What to do in Gettysburg?


Visitors to Gettysburg can walk among the artillery pieces and markers that explain how the Civil War battle progressed 150 years ago. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)
June 27, 2013

Thousands of people will head to Gettysburg this week for the famous Civil War battle’s 150th anniversary. The National Park Service has lots of exciting activities planned for visitors of all ages.

Gettysburg is about 80 miles north of Washington, so you can see it in one very busy day. If your parents are taking you there this week — lucky you! — here is some of what you can do:

Muster the family!

The front lawn of the visitor center will become a training ground Monday through Thursday, with a special tent for hands-on family activities.

You can “enlist” in the army to see what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War. Try on a uniform and lug some equipment around.

There will be infantry, cavalry and artillery demonstrations, living history events, stories about children during the battle and much more.

Cards to keep or trade

Walk in the footsteps of Southern private Wesley Culp, shown here, and Northern nurse Cornelia Hancock and earn some cool, passport-like ID cards of them and four others involved at Gettysburg.

These cards are part of a special anniversary program. Visit places on the battlefield by July 7, and get an ID card at each stop.

Civil War parks also have their own trading cards. Attend a ranger program at Gettysburg this week or visit the family tent at the visitor center through Thursday and collect the Gettysburg cards, including one with the photo of Union soldier Amos Humiston’s children. Then you can swap with your friends: I’ll trade you Robert E. Lee for Bryce Harper.

See for yourself

Want to attend a generals’ council of war? Or go on Pickett’s Charge, the doomed attack on the battle’s last day?

Park rangers are offering programs through Thursday at the same place and time where and when the actual events occurred 150 years ago. This activity is mostly for adults, but if you have grown-up manners and can be up as early as 6 a.m. — or as late as 11 p.m. — you are welcome to attend. Have Mom or Dad check out the “Battlefield Experience” programs at www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/150th-anniversary-ranger-programs.htm or npsgnmp.wordpress.com.

Calling all Junior Rangers!

Throughout 2013, you can earn a special Junior Ranger patch marking the 150th anniversary. Get started by picking up a Junior Ranger activity guide at the visitor center or the family tent (Monday-Thursday). It has puzzles, a word search and a matching game. You’ll be having so much fun you won’t even realize how smart you are getting.

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