Pittsburgh and Gettysburg are two cities in Pennsylvania with vastly different histories. Pittsburgh is known for its steel industry and vibrant sports culture, while Gettysburg is famous for its pivotal role in the Civil War. However, these two cities are linked by more than just their location in the same state, and the route from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg makes a great road trip.
Gettysburg is located a little less than 200 miles east of Pittsburgh, making it an easy weekend getaway destination from Pittsburgh. The drive from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg takes a little over 3 hours and offers beautiful views of the Pennsylvania countryside.
Visitors to Gettysburg can explore historic battlefields, museums, and monuments that commemorate the events of the Civil War.
How long is the drive from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg?
The drive from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg is approximately 185 miles on the quickest route via the Pennsylvania Turnpike and takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes in normal traffic conditions. You can shave a few miles from this distance by taking country roads, but it’ll take a little more time.
This is a great length for a road trip and offers the perfect opportunity to explore some of the fantastic attractions along the way.
If you’re planning a road trip from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg, there are plenty of rest stops and popular attractions along the way to break up your journey. The drive itself is scenic, offering beautiful views of the Pennsylvania countryside.
As you make your way east towards Gettysburg, you’ll pass by charming towns like Ligonier and Bedford, among others, which offer plenty of options for rest stops and dining.
Once you reach Gettysburg, you’ll be in the heart of one of America’s most important historic sites – the Gettysburg National Military Park dedicated to the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg.
Best Way to Get from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg
The best way to get from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg depends on your personal preferences and budget. Here are a few options to consider:
1. Driving: If you have access to a car, driving is the most direct and flexible option. The trip takes less than 3 hours and 30 minutes during normal traffic conditions and there are several routes you can take, the quickest route being the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76). Keep in mind that traffic can be heavy during peak travel times and tolls apply.
2. Bus: Greyhound offers bus service from Pittsburgh traveling east, but the closest you’ll get to Gettysburg is the stop in Harrisburg. The trip takes about 4 hours and fares start at around $60 one way. This option is convenient if you don’t have access to a car or don’t want to deal with the hassle of driving.
3. Train: Unfortunately, there is no direct train service from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg, either. However, you can take a similar approach as the bus service, with Amtrak from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, and then transfer to a bus or rental car to get to Gettysburg. The trip is estimated to take between 5-6 hours and fares start at around $50 one way.
4. Fly: While there are no airports in Gettysburg, you can fly to nearby airports like Harrisburg International Airport (47 miles) or Baltimore-Washington International Airport (60 miles) and then rent a car or take a bus to Gettysburg. This option is the fastest but also the most expensive, typically costing hundreds of dollars roundtrip.
Best Stops on a Pittsburgh to Gettysburg Road Trip
Embarking on a road trip from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg promises a scenic and historic journey across Pennsylvania. Along the way, there are several noteworthy stops that offer a glimpse into the state’s rich cultural and natural heritage.
From museums and state parks to picturesque towns and rest stops, you’ll have plenty of spots to stop, stretch your legs, and explore along the way.
Here are some of the best stops to consider adding to your itinerary traveling from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg.
Idlewild & SoakZone
Are you up for some thrilling amusement park adventures on your way east from Pittsburgh? Idlewild & SoakZone, located in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, just less than 50 miles east of the city is a great stop place to stop after the first hour of driving.
First opened in 1878, Idlewild & SoakZone has been entertaining families for generations with its wide variety of attractions. From roller coasters to water rides to live entertainment, this is one of the most family-friendly parks in the region.
One feature that sets Idlewild & SoakZone apart is its Story Book Forest, where young children can meet their favorite nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters. It’s the perfect spot to let your little ones’ imaginations run wild or to take a step back into your own childhood.
For those seeking a wet and wild experience, spend some time at the SoakZone water park. SoakZone features a lazy river, a wave pool, and a range of thrilling water slides. It’s the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day.
If you spend the day at Idlewild & Soak Zone on the way to Gettysburg, stay the night at this beautiful cottage less than 10 minutes from the park. You’ll get a comfortable night’s rest, preparing for another adventurous day.
If you’re a history enthusiast embarking on a road trip from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg, be sure to make a stop at Fort Ligonier, a must-visit historical destination along the way.
Located in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, Fort Ligonier is a reconstructed 18th-century British fort that played a vital role in the French and Indian War. The fort features guided tours that showcase its historical significance, as well as a museum packed with artifacts and a gift shop where you can take home a piece of history.
In addition to exploring the fort itself, Fort Ligonier offers special events throughout the year. Enjoy events tailored to history and those created for kids to have fun.
This stop can basically take as much or as little time as you’d like to spend.
Laurel Hill State Park
Nestled in the heart of the Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania, Laurel Hill State Park is a true gem for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning over 4,000 acres, this state park is the perfect destination for both seasonal and year-round activities.
