Civil War Sites Tour | Best Western Hotels & Resorts

  

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Explore PA's Civil War History – and more!

Zip along I-81 in central Pennsylvania, where you'll find a host of attractive and historic boroughs and cities, must-see attractions, and some of the premier Civil War historical sites in the country. Gas up, buckle up, and hit the road in Pennsylvania.

Chambersburg

Kick off your Pennsylvania Civil War Sites drive tour in Chambersburg. Conveniently found along I-81, your main highway for this tour, Chambersburg is a charming central PA borough. Founded in 1734, Chambersburg features an array of historic sites, and is a short drive away from Caledonia State Park. Keep the windshield bug-free and see the sights in Chambersburg.

Must See
Whether you’re a fan of a full-bodied Merlot, a crisp and tart Pinot Grigio, or a well-balanced Rosé, you’ll find just what you’re taste buds are hoping for at the Tuscarora Mountain Winery. A top destination for wine fanatics in Chambersburg, the Tuscarora Mountain Winery offers tours, and can be the host-venue of your own event.

Local Guide
Any tour through Chambersburg should be met with a visit to the Chambersburg Heritage Center. An ideal way to glean a bit of knowledge about Chambersburg’s role and history in the Civil War, you’ll find a detailed history of Gen. John McCausland, who ordered a giant fire bet set in the city in 1864.

Outdoor
Each year, from late May through the middle of October, the North Square Farmers Market brings 100% locally grown produce to the Chambersburg area and it’s visitors and residents. Each Saturday morning over that span of time, check out the North Square Farmers Market, the only open-air market in Chambersburg.

Shippensburg

Keep the tour moving and head northeast into Shippensburg. This charming borough is part of both Cumberland County and Franklin County, accessed easily from I-81. Settled in 1730, Shippensburg was incorporated in 1819. Shippensburg is buoyed by Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, a major source of travel and tourism.

Must See
You’ll no doubt want to check out The Thought Lot on your exploration of Shippensburg. A 10,000 square foot contemporary arts center, The Thought Lot features a variety of live performances throughout the year – music, plays, and comedy shows, if you’re there on the right night. Artists looking for display space can also rent at The Thought Lot.

Local Guide
One of the premier ways you can learn a little about Shippensburg’s history is with a visit to the Shippensburg Historical Society. Dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Shippensburg, this society is a non-profit, and you can find them just next to the Shippensburg Post Office.

Outdoor
Especially great during the spring and summer months is the Shippensburg Veterans Memorial Park. Before you depart for the next leg of your journey, set up shop at the Shippensburg Veterans Memorial Park and enjoy 14 well-groomed acres. Take advantage of the gravel walking trail, or let the kids run about at the playground.

Carlisle

Pop the clutch and drop it into fifth gear as you motor along, heading northeast into Carlisle. A quaint and charming borough in Cumberland County, Carlisle was settled in 1751, is home to the U.S. Army War College, and features a total area of just 5.4 square miles.

Must See
With any visit to Carlisle, a trip around the Carlisle Fairgrounds is a near must. Home to Carlisle Events, one of the largest auto shows in the country, the Carlisle Fairgrounds boasts acres of explorable areas, live shows and music, plenty to snack on, and a wealth of parking.

Local Guide
Don’t miss out on the Carlisle Theatre when you’re driving through. Experience exceptional live performances, movies, and music. Opened in 1939, the Carlisle Theatre has thrilled and dazzled locals with an assortment of shows. The Carlisle Theatre is a central figure of downtown Carlisle.

Outdoor
For a peek at real life Civil War history, check out the Carlisle Barracks, site of the Battle of Carlisle. In 1863 – the very day the Battle of Gettysburg began – Union and Confederate armies clashed at and around the Carlisle Barracks, with the barracks eventually catching fire, ending the skirmish.

New Cumberland

You’ll continue motoring along into the borough of New Cumberland. Pleasant, charming, and full of things to see and do, New Cumberland is less than two square miles in area – what it lacks in size, it makes up for in character and fun.

One of the most popular events in New Cumberland is the annual New Cumberland Apple Festival. Check it out on your next September visit and enjoy a range of apple goodies – pies, treats, souvenirs, and candy apples; always a crowd pleaser. Make the quick drive south into York for a day trip – visit the York Fair, or, if you visit during winter, try some skiing or snowboarding at AvalancheXpress.

Must See
If your tour has you visiting New Cumberland in May, head over to their neighbor ro the northwest, Camp Hill. May is when you’ll want to check out the Plein Air Camp Hill Arts Competition and Festival. A premier event for local artists and art fans, this competition is always memorable.

Local Guide
How can you visit New Cumberland and not check out the Susquehanna River? You can’t. You should at least make the effort, easy as it is, as New Cumberland has it’s north border along the shores of the Susquehanna River. Skip some rocks, try some fishing, or simply enjoy the picturesque views.

Outdoor
What is one of the ideal ways to enjoy your spring or summer visit into New Cumberland? Head for New Cumberland Borough Park, one of the premier destinations in the area. Found just southeast of downtown New Cumberland, this park can host your picnic, family, gathering, or, if the kids are looking to burn off some energy, let them check out the playground.

Harrisburg

As you make the short drive across the Susquehanna River into Harrisburg, your tour is nearly complete. There’s no reason to fret, however – you’ve still got plenty to see and do. Incorporated in 1791, Harrisburg is the capital city of Pennsylvania, and home to a wealth of must-see attractions.

Must See
As your Civil War drive tour nears it’s conclusion, make your way to the National Civil War Museum for an in-depth look back at one of the iconic periods in US history. You’ll find more than 24,000 Civil War artifacts, life-sized dioramas, and a wealth of displays.

Local Guide
While the area in and around Harrisburg is peppered with history and lore, there’s still a world of science to explore on your visit. The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts is 130,000 square feet of exploration. Let the kids roam and explore – their minds will be illuminated and dazzled with displays and exhibits. Check out the Sunoco Performance Theater, or the IMAX Theater.

Outdoor
Your spring or summer visit to Harrisburg should be met with time at the ol’ ballpark – visit the Metro Bank Park, home of the Harrisburg Senators, for an exciting day of minor league baseball. With a max seating capacity of 6,187 people, Metro Bank Park was opened in 1987 under the original name, Riverside Stadium. Keep your head on a swivel and you might catch a foul ball.

Hershey

Hershey, you’ll find, is not a city, town, nor a borough – this census-designated place is, however, world famous for one thing: chocolate. Following their motto of “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” Hershey has thousands of visitors each year, all hoping to catch a glimpse of how their favorite chocolate is produce – and maybe grab a few samples along the way.

Must See
How, you might ask, can anyone visit Hershey and not explore Hershey’s Chocolate World? It’s impossible, by most standards. Whether you are a chocolate fanatic, a casual consumer, or the type who only buys them as a gift for that special someone in your life, Hershey’s Chocolate World is a can’t-miss attraction on your Civil War sites tour.

Local Guide
There’s little doubt what the kiddos will want – chocolate (and probably more chocolate), and rides. Lots and lots of rides. If this is the case, head on over to the Hersheypark for a fun-filled day of carnival-style ride, roller coasters, and plenty of booths to entertain all members of the family.

Outdoor
Hershey Gardens is the place to be when you visit during the spring or summer. Yielding an exceptional botanical garden experience, Hershey Gardens is a premier, can’t-miss site in Harrisburg. Round out your drive tour with an afternoon spent admiring local foliage across 23 acres. Don’t miss the top of Pat’s Hill, offering sterling views of the city.