Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – More Than Just a Civil War Town

A haunted bridge, elephant museum, and spa may not be foremost in your mind when you think of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, but they were all part of our family’s experience.  Over spring break, we took a road trip to Gettysburg National Military Park, and let me tell you, it was no easy sell.  The kids didn’t want to go on a “boring educational” trip, and my wife had no interest in traipsing around a field.  In order to get the family to visit, there had to be more than just “Civil War stuff.”  Scenic drives, comfort food, and a cozy lodge were just the thing to tip the scales.  Continue reading to learn how our family discovered that Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was more than just a Civil War town.

Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium

Accommodations

Traveling families appreciate having space to spread out.  Sure we love spending time together bonding as a family, but it’s also necessary to have some separation.  We found just that at The Lodges at Gettysburg – possibly one of the most comfortable and inviting places our family has stayed.

The Lodges at Gettysburg

The Lodges at Gettysburg are private cabins set on 60+ acres of Pennsylvania farmland.  Our cabin was a connected Lieutenant Lodge and Corporal Quarters, making an immense 2 bedroom/2 bath cottage with three queen sized beds, full family room and kitchen.  The accommodations were perfect for our family giving us enough room, space, and separation for everyone to be comfortable, relax, and unwind.  The kids were free in their bedroom (each with their own bed – no fighting over who sleeps on the pullout) while mom and dad shut the door to the serenity of our own sanctuary.

The Lodges at GettysburgThe Lodges at Gettysburg

The grounds of The Lodges at Gettysburg were a former campsite with plenty of space for kids to run around and burn off energy.  There are hiking and biking trails throughout the 37 acre woodland, and even a stocked lake with fishing poles available for would-be anglers.

The Lodges at Gettysburg

We fueled up in the morning with a hearty continental breakfast at the main lodge, and took in the views of the historic peaks of Little Round Top and Big Round Top from the porch.  Finally, if anyone in your family doesn’t want to tour Gettysburg’s historic sites, they can visit the main lodge’s full-service spa facility.  Certainly different from when General Lee visited town.

Dining

Some come for history; others come to Gettysburg for the food.  Surrounded by numerous farms and orchards, Gettysburg has a variety of local fare for sampling.  We stuck to family-friendly eateries with hearty meals such as Dunlap’s Restaurant – a small town diner with large portions and pie (what’s a diner without pie?).

Another favorite was the Appalachian Brewing Company, perfectly appropriate for families with a brewpub menu including pierogies, bratwurst, and mac & cheese in addition to traditional burgers and wings.  I particularly enjoyed the craft beer while my wife gave the small batch, ginger beer craft soda a try.

Appalachian Brewing Company, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

We definitely recommend the Appalachian Brewing Company for a bite to eat after a long day touring Gettysburg.  It’s close to the historical site (at the crest of Seminary Ridge across the street from the house General Robert E. Lee commandeered for his headquarters) with a casual atmosphere and comfort food.

Family Fun

Covered bridges, bucolic countryside, and roadside attractions make up the many scenic routes through the rural landscapes surrounding Gettysburg.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

A mile or so down the road from The Lodges at Gettysburg is Sachs Covered Bridge, an area landmark since the 1850’s, crossed by both Union and Confederate armies during the Battle of Gettysburg, and rumored to be haunted.  Possessed or not, surely a photogenic spot.

Sachs Covered Bridge, Gettysburg, PennsylvaniaSachs Covered Bridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Winding over the hills and dales are panoramic vistas and roadside attractions like Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium.  In the “now for something completely different” department, Mr. Ed’s is a quirky shop filled with all sorts of candy, many of which you won’t find other places – old fashion confections like Mary Janes, wax bottles, and root beer barrels.  There’s also the elephant “museum” of sorts, more of a collection of elephant figurines and memorabilia that takes up a large portion of the store.

Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy EmporiumMr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium

Other Gettysburg family-friendly attractions include minigolf, horseback riding, ghost tours, and shopping.  While one of our daughters spent hours searching for that perfect piece of fudge at Mr. Ed’s, the other searched for that perfect period outfit to wear volunteering at our local living history museum.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Would I recommend a visit to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania without seeing the historic sites?  Absolutely not, the Gettysburg National Military Park was a deeply moving site.  However, it’s important to know what else the destination has to offer for families where everyone may not be a Civil War buff.

DISCLOSURE: Our family was hosted by the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau and received complimentary accommodations, meals, and museum admission.  However, all opinions expressed are those of the author.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on Twitter and “like” our Facebook page, too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.