Whether you’re looking to cool off in the summer heat or embark on a scenic hike, Laurel Hill State Park is a great pit stop for those activities. Take a dip in Laurel Hill Lake, hike along beautiful trails like the Hemlock Trail, or set up camp for the night. It’s only about 35 minutes from Ligonier!
While there are more trails here than you could explore in one day, if you need a spot to stop and stretch your legs for an hour or two, there are some fantastic short hikes in Laurel Hill State Park.
After you’ve explored a trail or two, you’ll be refreshed and ready to continue on toward Gettysburg.
The Johnstown Inclined Plane
The Johnstown Inclined Plane, also known as the steepest vehicular inclined plane in the world, is a must-visit landmark and popular tourist attraction near Pittsburgh. It might look familiar to those from Pittsburgh, too. The Duquesne and Mon inclines were designed by the same person.
This car was originally built in the late 19th century with the purpose of transporting goods and people up and down the steep slope from Johnstown to Westmont. These days, it remains fully operational and serves as a unique tourist attraction that draws visitors from all over.
The Johnstown Inclined Plane features a car that can carry up to 60 passengers at a time. It was constructed as a lifeline for the town in response to the tragic Johnstown Flood of 1889.
From the moment visitors step aboard, they’re transported to a different time in history, with original stained-glass windows and wooden benches, offering a truly authentic experience.
At the top of the incline, visitors are greeted with scenic views of the city below and the surrounding countryside. A scenic lookout allows visitors to take in the panoramic views, while a visitor’s center provides more information about the history and operation of the incline.
An on-site eatery, Coney Island Lunch, offers a taste of classic area cuisine.
Johnstown Flood Museum
While you stop in Johnstown, plan to stop at the Johnstown Flood Museum to learn more about the tragedy in the town over a century ago.
The Johnstown Flood Museum is a historical place that serves to educate visitors about the devastating flood that occurred in 1889. The museum is one of the most well-known tourist destinations in the area. At this museum, visitors can learn about the history, exhibits, and artifacts from the destructive flood that ravaged the area.
The Johnstown Flood Museum features a multistory structure that houses exhibits, artifacts, and maps related to the tragic event. Visitors can witness the complete story of the Johnstown flood and its aftermath through various exhibits and artifacts that demonstrate both the physical damage and the harrowing personal experiences of those affected.
The museum houses a vast collection of photographs, letters, and personal belongings that provide a glimpse into the lives of people affected by the flood.
In addition to the flood-related exhibits, the Johnstown Flood Museum is also an important historical landmark, as it serves as a tribute to the industrious people of Johnstown. It highlights the rich history and resilience of the city despite the tragic event that forever changed its course. Visitors can appreciate the city’s history by witnessing the exhibits and artifacts that celebrate Johnstown’s recovery and eventual growth.
Old Bedford Village
Visiting the Old Bedford Village is like stepping back in time, being transported to another era. This historic village boasts well-preserved structures that provide an authentic glimpse into the 18th century.
After crossing a beautiful covered bridge to reach the village, you’ll be immersed in a world filled with period-appropriate clothing, furniture, and tools. You can also witness demonstrations of traditional trades such as blacksmithing and basket weaving.
Some of the must-see exhibits at Old Bedford Village include the pioneer homestead, the one-room schoolhouse, and the village pottery shop. The exhibits around the village give visitors an up-close look at what daily life was like for pioneer families, schoolchildren, and artisans living here many years ago.
Plan ahead before visiting, as there is a self-guided audio tour option via the Old Bedford Village Virtual Tour app. Listening to the audio tour as you wander through the village will help bring the area to life even more.
For a luxurious overnight on your way to Gettysburg, check out the Omni Bedford Springs Resort. You’ll leave rejuvenated!
Caledonia State Park
Take the Breezewood Exit off of the PA Turnpike and enjoy some of the beautiful small towns and country scenery along US-30. This road will also lead you right to the beautiful Caledonia State Park. Caledonia spans over 1,100 acres and offers a variety of outdoor activities.
One of the most popular activities at Caledonia is hiking. There are over 10 miles of hiking trails that wind through the park’s scenic forests and meadows. The Charcoal Hearth Trail is popular, beginning at the waterfall just off of US-30 and climbing up over the hill.
Fishing is also a popular activity at the park, with several streams running through the area that are stocked with trout. Visitors can also participate in hunting during designated seasons in designated hunting areas.
Caledonia State Park has plenty of amenities available for visitors, including restrooms, picnic areas, and playgrounds. The park also has a seasonal swimming pool and concession stand open during the summer months.
For those looking for an overnight stay on the way to Gettysburg, camping is available at Caledonia with two separate campgrounds that offer picnic areas, fire rings, and various hookups. There are also cabins for rent and an organized group tenting area.
You might also consider just camping here while exploring Gettysburg, which is only 20 minutes (less than 15 miles) further east on US-30.
