Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Come along on our journey to the bloodiest battle of the civil war, Gettysburg PA. Tucked into #AdamsCountyPA, #Gettysburg has a little bit of everything. Of course history is prominent in this little country town, but its not the only show. Gettysburg has built a destination around the horror of war complete with a fun and quirky downtown, fine eating establishments and of course, ghost tours.
The battle of Gettysburg was fought on July 1 - 3, 1863. Confederate soldiers were advancing to the north and Union soldiers were doing their best to keep that from happening. The result was the largest, bloodiest and most gruesome battle of the Civil War. It is estimated by historians that between 46,000 and 51,000 people died at the battle of Gettysburg. Soldiers from both sides as well as towns people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time became casualties of the three-day skirmish, the most costly in United State history.
There are many ways to see the battlefield. My family and I usually just drive around and see what we can see. However, there are audio tours you can pick up from the visitors center on the north side of town, an open air bus tour throughout the summer or a newly added virtual tour that you can enjoy from the comfort of your couch. Go to www.NPS.gov/Gettysburg
People say that Gettysburg is one of the most haunted places in America. It would stand to reason with so many killed in such a short amount of time. One of the spookiest places I’ve visited on the battlefield is #DevilsDen. This area of battlefield sits just below #littleroundtop and was prominent in the second day of battle. The boulders gave snipers a perfect spot to pick off advancing troops. It’s estimated that 2600 soldiers died at Devils Den. One account says that the stream next to the area was running red with blood for days and days following the fight. Personally, I find the place creepy. I don’t have a picture of this, but one summer we took the kids and a bunch of their friends to Gettysburg for the day. Of course they all wanted to go to Devils Den to “see ghosts”...teenagers! So we went there early in the day and then after pizza filled their bellies, they wanted to go back at sunset. During both occasions that day, there was a man in full confederate garb sitting on top of the rocks. There are usually so many reenactors that I assumed the guy on the rocks was just that - a reenactor. The weird part is that he was there all day. I mean we went there early in the day - like around 1pm and made it back around 9ish that night just before the park closed and he was still there - not talking to anyone. Kinda weird if you ask me.
If you spend any time in Gettysburg you’ll soon find that If you want a good ghost story, you don’t have to look far. There are a number of companies that specialize in scaring the daylights out of their customers. They offer walking tours through the downtown, stories around the campfire or actual full-blown investigations at a few of the haunted houses in the area. I’ve done of few of these and I can assure you, it’ll make you think twice about going out alone at night. The last time we went, we camped at the #GettysburgCampground - shout out to them! Great campground with friendly people! I was sitting outside waiting for the fire to die and I heard what sounded like fireworks. Except it was mid-August. There were no fireworks in the area, we heard it again, followed by single gunshots. Click, click, BANG - click, click, BANG. I asked about it the next day, and a couple of the locals said, “Oh you heard the battle last night.“ I said, “I wasn’t aware they were allowed to reenact at night.” She smiled, and said, “that wasn’t a reenactment.” You’ll have to check it out yourself if you don’t believe me.
One more spooky place you’ll have to visit while you’re in Gettysburg is Sach’s Covered Bridge. It’s just outside of town and is said to be super haunted. The story goes that the bridge was used as an execution site for three Confederate soldiers. The men were hung by their necks at the far end of the bridge. Some folks say they still see them hanging there as they walk through. Regardless, if it’s haunted or not, it is a beautiful photo op and a true testament to early engineering.
Gettysburg of course is the site of the Gettysburg Address that President Abraham Lincoln gave in the aftermath of the battle. Lincoln came to Gettysburg and stayed at the Wills House. This statue can be found next to the #DavidWillsHouse in downtown Gettysburg.
And speaking of Downtown Gettysburg, get your walking shoes on and make sure you have an empty credit card, because you’re going to want to participate in some retail therapy. There are so many cute, one of a kind shops in Downtown Gettysburg that I’d be hard pressed to name them all. We did our fair share of contributing to the economy of the area while we were there.
If you’ve seen enough of the battlefield for one day, then head north of Route 30 (Lincoln Highway) and checkout one of the coolest farmer’s markets I’ve ever been to. The Round Barn is chocked full of fresh fruits and vegetables from their orchards and fields as well as from neighboring farms. You can get flowers and flour, arts and crafts or a t-shirt commemorating your visit. While we were there we picked up some freshly picked sweet corn. This place is awesome.
Another stop you’ll need to make along Route 30 is the Cashtown Inn. Yes, it’s a Civil War Inn and there was a battle there, but now it’s still an Inn and Restaurant and the food is really good. They tell you all about the spooky things that go bump in the night on their menu. So if you’re brave, stay the night and let us know what you found.
Just down the road about 2 miles is one of my favorite places in Gettysburg. #TheAdamsCountyWinery. Believe it or not, this was the first winery I ever visited, many, many years ago. It’s just as yummy and pretty now as it ever was. The gardens are beautiful, the wine is wonderful and trust me, it’s simply fun! What is my favorite wine you ask? I’m partial to Rusty’s Red (named after the Winery Dog) but I’ve also been known to enjoy their Rebel Red, and their Stray Cat Strut. I’m a sweet wine kinda girl, but they have many amazing wines, both sweet and dry, many of which they have been awarded national medals.
If you like wine (and who doesn’t) then you’ll need to visit in September. One of our favorite things to do in Gettysburg happens every September on the south side of town along Route 50. The Annual Gettysburg Wine and Music Festival. The organizers fill a field with over 50 wineries, food vendors and of course music. This is a good time!
One more thing you have to see before leaving Gettysburg falls into the realm of unusual, #MisterEdsElephantMuseum. I know how it sounds, but this place is cool. I went in not expecting much, but ended up spending WAY too much money. Just way too much.
This place is full of candy and elephants and takes you back to the times when it was fun to be a kid in a candy store. They have an entire room dedicated to PEZ Poppers, the museum is full of elephants from small to immense and there is even a life sized elephant to get your picture taken with. The kids are going to love this place and it will leave you wondering how you got in line with an arm full of stuff you really didn’t need and spent all that money. But everyone needs to go at least once!
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