Are you planning a visit to Gettysburg to learn, not only the great Civil War history, but also experience the ambiance of what has become one of Pennsylvania’s tourism capitols? Well, let’s just say that your visit doesn’t have to be just an educational and melancholy experience. We’ll show you ten fun ways to explore Gettysburg while learning about the pivotal battle that reshaped America and her principles.
In Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, there’s a plethora of cool things to see and do! There’s lots of bed and breakfasts, hotels, shops, restaurants, and attractions that will make you yearn for more. But the spotlight goes to the 6000 acres of Gettysburg National Military Park and Gettysburg National Cemetery! And, we leave no stoned unturned in showing you how you can explore and enjoy your visit whether it’s your first or your twenty-first.
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10 FUN WAYS TO EXPLORE GETTYSBURG
Walking and Hiking
Lace up your walking shoes and explore Gettysburg National Military Park on foot! Choose a section of the battlefield and walk in the footsteps of soldiers. Try one of these eight great battlefield walks and hikes. Or make your way through these seven secrets of the Gettysburg Battlefield. For more of a guided walking experience, Gettysburg National Military Park offers free Park Ranger-led battlefield walks throughout the year that help to tell the many stories of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Horseback Riding Tours
If riding horses is your game, there are three Horseback Riding Tours in Gettysburg that will take you on a more quiet and serene adventure through the woods, grasses and paths that Civil War Soldiers trekked over 150 years ago. While we chose not to ride horses this time due to my aching back issues, we aren’t ruling a horseback riding tour on our next visit to Gettysburg.
According to Tripadvisor, the three Horseback Riding Tours, Hickory Hollow Horse Farm, Confederate Trails of Gettysburg, and National Riding Stables all offer an unparalleled way to experience this American history icon: a horseback tour of our country’s most famous battlefield with experienced Licensed Battlefield Guides who make it all come alive for you and your party.
All three horseback riding tours offer comfortable and enjoyable ride on one of our gentle, well-trained horses; and superb customer service before, during and after your ride. And, they all offer options of live Licensed Battlefield Guides.
You won’t regret taking an extensive bicycle tour with a Licensed Battlefield Guide! However, be aware that some tours take on some mileage and are not particularly recommended for families with children under 13. Make certain to make reservations because spots are limited. You’ll follow much of the same path as the auto tour but, you’re Battlefield Guide will give you up close and personal information that you won’t get on the self-guided auto tour.
You can provide your own bicycle or rent one. If you need to rent, GettysBike Tours offers non-electric adult bikes, kiddie bikes, tag-a-longs, tandems and bike trailers too. You can even take your dog or cat along also in their dog trailers (free if you rent a bicycle!).
Taking the Segway Tours has been, so far, our favorite means of travel through Gettysburg. In fact, we’ve taken the tours twice! We enjoyed riding the Segway Personal Transporter while experiencing the history and the scenery. And, since they don’t have engines, there is almost no noise or fumes to distract us from our tours.
A few years ago (2015), we took both, the Eastern and Western tours on the same day. However, during our most recent visit (2020), we decided to span our experiences by taking the Eastern tour one day and the Western Tour on the following day. We suggest splitting the two tours up because your legs and feet will get a bit of a workout.
Also, because we are very familiar with the SegTours of Gettysburg, we’ll give you a more compound view of what you’ll experience on each tour below:
Western Segway Tour
The Western Segway Tour took us to both ends of Pickett’s Charge, the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Little Round Top, the Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, the High Water Mark, and more. This tour first starts with a 30-minute training session (indoors) and then about two and a half hours covering approximately nine miles. In this tour, we dismounted for a few breaks to stretch our legs, take some photos and enjoy a snack.
The Western tour escorted by a staff person who plays a recorded tour through ear pieces by a Licensed Battlefield Guide. You can hire a Licensed Battlefield Guide if you prefer but it will cost you an additional fee. A live guide is available for a small additional fee.
