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Gettysburg National Military Park Guide — Museum, Visitor Center, and More

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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Keri Stooksbury

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Gettysburg National Military Park is a remarkable park in the National Park Service that protects the historic battlefield. This park has many things to see and do and endless learning opportunities.

From museums to park films, and from historic homes to Civil War reenactments, there’s no shortage of adventure at this national park. Almost one million visitors visit Gettysburg National Military Park each year to explore and learn about this historic and influential American town.

How To Get to Gettysburg National Military Park

Where Is Gettysburg National Military Park?

Gettysburg National Military Park is located 50 miles northwest of Baltimore, Maryland, in Adams County, Pennsylvania. This small park encompasses a little over 9 square miles of land and historical sites. While this Pennsylvanian park is small, it can take up to 2 full days to explore the highlights and historic battlefield.

Gettysburg National Military Park Opening Hours and Seasons

Gettysburg National Military Park is open year-round, except for holidays. Some of the attractions are closed during the winter months. Visitors can visit the park from sunrise to sunset each day. The battlefield and roads open 30 minutes before sunrise and close 30 minutes after sunset. 

Nearest Airports to Gettysburg National Military Park

Visitors use a couple of major and small airports when flying to the Gettysburg National Military Park. Some of these airports are a short drive from the park, while others are a couple of hours away. Let’s take a look at some of the most used airports for guests visiting Gettysburg National Military Park.

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is located in Baltimore, Maryland, approximately 70 miles from Gettysburg National Military Park. Many guests will use this airport to arrive in Gettysburg, but it is a bit further than other options. Depending on the traffic, it takes a little under a couple of hours to get to the park. 

This airport offers over 650 flights, both domestic and international. Air Canada, Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, and Southwest are just some of the ~20 airlines serviced by BWI.

There are several rental car kiosks, taxi stands, shuttles, and transit options for continuing the last leg of your trip to Gettysburg National Military Park.

Harrisburg International Airport (MDT)

Harrisburg International Airport is the closest and most frequently used airport for adventurers visiting Gettysburg National Military Park. This airport is about 35 miles from the park, making it the best option for those wanting to maximize their travel time. 

Harrisburg International Airport offers nonstop service to 17 destinations, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, and Nashville. Some of the airlines serviced by this airport include Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, and United.

Bottom Line:

With its close proximity to Gettysburg National Military Park and its long list of nonstop flights, Harrisburg International Airport is the ideal choice for travelers flying into this park area.

Driving to Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park is in Adams Country, Pennsylvania. US 15 will lead to the park’s museum and visitor center for visitors driving to the park from the north or south. Those coming from the east or west will arrive from US Route 30. 

Taking the Train to Gettysburg National Military Park

There are rail services that take visitors directly to Gettysburg National Military Park. The best option for guests who want to take the train is to book Amtrak tickets and arrive in Harrisburg or Baltimore. Once arriving in one of these cities, travelers must use another form of transportation to continue to the park. 

Taking the Bus to Gettysburg National Military Park

Taking a bus to Gettysburg National Military is a great way to sit back and enjoy the journey without the stress of navigating and traffic. Rabbit Transit is a bus service that takes travelers from Harrisburg to Gettysburg. Opting for the bus is a great and affordable way to park once and let someone else take over transporting you to the park’s entrance. 

Getting Around Gettysburg National Military Park

The best way to get around Gettysburg National Military Park is by using the trolley service or by driving. The Gold Line by Rabbit Transit circulates the major landmarks and attractions.

Driving is another great way to explore this park. It’s important to drive the speed limit and be cautious of pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages. Gettysburg National Military Park is an accessible park and easy to explore whether you choose to drive, ride, or walk for your adventures.

Gettysburg National Military Park Maps

Gettysburg National Military Park has so much to see and do. The park’s website offers a variety of printable and interactive maps to assist you in planning your Gettysburg itinerary. Planning ahead and making a wish list of all the stops you’d like to make during your trip will help you determine how many days you should spend visiting this historic American park. 

What To See and Do in Gettysburg National Military Park

With so much history and culture, you can rest assured that there is no shortage of sights, attractions, and activity in Gettysburg National Military Park. From historic homes that hosted famous guests to park films narrated by award-winning actors, and from living history programs to park tours, there are endless opportunities for visitors of all ages at this park.

David Wills House

David Wills House
Image Credit: bulletproofsoul67 via Flickr (license)

David Wills House is a key attraction at Gettysburg National Military Park. Wills was an attorney, and his home’s claim to fame is that it is where Abraham Lincoln stayed before delivering the Gettysburg Address. 

