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Historical sights - Gettysburg, suggestions

Eugene, Oregon
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Historical sights - Gettysburg, suggestions

We are planning a trip to DC from Oregon! We will be arriving in DC, driving to spend 1 night in Williamsburg and will have a rental car. I was thinking of driving up to Gettysburg / Lancaster area for 1 or 2 nights then returning to DC, returning the rental car, stay in DC for 4 nights then on to NY city by train. Any suggestions on how to spend those 2-3 days with a car? Where could we go closer to Williamsburg? Or just stay in DC for a week? Thank you.

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1. Re: Historical sights - Gettysburg, suggestions

The drive from DC to Gettysburg isn't too bad, with the exception of the eveing rush hour. Roughly a 90 minute drive. You could spend the day/night in Gettysburg, tour the Visitors center/museum and then have a licensed battlefield guide drive your car for a tour of the battlefield which usually lasts 2 hours (best to reserve in advance). It's really the best way to see the battlefield and learn the story of the 3 day battle. Then walk the town and grab dinner and perhaps a walking Ghost Tour.

You could drive to Lancaster County the next morning, again about a 90 minute drive after rush hour, pretty much a straight shot on Rt 30, through York County. There is a free Harley Davidson plant tour along the way if that is something that you'd enjoy. There are many options once in Lancaster County, tours/dining/shopping. From there to DC is about 2.5 hours, again avoiding rush hour.

As far as Virginia, we've been to Willamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. That's about 3 hours from DC.

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Columbia, Maryland
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2. Re: Historical sights - Gettysburg, suggestions

How many in your travel party? That will affect recommendations for the Lancaster County area where the primary tourist draw is the Amish.

Spend a day in Gettysburg and stay the night in Lancaster County. Tour Lancaster COunty the next day then head to DC that night. Not really practical to try to cover both in one day.

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3. Re: Historical sights - Gettysburg, suggestions

The question, to me, is really WHY you want to go to Gettysburg and Lancaster. What do you hope to see and do there? It is about 4.5 hrs. from Williamsburg to Gettysburg, and that is if you don't get stuck somewhere in D.C. beltway traffic - which can be bad, even if you do your best to avoid rush hour times. I don't want it to sound like Gettysburg and Lancaster aren't great places to visit, but when people say things like "what could I do closer to Williamsburg" it makes me wonder if they've really thought about what they want to do.

I think Williamsburg is a full day visit. Jamestown is also in the area, and Virginia Beach is a nice place. Some people would enjoy a circular route back to DC that takes them up the Delmarva peninsula and the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Point is, there are certainly ways you can fill 2-3 days without going to Gettysburg and Lancaster. Virginia is a lovely state (perhaps Monticello and Mount Vernon would appeal to you?) with lots to offer.

Do you want to see and tour a Civil War battlefield? Ok, Gettysburg is probably the best place to do that. Closer to DC, but still a few hrs. North of Williamsburg is also Antietam and Harpers Ferry, so if you don't want to drive as far as Gettysburg, that could be an option. You might want to check out civilwartraveler.com for other options closer to Williamsburg.

Do you have a strong desire to visit Amish country and learn about the people, religion and lifestyle? If this is something that you are interested in, then you really should come to PA as part of your time in the mid-Atlantic. Lancaster County is the only place that caters extensively to this type of tourism, even though Amish have settled all over the country. Go to padutchcountry.com to see what types of tours are offered and to learn if any of that appeals to you.

And last but not least, people who love museums would have absolutely no trouble spending a week in Washington, D.C. never running out of things to see. There really is that much to do there. Personally, I can dedicate one full day alone to the two buildings that form the National Gallery of Art. But doing that for 7 days straight can prove exhausting. It's just a matter of deciding how you want to spend your time.

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Eugene, Oregon
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4. Re: Historical sights - Gettysburg, suggestions

There are 3 of us. Thank you so much for all the suggestions.

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5. Re: Historical sights - Gettysburg, suggestions

Any children? If so what ages? Again this will help determine recommendations particularly in Lancaster County.

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6. Re: Historical sights - Gettysburg, suggestions

Just saw thefourskis post. Good advice.

If you have a desire to see Amish country, the trip to Gettysburg is worth the drive for Civil War history. If you are just looking for something to fill time between Williamsburg and DC, there are other option with less driving.

For Civil War there is Antietam Battlefield and Manassas Battlefield closer to DC. Petersburg battlefield is just south of Richmond. Petersburg was a seige type battle whereas Manassas and Antietam were the typical bloody frontal assault type battles.

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7. Re: Historical sights - Gettysburg, suggestions

We just returned from a five night stay in Williamsburg with a ten year old in tow. There was plenty to do and see and we signed up for tours at night so we were busy. We went to Jamestown to both the park and dig site. That was a full day for us. We probably could have seen what we wanted in two days time but we did a rather slow pace. I would suggest making all your dinner reservations now.

There is an enormous amount to see and do in the DC area. We have spent many long weekends there with and with out a child and are never at a loss for things to see.

I would agree with the Monticello and Mount Vernon suggestions as well.

I think you will lose a full day of sightseeing going from Williamsburg to Gettysburg. If you have children in tow you may want to consider their level of tolerance for not only travel but listening to someone speak. Depending on interests Gettysburg could be boring for some.

In Amish country you can also spend the night with an Amish family.

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8. Re: Historical sights - Gettysburg, suggestions

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