Our trip to Gettysburg was filled with history and fun. Of course I knew the basic story from history class, but actually being there and seeing the bullet holes in buildings and artifacts from that time made it real. The whole town was part of the battle which lasted several days and the events were documented by several people which allowed for historians to piece together the story of that awful battle and how it affected the town of Gettysburg.
Federal Pointe Inn
I was fortunate enough to find a boutique hotel built in 1896 close to the center of town. The Federal Pointe Inn was built after the battle but was the first high school in Gettysburg and was named after General George Meade, the leader of the Union army at the Battle of Gettysburg. In 1909, it was changed to an elementary school and remained in the public school system as a grade school until it closed in 1994. In 2012 it was reopened as a boutique hotel keeping the original architectural features and early 1900s feel. The guest rooms have been updated with modern amenities including a Keurig coffee maker, flat screen TV, and spacious bathrooms with wonderful showers. They even serve afternoon tea with scones. There is a bar/restaurant on the premises although it is small. Each hallway is an art gallery of Battle of Gettysburg scenes. It is within walking distance of the famous Lincoln Square and the house where Lincoln stayed along with the train station he arrived at. The staff was wonderful and the atmosphere peaceful. Beware there is not an elevator however so you will need to request a 1st floor room if you do not want to climb stairs.
Shriver House Museum
The Shriver House is the actual house of a civilian during the Battle of Gettysburg. George Shriver and his family lived in Gettysburg with big dreams of running a business and creating a good life in a growing town. Tour guides take you through their house and their story as the battle takes its toll on their dreams and the family. The house has been restored to what it would look like in 1860. The tour includes the business in the basement George started. It is definitely a must see.
Rupp House History Center
The Rupp House History Center is full of Civil War artifacts including letters written by soldiers and civilians. The best part is that it is free. It is also interactive. We did one of the scavenger hunts which was a really cool way to find artifacts throughout the museum. The staff is very knowledgeable and available to answer any questions.
Wade House Museum
Mary Virginia Wade known as Jennie to her family and friends was the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg believe it or not. The Wade House Museum is the actual house where a stray bullet came through the kitchen and struck her while she was kneading dough. The tour guides are dressed in period costumes and tell her story as they lead you through the house and basement where they hid.
David Wills House Museum
The Wills House is the house where President Abraham Lincoln stayed the night before the Gettysburg Address to dedicate the national cemetery. The museum is self guided and takes you through the life of David Wills who invited the president to speak and the events leading up to the address. Did you know the president was not the main speaker that day? Come learn who the actual keynote speaker was and what actually took place that day. The museum also has a model of 1863 Gettysburg with key places labeled.
Western Maryland Station
The name is deceiving, but this station is actually located in Gettysburg, PA about one block from Lincoln Square. It is no longer used so has been turned into a small museum. This is the station where President Lincoln arrived and departed from town in November 1863. There is not much to see but it is free and worth a stop to see the original station that was a part of history.
Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center
Okay this is an easy one, so I won’t go into detail about the museum and visitor center itself. It is the first thing on everyone’s must see list. What I want to tell you is that this is where you can get a private battlefield tour priced per car. You read correctly: per car. This means if you have three or more people it is cheaper than the bus tours. The guide will drive your car and take your group to each site on the battlefield tour. You can even customize it if you want to see where your state fought or want to see some monuments and not others. Our guide told the stories like he was there. It was the best tour there. There is a museum and panorama here and you can purchase tickets to other museums and tours throughout the city.
Dobbin House Tavern
The Dobbin House Tavern was the home of Reverend Alexander Dobbin built in 1776 which just so happens to be four score and seven years before the Battle of Gettysburg. It is the oldest house in Gettysburg. It is now an authentic colonial restaurant and tavern that you can tour as well as eat and drink. The atmosphere is incredible and the food is good. The tavern is downstairs in the spring house and the restaurant upstairs includes tables that look like four poster beds. You have to visit even if it is just for a drink and the tour.
There are several other museums and places to visit in Gettysburg if you have the time, but these were my favorite. We were there for four days and still did not get to them all. Regardless of the ones you choose to visit, Gettysburg should be on everyone’s bucket list.