Home to America’s most famous Civil War battlefield, Gettysburg is the perfect destination for a history lesson. Museums, tours and living historians take students on a journey through time.
“A majority of student groups come to Gettysburg because of our Civil War history and the three-day battle that took place here,” said Nicole Absher, group sales manager at Destination Gettysburg. “Students can immerse themselves in our history by engaging in interactive, hands-on programs, taking customized battlefield tours and even meeting living historians like President Abraham Lincoln. And our close proximity to Washington, D.C. [90 minutes] gives students the opportunity to see more of our American history without having to travel too far.”
Although known for its history, Gettysburg also can enhance other curriculums, like STEM.
“Students can learn about everything from water ecology and soil testing to animal habitats, endangered species, organic farming and so much more,” Absher said. “Gettysburg and Adams County welcome all student travel groups, regardless of the grade, curriculum or time of year, and we hope each group leaves feeling inspired by our great destination.”
Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center
Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center is a great location to orient student groups to the American Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. The Visitor Center offers three experiences: A New Birth of Freedom orientation film, a 360-degree Cyclorama sight and sound show, and the entrance to the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War. Groups can meet their battlefield guide at the Visitor Center.
Shriver House Museum
Shriver House Museum details the civilian experience of the Battle of Gettysburg by telling the story of the Shriver family — George and Hettie Shriver, and their children, Sadie and Mollie. Students are led through the restored Shriver family home by a period docent. Each room is frozen in time and furnished to its 1860s appearance. The tour also includes the sharpshooters’ nest in the attic and the Shriver’s Saloon in the cellar. The experience adds a different perspective to the battle.
Seminary Ridge Museum
The historic seminary building stood at the center of the Battle of Gettysburg’s first day. Today, it’s an interactive, hands-on museum that covers three topics — the first day of battle, care of the wounded, and faith and freedom. Seminary Ridge Museum’s on-site dining hall can accommodate two to three motorcoaches at a time. The museum offers engaging educational programs in history and STEM.
Eisenhower National Historic Site
At the end of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military career, he and his wife purchased a quaint Gettysburg farmhouse in 1950. Their retirement was disrupted in 1952 when Eisenhower decided to run for president. Throughout Eisenhower’s presidency, the farmhouse was used as a weekend retreat for the first family, as well as a meeting place for foreign dignitaries. Today, students can tour the only home the Eisenhowers ever owned to experience a different side of the town’s presidential history.
Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve
Just a short drive from downtown, Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve is the only nonprofit environmental education center in Adams County. The center is located on 609 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers a variety of hands-on programs, all with concrete goals and objectives. Trained naturalists guide students through engaging hikes, stream studies, educational activities and discussions. Programs include Animal Ambassador, Watersheds and Wetlands, and Maple Sugaring.