Gettysburg, while known for its Civil War history offers so much more, go beyond the battlefields and explore this quaint Adams County, PA town. Take a look with me at the fun you can have in Gettysburg with kids, without ever stepping foot on the battlefields. With Gettysburg being a year-round destination, winter is a great time to get outside and explore!
Gettysburg with Kids
We recently spent a weekend in Gettysburg, not once did we explore the history of the famous battle. Instead we drove beyond Lincoln Square and explored the outskirts of town during the day, and at night we dined by candlelight and escaped a mystery. Did I mention we fit all of this fun into 24 hours!
Being located close (45 miles) to Gettysburg, we often take day trips and have picnics on the battlefield, or enjoy dinner and a ghost tour at night. But, for this trip we wanted to see what the town offered that wasn’t tied to its history. We were pleasantly surprised by all of the fun we found beyond the battlefields.
We had a full 24 hours planned, so let’s get to it!
Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve – The Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve and Environmental Center is a non-profit education and conservation organization located on 609 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is located about 15 minutes outside of the town square. We were lucky enough to be visiting during the Mount Hope Maple Madness Weekend, this was a fantastic learning experience about where maple sugar comes from, not only for the kids, but the adults as well. We began our day with an all you can eat pancake breakfast, served by local boy scouts and volunteers from the Nature Preserve. Once we had our fill of homemade pancakes with REAL maple syrup, farm fresh eggs and local sausage it was time for our tour.
We met Nate, from Strawberry Hill in the picnic pavilion to being our 90 minute tour. Did you know that the sugaring season is only from mid February into mid March? Or that Sugaring, the art of making maple syrup, has been practiced for thousands of years. The tradition began in the Northeast United States centuries ago with the Native Americans and colonists If you did, you are one step ahead of me. This tour was fascinating, it takes a lot to capture my daughters attention, and she loved it. You will learn how trees are tapped, view sap-collecting method, and experience the boiling process that produces delicious maple syrup. Our tour guide, Nate was extremely engaging and informative about the sugaring process. Mark your calendar for next year’s event (first weekend in March), you won’t be sorry.
We are excited to go back once the weather breaks, and explore the beautiful preserve, along with the birds and animals that inhabit it.
Liberty Mountain Resort – Located only 15 minutes outside of town, Liberty is a year round mountain resort, tucked within the Blue Ridge Mountains. We spent the afternoon conquering the tubing park! It was an absolute blast, the sun was shining and we got in plenty of runs. No worry about climbing stairs to get to the top, the conveyor belt will get you and your tube up quickly. I love that the tubing park is set apart from the skiing and snowboarding, it feels less crowded. We worked up quite an appetite conquering the tubing park, so we stopped down at the main resort area for lunch at McKee’s Tavern, a casual dining experience only open during winter months offering pub grub, cold beers and kids meals. The chicken nachos really hit the spot after working off our morning calories on the tubing hills!
Liberty Mountain Resort is home to a hotel, multiple dining venues, winter sports park, golf course, spa and ropes courses. This year-round destination is sure to make powder-hounds and tee-time lovers happy.
After a full morning of exploring the outdoors we needed a little retail therapy, and wine (let’s be honest, the Mom’s did) so we headed into town and explored Lincoln Square. This is the epicenter of town, so to speak. It is home to multiple shops, restaurants and dining options.
Sunrise Soap Company– We love this local shop, all of the soaps, lotions and more are handmade in-house. The kids made their own body scrubs to take home, and they were only $5 each. I grabbed my favorite lotions and chap stick.
Adams County Winery– We always stop in and see if there is a new wine on the tasting menu. You can try up to 3 samples for free, and hey who doesn’t love free wine. While this location is strictly a tasting room, you can head out to the winery and take a tour, enjoy pizza al-fresco and take in the Adams County countryside.
LARK Modern Marketplace– This fun boutique is home to a little bit of everything from jewelry, to home good and novelty items.
We also made a stop by the Lincoln Statue at Wills House, because we had brought Lil’ Lincoln along with us on our adventures, so naturally the kids felt a picture was needed with his namesake. Find out more about our historical pal on the Destination Gettysburg blog.
Time To Check-In
At this point in the day we were tired! We had spent our morning hiking snow-covered woods to tap trees for maple sugar, snow tubing at Liberty Mountain and shopped in Lincoln Square. While we could have headed home, what fun would that be? We checked into the Comfort Suites Gettysburg for the night, it has just gone through a renovation and is a beautiful, all suite property. Offering a small indoor pool, fitness center, spacious rooms, free wi-fi and a free hot breakfast daily it is a great place for rest after exploring Gettysburg.
Dobbin House Tavern- This historic building has been around since before President Lincoln delivered his famous address. The house is virtually the same today as it was 200 years ago when Rev. Dobbin and his family resided there. This truly memorable dining experience is a Gettysburg “must-do”, even the kids (age 10) went on and on about how fantastic this was. We dined in one of the Alexander Dobbin dining rooms, and enjoyed an elegant dinner by candlelight. If you are traveling with kids, don’t discount the Dobbin House, as the kids will learn history, and immerse themselves in colonial times. Our experience was five-star, and I really cannot believe it has taken me this long to dine here.
1863 Escape – Having just opened it’s doors last year, I imagine 1863 Escape will be around for quite a while. This Civil War themed escape room was tons of fun. I wish we had more than an hour, as the kids were using logic and instinct to try to solve our way out of the room. We did the Rebel Recon room, and I have to say it was much harder than you might think. Everything is a clue, even something as simple as a hat holds a clue. We had to steal the Confederate General’s plan for battle to escape! While we didn’t solve it in the hour, we did end up getting there with a bit of help from the staff (they don’t take time away when you ask for help). This was the perfect end to our day in Gettysburg.
As you can see, there is much to see and do in Gettysburg aside from exploring the battlefields. Be it a first visit, or your annual getaway, be sure to add one of these great places to your plans!
I was hosted by Destination Gettysburg, for the purpose of this article. All opinions are my own.