Things To Do
Once you have begun your visit to Gettysburg National Military Park at the National Park Service Museum and Visitor Center, we suggest you tour the battlefield and explore the significant sites of this dramatic event. Aside from a battlefield tour, there are many other things to see and do including free ranger-guided programs, evening campfire programs, activities for kids, and specialized battle walks during the summer months. Check our Ranger Programs at Gettysburg page for the current schedule. Ranger-guided programs are also scheduled in the early fall months and spring but are mostly limited to weekends during those seasons.
Volunteer living history organizations offer programs in the park on weekends from spring to fall. A full schedule of living history weekends as well as other special events is posted on our Park Events page.
Special observances are held annually on Memorial Day and to commemorate the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery on November 19. There are other special events that occur throughout the year and are listed on our Park Events page.
TOUR THE PARK
There are several ways to tour the battlefield and we highly recommend visitors take advantage of the Licensed Battlefield Guide service where a battlefield guide will personally guide you through the park in the comfort of your own vehicle. (There is a fee for this service.) There is also a Self-guiding Auto Tour, a bus tour with a Licensed Battlefield Guide, and Audio Tours that can be purchased at the Museum and Visitor Center.
(National Park Service)
For visitors wishing a personalized tour, the Licensed Battlefield Guide service is the best way to see and understand the battlefield in the comfort of your own vehicle. Guided tours are two hours in length, very informative and the historical knowledge of the guides is superb. Guides are assigned to personal vehicles from the Visitor Center desk on a first come, first served basis beginning at 8:00 AM each day. Guides may be reserved in advance for organized bus groups by calling toll free 1-877-874-2478 or fax 1-717-338-1244. A guide may also be reserved for individuals in cars. This may be the best choice for those visitors who have limited time to visit the park.
Licensed Battlefield Guide Fees
For visitors who prefer not to take their personal vehicle through the park, there is a battlefield bus tour with a guide on board available from March through September. These tours begin and end at the National Park Service Museum and Visitor Center:
Guided Bus Schedule
Bus Tour Fee
The Self-guided Auto Tour is available in the Official Map and Guide that can be picked up at the Museum and Visitor Center. This tour will guide you through the park with stops at important sites where field exhibits help explain the area, tell the story, and highlight the personalities involved. This may be the best choice for visitors who have planned for a full day in the park and there is no charge for the Self-guided Auto Tour.
(National Park Service)
Audio Tours are available for purchase in the park book store in CD format. Narrated by authorities on the Battle of Gettysburg, these tours will provide the listener with detailed descriptions of significant areas of the battlefield park and bring to life the soldiers who fought this great battle. For further information on Battlefield Audio Tours, call the park bookstore at (717) 334-2288.
Hikes and Bikes
Bicycle riding is welcome on park roads and avenues. All riders must ride on paved surfaces only. Off-road biking is not allowed on earthen trails and paved walkways. When visiting a park site we recommend that bicyclists secure their bikes with tamper resistant bicycle locks.
For Scout Groups, there is the "Boy Scouts of America Gettysburg Heritage Trail Guide", which gives scouts a challenging course through the park. The guide booklet is available at the park bookstore.
Horseback Riding Trails on the Battlefield
(National Park Service)
THE SOLDIERS' NATIONAL CEMETERY
The Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg is the final resting place for many of the Union soldiers who were killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. Dedicated on November 19, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous "Gettysburg Address", the cemetery is also the burial ground for dead from all of America's wars since 1865. Adjacent to the main cemetery is the Cemetery Annex, distinguished by a central plaza and the "Friend to Friend" Memorial. Paved avenues through both provide the visitor with a quiet place to contemplate the sacrifice of so many Americans, laid to rest on a major portion of the battlefield where silent cannon and monuments now stand where Union soldiers stood during the battle.
Parking for the National Cemetery is available on the Taneytown Road at the intersection with Hancock Avenue. Vehicles are not allowed in the cemetery or annex without permission of the National Park Service. A walking tour pamphlet is available from the park information desk at the Museum and Visitor Center, located within walking distance of the cemetery, and on our Park Brochures page.
(Main Street Gettysburg)
THE DAVID WILLS HOUSE
Attorney David Wills' home in Gettysburg was not just the center of Gettysburg, it was the center of the immense clean-up process after the Battle of Gettysburg and where President Abraham Lincoln put the finishing touches on his Gettysburg Address. The speech transformed Gettysburg's community from a place of devastation to the symbol of our nation's new birth of freedom.
The Wills House opened to the public in February 2009 with a museum featuring six galleries, two of which include rooms that have been restored to their 1863 appearance: Will's office where he received letters from families looking for loved ones after the battle and undertook plans for a national cemetery and its dedication; and the bedroom where Lincoln stayed the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address.
The Wills House is operated by Main Street Gettysburg as an official partner with Gettysburg National Military Park. The property is on the Register of National Historic Places. MORE
THINGS TO DO IN GETTYSBURG
The borough of Gettysburg has numerous commercial museums, gift shops, tour companies and businesses that offer services and evening activities. Call the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau's community desk phone at (717) 334-9410, the information center phone at (717) 334-6274, or toll free at 1-800-337-5015 for information and to request brochures, or visit the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau web site.
WALKING TOURS ON YOUR OWN
The park now offers a free guide for the Soldiers' National Cemetery Walking Tour, available at the park information desk. The Cemetery Ridge Walking Tour booklet, which is for sale in the park bookstore, will take you to Cemetery Ridge along the Union line of battle to the "High Water Mark" and the site of the final act at Gettysburg.
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Did You Know?
Major General George Gordon Meade was appointed to command the Union "Army of the Potomac" just three days before the battle of Gettysburg. He was honored in 1896 with an equestrian statue at Gettysburg National Military Park.