A Winter Weekend in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
“Four score and seven years ago……..”
This famous speech from Abraham Lincoln is the introduction to Gettysburg most of us get in elementary school. Lincoln’s speech and the events that inspired them also inspire many people to visit this area of southern Pennsylvania. With a year round population of only 7,000 people Gettysburg has a staggering 4 million visitors a year with the bulk of them coming in the spring and summer. Winter? Well, that’s another story. On a quick weekend trip in January we practically had Gettysburg to ourselves. No traffic clogging the bucolic country roads and no fighting the crowds at the monuments. A weekend is just long enough to get a taste of Gettysburg, with one day focused on Gettysburg’s past and one day focused on Gettysburg’s present.
History is what brings most to Gettysburg and exploring the Gettysburg National Military Park is a must no matter what time of year you visit. The museum, monuments and battlefield are spread throughout the Pennsylvania countryside and the Gettysburg Visitors Center provides maps and information on how to best experience the Battlefield. We opted for a quick stop at the Visitors Center before driving over to Little Round Top. The weather was overcast and drizzly, appropriately gray and blue for exploring the Gettysburg National battlefield. I was reminded of the ghosts of the bloodiest battle on US soil and drove past the skeletons of apple orchards for which Gettysburg is increasingly becoming known for.
There are a handful of hotels in Gettysburg but to get a true sense of the area I recommend staying at one of the many country B&Bs. Our home in Gettysburg was the Baladerry Inn, a charming bed and breakfast perfectly located for exploring Gettysburg’s rural charms. The oldest part of the inn dates back to 1812 and served as a field hospital during the Civil War. Mornings here start with a hearty country breakfast served in the inn’s great room, featuring a two story wood burning fireplace and local antiques. I especially loved warming up by the fireplace with a cup of tea in hand after returning from my day’s adventures. Guest rooms are cozy, with an exceedingly comfortable bed, and exude a quiet country charm.
In a place with as much history as Gettysburg it’s only natural that my choice for dinner had its own story to tell. The stone walls of the Dobbin House Tavern hint at its status as the oldest house in Gettysburg. Built in 1776 the Dobbin House Tavern was initially built as a private home but later served as a seminary and part of the Underground Railroad for those escaping enslavement in the pre-Civil War South. Today the Dobbin House Tavern is known as much for its food as its history, with locals and visitors savoring the classic steak and seafood offerings. Make sure to save room for the Adams County apple pie (Gettysburg is apple country after all); juicy local apples with a hint of cinnamon surrounded by a buttery handmade crust are made even better when enjoyed in front of a 200 year old stone fireplace.
On my second day I discovered there is more to Gettysburg than its past. While rolling hills and farmland occupy most of southern Pennsylvania there are a few mountains around. Liberty Mountain Resort is a small family friendly ski resort with 16 trails, 9 lifts and 3 terrain parks as well as a snow tubing run. Novice skiers and snowboarders (and those looking to up their skills) will be thrilled with small group lessons offered while those with a bit more experience have their choice of 7 black diamond runs. As the closest ski resort to Washington DC its a popular day trip for those in the beltway but I found the runs to be blissfully uncrowded.
One of the best parts about skiing is apres ski so we made our way to the tasting room at Hauser Estate Winery. Due to the shorter days of winter we were unable to enjoy the panoramic views the winery is known for but we were treated to a roaring fireplace and live music inside. While you know I love a good wine I opted to sample what Hauser Estate Winery is most famous for, its hard cider. I sampled a cider flight and immediately found two favorites in the original Jack’s Hard Cider, a perfect balance of sweet and crisp, and the cinnamon and clove spiced Fireside.
Dinner brought us to Fidler & Co., a new craft restaurant in nearby Biglersville. The contemporary yet cozy dining room looks like it belonged more to Austin rather than the rural Pennsylvania countryside but the real delight is what comes out of the kitchen. Chef Josh Fidler draws inspiration from local farms to create dishes that are both inventive and comforting. I can’t stop thinking about the pork ragout over polenta with cheese croquettes, this dish was savory, creamy and intensively satisfying at the end of a cold winter day.
I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to today’s Gettysburg and I can’t wait to return when the weather is warmer, the countryside is greener and the bounty of the area’s farms are on full display.
I was hosted by Destination Gettysburg but as always all opinions are my own.