A Land Rich in Heritage: This 4-day itinerary begins in Gettysburg, PA and explores the counties of south-central Pennsylvania.
|Day 1: Gettysburg|
|Day 2: Lincoln Highway to York|
|Day 3: Lancaster and the Pennsylvania Dutch|
||Day 4: Harrisburg and The Capitol Building|
Day 1: Gettysburg
Begin Day 1 in historic Gettysburg, home of the monumental battlefield that was the hallowed ground for the largest battle of the Civil War and location of Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," Gettysburg National Military Park. This destination attracts thousands of visitors all year long and for good reason. Gettysburg is a day (or more!) full of both deeply moving and festive activities.
You could spend countless hours learning about Gettysburg and the events that led up to it. Or, just start out at the Gettysburg Visitor's Center, and take it from there. As a primer, an electronic map presentation will orient you with the battlefield. Also, observe the extensive displays of uniforms, weapons and other paraphernalia.
Now it's time to tour the battlefield. Choose from driving tours, hiking or biking tours, guided bus tours, and even tours on horseback. If you have a strong interest in the subject, book a tour with a National Park Service Ranger, who may personalize the tour to your interests. Also, self-guided audio tours are for sale at the Visitor's Center.
Whichever type you choose, tours are significantly helpful. There are over 1,300 memorials and markers on the battlefield. Each marker tells an interesting and unique part of the story, but unless you plan for a significant amount of time touring the battlefield, you'll have to pick and choose. A proper tour will leave visitors with a newfound respect for the valor of the participants and a somber appreciation for the tragedy.
Two picnic areas equipped with picnic tables are in the park, but open fire and charcoal grills are prohibited. Many dining options are available in the town. Try the unique tastes of Gettysbrew Restaurant and Brewery. Or, experience a formal tea at Civil-La-Tea, reservations recommended.
The town of Gettysburg is an interesting place to browse for antiques and a dose of charm. If you visit between early spring and late fall, there's nothing like the Sleepy Hollow of Gettysburg Candlelight Ghost Tours. It's pretty scary!
For unique overnight accommodations, try The Doubleday Inn, which is the only lodging located within the National Military Park. At times, a historian may give a talk at the Inn! In Gettysburg, lodging ranges from luxury hotels to small motels, but making early reservations at your lodging of choice is highly recommended for this popular destination.
Kids Would Love:
|Gettysburg Scenic Railway|
|Lincoln Train Museum|
|The Doubleday Inn|
|Gettysburg K.O.A. Kampground|
|Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau|
Major Highways from Gettysburg to York: Route 30, known as "The Lincoln Highway," is a direct route between these two historic cities.
Day 2: Lincoln Highway
Day 2 begins as you travel east along Route 30, the famous Lincoln Highway. Noted as the first transcontinental highway in the United States, the Lincoln Highway passes through some of the most scenic areas of Pennsylvania. In Adams County, the state's biggest apple growers, you'll pass stretches of fragrant orchards.
Along the way in York County, a shopping experience is waiting at Morningstar Marketplace, an antique gallery and farm market, located just west of York on Route 30. Or head south on U.S. Route 83 to Naylor Wine Cellars & Vineyards to pick up a souvenir case of Pennsylvania wine.
As the Factory Capital of the World, you can't visit York without stopping somewhere for a factory tour. Harley-Davidson tops the favorites with its final assembly plant. Tours run Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a first come, first served basis. Duration is one hour.
Stop for lunch in town. There are many locally owned restaurants that offer their own individual flair. For patio seating, light fare and European-inspired treats, try the Blue Moon Cafe, 361 West Market Street. If you stopped for tea in Gettysburg, compare your experience with the Hantz House Tea House, 425 West Market Street.
York was the first capital of the United States. When you reach town, you know you've reached a sacred place in American history. The architecture within the city romances every visitor. A mural project begun in 1996 continues to "paint the town" with depictions of York history and heritage. Tour the streets and explore. For a dollar, you can pick up the booklet "A Walking Tour of Historic York" at many shops along Main Street.
Don't miss the Gates & Plough Complex, at the corner of West Market Street and North Pershing Avenue in town. This cluster of buildings reflects the life of early York -- and early America. The earliest structure, The Plough Tavern, was built in 1741 and was a central meeting place, socially and politically, in town.
