This summer, due to the coronavirus pandemic, people are looking to spend time outdoors on their vacation. Gettysburg Pennsylvania is a great driving destination, and the many outdoor activities take place in wide-open space, so there is built-in social distancing. Here, what you need to know to plan your visit.
Where to Stay in Gettysburg
Drummer Boy Camping Resort is located just minutes from downtown Gettysburg and is a great option for families. The cottages at this campground elevate camping to a new level.
Be sure to stay in a deluxe cabin, also known as a park model RV. It looks like a cabin but is actually built on an RV chassis and towed to its final destination, mainly at campgrounds. It has bedding, towels, pots, pans, dishes, and utensils—so all you need to bring are toiletries, beach towels, and food. There is a firepit, picnic table, and charcoal grill outside. According to Go RVing, Park Model RVs are unique units that provide temporary accommodations for recreation, camping, or seasonal use. Park Model RVs are designed to look like a home, but they need to be hooked up to on-site electricity, sewer, and water like any RV. They may have a front porch and a sleeping loft and are a great way to experience camping if you’re not ready to purchase an RV or all the gear that goes with tent camping.
From a Covid-19 perspective, it’s nice because the cabins have a self-contained bathroom, shower, kitchen, and living space, so for those who don’t want to use the communal areas in the campground, they don’t need to—although these areas are being sanitized and cleaned regularly. Drummer Boy has a very good system in place when it comes to social distancing at the pool—families sign up for a 90-minute time slot for Saturdays (the busiest day), and the pool is closed for 30 minutes between designated slots for sanitizing and cleaning. That way, everyone has a chance to have fun in the pool without worrying about overcrowding.
The campground is super family-friendly. There’s a fishing pond (bring your own poles), plenty of places to go biking, and firewood available for purchase.
Outdoor Activities in Gettysburg
Riding Through History: If you’re active and like to bike ride, then seeing Gettysburg via a cycling tour is a great way to really experience the destination. GettysBike is a family-owned and operated bicycle touring company, where you can either use one of their bikes or bring your own. Each tour is accompanied by a certified licensed guide who is well-versed in explaining Civil War history to the kids, as well as giving more detailed information on the battles that took place here for history enthusiasts. The guides not only give facts and answer questions, but they tell inspiring true stories about the soldiers who fought in the battles here. The nice part about doing a battlefield tour via bike is that you get a true appreciation of the physical endurance that was required of the soldiers and a better understanding of the terrain, including the hills, ridges, and valleys that were instrumental in the way each battle was fought. Due to Covid-19, the company is offering The Grand Tour daily, from 10-1:30. The tour takes bikers out to Seminary Ridge where the first day’s battles were fought, before heading up to the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, and Little Round Top. This is an excellent way to really learn and understand the history of the Gettysburg battles.
Horseback Riding on Hallowed Ground: Another unique and interesting way to explore Gettysburg is via horseback. The Hickory Hollow Farm is a family-owned and operated business, and owner Pam Grimes has been in business for more than 30 years. Groups are small—ranging from two to 10 riders—and they also offer private tours. There are a variety of tour options, including the scenic trail (either one hour or 90 minutes), the two-hour narrative tour, and the two-hour licensed battlefield guided tour where a licensed guide rides along and narrates the tour and answers questions. The battlefield tours run from March to November, and riders will get a chance to see the Virginia Monument, cannons, The Spangler farm, Picketts’ Charge, The Pennsylvania Monument, and more. The scenic ride is nice if you’ve already been on history tours and you just want to take in the beauty of the area and tranquility of being on a horse, but the battlefield tours are great if you’re looking to get some more insight into the battles fought.
Open Air Bus: If you’re looking for a narrated bus tour but don’t want to be inside, the Gettysburg Battlefield guided double-decker bus tour is the way to go. The two-hour fully narrated tour includes two stops (including a bathroom break). Each person gets a pair of headphones (to keep) and the live narration with a licensed battlefield guide includes a play-by-play of the three-day battle at Gettysburg. They make sure to keep social distancing standards (groups are seated six feet apart—so not all seats on the bus are used). The company, which has been in business for more than 40 years, offers tours throughout the year. It also offers walking ghost tours that are quite popular. The Jennie Wade Tour includes a walk through East Cemetery Hill before a tour of the spot where Jennie Wade was killed on July 3, 1863, making her the only civilian to be killed during the battle of Gettysburg.
Where to Eat in Gettysburg
Loved by both locals and travelers, Mr. G’s Ice Cream is worth the wait (you can tell the ice cream shop’s popularity by the line that forms around the block—don’t worry, it moves quickly). People happily wait to order the milkshakes, sundaes, flurries, waffle cones, soft serve, and a choice of more than 16 flavors made from scratch on the premises (fan favorites include salted caramel and cookie dough). Seasonal flavors include peach, blueberry, and pumpkin made from products from local fruit farms. The ice cream is delicious and many flavors are gluten-free (just double check upon ordering). The location is ideal—in the heart of Gettysburg in the Twin Sycamores house that dates back to 1819. Be sure to check out the historic well and Witness Tree that dates back to the civil war.
Mansion House 1757 is a fine-dining restaurant and inn that is family owned and operated. George and Cindy Keeney, the owners, utilize local farms, markets, orchards, cheese-makers, breweries, bakers, wineries, and butchers to share the bounty of Adams County, Pennsylvania, with their diners. Executive Chef George Keeney changes the menu to reflect the harvest of the seasons. Weekly specials allow for a varied experience for repeat diners and classical preparation is featured on weekends (think Osso Bucco, Paella, Sauerbraten, and Coq au Vin). Cindy Keeney oversees the inn which has six restored guest rooms, most named for historical figures that spent time at the inn, including Mamie Eisenhower and Patrick Henry. The property dates back to 1757, and local artists from the Gettysburg area have decorated the property with their original pieces of art, all available for purchase. In addition to George and Cindy Keeney, their oldest son, Daniel Keeney, is the Chef de Cuisine, and their daughter, Paige Keeney, does the marketing and social media. Their youngest son, Michael Keeney, does the landscaping and other jobs around the property, making it truly a family affair.
To sample some of the best pizza, subs, and salads in Gettysburg, head to Tommy’s Pizza, which has been family owned and operated since 1973. Today brothers Wade and Drew are third-generation owners. Located in the heart of historic Gettysburg, this restaurant is bustling during lunch and dinner slots with locals mixing with travelers to eat not only the made-from-scratch Greek-style pizza, but also to sample one of the largest selections of craft beer in town. The best way to experience the menu is to get a couple of pizzas, subs, and salads and serve it up family-style on the outdoor tables in front.
If you’re looking to try some of the best burgers in Gettysburg, then head to Fourscore Beer Co. Other fan favorites on the menu include the wings, mac & cheese, catfish tacos, Wagyu hotdog, and salads. There’s plenty of outdoor seating in the shade—they set up a large tent over picnic tables so people can enjoy outdoor dining while still social distancing. Adults will be tempted by the 14 beers on tap that range from IPAs to Pilsner-style beer and ales. They also brew a selection of seasonal beers based on what’s available during that time of year, including freshly picked Adams County fruit. The owners, who also own Tommy’s Pizza, have a passion for brewing beer, and they source ingredients from around the world, including exotic spices for their imperial stout and hops from the Pacific Northwest. This is a good place to end the day, either for a meal or a drink.