Eastern Segway Tour
The Eastern Tour was escorted by a staff member. But also, we enjoyed being accompanied by a Licensed Battlefield Guide. This tour took us on the lesser-known portion of the Battlefield; including Culp’s Hill, Spangler Spring and East Cemetery Hill. In the Eastern Tour, we rode our Segways approximately four miles with a snack break and leg shake at Culp’s Hill Observation Tower. Our Guide took us for a short forested hike into the woods to see some small markers and monuments only about 5% of the tourists see.
The Western Tour takes about two hours; thirty minutes of which is training also. However, since we were already trained the day prior, we shortened our training session by only having to ride the obstacle course to prove we didn’t forget what we learned.
For more information, we recommend you check out the SegTours of Gettysburg FAQ’s to give you a broad perspective of what to expect and what is required. Because, there is a minimum age, height requirement, group size and other information you need to know. Reservations are highly recommended for all tours. Oh and lastly, special thanks to SegTours of Gettysburg for giving us an amazing military discount on both tours.
Scoot Coupe Tour
Enhance your Gettysburg experience and with fun hourly rentals as well as guided tours with Licensed Battlefield Guides on a scooter, scoot coupe and electric bicycle.
We had no idea of this tour option until we were on our Segway tours. These cool little Scoot Coupes passed us several times by other tourist. However, being really honest, I’m not sure we’d enjoy them because they were loud. But we didn’t want to leave this option out for those who may be interested in touring Gettysburg in something different.
The Scoot Coupes are basically an open-air, 3-wheel, 2-seater scooter powered by a 50cc engine and operated by handlebar controls. Their tours last approximately two and a half hours covering all three days of the Battle of Gettysburg. To be able to drive the Scoot Coupe, you must be a licensed driver over 18 years of age. There are other concessions prospective Scoot Coupe renters should be aware of. They do look cool though, don’t they?
By the way, GettyPeds offers other more quieter means of transportation for their tours; Electric Vehicle, Electric Bike, Antique Model A Bus and of course, like we mentioned above, their Scoot Coupe.
Electric Bike aka “E-Bike”
For a similar bicycle experience but with a little help for those hills, try an electric bicycle tour of the battlefield. GettyPeds offers hourly rentals of their electric bicycles, which are equipped with pedal assist motors.
Worth noting, they also rent an electric Model T style electric car (seats up to 4 people) or their high-riser (seats up to 6 people) if you don’t feel comfortable riding their ebikes or if you’d rather ride with your group up to four people. These are great for small families, couples or if you just want to tour in something nostalgic and fun.
And like the GettyPeds Scoop Coupe tour, each tour lasts two and a half hours covering the Battle of Gettysburg in sequence. All drivers must be 18 years of age with a valid driver’s license.
If you’re looking for an adventure and you are 18 years or older with a valid driver’s license, you hop on a scooter to tour Gettysburg! According to their website, no motorcycle license is required. Passengers must be 8 years of age or older. All riders must wear their own closed toed shoes and eye protection. Helmets will be provided with rentals. Manufacturer’s weight restrictions apply.
All scooters are street legal. Be advised, these are motorized vehicles. All rules of the road of standard road vehicles apply.
But, if you’re not to steady or confident riding on two wheels, Blue and Gray Scooter Rental also rents trikes and scoot coupes.
Oh, and we also learned that if you’re staying at a campground in Gettysburg, they can deliver their scooters right to you at all local campgrounds. And, we super happy that they too, offer military and veteran discounts as well as group rates. We highly recommend making reservations to score your rental when you want it.
Self-Guided Auto Tour
There are several options for self-guided tours through Gettysburg and Battlefield which you can enjoy on your own pace. Stop by the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center or Destination Gettysburg to pick up your auto-tour map. These maps highlight key locations on the Battlefield with brief descriptions of each attraction. Or, you can download the Gettysburg Driving Tour app that takes you through the 16-stop auto tour of the park.
