We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Licensed Tour Guides

Plainville...
Level Contributor
31 posts
33 reviews
Save Topic
Licensed Tour Guides

My wife and I will be visiting Gettysburg in August, this will be my 3rd trip in 2 years and her first ever. Last year my son and I took the bus tour with a guide, and earlier this year we took the audio tape bus tour. This visit I think we'd like to get one of those licensed tour guides - I saw several of them with small groups of people on my last visit, and this seems like a great way to learn more about specific areas of the battlefield.

What's the best way to get a good tour guide? Are these guys private businessmen or are they working for the tourist center? I want to make sure we don't get stuck with a dud for a guide - does anyone have any recommendations?

Gettysburg PA
Level Contributor
338 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Licensed Tour Guides

They're independent contractors who are assigned through the park service visitor's center. They're all fully licensed, and they have to pass a rigorous exam. You can call ahead and reserve a guide, I believe. You don't say how old your son is, but if I were going on a tour, I'd ask for a guide who is good with kids. Of course I have my favorite guides, but this site frowns upon personal names in reviews.

Troy, NY
Level Contributor
1 post
8 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Licensed Tour Guides

You may reserve a licensed tour guide in advance or take your chances with availability when you arrive (visitor center). For maximum effect it is the way to go. Usually small groups and families have certain folks that are well versed in the battle while others in the same group only have a cursory knowledge of the events. The guide is best for this mixed group because even the experienced Civil War buff will enjoy and appreciate the synopses of these experienced folks.

It costs a bit more to reserve an NPS guide in advance but you don't have to worry about not having someone available at a time convenient to you and your family. Well worth the call or email. Check the battlefield website for specific information.

Gettysburg, PA
Level Contributor
195 posts
1 review
Save Reply
3. Re: Licensed Tour Guides

I would also recommend getting a licensed town tour guide, which is different from those you'll find at the visitor's center. These guides can be found in the lobby of the Gettysburg Hotel on the square. They present a very informed and compelling view point of how the town was affected by the battle and also cover other aspects of the town's history such as the Eisenhower years, etc. That way you can learn not only about the battle, but how it and other events have affect the town and it's people.

Gettysburg, PA
Level Contributor
13 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: Licensed Tour Guides

If you are going to hire a Town Tour Guide, you really get a much better deal by going with American Stories Historic Walking Tours rather than the licensed town guides.

First, American Stories is almost always less expensive. Second, they do their tours while dressed in Civil War outfits. That really adds to the tour, especially if you have kids along. Third, they have a solid track record with their customers. They have been in business for years & the Licensed guides are a new company with no track record. Finally, their guides tell the stories of the Civil War civilians in such a lively way, it is almost like you are there watching the battle yourself.

We found the licensed town guide we hired to be a bit stuffy, and a lot more interested in telling us about what HE thought was important that what WE thought was important. We have always been happy with our guides at American Stories.

Plainville...
Level Contributor
31 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Licensed Tour Guides

We were in Gettysburg last weekend, Friday afternoon we went to the visitor's center to inquire about getting a guide for Saturday. On our way in, we saw a decrepit old timer who could barely walk accompanied by a young couple - he was wearing the licensed tour guide uniform so I assumed he was one of the personal guides. The thought of spending two hours with this guy and having him drive my car turned me off to getting a personal guide. I know, I'm going to hell for that, right?

The guy at the visitor's center told us to show up at 8 am sharp on Saturday or we wouldn't get a guide - we weren't able to do that so we ended up taking the bus tour with a guide, not the tape one, and as before it was great although the bus was jam packed. We saw plenty of licensed tour guides walking around with other people, and they seemed to be healthy and very animated in presenting their information - that's what I had in mind for a tour guide, not someone who might die halfway through.

We're going back in October, maybe we'll try one of the non-GNMP guides, or maybe we'll try our luck at the visitor's center!

Gettysburg PA
Level Contributor
338 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Licensed Tour Guides

The decrepit old guy has a PhD, has written many of the books on the civil war, and when he was younger he was one of the boy scouts helping with the last reunion of the battle veterans. I'd take a tour from the old dude any day of the week.

Thou shalt not make decisions based on first impressions.

Gettysburg, PA
Level Contributor
13 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: Licensed Tour Guides

There are several elderly Battlefield guides. I know I know a few of them. How do you know the one that this person saw was the one with a PhD who was a Boy Scout at the 75th anniversary? Seems a bit presumptive.

Nevertheless, I would agree that age is not the thing to worry about when hiring a guide.

Plainville...
Level Contributor
31 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Licensed Tour Guides

I know, I know. It's wrong to judge people on first impressions. It wasn't so much that he was old but he could barely walk and he just didn't seem fit to be a guide on a tour which should include a fair amount of walking.

San Francisco
Level Contributor
66 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Licensed Tour Guides

We just took a tour from a licensed guide and it was a FANTASTIC experience. Our three girls, ages 9,11, and 13 were captivated. They were able to have all of their questions answered and learned about the Civil War from A-Z, not just Gettysburg. When we were driving back to DC they all said that the experience was so much better than they thought it would be and would go again. High praise from three little girls!

We reserved our guide through a recommendation of a friend. I'm so glad we did as when we arrived the guides were sold out for the day. The tour for 2 1/2 hours was $45. A DEAL for five people.

Our guide was Stuart Dempsey and we arranged our tour by sending him an e-mail. His e-mail address is historicus@pa.net. (I hope it's okay to post this. Just want to share a good travel experience!!) I highly recommend you hire a licensed guide!

10. Re: Licensed Tour Guides

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 16 August 2009, 01:18