The obvious answer to this question is by bike through GettysBike Tours. Not only are they our sponsor, but we founded the business in 2005, though we are not the current owners. It was designed because no one was successfully doing it at the time, though some had tried. Those that tried failed because, we believed, they didn't design the tours (or the business itself) with the tourist in mind. They applied a "one-size-fits-all" approach to bicycle tours in Gettysburg because, well, they weren't from Gettysburg. Until we started the business, we weren't from Gettysburg either, but we toured it almost religiously, so, by the time we became locals, we never lost our memories of being a tourist.
GettysBike Tours was designed to be an experience and it was born out of a very simple desire we had: to come somewhat close to the hardships soldiers had to face. You won't get even a whiff of that from an automobile. Certainly not from the sky. The best way to experience what a Civil War soldier experienced is to eat very little and walk miles a day, either sit around in camp for days or weeks or months on end or be thrown into a horrific battle only to retire to camp that night with half the friends you woke up with that morning. But who has time for that? So, the great compromise is a bike tour. Only then can you get an appreciation for "the high ground" (grunted like Sam Elliott in Gettysburg). Or how the elements affect your progress. Then, top that off with one of several Licensed Battlefield Guides telling you what happened along the way. The best part, to me, is feeling the wind in your face as you ride around (hint: it helps cool you better than AC. I swear)
Ok, cycling is not for everyone. The Gettysburg Tour Center is basically an institution here in Gettysburg. They provide tours by bus and with Licensed Battlefield Guides. Before I moved to Gettysburg to open GettysBike, it was tradition for my father and I (and whoever else was along with us) to open the weekend with a double-decker bus tour. You can certainly ride below in the AC and not all of their buses are double-decker, but, in my book, nothing can replace the feeling of having the wind blowing in your hair (or across your barren scalp, if you're bald like me) as you tour the fields. It's like being blasted in the face with history. Are you starting to detect a theme here?
If I'm being honest, my dream was to open another horse tour company here in Gettysburg , but I really only had experience riding horses, which I love, and not caring for them. Plus, who had the money to open that when a very successful one was already in existence? Now, for this recommendation, I'm going to urge you to Google which one to try because it's been many years since I've done a horse tour, so my recommendation would be outdated.
Here's the deal: horseback is a fantastic and closer-to-authentic way to see the fields. Unlike a bike or automobile tour, horses are limited to horse trails that offer a unique view of the battlefield seldom seen by the average tourist. The only down side is you're limited to these trails which limits the sites your can see. Did I mention you're out in the open AND they utilize Licened Battlefield Guides for their tours?
The best part?
The animal does all the work for you.
Speaking of horses, you can also take horse-drawn carriage rides and tours. Again, more than one company, soooooo...
GettysBike almost was the company to bring segways to Gettysburg, but, of course, that was ruined by lawyers during contract negotiations and that idea fell by the wayside. That is, until SegTours opened up. Segways are a fun alternative to bikes because the machine does the work for you, allowing you to just enjoy the information, sights and wind on your face.
But, that's not all. SegTours teams you up with a Licensed Guide or an audio recording when one is not available.
A Licensed Battlefield Guide In Your car
So, of course I'm biased for a few reasons as I pointed out at the start of the artcile. I'm also just right, regardless of bias ;-).
Look, I get it. You're too old or out of shape or lazy to ride a bike. Maybe it's been too long since you last rode. I know. I've been there and now that I'm back to riding I could kick myself for every stopping. Pizza is delicious, but nothing beats the taste of using your body to move your from one place to another. But, whatever. You can't/won't ride a bike and nothing I say will make you try. Fine...
Then do yourself a favor and see the battlefield in the comfort of your own car: hire a Licensed Battlefield Guide to take you around. Through the visitor center reservation desk or personal recommendations from us, here, at Addressing Gettysburg (firstname.lastname@example.org), or directly through their association
"It's easier to get into the CIA than become a Licensed Battlefield Guide and that's why I intend to, er-ah, break the CIA into a million little pieces," President John F. Kennedy famously never said and he was right (had he said it). It is VERY difficult to become a LBG. These men and women really know their stuff and you will too when you hire them to take you on a tour.
Regardless of my bias towards modes of transportation, one thing is indisputable, in my book: a Licensed Battlefield Guide is a MUST on any and every tour you take of Gettysburg. Period. Now, you can make an argument that I'm biased here too because I have quite a few friends and acquaintences who are guides, but only a fool would make that argument.
And, hey, open your windows so you can feel the wind in your face.