Make plans for a special dinner at The Commonwealth Room, a four-diamond restaurant located at the Yorktowne Hotel, 48 East Market Street. York's finest dining! Open Monday through Saturday, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Kids Would Love:
|Wolfgang Candy Company|
|Heritage Hills Resort|
|Past Purr-Fect Bed & Breakfast|
|York County Convention and Visitors Bureau|
|York County Heritage Trust|
Major Highways from York to Lancaster: Continue on Route 30 east across the Susquehanna River.
Begin travel early on Day 3 because there is nothing like touring Pennsylvania Dutch Country in the morning as dew and sunlight dance on the pale green farmland.
Between York and Lancaster, you may wish to stop at the National Watch and Clock Museum, in Columbia, for an hour to see impressive timepieces, from Hamilton to Rolex. Interact with the physics and history of horology, the study of timekeeping.
In Lancaster, there are a variety of heritage and historical attractions. A popular choice is the Amish House and Farm, which gives a rare glimpse into the lives of the Amish and Mennonite residents of the area.
A little known attraction is a tour of the Fulton Opera House in downtown Lancaster. The Fulton offers a schedule of performing arts, but many are not aware of the tour. Visit the box office at 11 a.m. to inquire about a tour of this gorgeous turn-of-the-20th century building. (You may wish to purchase tickets for a show later that day, too.) A guide will take you behind the scenes of Pennsylvania's oldest operating theater.
Test out Pennsylvania Dutch cooking around town at a variety of restaurants. Explore the wholesome tastes of country ham, pickled vegetables, dumplings, shoo fly pie and more traditional German treats.
In the afternoon, venture out of Lancaster to either Strasburg or Ephrata. Strasburg is a must for railroad enthusiasts, where you can ride the Strasburg Railroad and visit the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Ephrata is a quiet town that's home to the Ephrata Cloister, a religious community of the 18th century. When in Ephrata, stop at the Artworks at Donecker's, a warehouse turned artists' studios open to the public.
In Lancaster, indulge in Pennsylvania Dutch hospitality by staying at a bed and breakfast, where innkeepers can tell you more stories and information about this incredible region. There are many B&B's found in the county. Try Casual Corners B&B in Lititz, Mill Creek Homestead in Bird-in-Hand, or The Columbian, in Columbia.
Kids Would Love:
|Landis Valley Museum|
|Hampton Inn Lancaster|
|Inn at Twin Linden|
|Howard Johnson Lancaster|
|Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau|
Major Highways from Lancaster to Harrisburg: PA Route 283 north to Interstate 283 towards Harrisburg.
On Day 4, get ready for a day in Pennsylvania's capital. However, you may decide to travel to Reading in the morning, instead of directly to Harrisburg.
In Reading, the V.F. Factory Outlets attract shoppers from New York, Maryland and New Jersey. Those who love to shop won't want to miss the outlets in Reading, northeast of Lancaster on U.S. Route 222.
The Capitol Building and Welcome Center will impress you with architectural beauty and will educate all ages about state government. The Welcome Center in the East Wing displays 18 colorful exhibits about history and government. The Capitol's great dome rivals that of Old World cathedrals. Guided tours every half-hour Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Weekends, 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Welcome Center is open Monday through Friday only, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For lunch, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of Harrisburg's many casual, locally-owned dining venues. Enjoy seafood, steak and sandwiches at Fisago, indoors and out. Firehouse, a bar and restaurant, is housed in a completely restored firehouse. For a unique experience, cross the Susquehanna River to Wormleysburg and eat at Gingerbread Man's Riverside, for great steak with a view of the mighty Susquehanna.
In the afternoon, visit The National Civil War Museum, at Reservoir Park. After experiencing Gettysburg, this is an excellent way to learn the complete story of the Civil War.
When you're ready to head home, Harrisburg is conveniently located next to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Take 81 north or south, or 76 east or west.
Overnight lodging is very accessible. As the capital city and a popular location for conventions, it's not hard to find an elegant and generously accommodating hotel within the city of Harrisburg. Many friendly hotels offering the basics can be found on the near outskirts, too.
Another excursion is Hershey, just 15 miles east of the capital. You may wish to schedule an extra day of your trip just for Hershey, a vibrant town of resorts, museums, theater, golf, outlet shopping, the famous chocolate factory and a fun-filled amusement park.
Kids Would Love:
|Riverboat "Pride of the Susquehanna"|
|Best Western Capital Plaza|
|Wyndham Garden Hotel|
|Harrisburg East Campground|
|Hershey-Capital Region Visitors Bureau|