A quick weekend getaway to Gettysburg for Christmas events was the perfect way to kick off the holidays! Plan your Gettysburg vacation with this holiday schedule of activities!
We were visiting as guests of Destination Gettysburg and want to thank them for their hospitality! All opinions and experiences are 100% our own, but we do recommend visiting their site as you plan your visit.
Christmas Events in Gettysburg
I’ve always lived within about an hour of Gettysburg, PA, and am fortunate that I’ve been able to visit many times. But I’ve never visited at Christmas time before which is an absolutely shame because it’s just charming!
Gettysburg is well-known for having an attractive downtown with storefronts that are kept up with and eclectic. If you visit in the summer, there are always artisans out on the sidewalks and gorgeous window boxes full of flowers! It really is a town to park and walk around in so that you can just absorb it all instead of just driving through.
And Christmas time is no exception! The town and local businesses go all out celebrating!
Gettysburg Christmas Tree
Lincoln Square is the center of Gettysburg and there’s zero chance you’ll miss it with the giant Christmas tree parked right in the middle of the circle! I made sure to grab a picture our first evening there…
And then another picture the next day in full day light! Those streetlights certainly don’t hurt when you’re looking for extra charm!
Once you’re past gawking at the tree, start spinning in a circle and taking in the rest of the square! It’s jam packed with restaurants, pubs, a bakery, gift shops, historical buildings and, of course, Christmas decorations!
If you’re looking for some photo opps, you’ll find plenty in the square of Gettysburg!
Adorable photo opps to cherish aaaand some spontaneously goofy ones!
Siblings are weird, right? Me just asking for a picture with the nutcracker automatically meant to both of them that they should assume a nutcracker pose! No direction needed! LOL!
Eisenhower Christmas Home Tour
But schedule in some time to head out of the main area of downtown and explore some of the more historical sites! The Eisenhower Christmas Tour was the absolute favorite of all 4 of us! Yes, even my teens loved it and took every last second exploring until we finally had to get back on the shuttle.
While the home is open for tours year-round, it was so special to see it decorated for Christmas how Mamie and Ike would have decorated it!
And raise your hand if you knew how cool Mamie and Ike were??
I really don’t know that I ever thought much about them before this tour, but now I want to go find a book and read up on their story! She seemed feisty and spunky and he was so artistic! This sunroom is where Ike would go in his retirement years to paint. Some of his paintings were even turned into Christmas cards by Hallmark!
I’ve visited a lot of historical homes during my travels, but this was one of the very few where you really do get to tour the entire home! You can see all the bedrooms with a walking guide that explains who stayed there and a little of their backstory. You even get to see Mamie’s love of pink in her ALL PINK bathroom. Seriously, so much pink!
We enjoyed the tour so much, that when we exited the house, my teens wanted to go back through again! And we saw new little details in every room the 2nd time through. It was one of those historical homes where you can actually picture the family moving about and celebrating Christmas together. Loved it!
Be sure to check out the Eisenhower National Historic Site for more information on hours and ticket prices (SO reasonable!). You actually start your tour at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center and from there you take a shuttle to the Eisenhower Farm. It’s a short shuttle ride but really gives you an idea of how the farm sat right beside the battlefields! Plan for about 1.5-2 hours for the Eisenhower tour.
Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center
I highly recommend allowing for some extra time to explore the Visitor Center either before or after your visit to the Eisenhower Farm. It was also decorated for Christmas with nativities from when Eisenhower was in the White House and the coolest tree garland around!
Aside from the temporary Christmas decorations, it held many exhibits to explore!
There’s also another spot for a great photo opp with a statue of Abraham Lincoln outside.
Holiday Carriage Tour
One of my favorite things to do when I arrive in any new town, is to take a tour of the main downtown! Since it’s December, the natural answer was a Holiday Carriage Tour with the Victorian Carriage Company.
The tour meets at the Gettysburg Heritage Center and each horse-drawn wagon holds about 10 passengers plus a reenactor.