FAQs: Traveling from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg
Planning a trip from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg? Here are some frequently asked questions to help make your journey as smooth as possible. From driving distance and transportation options to local attractions and accommodations, we’ve got you covered.
Where should I stop on the way from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg?
If you’re planning a road trip from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg, there are several recommended stops that you shouldn’t miss. We’ve outlined some of our favorites in more detail. Here are some of the top picks:
1. Strip District: This lively neighborhood is a must-visit for foodies and shoppers. Before you leave the city, grab some road trip snacks or fresh fruit from the produce shops, or pick up some unique items from one of the specialty stores.
2. Fort Ligonier: Fort Ligonier is a historic site that played a crucial role in the French and Indian War. You can explore the reconstructed fort, watch living history demonstrations, and browse the museum exhibits. It’s a perfect stop for a history road trip to Gettysburg
3. Laurel Hill State Park: This beautiful park offers the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air and stretch your legs. With around 4,000 acres of forests and mountains, you can hike, bike, fish, kayak, and more.
4. Old Bedford Village: Step back in time at this living history museum, which preserves the architecture and lifestyle of rural Pennsylvania from the late 1700s to the early 1800s. There are dozens of historic buildings to explore, along with demonstrations and exhibits.
5. Continue to Philadelphia: Why not extend your historical Pennsylvania road trip and continue on from Gettysburg to Philadelphia? Check out Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and more, even if you only have one day to spend in Philadelphia.
Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or culture, a road trip from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg is a great way to get away from the Steel City for a weekend. Don’t miss these stops along the way!
Can you drive through the Gettysburg battlefield for free?
One of the most popular ways to experience the Gettysburg battlefield is by driving through it. However, visitors must abide by strict driving regulations to protect the historical significance of this landmark.
While there is no fee to drive through the battlefield, visitors should proceed with caution and follow the designated route. The National Park Service encourages visitors to consider parking their vehicles and using other means of transportation to explore the area, such as by biking or enjoying one of their guided bus tours to limit congestion.
Driving off-road is strictly prohibited and can result in fines and damage to the historical monuments and structures.
How many days do you need to see Gettysburg?
The answer depends on your interests and priorities, but generally speaking, there are plenty of things to do and see in Gettysburg that would take up a significant amount of time. At least a weekend could be easily filled with exploring the area.
Firstly, the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum is a must-visit destination for military history buffs. This museum features an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits related to the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. You could easily spend at least a half-day, if not more, checking out all of the exhibits.
In addition to the museum, the battlefield itself is worth exploring. It encompasses a vast area and offers multiple sites and monuments to explore, including those related to both sides of the battle. It’s hard to imagine all of the events that took place on those grounds during the Civil War battle, but you can certainly try!
Other interesting sites to explore in Gettysburg include the historic town itself, with beautiful old brick buildings lining the streets, and the Gettysburg National Cemetery, where President Abraham Lincoln delivered the historic Gettysburg Address.
It’s recommended to spend at least two to three days exploring Gettysburg and its surroundings areas to fully appreciate all that it has to offer.
What is the best way to get around Gettysburg?
One of the best ways to fully explore the historic town of Gettysburg is by opting for the most convenient mode of transportation, which is a car. As Gettysburg is a spread-out town, having access to a car ensures that you can get to all the must-see sites quickly and efficiently.
It can become quite congested during busy summer months, especially on the weekends, so you may opt for alternative methods of transportation.
For those who prefer public transportation, Rabbit Transit runs a local bus system that is easy to navigate and affordable. The bus system covers all the major sites in Gettysburg, making it a great option to consider.
For a unique and informative historical experience, you can opt for one of the many tours offered by licensed tour guides in Gettysburg. These tours provide a deeper insight into the history of the town and are a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. You can even take a tour of the Gettysburg Battlefields on horseback!
If you enjoy exploring on foot, Gettysburg has many designated pedestrian areas throughout the town, making it easy to navigate by walking. A leisurely stroll down the streets of Gettysburg can uncover hidden gems that you may have missed while driving or on a tour.
For a fun and unique way to see the sights, bicycle rentals are also available in the town. With designated bike paths and quiet back roads, cycling is a great way to explore the town and its surroundings.
Does Amtrak go near Gettysburg PA?
Amtrak is the only train company that operates between Pittsburgh and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. However, the trains from Pittsburgh arrive at Harrisburg Amtrak Station, which is approximately 45 miles from Gettysburg.
Travelers can take a bus or a taxi from Harrisburg to reach Gettysburg, which usually takes around 1 hour. The transfer options include a bus service provided by Rabbit Transit or a taxi ride, which can be arranged through a local transportation service.
A trip from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg is not just a journey of miles, but also a journey through time. It’s a chance to connect with history, to appreciate the sacrifices of those who came before us, and to gain a deeper understanding of our nation’s past. So, whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a weekend getaway with beautiful scenery, take a road trip from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg.