Couple with dogs next to Gettysburg National Park sign

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Exploring Gettysburg National Park

Pennsylvania is home to several history-enriched places to visit, including dog-friendly Gettysburg National Military Park. This park surprised us with how much there was to do and see that we plan on going back so we can do even more. From the free self-guided audio tours to the amazing museum and cyclorama in the visitor center, there is plenty to keep you busy. As an added bonus, your pet can join you in most of the outdoor activities. Check out our guide to help you plan your pet-friendly trip to Gettysburg National Park!

Couple with dogs next to Gettysburg National Park sign

Is Gettysburg National Park Dog Friendly?

Gettysburg National Military Park is dog-friendly, though there are a few restrictions to be aware of. Pets are not allowed in any of the buildings or in the National Cemetery, but they are allowed on the trails and roads throughout the park. They are also welcome on some of the tours and Ranger-led activities.

Couple with their 3 dogs of various sizes sitting on bench next to an Abe Lincoln statue in front of Gettysburg Visitor Center

*The Gettysburg Auto Audio Tour is a great way to spend time exploring the park with your dog*

Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg NP covers over 6,000 acres of land and is meant to serve as a memorial to those that fought in the Battle of Gettysburg which was the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. It is home to over 1300 monuments, a National Cemetery, a museum, a visitor center, and more. The famous Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln occurred at the dedication of the Cemetery. Gettysburg does a wonderful job of giving visitors a unique chance to get up close to a major part of America’s history.

Large informational Outdoor sign with map and facts about Gettysburg National Park

Where to Stay when Visiting Gettysburg National Park

Gettysburg has several options for accommodations no matter if you are looking for campgrounds, hotels, or even a house!

Camping in Gettysburg National Park

There is only one campground located inside Gettysburg National Park: the McMillan Woods Youth Campground. Unfortunately, it is only available to organized youth groups and is closed until further notice. If you are interested in camping during your visit to Gettysburg, here are several campgrounds nearby:

Hotels Near Gettysburg

Use our link to find the best hotel for your vacation!  


Dining Near Gettysburg National Park

Exploring this National Park can take several days and knowing where you can get a bite to eat is vital to having a good time. If you are in or near the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, there are two different places where you can get a bite to eat. You can get your caffeine or snack fix at the Café or a full meal at the Refreshment Saloon. Both of these options are located near the back of the visitor center.

Refreshment Saloon in Gettysburg Visitor Center

Cafe area in Gettysburg Visitor Center

The rest of the park spreads throughout the town. This means that while you are exploring the expansive battlefield and numerous monuments, you will have a wide supply of restaurants to choose from. If you are traveling with your pet, many of the restaurants that have outdoor seating are dog-friendly.

What are the Prices and Hours for Gettysburg National Park?

Gettysburg National Park and its Visitor Center are completely free to visit and there is no fee for parking either. However, there is a fee if you want to see the museum, film, and the Cyclorama (which I highly recommend) located inside the visitor center.  

Part of Gettysburg Cyclorama with soldiers charging and horses and wagons down and overturned

The museum admission is $12.75 and the combo ticket that includes the museum, film, and cyclorama is $18.75. The other two historic sites; Eisenhower National Historic Site and the Davis Willis House are both free to visit and tour.

Ticket counter in Gettysburg Visitor Center

All outdoor areas in the park are generally open from sunrise to sunset and the visitor center is open from 8 am -5 pm most of the year. They do close off some areas for construction and rehabilitation so make sure to check the website or National Park App for the most up-to-date information on area closures in the park.

How Long Can You Spend at Gettysburg National Park?

Depending on what you want to see and do in Gettysburg National Park, you should plan on spending at least 2-3 days in town to see even the basic highlights. Though at first glance it does not seem like fully exploring the park would take more than a day, it takes quite a bit of time to check even the main things off your list.

Sign for Gettysburg National Military Park and Museum in front of the brick building

The visitor center can easily take at least half a day in order to see the museum, film, cyclorama, and gift shop. The rest of the park is spread out over the 6000 acres that was the battlefield. Many people choose to at least do the National Park’s free audio tour of the battlefield which can take anywhere from 3 to over 6 hours. The amount of time this tour can take is highly dependent on whether you want to get out of your car and explore at the different stops.

What to Do in Gettysburg National Park

Gettysburg National Park has a surprising number of activities available for visitors, not to mention all the different attractions in and around town. Immerse yourself in history by exploring the battlefield, National Cemetery, museum, audio tours, and more.

