When people say “Gettysburg,” most of us think of the Civil War and a famous presidential address.
Yet, on a recent trip to this idyllic Pennsylvania town, I enjoyed an abundance of charm, fine restaurants and shopping in addition to getting a little refresher course on America’s past.
Gettysburg’s History and Scenic Skylines
I began my day at the Gettysburg National Military Park. First, I stopped by the Museum & Visitor Center, where I studied the plethora of information available and took in the exhibits of original artefacts, plus a 360-degree cyclorama oil painting, which is longer than an American football field! Afterward, I headed out to the 2,428-hectare battlefield, which includes historic monuments and markers to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who fought in the three-day battle in 1863, during the American Civil War.
There were lush green open spaces and trees as far as I could see. There was Little Round Top with its smell of honeysuckle, Devil’s Den and its reported ghosts, and finally, the Pennsylvania Memorial, which you can climb for spectacular views of the battlefields. It was actually quite amazing! Far more than what I’d anticipated.
I then headed over to the Eisenhower National Historic Site, the home and farm of President D. Eisenhower, the 34th U.S. president, and his wife, Mamie. As the shuttle bus drove up the sweeping, tree-lined driveway, the property, that Eisenhower reportedly did not step foot in until after it was purchased, came into view. This attraction is perfect for the whole family; it even has a Junior Secret Service Agent program for children. My favorite parts of the tour were seeing Mamie’s very pink dressing room and bathroom, and the old TV with its prehistoric-looking wireless remote.
My next stop was the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, which is the final resting place of many unnamed Union soldiers, and where, at the cemetery’s dedication ceremony in November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address.
Soldiers National Monument in Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania
Dining, Shopping and Relaxing
Next, I headed to downtown Gettysburg and drove past the David Wills House, which is where President Lincoln stayed the night before giving his famous speech.
After a tasty lunch of asparagus, prosciutto and cheddar cheese quiche at The Parrot, I set off to explore the heart of the town, which is overflowing with magnificent Federal-style architecture, shops and boutique stores.
I browsed Gallery 30, a fabulous craft boutique store and discovered a new favorite artist of mine. Rich Thompson almost exclusively paints pictures of Abraham Lincoln, and he's self-taught with no formal training.
For dinner, I called in at One Lincoln on Lincoln Square. Surrounded by wallpaper printed with the Gettysburg Address, Chef Joseph Holmes served up an amazing fresh mozzarella and tomato salad, followed by mouth-watering crab-stuffed scallops and prawns, served with a variety of colorful vegetables.
Fully satisfied, I drove back to where I was staying, at the Country Inn & Suites, and opened up my last bottle of local beer, which is sadly not sold where I live.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is a must-stop when visiting this state. You’ll leave with some great memories and an even greater appreciation for U.S. history.
Fine dining at One Lincoln in Gettysburg
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