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First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

WV
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First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

We are planning a vacation to Harper's Ferry, Antietam and Gettysburg in August.. We've been to Harper's Ferry several years ago, but this time we will have our 13 year old son with us!!!

We all really enjoy history and enjoy learning more, but I'm not so sure you could call us total civil war buffs, but we love museums and such. Okay, with that background how long would you say we'd need in Gettysburg? We were thinking 2 to 3 nights.

We plan on driving to Harper's Ferry on a Sunday, we will get there around 1:00 in the afternoon, then spend the rest of the afternoon and evening there, spend the night close by. Drive to Antietam the next day, spend a few hours there, then head up to Gettysburg.

We were also wondering about Maryland---anything good within fairly close range in Maryland to do or see? Our interests are very wide, we basically just enjoy being tourist and seeing what other parts of the country has to offer, we like Museums, Antiques, nature, history, shopping (well, I do at least--DS isn't so crazy about it), etc.

One last question, while in Gettysburg we'd love to eat at a nice restaurant, thankfully my son is a good eater and hates the kid's menu. I cook lots of different foods, so he enjoys eating out at nice restaurants. Could you recommend a good restaurant? Also, a good place for breakfast?

Any other comments or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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Maryland
Maryland
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Poconos
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1. Re: First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

Gettysburg will satisfy all the interests you've listed (museums, antiques, nature, history & shopping) and I'd definitely recommend you spend at least 3 nights - you can spend 3 days in the military park alone! Since this is your first trip, you may want to consider a battlefield tour with a licensed guide - I've never done one, but everyone who does raves about them, especially the private tours where the guide gets in your car with you & concentrates on areas that interest you most. Later, you'll be able to use the knowledge & familiarity you gain to explore on your own - make sure you do a "night visit" - the park is open until 10pm and it's really spooky after dark!

There are A LOT of different ghost tours to choose from, if you're interested in that sort of thing. I did a couple of them a few years back, both through the Farnsworth House & the Jenny Wade House, and I was disappointed in both, but many people really enjoy them. We've also attended the ghost stories in the basement of the Farnsworth and liked that better than the walking tours - I understand they now have a "mature tour" which is supposed to be scary, but I'm not too familiar with what that entails or how it differs from the other programs they offer.

Museums are everywhere, covering everything from trains to former presidents to battle-related topics. Many are touristy and not worth your time or money, but 2 of the better ones are the Shriver House & Rupp House, both on Baltimore Street and both concentrating on the civilian experience during the battle. The Eisenhower Farm is nice, too - it's accessible by bus only (leaves from the visitor's center) and surprisingly inexpensive - under $10/pp.

As far as antiques go, there are shops all over, though I must admit, because I usually have small children with me when I visit Gettysburg, I haven't been in many of them - the two I have gone into were little more than indoor flea markets, selling junk you wouldn't put in a garage sale. I'm not sure if they're all like that or if I just have bad luck!.

Shopping will be no problem - little shops are all along the main roads through town, plus the outlets are a quick 5 minutes from the center of town.

You'll get a lot of mixed reviews about restaurants, but my favorite for a nice dinner in an historic atmosphere is the Dobbin House dining rooms. The Cashtown Inn is nice, too, about 8 miles outside town but a very direct drive. I can't say I've ever had a fantastic breakfast anywhere, but I can advise you to avoid any breakfast buffets - we've tried a few (the Holliday Inn, the Pike, Dunlap's) and they were all equally horrible. Sadly, we usually stick with Friendley's.

Hope this has been helpful - enjoy you're trip!

Where are you staying??

Buffalo, NY
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2. Re: First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

Just returned from three great days in Gettysburg and ate at number of good restaurants.

In the center of town we ate at The Pub and The Plaza. Liked both a lot, with the edge going to the Plaza. Good non chain food and very reasonably priced. The Pub would win out for atmosphere. It depends on what you are looking for.

Our favorite was the Herr Tavern, just outside of town. Great food and a ton of history. We went for lunch and were not disappointed as someone had recommedned on TripAdvisor.com (great sight, planned entire vacation based upon forum reviews. Had an excellent vacation, Thanks TripAdvisor!)

Our first stop was the Gettyysburg National Military Park and Visitors Center, and the electric map. Great starting point for an overview and orientation. We reserved a private guide (in advance) to drive our vehicle and that was well worth it. We also went out to the Eisenhower Farm and enjoyed that as well.