Today, park guests can step back in time and discover artifacts from life in the 1860s and see the bedroom where Lincoln prepared the Gettysburg Address and see where he slept. 

Touring David Wills House takes approximately 45 minutes and includes a 7-gallery interactive museum that teaches the story of who David Wills was, describes Lincoln’s visit, and gives guests a better understanding of the Gettysburg Address.

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhower National Historic Site is located adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield and is a top attraction at Gettysburg National Military Park. 

This is the site of the home and farm of President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower. This farm was a place where Eisenhower would retreat and meet with world leaders to discuss plans to strategies to reduce tensions with the Cold War.

Today visitors are able to tour the house and the grounds with park rangers. There are also 3D tours and virtual tours available should that appeal to you.

Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center

Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center
Image Credit: tripp.dave via Flickr (license)

The Gettysburg Foundation is a nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. The museum and visitor center are must-see attractions when visiting this park. 

The museum and visitor center are comprised of multiple areas where visitors can learn about this historic town and battlefield. Visiting each part of the center will provide you with different experiences and sights to marvel at. 

Film

The film shown here is called “A New Birth of Freedom.” This film is narrated by Morgan Freeman and is a 20-minute production that teaches about the Battle of Gettysburg. The film is shown multiple times a day with short 15 to 30 minutes in between, so no matter what time you visit, the next showing should start shortly after your arrival.

Painting

The Cyclorama painting is another incredible feature of the museum and visitor center. A famous French artist named Paul Philippoteaux painted the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama painting which is 377 feet around and 42 feet high. This massive painting is longer than a football field and taller than a 4-story building. With the beautiful painting, light, and sound effects, visitors feel as if they are fully immersed in the actual battle.

Museum

The museum portion of the visitor center features authentic artifacts and interactive exhibits highlighting the events of the American Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. 

There are park rangers and volunteers staffed at the museum and visitor center. These individuals are happy to help guests map out their park adventures and find the answers to any questions they may have. There’s also a bookstore for purchasing souvenirs, apparel, guidebooks, and audio tours. 

Bottom Line:

A visit to Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center is an excellent starting point. With informative films, interactive exhibits, breathtaking artwork, and helpful park staff, guests could easily spend a few hours exploring this major attraction.

Living History Programs

The spring, summer, and fall months bring exciting living history programs to Gettysburg National Military Park. Throughout the battlefield, demonstrations are conducted to bring the past to life. Civil War living historians set up camp on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

These historians interact with park guests and demonstrate and teach about the tools and tactics of the Civil War. Visitors feel as though they are stepping back into historical times and experiencing this time firsthand.  

Gettysburg National Military Park Tours

Gettysburg Junior Ranger Program
Image Credit: NPS

One of the best ways to learn about Gettysburg is to participate in the ranger-led programs offered at the park. The guided tours and programs teach about key people and events in Gettysburg’s history.

There is a wide variety of programs at Gettysburg National Military Park, such as guided walks, Junior Ranger programs, campfire talks, and winter programming. Some of the popular programs include Gettysburg History Hike, Battlefield in a Box, Four Score and Seven Years Ago: Lincoln and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. 

The programs at Gettysburg National Military Park are offered on a regular basis year-round. There are events for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Be sure to take advantage of the learning opportunities available at Gettysburg National Military Park by participating in one of the many programs offered by the knowledgeable rangers of the park.

Best Times To Visit Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park has so much to offer, no matter what time of year you plan a visit. If there is a specific event or activity that you are looking to enjoy, there may be a better time than others to plan a trip.

Best Time To Visit Gettysburg National Military Park for Civil War Reenactments

The Civil War reenactments are one of the biggest draws to Gettysburg National Military Park. The best time to visit for the Civil War reenactments is in early July. These reenactments allow visitors to step back in time and get a firsthand view of the battles in early American history. 

Best Time To Visit Gettysburg National Military Park To Avoid the Crowds

Vacationing without crowds may seem like a dream, but this dream can come true if you plan to visit Gettysburg National Military Park at the right time. If you want to avoid crowds, plan your trip for the month of November. A fall visit will reward you with not only less crowded conditions but also gorgeous views of the fall foliage and comfortable temperatures. 

Best Time To Visit Gettysburg National Military Park in Autumn

Gettysburg National Military Park at Sunset
Image Credit: NPS

Autumn is an exceptional time to visit Gettysburg National Military Park, especially in October. With high temperatures in the upper 70s and lows in the mid-50s, the temperature is ideal, and the trees are bursting with vibrant shades of gold, red, and orange.

Another perk to a fall visit is that local orchards are bringing in the harvest for pumpkins and apples, so there are even more opportunities for farmer’s markets and apple and pumpkin picking.