Whichever you choose, take your time to explore each stop. Picture in your mind what the Commanders and Regiments saw, smelled and felt.
Gettysburg Battlefield Bus Tour
We took a Gettysburg Battlefield Bus Tour way back when our son was about 10 years old (he’s 36 as I write this!). I remember our Licensed Battlefield Guide was dramatically amazing! As he was telling the history of the Battlefield, he would get into character making us feel like we were there. Our son absolutely loved it!
So, if you have a family who drags their feet or you can’t afford to rent them all bicycles or they’re too young for scooters or Segways, a Gettysburg Battlefield Bus Tour may be the best option to keep them corralled. There’s a variety of bus tours that you can choose from:
Dramatized Audio Bus Tour – Ride their famous double decker bus while hearing dramatic recreations of battlefield sounds—cannons roar, rifles crack, drums roll and bugles blow. A favorite of newcomers and many returning guests.
Licensed Guided Bus Tour – Tour the historic fields of Gettysburg in an air-conditioned bus, watching history come alive through the eyes of a Licensed Battlefield Guide. This a more detailed and informative tour.
Licensed Guided Double Decker Bus Tour – This tour combines the fascinating detail only a Licensed Battlefield Guide can provide with our famous double-decker bus, giving you the ultimate Gettysburg battlefield bus tour.
World War II Bus Tour – Ride along and take a look at the people and places that played a part in the Allied victory in World War II. Visit a prisoner-of-war camp and learn why an intelligence camp was located here. You’ll hear moving stories of WWII veterans buried in the Gettysburg national cemetery.
Specialty Tours – Look out for specialty tours offered seasonally, including: The Ghost Bus, Winery/brewery/cidery/distillery tours throughout Adams County, Sunset double decker tours, Licensed Guided Double Decker Bus Tour.
Personalized Licensed Battlefield Guide Tours
Whichever method of transportation you choose to explore Gettysburg National Military Park, we highly recommend taking tours with a Licensed Battlefield Guide. They will enrich your experiences with a more personal and deepened tour of the Battlefield, Gettysburg National Cemetery and the town of Gettysburg itself. These Licensed Battlefield Guides will take you back to those hot July days with only facts about the battle and answer questions you or those in your party may have. Don’t be afraid to ask!
By the way, it’s a nice gesture to generously tip your Licensed Battlefield Guides as a way of showing appreciation of his or her time and knowledge. As per the National Park Service, “The licensing process consists of five tiers: the written exam, the panel interview, the field practicum, the oral exam, and the post-licensing orientation. Candidates must pass each tier in succession to become a Licensed Battlefield Guide.”
Notes and Rules to Remember
No one is permitted to drive any motorized vehicles inside Gettysburg National Cemetery. This includes electric bikes, automobiles, scoot coups, scooters and motorcycles. In other words, only foot traffic and self-propelled bicycles are allowed (does not include ebikes). Also, all riders and drivers must obey all traffic laws and rules of the road as if you are driving any vehicle.
Finally, please keep in mind that not all tours have the same content. Some tours only cover a portion of the battlefield, and the tours vary greatly in terms of customization and amount of detail. And, we encourage offering a gratuity to your other guides who accompany you on your tours as well as bus drivers. After all, they are providing a service.
Bring your cameras and make sure you have extra memory cards! Take lots of photos all throughout the day. By the way, we offer a cool read that will help improve your photography skills using your smartphone! We recommend returning to your favorite views and monuments at different times of the day to get different perspectives of what the Union and Confederate Soldiers endured on those three, hot July days back in 1863.
So, don’t all of these ways to tour and explore Gettysburg get you excited to visit? Remember, you don’t have to pick just one! We hope this compilation guide gives you some great ideas on how you can explore Gettysburg whether it’s your first visit or your tenth.
Great Gettysburg Resources
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