I’m willing to bet that most of you wouldn’t consider Gettysburg PA a great place to bring the kids. You’d be wrong though. While it’s not the most kid-friendly place (lots of history), your kids will probably enjoy the interactive elements at the museum and exploring the battlefield.
I know I enjoyed it when I was a kid (around 11) but I also love history. I remember my dad taking me to see the Gettysburg movie in the theaters back in 1993 and picturing how everything would have played out in 1863 when I visited the battlefield later on in life and even to this day. Now my daughter doesn’t have the same viewpoint as me and she claims she hasn’t even learned about the Civil War yet in school (3rd grade) but she did learn a little while we were there.
A visit to Gettysburg might not be on your kid’s bucket list just yet but after they go… I am sure they will want to come back again. I know my daughter wants to return in the spring or summer when it is warmer out (we visited in February).
I must say I was kind of surprised by the amount of things that she enjoyed doing in and around the town of Gettysburg.
I figured we would just blow on through the museum. You know, barely stopping to read, look or do anything within the museum. Well, I was wrong for the most part. While we didn’t spend hours in the museum. She did look at a bunch of the exhibits and asked some really good questions.
She loved some of the weirdest things too. Like what the inside of a tent would have looked like for an Officer on the battlefield. Or what would have been used to try and heal wounded soldiers.
Her favorite thing about all else was the interactive touch screens around the museums. I think she thought it was a game but little did she know she was learning something new at the same time. It’s a great feeling as a father. Knowing that she is learning when she doesn’t even realize it.
Another thing she really enjoyed and many kids will, is the Cyclorama. This massive painting will fully immerse everyone in the family. It is said that paintings like this one at Gettysburg, were the IMAX theaters of the time.
It can be tough at some spots to figure out where the foreground ends and the painting begins. It really is quite amazing. Plus the show that gets put on is really neat with all the lights and sounds. It can get a little loud for smaller children so keep that in mind.
Most people don’t really get how tough this terrain would have been for soldiers to fight in. This also escapes children but they do love going around the many trials. There are trails that you can walk, bike or drive your car around.
Just the scenery around the battlefield is beautiful and great for those young and old. I saw quite a few children running around and playing on the rocks at Devil’s Den. To be fair I did see a few adults climbing too.
Devil’s Den was my daughter’s favorite part. We went back three different times. She just couldn’t seem to get enough of it. I remember reading about how tough it was for the soldiers during the war to cross and hold this area. My daughter found it to be a lot of fun climbing around them.
Now maybe it’s just my kid but she had a thing of looking down the cannons. Of course, she wasn’t the only one I saw do this. I really don’t know what she is expecting to see but she kept doing it. Have you been to Gettysburg or any other Civil War Battlefield and did your kids do this?
There are so many little museums and gift shops around town that it would take a couple of days to visit them all. We did stop at the Gettysburg Diorama (241 Steinwehr Ave) which was pretty cool for both of us. They have a gift shop with tons of different shirts and other souvenirs. Admission to see the Diorama with a 30-minute show is under $10 a person.
It showcases all three days of the war from when the first shots were fired to the end of Pickett’s Charge. The diorama is said to have over 20,000 hand-painted buildings, soldiers, horses, and cannons. In the front lobby area, there is a preview of what the figures look like and all the detail that is put into them.
A couple of buildings down is a restaurant called Gettysburg Eddie’s. It’s a pretty cool little eatery with some unique choices. While I didn’t order it, two tables near me did order the Crab Pretzel. My serve did recommend it but my daughter is not yet a fan of crab meat and I didn’t want to fill up on just that.
Exploring the battlefields can take a lot out of you. Even on a chilly February day. I ordered the English Style Beef which was delicious and hit the spot. My daughter ordered the chicken fingers.
I was surprised at how big it was. She got three chicken fingers and tons of fries and a little pack of Oreo cookies. The food was cooked perfectly. I would suggest giving this place a try. It was priced right and the food was good.
We also did a little walking around town. Many different shops to check out. From upscale places to your small town mom and pop shops. My daughter loved looking into the shop windows of many of the places. Of course, she also liked the candy shop. What kid wouldn’t?
About 20 minutes west of Gettysburg on US-30 is an amazing place you have to see to believe. It is called Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium. Now, this is one of those crazy, unique places that are few and fair nowadays. It’s a nice little roadside attraction that is free.
That’s right this place is free. Well seeing all the Elephant Museum has to offer is free. The delicious candy will cost you but the prices are really good. Come find your old favorites or maybe a new one.
The museum has over 12,000 elephant figurines, toys, circus souvenirs, political items and more. They are all jammed back in glass display cases for all to see. Oh boy, is it something to see. You won’t believe how many different figurines they made. See if your kids can find all the Dumbo figures. I’m not sure how many there are but we found at least 5.
If you love Pez you will love to see this collection. When I was there, they had a sale going on 3 for $6. Not that I am on the lookout for Pez but I found many that I never seen before. I knew that there are tons of different characters out there. I guess I didn’t realize it. My daughter ended up getting a Dumbo FunkoPop Pez dispenser.
Besides all the Pez, Mister Ed’s Candy Emporium also has TONS of candy and homemade fudge. You can find this fudge at Museum Giftshop at the Gettysburg National Military Park visitor center. But why not just travel up to the store and see what other varieties they have. Grab your favorite like rocky road, chocolate sea salt, cookie dough and so much more. This place will be a hit with you and your kids.
It might be your favorite stop when you finally take that US-30 road trip across Pennsylvania. It will definitely be one of the more unique stops. It’s a great way to kill an hour and get some sweet treats.
Did we help give you the push you needed to take the kids to visit Gettysburg, PA? We hope we did. Now, if you get a chance to go when they do reenactments. I would definitely do that. I remember checking one out in North Carolina many years ago and had an amazing time.
Leave us a comment and tell us how your trip to Gettysburg went. We would love to hear what you and your kids liked and disliked.
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