Worth the Trip

Gettysburg is So Much More Than Monuments

Article by Anna Liisa Van Mantgem

Photography by Anna Liisa Van Mantgem

Originally published in Frederick Lifestyle

Gettysburg is much more than Civil War monuments and preserved battlefields. This historic Pennsylvania town offers fine dining to satisfy foodies, cozy escapes for those in need of restoration and relaxation and is well worth the 45-minute drive from Frederick.

The straightest route from Frederick County to Gettysburg is via US Route 15, also known as the Catoctin Mountain Scenic Byway. The drive is punctuated by orchards, farm stores and wineries, with access to covered bridges, state parks and a wildlife reserve.

A colorful and flavorful stopping point along Route 15 is Gateway Candyland in Thurmont. This family-owned shop is a great place to pick up snacks and features vintage sweets like penny candy, malt balls and lollipops, plus contemporary favorites like sour gummies and jellybeans.

About 30 minutes from Thurmont, the Inn at White Oak, a quiet respite on a private pond and 32 acres, offers posh amenities like an on-site spa, a heated indoor pool and a tearoom with a crystal chandelier.

Grace notes like plush towels and throws, home-baked treats like lemon-raspberry cheese cookies and surprises like the billiards room make White Oak cozy and comforting despite its 10,000-square-foot size.

Although they were not hoteliers or designers by trade, the owners of White Oak had a vision for the Inn, including the calming earth tone palette and high-low mix of furnishings, which includes antiques and historic artwork blended with modern pieces.

“We wanted to bring an eclectic feel to the place. We wanted to bring in some of the history, to keep the romance in it, keep nature in it. All these things we wanted to pull together in the decor, but still staying with a little bit of formality,” says Shiree Kwash, who owns the Inn with her husband, Craig.

Even one night spent at White Oak can be a soothing and restorative experience, with luxe features like plush pillowtop beds, chocolate-covered strawberries served during select spa treatments and tranquil garden paths that encourage wandering and introspection.

“We offer a combination of romance, relaxation, peacefulness and history. When you’re here, it’s almost healing. It’s a great place to focus on life and centeredness,” Shiree says.

Whereas the Inn at White Oak provides each traveler with a hearty breakfast to start the day, downtown Gettysburg offers diverse lunch options, many of which are clustered in and around picturesque Lincoln Square, the tourism heart of town.

Travelers can unwind at the end of the day with a multi-course gourmet dinner, complete with a sommelier to suggest wine pairings, at Gettysburg’s Inn at Herr Ridge.

Formal dinners at Herr Ridge are served in the elegant Tavern building, which dates to 1815 and features decor reminiscent of the 19th century, plus veranda seating overlooking a butterfly garden. For those who prefer casual fare, the Inn also has its Livery Bar and Grill available next to the main building.

Innkeeper Diane Desaulnier suggests diners sample the Inn’s signature crab and corn chowder, which she describes as “sinfully good.” This savory and creamy soup is perfect comfort food for chilly nights yet is light enough to serve as an appetizer.

“Our chef really puts his heart and soul into his dishes,” Diane notes. “We have a lot to choose from; we have the scallops, and everyone likes the fillet.”

The nine-hour braised lamb shank is also outstanding because of its tender texture and malbec wine demi-glaze. Another distinctive option is the miso taki salmon with bok choy and mango quinoa, which is both healthy and scrumptious.

Something that differentiates Herr Ridge from other fine dining options in Gettysburg is its voluminous wine cellar.

“We have a very extensive wine menu,” Diane says.

In fact, the wine list runs 38 pages with options from around the globe and has earned Herr Ridge a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

Even the desserts at Herr Ridge are memorable, like the decadent white chocolate pots de crème and the seasonal fruit cobbler, which is made fresh to order.

The Inn at Herr Ridge and The Inn at White Oak are both exquisite Gettysburg offerings that offer more to Frederick travelers than Civil War history.

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