(For suggestions on nearby historical attractions in town, check out the bottom of this post.)

Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center and Museum

The Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center and Museum is THE best place to start your vacation, not only to the park but the whole area! This is where you can get all your questions answered about the park and its programs, book a private tour with a licensed guide, buy souvenirs, and more.

Information desk in Gettysburg visitor center lobby

As we mentioned before, entry into the visitor center itself is free, but if you want to see the museum, cyclorama, or movie, you will have to buy a ticket. If you don’t want to spend money to see the museum, there are exhibits and displays along some of the hallways for visitors to enjoy at no extra charge.

Part of a tree full of bullets from Battle of Gettysburg on exhibit

This building is also home to a gift shop, public bathrooms, a restaurant, and a café. If you are hoping to get your National Park Passport stamped, the station is at the information desk. This is also where you would book your tours.

Gettysburg Visitor Center Gift Shop

It is important to know that there are NO backpacks allowed in the visitor center. The parking lot is a decently long walk away from the building so it will not be a quick trip if you forget. When you walk in there is a security guard who will search personal bags and purses before you can continue inside. Keep this in mind if you are trying to make it to the film in time or meeting up with people.

The Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War

Gettysburg National Military Park has its own museum located in the Visitor Center. You can purchase museum tickets on their own or get them as part of a package along with the Gettysburg Film and Cyclorama.

Entrance to the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War

This museum is much bigger than it looks on the outside and will cover everything about the Civil War. It starts with talking about the slavery issue, conflicts between the states, and the 16th presidential election that led to the eventual succession of the South.   

Floor to ceiling photos and quotes in Gettysburg Visitor Center Museum

As you walk through the exhibits you will learn how both the North and the South approached recruiting and training their soldiers for war as well as details about everyday life in the two armies and civilian life.

Mock soldier tent and campsite from Civil War era

You’ll see plenty of artifacts, photos, displays, audio and film clips, as well as signage sharing the information. As you continue through the museum, you’ll find out how the war progressed in addition to details about significant battles like Gettysburg that happened throughout the war.

Hallway of exhibit displays and films in Gettysburg Visitor Center Museum

Toward the end of the museum, you’ll learn different ways that the United States tried to move on from the Civil War and how the war helped bring slavery to an end.

Gettysburg Film and Cyclorama

The Film and Cyclorama in Gettysburg National Park are a great way to introduce yourself to the history of the Battle of Gettysburg. The film, A New Birth of Freedom, is 22 minutes long and provides a nice overview of the events that occurred just before and during the Battle.

Empty theatre for Gettysburg Film in the Visitor Center

The Cyclorama is a unique historical attraction that dates back to the 1880s. This cyclorama is a 360-degree hand-painted canvas depicting the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg and was created by Paul Philippoteaux in 1884. The piece has been restored numerous times over the years and they’ve added some décor to give the painting even more of a 3-D look. I loved the added details like rocks and brush in the space between the canvas and the viewing area to make everything appear more realistic.

Close up of Cyclorama with a well  Half of well is in painting and other half is built out with rocks

As you admire the details in the art, an audio presentation plays that gives an overview of the Battle of Gettysburg with accompanying spotlights to show the areas of the battlefield that are being talked about.

Close up Cyclorama of a battle scene Lights are on to make cannon look like it was firing

Once you leave the Cyclorama, you will pass by a small exhibit area that shares more information about the art and the artist. There are some facts to be discovered here, like learning that the artist put himself in the painting!

Exhibit about the Gettysburg Cyclorama

Gettysburg National Cemetery

The Gettysburg National Cemetery was created to bury over 3500 mostly Union soldiers that had died during the battle in an effort to honor the fallen and bury the dead in a more respectful manner. Before the cemetery was created, most of the soldiers were buried quickly in shallow graves.

Gravestone markers in the National Cemtery in Gettysburg

In November of 1863, President Lincoln attended the dedication ceremony and gave his famous Gettysburg Address. The cemetery is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. Visitors can walk through on their own or while listening to one of the park’s self-guided tours.

 Please remember that pets are not allowed in the cemetery.

Gettysburg Self-Guided Tours

You can venture throughout the park totally on your own, book a guided tour, or use a self-guided tour so you can go at your own speed. Though you can choose from multiple companies that offer self-guided tours of Gettysburg, the National Park itself offers 4 free tours through the NPS app.  These tours cover different areas in the park; two of them are walking tours and the other two are auto tours.   

