Gettysburg is a manageable and educational destination for families traveling with kids. This small town is affordable, friendly and safe, and it offers a wealth of historical treats. If your family loves history - specifically Civil War history - you'll want to put Gettysburg on the top of your bucket list. Be sure to give your family enough time to get it all in.
One of the canons from the war — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
Begin the day early because there's a lot of fun things to see and do. Head over to the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Inside you'll find the museum, a theater and one of few cycloramas left in the world. Be sure to purchase a ticket that let's you visit all three areas. This will give your family a well-rounded start on the Gettysburg experience.
Gettysburg National Military Park & Visitors Center — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
Start off in the movie theater and watch "A New Birth Of Freedom," a presentation produced by the History Channel and narrated by Morgan Freeman. It not only talks about the Battle of Gettysburg but the Civil War as a whole and the climate of the country that led up to that point. It will inform your kids accurately, and you may also gain a new perspective on the war.
Once the film wraps up, take a walk through the museum. Peruse exhibits filled with war artifacts and paraphernalia. On display, you'll find everything from buttons to tactical literature to shackles, canons and more. You'll easily spend an hour in the exhibit area.
After the exhibits, head upstairs to the Gettysburg Cyclorama - it's the domed part of the building that you may have seen from the outside. What's a cyclorama, you ask? Popular in the 1800s, before moving pictures came about, it's a panoramic painting on the inside of a cyclical dome. You stand in the middle of it to get a 360-degree view of a landscape - in this case, the Gettysburg war landscape.
One small part of the Cyclorama painting — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
Complete with lighting effects and narration, the Gettysburg Cyclorama is a unique experience that your kids will enjoy. The audio from the canons and gun fire can be loud at some points, so make sure that your kids are okay with loud sounds.
Once you've filled up on a hearty lunch at any one of Gettysburg's top lunch spots, make sure to grab yourself an ice cream treat at Mr. G's. They make old-fashioned ice cream here that's a hit around town.
Mr. G's ice cream shop — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
After you're done with your sundae or cone, strap the kids up and get ready to tour the Gettysburg Battlefield. There are several ways to experience this historic landmark. If you're traveling with smaller kids, your best bet would be to tour by car at your own pace.
If you have tweens or older, hop on a Segway or horse to take a guided tour with a licensed Battlefield guide. These men and women are experts on Gettysburg. You might even consider making arrangements with a ranger from the National Park Services at the Military Park Visitors Center to see what they can offer your family. Don't forget, there's also the double decker bus with Gettysburg Battlefield Tours.
Plan to spend between two and four hours on the battlefield if you sign up for a guided tour. There's a lot of ground and information to cover.
A Segway tour of the Battlefield — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
To end your day on a more relaxed note and bring your family back to the present, take them for a round of golf at the Mulligan MacDuffer Adventure Golf and Ice Cream Parlour. This golf park is located just across the road from the National Park Service Visitor Center.