This post is based on a press trip I attended as part of the Authentic Adams County Media Tour sponsored by Discover Gettysburg.
Having grown up in Maryland and living back here as an adult, I don’t always get a sense of how fortunate I am to live close to so many places of historical significance. I’ve spent plenty of family time in Washington, DC. I recently discovered the prominent Civil War-era town of Winchester, VA. And I’ve crossed state lines to explore the battlefield at Gettysburg.
Everything is close and yet I don’t take full advantage of where I live. It’s probably because like many “tourists in their own town,” I forget to dig a little deeper at what I’m surrounded by. It was on a recent press trip that I discovered how much more there is just over the border in Pennsylvania than the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Whether you’re planning a family trip to the Gettysburg area or you’re looking for a little getaway not too far from the Baltimore/Washington area, you’ll probably be just as surprised as I was with what’s beyond the battlefield.
To be honest, my recent trip, hosted by Discover Gettysburg, actually didn’t have anything to do with the battlefield. That’s not to say it’s not worthy of a dedicated trip including a stop at the new Visitor’s Center and a tour (audio tour, iPad tour, by tour bus, on horseback, on Segway – lots of ways to see the battlefield!). It’s just that there are so many things surrounded Gettysburg that are worthy checking out.
Authentic Adams County was the theme of the trip and I spent three nonstop days exploring the county and never even set foot on the battlefield! Here are some ideas for what else there is to do in Gettysburg.
Stay Local – Baladerry Inn
If you want to have time to experience everything, a weekend trip is definitely worthwhile. Because the area is so full of history, it makes sense to pick a place that reflects the character of the area. In this case, we stayed at the Baladerry Inn – a 19th century bed & breakfast with amazing French toast and hardly any ghosts!
See my full review of the Baladerry Inn.
Historic Round Barn
After getting cozy at the inn, we headed to a unique landmark known as the Historic Round Barn. Its significance is that… well, it’s ROUND. It’s not a typical shape for a barn and it’s considered an “endangered species.” Built in 1914, the barn has been fully restored and is now a beautiful event space (we were lucky enough to have a catered lunch inside to get a feel for the place).
Not only is the structure unique but it had a practical purpose once upon a time. The center silo made it easier to feel the animals in the rounded stalls below. And if you want to check it out, you can simply head down to the farmer’s market below where you’ll see local wares both inside and out.
Before we left the Historic Round Barn, we were treated to a sneak peek of a new building just across the street. A fourth generation farmer is taking the family business in a new direction by adding beer brewing to the farm. A brand new taproom with locally brewed beers is scheduled to open by December under the name The Thirsty Farmer.
Hauser Estate Winery and Cider House
Update: Hauser Estate Winery is under new ownership and now operated as Hauser Hill Event Center.
Just after touring the Historic Round Barn, you can drive less than a mile and head up the mountain for stunning views at Hauser Estate Winery. (And that’s just the view from the parking lot).
Inside, you’ll find a large tasting room with a sweeping deck off of the front. Bring friends or family and sample their wines or locally pressed Jack’s Hard Cider. I didn’t think I was much of a hard cider fan, I found plenty that I enjoyed and took home a sampler pack- my top recommendation is the Dry Hopped Cider).
And if you’re in Gettysburg on a family trip, no worries there either. Hauser Estate is family friendly and pet friendly with plenty of room to run around outside and an activity corner for the kids.
Ploughman Cider Tasting
This stop will be a little trickier to find but if you’re looking for craft cider (and you probably didn’t even know that was a thing) you’ll find it with this new venture that’s part of Three Springs Fruit Farm, another multi-generational orchard in the area.
It’s the brain child of Ben Wenk and others who turned a hobby into a passion. He’s even visited some of the finest cider houses in England to study the craft and is working on planting European apple strains to create new cider flavors.
Although their official tasting room isn’t open quite yet, Ben took us inside to give us a sample of this year’s varieties. Until the tasting room is open, Ben is happy to set an appointment with you and do private tastings. But if you find something you like, be sure to buy it as they don’t have a signature blend. Each year will produce a unique line of craft ciders.
(Rosedale was my favorite which is actually crafted from crabapples!)
Adams County Winery
If you haven’t had enough with wine and cider tastings, there more to do at Adams County Winery which is where we headed for more tastings and dinner from their brick oven.
We were greeted with a wine cocktail made with one of their sweet wines. Finally – a way for me to enjoy sweet wines! As with many wineries in Pennsylvania (and Maryland, for that matter) the wineries cater to the sweet palette of the local wine drinkers. I sampled plenty that weren’t really my thing and then cleansed my palette with this amazing brick oven pizza, made and served just outside the winery and tasting room.
And you’ll be happy to know I found a nice glass of dry Chardonnay to wash it down.
From Field to Fork Food Tour
If you have a day to spare and you’re looking for a way to bring the farm-to-table movement to life, I highly recommend checking out the From Field to Fork Tour conducted by Savor Gettysburg. We started early in the morning touring farms, wineries, and orchards, gathering ingredients for a perfect late lunch prepared by a private chef.
Sound amazing? It is. That’s why I wrote an entire post about my experience on the From Field to Fork Tour in Gettysburg.
Hickory Bridge Farm
After we spent an entire day “farming” and eating, we still ventured out for dinner. And we spent it at a gem of a restaurant, Hickory Bridge Farm, just outside of Gettysburg that’s worth the drive for several reasons.
MaryLynn Martin, second generation owner/operator greeted us at the door and shared her family’s history and connection to the restaurant and bed & breakfast on the grounds. While it represents a working farm, MaryLynn focuses on serving family-style homecooking, starting with fresh apple cider and cheese and crackers while you wait.
Inside the restaurant, you’ll find ample seating for large and small groups (in fact, they were hosting a school group and small wedding the night we were dining!). But why I love this restaurant is that you’ll find something on the table to please everyone in the family: corn, potatoes, fried chicken, crab imperial, ham green beans, apple fritters, and more.
My favorite part, though, was a special tour of the little country store MaryLynn has out back. I fully expected it to be a cute little souvenir shop but inside I found a literal country store that had been preserved in time.
And just in case you have some restless family members, there’s a farm museum next door and penny candy available at the country store.
As with many other stops, Hollabaugh Bros. is a family operation with a longstanding tradition in Adams County. On the morning we visited, it was particularly busy as they were readying for a parade of school groups at this farm and farmer’s market. We were lucky enough to squeeze some time in with Kay Hollabaugh who shared her passion for the business all while showing us how to . make our own apple dumpling.
After placing our apple dumplings in the oven, we headed out for a tractor-driven tour of the orchards and learned how many years it takes to gain a return on investment for fruit trees.
And we finished up at the large and well-known farmer’s market where I bought way too many calories (they bake a ton of apple goodies fresh every day).
The Lion Potter
Our last stop was probably the most unusual and representative of how many pockets of local charm exist in Adams County. David Young, also known as The Lion Potter, runs his studio and farmer’s market close to where we started at the Baladerry Inn.
On this particular day, David had been throwing pots outside and showed us his technique while sharing his life story. His journey to becoming a master potter led him to Japan where he learned techniques that aren’t readily available to American artists and he’s brought his operation (and family – they live next door) to the heart of Gettysburg.
His pottery is priced according to his skill level but at the very least, it’s worth stopping by to admire his handiwork and have a conversation. I guarantee it will be one you won’t forget!
Whether you’re headed to Gettysburg on a day trip, a romantic weekend getaway, or a mini family vacation, I recommend exploring outside the city and getting to know the real Adams County. There’s so much more to do beyond the battlefield!