Mississippi Monument in Gettysburg

The most popular tour is the dog-friendly Gettysburg Auto Tour. It consists of 16 stops (most pet-friendly) and will give you a full understanding of the main events that happened during the Battle of Gettysburg. The tour is listed as 2-3 hours long, but this is only if you do not plan on getting out at any of the stops. It took us over 6 hours to complete because we did get out to walk around at most stops, though we did skip some stops completely.

Husky looking at cannon in Gettysburg NP

The East Cavalry Battlefield Auto Tour has 5 stops and is supposed to take around 30-60 minutes. If you are interested in learning more about the fighting east of Gettysburg, then this tour is for you. Most of these stops are dog-friendly if you have your pup with you.

3D map of  Gettysburg Battlefield

The Gettysburg National Cemetery Walking Tour is estimated to take 30-45 minutes. It will take you to 5 different stops throughout the area, detailing how the cemetery came to be. This tour is NOT dog friendly.

Tammany Regiment Memorial in Gettysburg NP

Cemetery Ridge Walking Tour has 11 mostly dog-friendly stops and should take around 90-110 minutes. It’s about 1 mile long leading from the visitor center to Cemetery Ridge. This area saw heavy fighting and was the home of “Pickett’s Charge” which ended up determining who won the battle.

Gettysburg Ranger-Led and Living History Programs

Like most national parks, Gettysburg has a healthy supply of ranger-led programs for visitors to enjoy around the park. For the most updated schedule, stop by the information booth at the visitor center. Learn more about the area and the Battle of Gettysburg during walks, hikes, Junior Ranger, Campfire, Winter programs, and more.

Tour Groups and buses near a memorial in Gettysburg NP

You can also book private guided tours of the battlefield with National Park staff if you want more personalized information than with the audio tours. Many of these programs and tours are dog friendly making it more accessible if you are traveling with your pup.

Man dressed as a Union Soldier walking down road in Gettysburg

Gettysburg also has living history programs for guests to enjoy during most of the year.  These programs consist of historical demonstrations around the battlefield including reenactments. This is an excellent and fun way to immerse yourself in history. If you love re-enactments, the 4th of July weekend in Gettysburg is a huge and popular celebration.

Horseback Riding in Gettysburg National Park

Horseback Riding is another unique way to explore the battlefield. There are designated trails throughout the park to keep horses and riders safe. If you bring your own horse, there is trailer parking at McMillan Woods though it can fill up quickly on weekends. There are also several businesses that offer horseback rides through the battlefield.

People Riding Horses in Gettysburg

Hiking in Gettysburg National Park

As you travel throughout the park, you’ll find small trails that you can venture down, or you can take a stroll through the fields as you pay respect or study the different monuments.

What to Know When Bringing Your Dog to Gettysburg National Park

I love bringing our dogs with us when we travel, and we all enjoyed how dog-friendly the town of Gettysburg was. If you plan on visiting Gettysburg National Park with your dog, here is some quick information you should know ahead of time to help your vacation go as smoothly as possible:

3 dogs at Gettysburg NP
  • Pets are not allowed in the visitor center, National Cemetery, or any other buildings. Pets are also not allowed to be left alone outside or in your vehicle at any time during your visit so make sure you have made other arrangements for your animals if you want to see the inside of any of these locations.
  • Pack a lot of water. There are minimal shady areas throughout the park and the temperature can get very hot.
  • Have ways to keep your pet cool (window shades, portable fan, cooling towels, shade umbrella, etc.). Monitor your dog closely during the summer months for signs of overheating.
  • There are A LOT of ticks on the battlefield. Prepare, treat, and check for ticks on both you and your dog.
  • There are almost no trash cans in the park so you will have to carry your dog waste with you for long periods of time. Consider an airtight trash container so you don’t have a smelly vehicle.

Nearby Attractions:

For ideas of places to visit in or close to Gettysburg, check out these stops.

Attractions In Gettysburg:

Dog-friendly Attractions in or Near Gettysburg:

Why You Should Visit:

Gettysburg has been on my travel bucket list for quite a long time. A place full of history that’s also pet-friendly is simply too good to pass up! Bring your dog on an audio tour as you explore and learn about the Battle of Gettysburg or give your dog a break while you visit the National Cemetery or visitor center without them. My husband, friends, and I were all amazed at what this National Park and town had to offer. I hope you get the chance to visit and learn a little more about one of the defining time periods of the United States.

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Bring Your Dog To Dog-friendly Gettysburg National Military Park

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About Author

Animal and wildlife enthusiast that currently owns four dogs, loves to travel, and try new things while saving as much money as possible!

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