This trip was hosted by Destination Gettysburg. Complimentary accommodations, meals, and activities were provided. All opinions are my own.
When the summer months hit, I’m ready to take to the road with my family in tow. Whether it’s a day trip, a road trip, or an all out vacation, we try to find fun and unusual activities to do together. But those few months surrounding summer can really take its toll on our family time.
In the spring, our schedule seems to be full of chores like spring cleaning and readying the lawn and garden for the growing season. In the fall, we seem to be rushing back into the routine of school and work and trying to squeeze out the last few bits of good weather. But there is this magical time that happens between the end of November and the beginning of January called THE HOLIDAYS.
We like to spend a few days as a family just stopping to enjoy this festive time of year. We ventured to Philadelphia a few years ago as a family just to enjoy what the city had to offer and we vowed to do it at the start of every holiday season. This year, I ventured out solo for a holiday weekend but found the perfect place to return with my family. It’s Gettysburg, Pennsylvania!
Now, if you’re thinking that you don’t want to spend the potentially chilly month of December walking around a battlefield, I’m totally with you. That’s why you can skip the battlefield (if you want) and just enjoy the quaintness of downtown Gettysburg and its surrounding areas.
Here’s how I spend a holiday weekend doing both.
Walking Around Downtown Gettysburg
In case you never ventured that far, there is a downtown Gettysburg and it’s about as quaint as you might imagine. Once you get to downtown, park the car and take in all of this by foot.
Even if you do nothing but look, you’ll feel Christmas in the air with all of the decorations surrounded the main square in town (which is actually a circle!). You can even stop in for a complimentary visit with Santa sitting cozily in his Santa Shanty!
I arrived a little early before my holiday activities were scheduled to start specifically to take advantage of the small, locally owned shops. If you’re thinking it’s nothing but Civil War memorabilia, you’re wrong! (Although there is plenty of that, if that’s your thing!)
Codori’s House of Gifts – A cute little gift shop located just around the corner from the Gettysburg Hotel. Plenty of Christmas collectibles!
The Christmas Haus – If you really want Christmas collectibles, you need to head to Germany. This store is the next best thing. The owner travels to Germany procuring artisan made Christmas crafts, from nutcrackers to smokers to schwibböggen.
LARK – Looking for something a little more eclectic? LARK is a unique gift shop that will keep you entertained and fascinated for hours!
Gettysburg Polish Pottery – What’s a store full of handmade Polish pottery doing in downtown Gettysburg? I don’t know but I bought some. It’s so lovely (and so is the shopkeeper!).
If shopping isn’t your thing or you’re looking for something a little more traditional, you can buy tickets for the Majestic Theater, touted as “the grandest small-town theater in America!” We stopped in for their annual production of A Christmas Carol, starring Paris Peet, a local fixture on this stage.
Dare I say it? This version rivaled that of any movie version I’ve seen. And matinees are perfect for the kids!
Venturing Out From Gettysburg
While there’s plenty to do right in the heart of downtown Gettysburg, it’s worth getting in your car and venturing out a little. You’ll find amazing restaurants to suit all palates and out of the norm activities for the family.
Hickory Bridge Farm – A farm, a restaurant, a bed & breakfast, and a country store is what you’ll get at this stop a few minutes out of town. But what you’ll especially love is the home cooked served family style at every table. Our dinner included ham, fried chicken, crab imperial, and more sides than even your grandmother would serve.
Fairfield Inn – This is another multi-purpose location. In addition to being a bed & breakfast, you’ll find a history lesson along with the most amazing food at one of the oldest inns in America. While they do have Holiday Meal events, we stopped by for a breakfast of chicken & waffles. And apparently, I love chicken & waffles!
Mason Dixon Distillery & Restaurant – Did you know Mason and Dixon were the two surveyors who drew the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland? It’s also the name of a craft distillery close to downtown. If you like your spirits, you’re in for a treat as you sample new takes on classic drinks with all locally made spirits. Tours are available and even if you aren’t a drinker, the food complements every kind of taste.
If food, drink, shopping, and Christmas lights aren’t enough (and it’s never enough for me!), there’s still MORE to do in Gettysburg for the holidays.
Board & Brush – There’s a new store in town and it’s a DIY art studio. Make a reservation to sit in a class where you’ll be taught to stain, finish, and decorate your own board art. And if I can do it, anyone can do it!
Eisenhower National Historic Site – Let’s say you want to sneak a little history in but you don’t was to freeze outside. It’s the perfect time to visit the Gettysburg home of Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower. During the holidays, you can see how they’d have their favorite rooms decorated for Christmas.
Shriver House Museum – Back in town, you can take your family to see the only site dedicated to understanding Gettysburg’s history from a civilian’s point of view. Tour this beautifully restored home and see how the Shriver family would have decorated for and celebrated Christmas in the 1860s. It might even make your kids appreciate their Christmas a little more!
A Little Bit of Christmas Magic
If you happen to plan your trip during a time when the weather might not want to fully cooperate, remember that snow can really accentuate the beauty of the season. We were lucky enough to tour around town while a light dusting of snow hit the town. If it didn’t look magical enough already, the snow brought it all to life.
If you’re looking to plan a trip to Gettysburg during the holidays or any other time of the year, check out Destination Gettysburg to help you get started!
My husband loves Gettysburg, he goes camping with a group of friends near there every year and he’s always trying to get me to go to Gettysburg. I was following your trip on social media and this has me considering a visit to Gettysburg.
Generally speaking, me + history = boring. I had been once as an adult to the battlefield and it just didn’t do much for me. But everything OUTSIDE of the battlefield is what gets me excited. PLUS – they have so many wineries and cideries. It would make a perfect work trip!!!