Think Gettysburg and what first comes to mind is the Civil War. But that’s just the beginning.
From antiquing to wine tasting, there’s plenty more to see and do in this historic and charming town just a little more than an hour’s drive north from Baltimore. Gettysburg’s near enough for a day trip, but you won’t get bored if you extend your stay. If you do, the Gettysburg Hotel (hotelgettysburg.com) and The Brickhouse Inn (brickhouseinn.com) are two of my favorites, but there’s a wide variety of hotels, motels, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts to choose from.
Some of the attractions in Gettysburg for history buffs include:
See the entire battlefield in 3-D miniature as you hear the story of the three-day battle. More than 20,000 hand-painted miniatures bring the Battle of Gettysburg “up close and personal” with a sound and light show describing the bloody events.
Ghostly Images of Gettysburg
This nightly 90-minute ghost-walking tour ends inside a haunted house (no worries — the ghosts will let you leave). Special events include the Midnight House Tour, Ghostly Encounter and Haunted Bus Tour. You can even conduct your own paranormal investigations.
Eisenhower National Historic Site
The Eisenhower National Historic Site is the onetime home and farm of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Located next to the Gettysburg Battlefield, the farm served the 34th U.S. president as a family weekend retreat and meeting place for world leaders. You can tour the home, enjoy a self-guided walk around the farm or join a park ranger for an exploration of 1950s Secret Service operations or a look back at World War II. Children from 7 to 12 may become honorary junior Secret Service agents by doing activities in the Junior Secret Service Training Manual.
OK, ready to return to the 21st century?
Since March may well “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb,” here are a few other late winter/early spring suggestions for a Gettysburg getaway.
Liberty Mountain Resort
Located in nearby Carroll Valley, Pa., the resort offers skiing, snow tubing, snowboarding and outdoor ice skating, along with its new Highland Lodge if you’d rather watch the fun from inside.
Shoppers also will appreciate Gettysburg’s collection of antique and vintage stores, craft galleries and eclectic boutiques; nearby New Oxford and East Berlin are also well worth a visit, especially if you’re on the lookout for a handmade piece of Amish furniture.
You may not think of wine when you think of Gettysburg, but the craft beverage scene (gettysburgwineandfruittrail.com) is booming in Adams County. For tastings of wine, beer, spirits and cider (Adams County is “apple country”), stop in at Adams County Winery, Hauser Estate Winery and Reid’s Orchard and Winery.
When spring finally blooms — literally — the apple, peach and cherry trees that cover the rolling hills create a photo-worthy blanket of color over the landscape. To get the best views and photographs, take a slow drive through the countryside, making sure to stop at the area’s roadside farmers markets.
If you can’t wait to stretch your winter-weary legs, Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve (strawberryhill.org) offers 10 miles of wooded hiking trails, or you can rent bicycles and take a guided or self-guided tour of the battlefield. Liberty Mountain Resort also boasts the championship Carroll Valley Golf Course, complete with picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
And if you’re hungry after all that fresh air and exercise, sign up for the Savor Gettysburg Food Tour (savorgettysburgfoodtours.com), which makes eight stops through town mixing culinary treats with tales of history. (If you have a sweet tooth, there’s a new Savory Sweets Food Tour!)
For information, visit destinationgettysburg.com.
Carol Sorgen is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.
Above photo: Only 60 miles from Charm City, downtown Gettysburg features an array of restaurants, antique stores, hotels, pubs, galleries, boutiques, bookshops and assorted tchotchke emporiums.Photo courtesy of Destination Gettysburg
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