Destination Gettysburg: A History Buff’s Dream Trip
No matter where you live or where you have spent vacations in the past, if there is a history buff in your family, you should plan a journey to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. You may have read about and even seen movies or documentaries detailing the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, but there is just nothing like experiencing it in person. It is a sacred place where you can almost feel the history. Thousands gave their lives here, and it is the site where one of the most influential presidential speeches of all time took place.
Gettysburg is not exceptionally easy to get to, and that alone adds to atmosphere. It is in Southeast Pennsylvania and while roadways to the site have improved, you will have to get off the Interstates. It is an extremely rural, hilly area. You’ll notice Gettysburg is a small town, with a population of under 8,000 people. The battlefield is sprawling however, and you should plan at least a full day.
The visitor center includes plenty of artifacts on display, a museum, theater, and obligatory souvenir area. While this is certainly a “tourist” attraction, there is a constant tone of respect that abounds. Most recognize this is the site where many Americans from both the North and South gave their lives.
Keep in mind, the battlefield itself is large, almost 17 square miles. While may choose to walk much of it the most popular ways to experience Gettysburg is through a bus tour or self-guided tour in your own car. Should you prefer, professional tour guides are available to accompany you on your tour (for a fee). There are also more unique ways to experience Gettysburg like through a scooter rental or even horseback.
Monuments are everywhere in Gettysburg, as states wanted to recognize their soldiers who gave their lives in the battle. In fact, decades following the battle, monuments and memorials were still being constructed. One of the most impressive structures, the Eternal Light Peace Memorial was created in 1938.
The sheer volume of things to see and places and monuments to visit is so extensive, you may wish to prepare for your visit in several ways.
- Watch a fact-based film or documentary about Gettysburg before making your trip.
- Research the ebb and flow of the battles there, and the main characters involved.
- Familiarize yourself with a map and layout of the community, battlefield, and visitors center.
- Research your “must-see” locations in case time or weather limits what you can take in.
Interestingly enough, the spot where Abraham Lincoln actually delivered his famous Gettysburg Address must be proactively sought out.
Whether you have a day, a weekend or a week, time at Gettysburg can be well spent. It provides a profound experience you will likely carry with you for years.