of the respective units.
Today’s monuments honor both armies, but in the past Union veterans fought against honoring the Confederacy. Confederate Memorials in Maryland Until 1866 Until the Civil War ended in 1865 Until the Civil War ended in 1865 Until the Civil War ended in 1865 Until the Civil War ended in 1865 Until the Civil War ended in 1865.
2. Visit a War Museum: The Battle of Gettysburg
The best way to see the battlefield and understand what happened here is to take a tour with a licensed battlefield guide. You can learn about the history of the battlefield while driving at your own pace through the sections that most interest you by hiring a guide who will accompany you in your car.
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If you’re short on time or aren’t up for walking around while sightseeing in the park, take the two-hour Gettysburg Battlefield Guided History Bus Tour with a National Park Guide who will point out the significant sites and events of each phase of the three-day battle. Relax in the luxury of the air-conditioned coach as your driver expertly navigates the area.
3. Explore the Museum and Tourist Information Center: Abraham Lincoln Statue
The visitor center and museum inside it provide the best introduction to the battle and this war. Find out why the Civil War broke out and how the Union was able to turn the tide of the war in its favor after the Confederacy was crippled by heavy casualties at Gettysburg.
The museum’s Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama, painted by French artist Paul Philippoteaux in the 1880s, is a must-see. The audio and visual effects added to this dramatic painting transport viewers into the thick of the action during Pickett’s Charge on the third day of the battle.
4. The National Cemetery for Veterans
The Soldiers’ National Cemetery was dedicated less than six months after the Battle of Gettysburg to honor the more than 3,500 Union soldiers who fought and died there. One of the shortest and most memorable speeches in history, President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was delivered at the ceremonies on November 19, 1863.
The 1st Minnesota Infantry, which suffered heavy losses here on July 2, 1863, was honored with the construction of the first monument in 1869.
5. Miniature Conical Hill
It was on the rocky outcropping of Little Round Top that the battle’s most pivotal engagement took place. Little Round Top is one of the most impressive lookouts on the battlefields, and it is also one of the most moving because it allows visitors to see the entire scene and feel the rugged, rock-strewn environment in which the soldiers fought.
In the first assault, the Union troops were repulsed by the left flank. In the second assault, the Confederate troops were repulsed by the right flank. General Meade’s Army of the Potomac was saved by that charge, and the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg changed the course of the war. Sharpshooters could take cover among the rocks of Devil’s Den, the adjacent rock-strewn area.
6. Check out the Civil War Reenactment in Gettysburg
On the first, second, and third of July each year, re-enactors dress in period-correct uniforms and re-enact the battle, acting out the roles of everyone from high-ranking officers to ordinary soldiers.
The three-day commemoration of the battle, which has become a major annual tourist attraction in Gettysburg, features lectures, demonstrations, replicas of military encampments, concerts by military bands, and displays of artifacts and period antiques.
7. The National Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial
Not every piece of history in Gettysburg revolves around the famous battle. After his retirement from the Army in 1950 after 30 years of service, President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower purchased their only home.
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At the Eisenhower National Historic Site, you can see the house as it would have appeared when Eisenhower hosted foreign dignitaries like Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, and Nikita Khrushchev for informal dinners and meetings in the 1950s.
8. Shriver Mansion Art Gallery
Confederate sharpshooters occupied the Shrivers’ restored 1860 home and knocked two holes through the brick wall so they could fire on Union troops on nearby Cemetery Hill.
Shriver House Museum costumed interpreters bring the world of the Shriver children to life for visitors as they tour the museum’s authentically restored rooms, see the sharpshooters’ “nest,” and learn how modern investigative techniques were used to authenticate what happened here. It was confirmed during the restoration that this was one of the homes used as a hospital for injured soldiers thanks to the discovery of medical supplies.
9. Jenny Wade’s Home
Although both armies suffered heavy casualties during the three-day battle that raged around and through the town of Gettysburg, only one civilian was killed. Jennie Wade, twenty at the time, was making bread in her kitchen when she was struck by a stray bullet that had passed through two doors.
The Jennie Wade House Museum has been meticulously restored to resemble the time period in which she lived. Tour guides dressed in reenactment garb share stories of the war’s impact on Gettysburg’s civilian and domestic populations. A statue of Jennie Wade stands in the yard.
10. For David Wills’s Home
Gettysburg attorney David Wills was instrumental in post-battle efforts to bury the dead and care for the wounded, and he also spearheaded the effort to establish a national cemetery for Union soldiers who were killed or died from their wounds.
Lincoln stayed the night before delivering the Gettysburg Address at his downtown home, where he also wrote the speech.
Gettysburg is famous for the three-day Civil War battle that is considered the turning point in the Civil War, and it remains one of the most popular places to visit in Pennsylvania because of its historic significance.
Among the many things to do within Gettysburg National Military Park are visiting its museums, touring the battlefields, watching battle re-enactments, and exploring the “Summer White House” of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.