Cheapest Time To Visit Gettysburg National Military Park

Saving money while traveling is not something that happens often. Proper planning can save hundreds when visiting Gettysburg National Military Park. The cheapest time to travel to this park is in the month of November. There are fewer guests, and hotel rates are lower at this time of year. 

Annual Events in Gettysburg National Military Park

There is a long list of annual events that takes place in Gettysburg National Military Park. Whether you are interested in Civil War reenactments, music festivals, or holiday celebrations, there are events that appeal to every visitor.

Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival

The Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival takes place each year in August and May. This festival is a 4-day event and has so much to offer. There are 2 dozen traditional and contemporary bluegrass artists who share their songs and talent during the festival.

Not only is there live bluegrass music, but there are also workshops, instructional presentations, and jam sessions that take place throughout the event. Vendors are set up selling merchandise, arts and crafts, music, and food.

Hot Tip:

Visitors set up tents or campers to enjoy the festival in the great outdoors. Visiting during this festival is a great way to enjoy the history and culture of Gettysburg.

A Gettysburg Christmas Festival

A Gettysburg Christmas Festival is an annual holiday celebration that takes place over a weekend early in December. This event is looked forward to by visitors and locals alike. There are special activities, games, entertainment, Christmas lights, movie showings, shopping, prizes, and small-town holiday charm. This event is suitable for all ages and is a special way to kick off the holiday season. 

Fall Farm Skirmish

The Fall Farm Skirmish is an annual event that takes place each September in Gettysburg. This event is hosted by the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association.

This 2-day event features Union and Confederate reenactors that participate in live-action battles, skirmishes across the land, tours of the barn that was turned into a hospital for treating wounded soldiers, and visiting the house of the family who took care of the officers. There are also demonstrations, food tents, and activities for visitors of all ages to participate in. 

Where To Stay In and Near Gettysburg National Military Park

There are plenty of places to set up a home base during your trip to Gettysburg National Military Park. With only 1 lodging option within the park boundaries and countless options nearby, finding a place to rest your head shouldn’t be a problem.

Inside the Park

There is currently only 1 option for staying in Gettysburg National Military Park. A historic home is available for overnight accommodations with small groups.

Bushman House

The Bushman House
Image Credit: Gettysburg Foundation

The only option for lodging within the boundaries of Gettysburg National Military Park is the historic Bushman House. This option is available year-round and has been recently updated and restored.

You can find the Bushman House next to well-known landmarks such as Devil’s Den and Little Round Top. This lodging option is set back from the roads and offers peace, tranquility, and an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature. 

Reservations must be made in advance for those who want to stay at Bushman House. The home features 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. There is a fully-equipped kitchen with all the appliances necessary for cooking and cleaning up from dining. This home has central heating and air, making it a comfortable option no matter what time of year you plan to stay. 

The Bushman House is a great option for families or small groups who want to set up a base camp in Gettysburg National Military Park. It is a great way to take a break from busy schedules and reset with loved ones and nature.

Towns Near Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park is in a wonderful location and within a short drive from many towns and communities. Whether you are looking for a quiet bed and breakfast, a modern hotel stay, or something in between, you can find exactly what you’re looking for in one of the towns near Gettysburg.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Gettysburg National Military Park is located in the heart of Gettysburg, which is a fantastic town to set up a home away from home. This historic town has several options for lodging, dining, and recreation. 

The lodging options in Gettysburg range from modern hotels to budget-friendly motels, lodges, and charming bed and breakfasts. Many accommodations are located in historic buildings, providing a unique stay. Visitors enjoy being immersed in the history of Gettysburg when staying in this quaint town and marvel at the architecture of these beautiful antique buildings. 

The town has nearly 10 options for dining within its boundaries. There’s something for every palate, from taverns to family restaurants, and from buffets to bistros. 

For recreation, many visitors will take a bus tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield and spend most of their time exploring Gettysburg National Military Park. This town has many other activities to enjoy, including wineries, music theaters, museums, and farm adventures.

Bottom Line:

With so much to see and do in Gettysburg and its close proximity to the park, this town is the ideal place to stay during a trip to Gettysburg National Military Park.

Hanover, Pennsylvania

Hanover is about 17 miles from Gettysburg National Military Park. This picturesque town is filled with a rich history, stunning architecture, and plenty of places for dining, lodging, and recreation. 

There are 2 options for lodging in Hanover due to its small size. Guests are able to choose from 2 well-known chain hotels that offer all the comforts of home. 

With over 2 dozen restaurants, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is where to eat. Visitors can choose from restaurants serving diner-style favorites, artisan pizzas, comfort foods, fine dining, and casual dining.

