Four score and seven years ago… none of us knew what gluten was. But I’m happy to say that the battlefield town where President Lincoln delivered the famous address beginning with those words is a gluten-free-friendly place to visit.
Yes, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—celebrating the150th anniversary of the famous battle this year—has something for everyone: history, battlefields, ghost tours, museums, shopping, and even gluten-free dining. Although the anniversary of the three-day battle was commemorated with events and reenactments in early July this past summer, there are still many events through the end of the year. In fact, Tuesday, November 19, 2013 is “Dedication Day” at Gettysburg National Military Park where the Gettysburg Address was delivered by Lincoln exactly 150 years prior.
No matter when you can find time to visit, Gettysburg is a town you really must experience. Their new Museum and Visitor Center is the place to get an overview before touring the battlefield itself. Allow at least two hours to wander through the museum, view the “A New Birth of Freedom” film, and experience the360-degree recently restored Gettysburg “Cyclorama,” which makes you feel as if you’re experiencing “Pickett’s Charge” firsthand.
Our family visited Gettysburg last June, just a day after our kids got out of school for the summer. We figured it would be a bit less crowded—and a bit cooler—than later in the summer. We stayed at the Federal Pointe Inn on Springs Avenue, a beautiful restored schoolhouse that just opened as a hotel in the summer of 2012. The rooms were very spacious with 12-footceilings. Our suite included a small sitting room with a sleeper sofa, which enabled our two boys to each have their own bed (enabling all of us to get more sleep!).
As with all trips our family takes, I’d also done quite a bit of research to find gluten-free-friendly places for us to dine. After searching my own website, GlutenFreeTravelSite, and conducting some other quick internet searches, it appeared there were a few standouts: The Dobbin House Tavern, Deliso, Mr. G’s Ice Cream Shop, and Mom’s Coffeepot.
Our first night in town, we went to Deliso, a casual restaurant on Biglerville Road just outside town. We arrived early and the place filled up quite quickly. Gabriella, the owner’s daughter, took our order. She and several other family members have either celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, so they clearly understood how to avoid cross contamination. There were plenty of gluten-free options to choose from: pizza, subs, pastas—even baked ziti, ravioli, and stuffed shells! Our family ordered a range of items, and all were delicious. If you call ahead, you can even order gluten-free tiramisu. I wish we’d known that ahead of time!
However, missing out on dessert at Deliso gave us an opportunity to try Mr. G’s Ice Cream. Located right on Baltimore Street in the heart of the town, they offer homemade flavors that change daily—and almost all are gluten-free. We actually went there the next night, too, and brought our own gluten-free cone for our son. Flavors enjoyed during our two visits included Salted Caramel, Piña Colada, Rocky Road, and Watermelon(with chocolate chunk “seeds”). During our Ghosts of Gettysburg tour the second night, we found out that Mr. G’s, located in a building that housed the tannery in the years surrounding the battle, is actually the most haunted building in Gettysburg. Stories of ghost sightings over the years continue to enthrall (and spook!) visitors.
If you’re looking for a hearty breakfast, you’ll want to visit Mom’s Coffeepot. This café, located in the downstairs of the owner’s home on West Middle Street, offers a gluten-free breakfast and lunch menu featuring breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, sandwiches, soups, salads, and gourmet coffee beverages. This café really evokes the small-town spirit of Gettysburg, as everyone walking through the door knows each other. The celiac owner and his wife had also dined at Deliso the night before, and Gabriella from Deliso visited Mom’s for breakfast shortly before we arrived. Clearly, the gluten-free community knows where to go in Gettysburg!
If you’re in the mood for more formal dining, you won’t want to miss The Dobbin House Tavern, a historic inn and restaurant on Steinwehr Avenue dating back to 1776. Visit their small Underground Railroad Museum, as the building was historically a hiding place for slaves. They do not offer a gluten-free menu, but our server was able to steer us toward the safe items. We ordered things that were easy to prepare gluten-free (such as steak, lobster, and fish accompanied by vegetables and baked potatoes), but had we desired to order something that typically contains gluten, we were informed that the chef could try to tailor the item to be gluten-free. Several tables in the dining room upstairs were adorned with beautiful canopies, lending historic charm to this centuries-old landmark.
When it came to experiencing the history and sights of Gettysburg, we chose to visit the Gettysburg Diorama on Steinwehr Avenue immediately upon arriving in town. This 800-square-foot scale model and corresponding audio program gave us a great overview of the three-day battle and how the Union and Confederate troops set up their battle lines. Although extremely detailed and a bit overwhelming in its scope, we were thankful we’d seen this, as it gave us a “bird’s eye view” of the area in and around the town and battlefield.
We’d reserved the following day to visit the Museum and Visitor’s Center and then took a self-guided audio tour of the battlefield in our car. This allowed us to go at our own pace and get out of the car for photo opportunities along the way. Our driving tour took approximately three hours, wrapping up at Soldier’s National Cemetery. Other options for touring the battlefield include taking a bus tour or hiring a guide to ride along in your vehicle and give you a historical narrative along the way.
No matter how you see Gettysburg, you can’t help but be in awe, and knowing there are gluten-free-friendly places to eat allows you to relax and enjoy several days experiencing one of America’s most historic towns.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Karen Broussard publishes glutenfreetravelsite.com and the free DINE GLUTEN FREE mobile app. Both contain thousands of GF dining and travel reviews from around the world. Karen is also the publisher of the Gluten Free Travel Blog and two e-books available on Amazon: Gluten-Free in London and Gluten-Free in Italy.