Explore Gettysburg #GoNative
We arrived at the Federal Pointe Inn on a chilly Friday afternoon in February and entered through the lobby of what was once the back of a school. We were unsure of what to expect, but we were greeted by a charming hotel that boasts modern amenities while preserving the integrity of the 100-year-old building. It is truly a masterful renovation.
We were graciously led to our home away from home for the next two days — a huge corner room with oodles of natural light spilling from the tall windows. I love how the furniture and decor harken back to the federal period when the building was built. And yet, modern amenities were not neglected. Our room had all the conveniences we have come to expect from a modern hotel, right down to the Keurig and the flat screen TV.
While there is no room service, coffee and scones are served in the lobby every afternoon between 3–4 PM, and the pub in the basement opens at 4 PM every evening.
The Pointe Pub is a destination unto itself. If you visit Gettysburg, definitely stop into the Federal Pointe Inn one evening to experience the pub. It is a warm and friendly place, clearly a favorite of locals, and decorated with historic schoolhouse memorabilia.
Walk around and take it in before choosing a seat where you can enjoy a crisp glass of Chardonnay or your favorite brewski. Whatever you do, DO NOT skip the crab cakes.
As lovely as the inn is, and as happy as we would have been to hang out in our room all day, working on our respective laptops, there was way too much we wanted to do and see in Gettysburg to wile away too much time in our room.
Gettysburg is one of the most visited towns in our country because of its pivotal role to our nation’s history. In fact, people come to Gettysburg from all over the world. At first glance, Gettysburg seems to be all about the battlefield and historical sites, and that is reason enough to visit. However, Gettysburg also has much to offer in the way of the arts, music, and even shopping… especially if you’re into antiques.
The day we arrived, we grabbed a quick lunch at the aptly named The Pub & Restaurant.
Then we darted across Franklin Square to meet our guide for the History Nerds Tour. THIS is the best kept secret in Gettysburg.
Because we were visiting in the off-season, we were treated to a personal guided tour of the historic battlefield in one of their cozy conversion vans. It was fantastic. Our guide, Tim Daniel, has a knack for making history personal and fun. I kept wishing my kids were there. I have read quite a bit of Civil War history, but seeing the battlefield and hearing his description of the battle brought the whole event to life.
It was chilly on Little Round Top! The wind blew my hood over my head, and I was happy for the shelter from the cold.
As I said above, Gettysburg is much more than a history lesson. We just so happened to visit Gettysburg on the weekend that Gettysburg Rocks was in town. This is a music festival benefitting the Four Diamonds Fund, whose goal is to conquer childhood cancer. A myriad of bands of different music genres were scheduled to perform at restaurants and bars around town all weekend long. Let’s just say, we were in our element.
My husband actually has an old friend who performed twice over the weekend, and we went to see him both times. Overall, the bands we heard were excellent, and the experience definitely whet our appetites for finding more local music to support in our area. We would return to Gettysburg just for this event.
On Saturday, we poked around downtown Gettysburg. The compact layout with its quaint square designating the center of town is perfect for walking around. If you like Americana and/or antiques, you’re in for a treat. We spent quite a while chatting it up with the owners of a shop called Fiddle Faddles, hearing about how the town has changed in the past 30 years.
And these decorative gourds are evidently a thing.
There’s even a little something for the fashionista. I wandered into a cute shop called True Friends Boutique. They had a wonderful assortment of accessories, and right next door was a hat shop. I mean, how can you NOT love a hat shop!?
Dining in Gettysburg has come a long way in recent years. There are several farm to table restaurants, and we enjoyed two swanky dinners during our stay. The first night we visited the historic Inn at Herr Ridge. Since it was dark when we arrived, we couldn’t enjoy the battlefield views. I would love to return in the summer months. The interior of the restaurant is decorated in period decor (it was built in 1815), but the menu is quite modern, and the wine list is extensive. At the end of our meal, the chef came out to ask us about our experience, which is always appreciated.
On Saturday night, we dined at Sidney at Willoughby Run. This was definitely a more contemporary dining experience, but every bit as good. In fact, I believe I enjoyed the food here a bit more, but perhaps that is because I was feeling more adventurous and ordered quail rather than my typical steak. It will NOT be the last time I order quail. It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
The service at both establishments was impeccable, and I would highly recommend either one.
In addition to fine dining, there are a plethora of pubs and taverns in the area as well as a coffee shops, ice cream parlors, and cupcake boutiques. We enjoyed cupcakes at Johnny Como’s on Saturday afternoon (they even frosted a gluten-free one for me!) Decorated in a colorful 1950’s style, this is a fun place to hang out and take a respite from the day’s activities.
Once again, the staff was over-the-top friendly and fun to chat with. That seems to be a common thread among shop owners in Gettysburg. Maybe it’s because we were visiting in the off-season, but everyone seemed to know each other, which definitely gave the whole town a pleasantly old-fashioned vibe.
I would, however, advise skipping the coffee at Johnny Como’s. Instead, walk a few steps to The Ragged Edge, a coffee shop where we breakfasted both mornings. They make one mean latte, and the baked oatmeal is TO-DIE-FOR.
If this still doesn’t give you enough to do, the area is known for its wineries. There are several, but we decided to visit Hauser Estate Winery because I read about the gorgeous view. Located just a few miles outside of town, it is definitely worth the drive. I would love to see it in the warmer months when the countryside greens up a bit. Wine tastings are only $4, and don’t skip the hard cider. That was so good, we ended up bringing a case home.
Gettysburg is a worthy destination for families as well as couples. There is certainly no shortage of things to do. We could easily spend a week there. I was hoping to explore the Eisenhower Historic Site, but it was being renovated. I also wish we had made time to see a show at Majestic Theater.
The Visitors’ Center has a lot to offer, and we headed over to check it out, but ended up going for cupcakes instead. Ha! There are at least a dozen museums, to say nothing of shops and restaurants, and the antiquing is phenomenal if that’s your thing. In warmer months, there are hiking trails and plenty of outdoor activities to explore.
Back at our hotel, just a few blocks west of Franklin Square, we packed up to go home. It’s always bittersweet to leave a travel experience behind, but I was excited to get home and see my kids, and going back through my photos and writing about a trip is half the fun of it!
For more photos of our trip, I put together this Three Day Getaway Pinterest Board.
Thanks so much to the Ascend Hotel Collection for hosting our weekend getaway at the Federal Pointe Inn. Our hotel stay and a stipend for activities were provided to facilitate this post, but of course, all opinions and experiences are very much my own.