Exploring Gettysburg with kids is a fun and exciting way to see this dynamic town. I have taken trips with friends, and we always go to the battlefield, or visit local wineries, but I had not yet experienced the attractions for families. A few weeks ago, I packed up the car with three kids in tow and we headed north for an overnight adventure to explore this famous Pennsylvania town.
Gettysburg With Kids
Gettysburg is more than just the Civil War history that formed its famous footprint in our nation. It’s home to great dining, blossoming orchards, quaint shops and enough family fun to pack a weeks worth of exploring.
Where To Stay With Kids
While there are a variety of places to stay in Gettysburg, I would suggest the Best Western on Steinwehr Avenue, its prime location allows for your family to walk to many attractions. It is also directly across the street from the Gettysburg Battlefield. This small boutique hotel is packed with amenities perfect for family travel.
Upon entering, the lobby is warm and inviting, it offers a reading area by the fireplace, free coffee bar and computer access for guests. There is also a small market pantry with snack and drinks available 24 hours. Just off the lobby is the indoor pool and it is open daily until 10 p.m., the girls really enjoyed night swimming after walking all day.
We stayed in a two queen room, and I was quite surprised by how large the standard rooms are. Each room includes a wet-bar area with a mini-fridge and microwave, this is always a plus for me because you can save money and bring along snacks and drinks. Before you head out to explore for the day be sure to enjoy the free hot breakfast, included with your stay.
Where To Eat With Kids
Gettysburg is not lacking in dining options that is certain, for this trip I wanted family friendly, and walk-able from our hotel. Being on Steinwehr Avenue gives you access to so many great choices from fast casual to fine dining. Local favorite Gettysburg Eddie’s came recommended and it was a five-minute walk from the Best Western.
The restaurant is named for home-town Hall of Fame Pitcher, Eddie Plank and the walls are covered in sports memorabilia. The menu is large and offers everything from salads, to sandwiches and crab cake dinners, even the picky eaters will find something here. We started with the nachos, as suggested by our server, and they were piled high and delicious. While the kids stuck with tenders and pasta, I had the English Style Beef and I highly recommend it. At the kids request, they finished off dinner with a deep dish brownie sundae.
Tommy’s Pizza is also a favorite family dining spot on Steinwehr Avenue and always packed, they have the best pizza in town along with subs, salads and sandwiches. You can never go wrong with a stop at Tommy’s when you visit Gettysburg. If you are looking for something sweet take a short walk to Mr. G’s ice cream shop on Baltimore Street, their scoops are huge!
When exploring a new town, always skip the chain restaurants and ask the locals where they go. You will rarely be disappointed, and sometimes they will take you off the beaten path to a local gem.
If you are looking for a more historical feel, take them to the Dobbin House Tavern! The best restaurant in town. Be sure to make reservations in advance.
What To Do With Kids
Little did I know there was so much to do with kids in Gettysburg, from history lessons, to haunting tours and ponies in the country your little explorers won’t grow bored.
Gettysburg Ghost Tours
The girls were a little freaked out that we may encounter some ghostly interactions on our tour, however it was quite the opposite. We were on the family friendly Black Cat walking tour, as this was recommended for younger kids (the girls are 9 & 12). We had a wonderful guide who was well versed in the haunts and history of the famous town. We meandered down alleys, and past famous spots where haunts are still said to be creeping around. You do not enter any of the haunted places, so paranormal encounters aren’t very likely. But you never know who is lurking around the streets of Gettysburg.
This was a really fun lesson on the Battle of Gettysburg, and it’s all a full-scale diorama. Here you can see the entire 6,000 acre battlefield at once. With over 20,000 hand painted pieces, this is quite impressive. Once you have toured the diorama and the artifact room, you will watch a 30 minute light show that tells the story of the battle in full, from the first shot to the high-water mark. This was a great way for the kids to wrap their head around the battle and still keep their attention because it was a show.
The Spirit of Gettysburg
This is one of the newest attractions in town, and it was really fun. If your kids scare easily I wouldn’t suggest it, as it is dark and the spirits tell the tale of the battle. Come face to face with Robert E. Lee, Jennie Wade and Abraham Lincoln as they share their personal experience of the battle. You will finish the tour in Pickett’s Charge and the battle will come to life all around you!
Tour The Battlefield
This is a given for any visit to Gettysburg, however, kids don’t want to sit in the car and listen to an audio history lesson all day. Visit places such as Little Round Top, Devil’s Den and the Pennsylvania Monument so the kids can get out and explore. This allows them to have a more hands on feel of the history. Every spot has a plaque explaining what happened in that exact location during the battle.
If you are up for climbing, take the 127 steps to the top of the Longstreet Tower and get an amazing 360 view of the battlefield.
Junior Ranger Programs
These programs are free and offered at the visitor’s center, and throughout the battlefield. You can sign up for the programs one hour before they begin, some also allow for advanced sign up online.
We took part in the “Join The Army” program, as it is specifically meant for kids ages 5-13. This one hour program gives kids the chance to become an Army recruit! The learned exactly what the soldiers wore, and what they carried with them. When you sign up you are given your enlistment papers, and once you complete your recruitment you are discharged.
Land Of Little Horses
Head into the Adams County country side and visit Land of Little Horses, only 15 minutes from downtown Gettysburg. This fun little park is perfect for kids and kids at heart. I really had no idea what to expect from a park filled with animals and miniature ponies, but it may have been the highlight of our day.
This family owned park captures your heart once you enter, the ponies are freely roaming about to be greeted and loved on by visitors. Daily activities include barnyard chats about the animals, pony rides, grooming lessons and a daily variety show performed by the parks ponies. It was enchanting, and the girls didn’t want to leave.
Outdoor activities include pedal carts, a playground, and a mine-town where you can pan for gold. There is a on-site cafe, as well as a snack bar inside the show arena. The kids were playing on the playground, and the ponies just came waltzing through as they played. It’s very clear who runs the show here, and it’s not the owners.
Hollabaugh Bros Fruit Farm & Market
What’s a visit to Adams County without visiting one of the many farms? Hollabaugh Bros is a family owned farm and market, delivering fresh from the farm treats. Located just 10 minutes outside of Gettysburg this is a great retreat from the busyness of town.
Be sure to check what is in season before your visit, right now it’s Apple season and you won’t find a better variety. New this year is the scavenger hunt in the orchards. For $2 you purchase a playing card, complete it by gathering clues from the “Apple Experts” along the way. All who correctly complete the hunt receive a little treat!
There are a variety of seasonal childrens events, be sure to visit on one of these special days.
As you can see there is an abundance to do in Gettysburg with kids. From local farm visits, to historic tours and haunts your little travelers won’t grow bored.