We arrived at Gettysburg late afternoon, following a simple journey west on interstate 76 from Philadelphia. Our accommodation for the night was a basic but perfectly fine Super 8 Motel on the edge of town, a simple Uber journey away into the main town. We freshened up and made our way into town, heading for the oldest tavern in town, The Dobbin House Tavern.
We made our way downstairs into the bar area and lucked out by getting a seat at the bar – it was really busy in there! The cellar bar has beautiful stone walls, wooden floors and is lit by candlelight. We sat at the 200 year old colonial bar – the original bar. Amazing!
We had a drink and soon got tempted by the menu, so ordered our food. Keith had a homemade hamburger and I had chilli, washed down with pumpkin martinis for me and the local lager for Keefy. The food was delicious and we really enjoyed our couple of hours there soaking up the atmosphere.
After dinner we walked half a mile or so back into town, giggling at all the ghost tours – a popular activity it seems, but not for us- and admiring all the Halloween displays on people’s houses.
This town has a rich civil war history and the majority of buildings in this part of town have copper plates on informing us that they were here during the civil war. Many of the buildings bear battle scars such as bullet and canon holes!
We were drawn to a patio outside the Farnsworth House Tavern – the lure of a lady playing fiddle and a nice patio with large chimneys calling us in. We enjoyed another couple of drinks before heading back to the motel for bed. We’d been up since 3.30am!
Next morning we awoke slightly later at 5am, result!, and grabbed breakfast from the self serve downstairs before making our way to Gettysburg Battlefield in time for our 9am timed ticket entry to the museum; This visit is a bucket list tick for Keefy. He’s incredibly interested in civil war history and had wanted to visit here for years. We recently watched the film Gettysburg so I was looking forward to learning more as my American civil war history was somewhat lacking!
We’d booked tickets for the museum and cyclorama at 9am and the 2 hour battlefield bus tour at 11am ($42 pp). You just know it’s going to be a cool museum when Morgan Freeman is the narrator for the film introducing the battle here. Legend! After the film finished, we made our way upstairs to view the cyclorama. We both didn’t really know what this was. It turned out to be an imax shaped viewing area which house a 360 degree scene of the battle – it was actually Pickett’s charge. We head a 5 minute narrative whilst the lights changed giving it a movie like feel. At the end, the host told us this was painted in 1883. We couldn’t believe our ears- it looked as new. The changing colours were immensely dramatic and having just heard how old it was we were absolutely gobsmacked for the rest of the day. Walkaround video here
We visited the museum downstairs which was home to many artefacts from the battle before boarding our coach tour at 11am.
The weather was drizzly but it added to the atmosphere. The coach tour took us around the area for 2 hours, stopping off at numerous points for a description. Keith was in his element and actually I really really enjoyed it too.
Our guide made the facts easy to digest and interesting. The American national park service are really looking after this area, preserving it and buying back land off locals and business’ to keep this area a large memorial.
After the guided tour we had a quick lunch in the cafe and then drove around to the area where Pickett’s charge and the conclusion of the battle happened. Both of our imaginations were running wild as we looked over the mile or so stretch back to where the confederate lines would have been. It was a long way from where we stood – on the union line – it was not surprising they shed so much blood here and lost so many members of the confederate army.
After our visit, we headed back east for two hours through tremendous rain, towards Washington DC, where we had rented an air b n b apartment for two nights.
More from Washington DC next time!