Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

I just returned from a visit to Gettysburg, PA.

First impressions: Ugh.

Gettysburg is pretty bad.  If you aren’t familiar with Gettysburg, it is a small town in Pennsylvania that is known for one of the deadliest battles of the Civil War.


When you consider that Americans were killing other Americans, it is the scene of possibly the largest number of casualties in American war history.

So what is wrong from Gettysburg?

When I was researching online, I expected the town to be “high-end”.

Not very high-end like the Hampton’s, but maybe similar to Newport Rhode Island or Woodstock Vermont.

I at least expected it to be nice.

Also, most of the hotels were also sold out on a Saturday in October, so I figured it must be a popular tourist attraction.

The ride took me about 4 hours from NYC, and as soon as I arrived into the middle of town, I noticed that something was off.

The city is small.  Very small.

It’s basically a roundabout in the middle of town, a train station, and several blocks of small gift shops and restaurants.

gettysburg 3

After eating at the “Lincoln diner”, we decided to do some shopping.  Unfortunately, the gift shops are pretty bad.   I showed up to town with cash in hand, looking to buy some something and the stores were pretty horrible.

Both my wife and I said the same thing “how are these stores still in business”?

But let’s be honest, you don’t travel to Gettysburg to go shopping and eat at fancy restaurants, you go to see the battlefield.

The battlefield is a quick 5 minute ride out of downtown and is large and completely preserved.

Now, don’t get wrong.  It is nice.  There is ton’ s of historical monuments and you can can do a guided or audio tour, which is also pretty cool.

But to be honest, it’s just a big field in the middle of Pennsylvania.

Although trip advisor has great reviews on it and I am really into Civil War history, I still felt the battlefield was really boring.

I almost think that people are scared to criticize it.  Is is unpatriotic to say that the battlefield is not worth a trip?

The history is very, very interesting.  But the geography is just not very nice.

I climbed up to the “devils den” which is supposed to be the one of the highlights of Gettysburg and that was also pretty boring.

devin den

It’s basically a 100 foot hill with a bunch of medium-sized rocks on the bottom.

The only interesting party of Gettysburg I found are the memorials.

I didn’t realize how many Irish immigrants had died there and there are many old memorials with shamrocks on them. Very cool.

Overall, I give Gettysburg a “D”.

You will find better civil war history in Cape May, NJ, Charleston S.C. or Savannah.  I liked seeing cities, ports and churches.

There is only so much to look at in a field.

The restaurants are bad, the stores are run down and I’m sad to say that I cannot recommend it.

We also checked out Antietam, which was also the scene of another major civil war battle.

It’s not as preserved as Gettysburg and I actually like it better.  They have a really cool Civil War cemetery and the famous Dunker church that was near the confederate line during the battle.

My next review will be for Harper s Ferry, WV.

-John Andre

Check out my book on! Book 3 is coming out soon!

Lift Heavy/Run Fast

Lancaster PA is surprisingly really good.


To be honest, going into Lancaster I wasn’t expecting much. Most of my recent trips to the state of PA have been pretty disappointing and I didn’t think this would be any different.

But Lancaster is really nice.

I would add Lancaster to my trip list of surprisingly nice towns, along with, Lake Placid and Niagara Falls.

So why did I decide to go to Lancaster?

Well, first of all, it is a quick drive 2 and 1/2 to 3 hour drive from N.Y.C.  Very manageable with a small child and my son usually sleeps for the first 2-hours in the car anyway.

Secondly, the town is supposed to have a lot of kid activities, which it did. So I figured we can make a quick summer trip out of it.

Our first stop into town was the Lancaster central market, which is located in downtown Lancaster.

What most people don’t realize, is that not every part of Lancaster is Amish. Lancaster is a real city, with a real downtown area.   The farms and “country-life” are located outside of downtown, but surprisingly not very far.

My first impressions of “downtown” Lancaster?

“Not bad. Definitely old, possibly up and coming.”


I was trying to think of what town it reminded me of. Possibly a smaller, cleaner version of Philadelphia or maybe a much cleaner Allentown.

There are a bunch of old row houses and a decent central area with a some trendy restaurants.

The central market is nice, it has a collection of Amish stores where you can buy locally made products.


We made a quick stop for a bite to eat before we shipped out to the hotel.

We stayed at the “Eden resort”, which was recommended to me from a good friend.

The hotel was extremely nice, and very good for kids. They have a big indoor and outdoor pool section, along with sprinklers, basketball courts and a playground.

Very, very nice hotel.


Which takes us to actual Amish country.

Amish country is wild. I was expecting to see maybe one or two Amish people if I was lucky, but was I wrong.

Amish people are all over the place, working, traveling around, etc. While driving around for an hour in our car, we passed at least 40 horse and buggies traveling along side the highway, along with bicycles and scooters.

Pennsylvania, Lancaster County, Amish Horse And Buggy.

The farms are also fascinating. You will pass farms all the time driving through PA or going to upstate NY, but you won’t see a farm being actually worked on with physical labor like you do in Amish country. “Some” of the Amish will use a minimal amount of electricity and machinery while others will use close to nothing. But overall you will see almost everyone outside working on their farms during the day.

Prior to traveling, I though I would see evidence of hard living, quite the contrary. Believe it or not, it looks like a good life. They live on large farms with a great sense of community, they eat the freshest food available, they are all married and they have large families (7 kids on average)

Which takes us to the food. I couldn’t stop eating the entire trip.

The Amish make a ton of baked good, such as moon pies, shoefly pie, sticky buns, cakes and all of the organic meat and vegetables tasted outstanding.


We ate at the good and plenty restaurant, which was outstanding, but I have been told there are much better places.

Outside of Amish country, they have some amusement parks (Dutch wonderland), outlet malls and all types of family activity.

Overall, Amish country is a great vacation and I would definitely like to return during a different season.

May not be an exciting trip for a single male, but a lot of fun for a family trip.

Add this to my surprisingly good vacation list.

-John Andre

Check out my book on! Book 3 is coming out soon!

Lift Heavy/Run Fast