Hanover is a wonderful place for history buffs; this city was founded in 1763 and offers many places for sightseeing and exploring. Downtown monuments, early 1700s cemeteries, and neo-classical mansions are several highlights of the town. There are also some amazing stores in the downtown shops for visitors who enjoy spending the day snagging great deals. 

If you are looking for a home away from home close to Gettysburg National Military Park, you can’t go wrong by choosing to set up a home base in Hanover.

Where To Eat In and Near Gettysburg National Military Park

There are 2 options for dining within the boundaries of Gettysburg National Military Park and countless options nearby. Whether you are in the mood for a quick and easy meal or a sit-down culinary experience, you can find exactly what you’re looking for in and near this park.

Battlegrounds Café & Grille

Battlegrounds Café & Grille is located inside the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. This restaurant is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is styled as an authentic Civil War-era saloon. 

The Battlegrounds Café & Grille menu features a nice selection of hot and cold food choices, including deli meat sandwiches, pizzas, paninis, hot dogs, and snacks. For a quick pick-me-up, there is a made-to-order coffee bar, and for your sweet tooth, you can try the ice cream and apple dumplings.

For a quick bite while exploring Gettysburg National Military Park, stop by Battlegrounds Café & Grille. The selection at this restaurant won’t disappoint, and you can’t beat the convenience of the park.

Food 101

Food 101 is located just a mile and a half from Gettysburg National Military Park. This restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily, 7 days a week, and is the number 1 restaurant in Gettysburg. 

The menu at Food 101 features fresh salads, artisan pizzas, gourmet sandwiches, and phenomenal dishes created by a renowned chef. Customers rave about the curry salmon sandwich, the salmon capellini, and the ahi tuna tartine. 

Food 101 is an excellent option for dining near the park. The creative dishes and relaxing ambiance make a lovely combination for wrapping up a day of exploring Gettysburg National Military Park. 

Refreshment Saloon

Refreshment Saloon is another restaurant in the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. This restaurant offers eco-friendly dining options to guests of the park.

The dishes at Refreshment Saloon are prepared with locally-grown foods and prepared with energy-efficient equipment in order to be kind to our planet. Some of the popular menu items include seafood chowder, personal pizzas, BBQ pulled pork, and caramel cake. 

Gettysburg National Military Park Facts

The Pennsylvania Monument
Image Credit: NPS

1. A New Park Established

Gettysburg National Military Park was established in 1895 as a memorial to the armies that fought in the Civil War, to preserve the battlefield, and to remember the iconic Gettysburg Address given by President Abraham Lincoln. 

2. Most-Visited Civil War Battlefield

The Gettysburg National Military Battlefield is the most visited battlefield of the Civil War. Each year, over 1.6 million visitors come to explore this historic battlefield. 

3. Deadliest Battle

The Battle of Gettysburg is the deadliest battle fought on American soil. This 3-day battle resulted in 7,000 deaths and tens of thousands of soldiers wounded. 

4. National Register of Historic Places

Gettysburg National Military Park has several areas that have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park was added to the register in October of 1966.

5. Sister Park

The Sekigahara Battlefield is located in central Japan and is Gettysburg National Military Park’s sister park. These parks signed an agreement as sister cities in September 2016. They share a similar story in the civil wars of their countries. 

Final Thoughts

Visiting Gettysburg National Military Park is an incredible way to learn more about America’s past and life after the Civil War. Seeing where President Lincoln prepared and gave the Gettysburg Address is an experience to remember for a lifetime.

With endless opportunities to learn, discover, and explore this historic American park, it’s no wonder nearly a million tourists come to this Pennsylvanian town each year. Book your trip to Gettysburg National Military Park and experience American history in a whole new way. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to enter Gettysburg National Military Park?

There is no entry fee for Gettysburg National Military Park. Visitors should expect fees if they intend to watch the park film, explore the museum, or view the Cyclorama.

Where should I begin my visit to Gettysburg National Military Park?

The best place to begin your visit at Gettysburg National Military Park is the museum and visitor center. This amazing location offers an abundance of information about the history of Gettysburg. Exhibits, films, art pieces, and staff are available to help you get the most out of your trip.

How many days should I plan to visit Gettysburg National Military Park?

It is recommended to spend 3 days visiting Gettysburg National Military Park. This will allow plenty of time to participate in several tours, visit the museum and visitor center, and explore the historic landmarks.

Do I have to make reservations to participate in the tours at Gettysburg National Park?

Most tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but some can be reserved in advance, such as the Licensed Battlefield Guides.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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