There are many opportunities to stay and play in Gettysburg but the holidays may not be the time of year that immediately comes to mind. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend in December taking in all the holiday celebrations of this small historic town without all the crowds that you’ll usually find in the summer.
Christmas in Downtown Gettysburg starts just after Thanksgiving continuing on most weekends through December. And while Gettysburg is accessible from so many metropolitan areas like Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, it’s worth planning at least one night’s stay at the Gettysburg Hotel during the holiday season.
The Gettysburg Hotel played host for several travel writers on a recent overnight trip to explore Christmas in Gettysburg. I arrived earlier than needed to get situated in my room and do a little walking around town.
If you’ve never gone into downtown, you should know that everything is centered around Lincoln Square, which is technically a roundabout. It’s here that you’ll see the towering Gettysburg Hotel just off the square. They have a few reserved parking spots upfront for registration and checkin and a parking garage off of the alley in the back. It’s perfect because once you park your car, you’re free to wander the downtown area just steps out the front door of the hotel.
From the hotel, you’ll have access to quaint shops offering everything from civil war memorabilia to German Christmas crafts to Polish pottery (yes, I did plenty of shopping both for myself and for gifts). And you’ll also be steps away from one of my favorite bakeries, The Gettysburg Baking Company.
Even if you’re not there to shop but simply take in the Christmas festivities, the hotel is in a prime location. Right in front of the hotel, you’ll be able to see the Gettysburg Tree Lighting, the Gettysburg Christmas Parade, the Holiday Tuba Carol Fest, and you’ll be within walking distance of annual traditions like the Santa Shanty (free visits with Santa) and A Christmas Carol, shown every year at The Majestic Theater.
We were lucky enough to stay at the hotel on the night of the Holiday Tuba Carol Fest where tuba players (tuba-ists?) come from all over with one of many varieties of tubas (did you know there were many different kinds of tubas?) all decorated for the festivities. What’s remarkable is these tuba players meet, greet, and play without ever having met each other before the festival!
As we watched the tuba concert on the steps of the Gettysburg Hotel, we were treated to a sheet of music so that we could carol along and a nice warm cup of hot chocolate.
At the end of the chilly evening, I stepped right back inside to my room on the 6th floor. Although it was established in 1797, the interior of the hotel is warm and modern boasting a lovely restaurant just off of the lobby (unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try it). It now boasts 119 guest rooms but still offers reminders of its historic significance:
In the summer of 1863, Gettysburg Hotel, Est. 1797 played witness to one of the seminal events in American Civil War history as Union and Confederate troops swarmed over the small town of Gettysburg during a pivotal three-day battle. President Lincoln honed the immortal words of his Gettysburg Address at the Wills House, just steps away from the hotel. Nearly a century later, at the height of the Cold War, the hotel served as President Dwight Eisenhower’s national operations center while he recuperated from a heart attack at his nearby farm. Visitors of the Gettysburg Hotel, Est. 1797 will experience a premier location rich in history and enjoy modern amenities suited for today’s traveler. Source: HistoricHotels.org
Let’s take a peek inside and see how this hotel matches stacks up.
Location – Gettysburg Hotel
As mentioned, The Gettysburg Hotel is in a prime location in downtown Gettysburg. It’s walkable to local shops and restaurants and even parts of the battlefield. For this holiday stay, I had a beautiful view of Lincoln Square along with the large Gettysburg Christmas tree.
Safety- Gettysburg Hotel
Although we remained mostly in a group, I did spend some time outside in the square late on Friday night to snap a few night photos (the lights are amazing!). There were a few loud drivers in the square (they thought it was fun to yell at the photographers) and I did see a woman stumble out of a local tavern that evening. But it was all in the spirit of holiday fun (and luckily, she wasn’t driving!)
Character – Gettysburg Hotel
While the hotel has early beginnings, the history of the hotel doesn’t appear terribly obvious. It’s been remodeled to provide very modern accommodations. I’d love to see (or know) a little more of the history of the hotel though. Apparently, the ballroom of the hotel was previously a bank and the vault is still intact!
Vanity – Gettysburg Hotel
Mirror in the bathroom, full length mirror in the room. iron and ironing board in the closet, hairdryer in the bathroom – all the vanity extras a girl might need.
Toiletries – Gettysburg Hotel
I loved the Essentiel Elements BATHE line from Gilchrist & Soames provided in the bathroom. In fact, I almost took the extras home with me. So you can leave your toiletries at home. The shampoo, conditioner, soaps, and lotions were lovely.
Comfort – Gettysburg Hotel
My room was furnished with a desk and two queen beds. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary but the beds, pillows, and linens were plenty comfortable. I would love to see slightly plusher towels in the bathroom (call me spoiled!).
Extras – Gettysburg Hotel
What’s the best thing about The Gettysburg Hotel? I’d definitely say the location. Even if you didn’t venture out to explore the town, the lobby and lounge areas were warm and welcoming. But for the holidays, it’s worth booking a room and strolling around town.
The Gettysburg Hotel is a great location for family travelers but during the holidays, this would make a great spot for romantic getaway or a girls shopping trip.
The Gettysburg Inn provided me a complimentary one night stay as part of my Holiday Media Tour with Destination Gettysburg. All thoughts and opinions are my own.