My daughter and I reservered a two hour trail ride that we both had a great time on. We reserved in advance and found the wranglers (Diane?) were great with guests.

Gettysburg, PA
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3. Re: First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

I would agree with all of the above except for refrences to the Plaza. It's a very middle of the road place and we avoid it as there are so many nicer and more unique places to eat. I'd also add the Blue Parrot Bistro, the Gingerbread Man, and the tavern in the basement of the Dobbin House. All great food! Also, outside of town, just three miles east, are two new great restaraunts in the Gateway Gettysburg complex. Both Girabaldi's and Old Eagle Grill are wonderful places!

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Old Eagle Grill
Old Eagle Grill
Gettysburg, PA
mln
Palm Coast, Florida
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4. Re: First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

Good restaurants.....downstairs in the Tavern at the Dobbin House, The Pub (sitting outside) and the Cashtown Inn (definitely worth the drive). These are all for dinner, not quite sure of a place for breakfast.

WV
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5. Re: First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

Thanks so much for you advice and tips. I've heard loads of good things about cashtown Inn, and I'm definitely eating there, and maybe Dobbin's house as well. I'll also look into the newer restaurants that someone posted about.

Anything else you can add, please feel free. I really appreciate it.

Gettysburg, PA
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6. Re: First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

When in Harpers Ferry be sure to climb the hill to the old church and look in all the corners. There is a spooky statue of Jesus in there that people miss when they just peek in the door. Then be sure to walk up higher to the cemetary. Very cool. There is a pink tombstone there that marks the grave of serveral family members and neat to read the stone. Lots of OLD graves and nice spot. While there the Cliffside in used to do a nice seafood buffet. Cheap hotel with an indoor pool and bar too. When you go to Antietam there is a big outlet center off the same exit to you can shop till you drop. Other than that the area is not all that great. But if you go down to Frederick they have a nice downtown to tour and some great resturants. Even a Tapas place I would love to try. When you come to Gettysburg looking for a nice fancy meal I suggest the new place inside the Wyndham hotel. The chef has a french background I hear but I ordered the filet mingon and it was the best ever. Old Eagle Grill is nice too and I love the red snapper dish. I also would suggest you hire a tour guide for the battlefield. It isnt that expensive and you wont have to read every single sign. I would also reccomend the double deck bus ride, your son would like that. As far as breakfast, The Gettysburg Resturant is a good choice or even better take a little country ride out to the Apple Bin in Biglerville. It is awesome for breakfast. If you call them they will give directions. Enjoy your visit!

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Old Eagle Grill
Old Eagle Grill
Gettysburg, PA
Florida
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7. Re: First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

Don't go to the Blue Parrot. You will be disapointed. Dobbin House was good and so was the Herr Tavern. Gingerbread Man was good also.

Gettysburg, PA
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8. Re: First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

Really? You think it is disapointing? I will say if you have been there in the past and had a problem with fruit flies at your table, they took care of it. LOL. Really though, for this town it was pretty gourmet. I mean I think people in this part of PA consider pizza "ethnic food". However the 3 new restuants in Gateway are much better , just they are not in downtown. Food reviews are tricky as we all have such different likes! We can all come pretty close to agreeing if a hotel is dirty or not though. I love to go out to eat when on vacation but if thats a big priority for you dont come here. We lack in that area for sure. Oh, if you are walking in town and see the Blue Parrott go next door to the Yellow Canary. Its a carryout type place from the parrot. Anyway the Curried Chicken Salad w/ spicy pecans and red grapes is TO DIE FOR!!! Yumm....Get a cup and ask for a fork to eat while you walk.

Iowa
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9. Re: First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

We just returned from Gettysburg and ate at the tavern part of the Farnum House. It was very good and a bit more updated menu than the main house (although still authentic) menu. The main house has an 18th century (?) menu, but if you walk back at the side of the house it leads to the outside seating area, keep going into the Tavern door. The kids loved seeing all the memorabilia on the wall of the making of the movie "Gettysburg". Neat atmosphere and the waitress gladly explained the ghosty things that have taken place. The cinnamon bread pudding for dessert is wonderful.

Gettysburg, PA
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10. Re: First vacation in Gettysburg~~have loads of questions!

mmmmm cinnamon bread pudding sounds SO good. Was that at the Farnsworth House? Thanks for sharing that with us.