The reenactor was our favorite part of the wagon ride! He was so engaging and telling local stories that had my kids laughing and asking even more questions!
Plus, he took song requests and there was quite a bit of Christmas caroling happening on that wagon!
Such a fun way to get a quick overview of the town and hear him point out some landmarks for us to go explore later on our own. It also helped that there were padded seats, blankets provided and a wind barrier on the sides of the wagon.
Expect your ride to be about 30-40 minutes. You can find more information for how to book your Holiday Carriage Tour here.
And after your tour, hop into the Gettysburg Heritage Center to explore a little bit too! These were a favorite of my kids!
Shriver House Christmas Tour
Only about a 4 minute drive down the road from the carriage tour, is the Shriver House. We actually passed it driving by the first time and I commented on how adorable the outside of the house is not even realizing that was our next stop!
The Shriver House offers tours year-round, but the Five Christmases at the Shriver House tour is completely different! You really need to plan a visit for each season to understand the full story behind the Shriver Family.
While you can visit pretty much anywhere in Gettysburg and hear stories of the soldiers, the Shriver House is unique in that it tells the story of a civilian family who found their house caught in the middle of the battle of Gettysburg.
During the Christmas tour you’ll experience how Christmases were for Hettie Shriver and her two young daughters. You’ll also see exhibits and examples of how the holidays were celebrated and what foods were eaten!
We enjoyed our tour so much that I’m planning on writing a separate article devoted entirely to the Shriver House. I’ll be sure to update this post with a link once it’s live!
For now, be sure to check out the schedule and ticket prices to fit your visit in while the holiday decorations are still hung. So heartwarming to see how a family celebrated the cheer of the holidays even while a battle raged around their home.
Where to Eat in Gettysburg
One of my favorite parts of visiting Gettysburg is how central everything is! All of the activities I outlined above where within a 10 minute or so drive from each other. Which makes it really nice when you finish a 2 hour tour and find yourself (ahem, or your kids…) suddenly starving!
We headed back to Lincoln Square for lunch between activities and were seated right away at The Pub. I was so tickled because we had passed it a few times already and the holiday decorations were calling my name!
The Pub is a staple in Lincoln Square and offers a restaurant on one side and a more casual pub/bar area on the other side.
It also offers gorgeous decor that we couldn’t stop staring at!
It was the perfect place for lunch with the family! Everyone found something they wanted to eat (too many things if I’m being honest!), and it was served quickly so we didn’t miss our next activity!
My son even asked if we could go back before we left town to get more of these sliders to go!
While in town, we also had dinner at Ping which was recommended by the front desk clerk at our hotel! It was just a block or so off the main square, but it was very much a local favorite for Chinese food and sushi. An excellent dinner!
Where to Stay in Gettysburg
And, of course, what everyone always seems to want to know… where should we stay!!
While Gettysburg has its share of B&B’s, we’re more of a hotel family ourselves. I would imagine most families with kids are!.
A few things we look for in family-friendly hotels:
- Rooms with 2 queen beds (full-size beds just doesn’t cut it anymore with teens)
- Rooms with refrigerators in the room (bonus because we even had a microwave!)
- Bathrooms with a LARGE countertop so my daughter can take up 80% of it
- Breakfast offered on site since teens like to sleep
- An indoor pool
- Close proximity to local attractions
This trip, we stayed as guests of the Gettysburg Hilton Garden Inn and it checked off every single thing on our list above!
It was about a 5-10 minute drive to everything we wanted to see and had the friendliest staff around! The breakfast was made-to-order and delicious and we were just thrilled with everything about this stay! Free parking too!
To start planning your Gettysburg weekend, be sure to check out the Destination Gettysburg site! It is packed with upcoming calendars, descriptions of local attractions, ways to purchase tickets and more!
- Destination Gettysburg website
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- Destination Gettysburg on Facebook
- Destination Gettysburg on Twitter
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