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Ranked #3 of 103 things to do in Gettysburg
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Martinsburg, West Virginia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Guides”
Reviewed July 29, 2013

The guides are very well trained and can field most any question.
Our guide was even able to deflect questions that were unrelated to life and times of Gettysburg but he made it relevant to this moment in time

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Ruth B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Boardman, Ohio
Level Contributor
108 reviews
79 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
“*** Do your homework!”
Reviewed July 26, 2013

Since returning from my recent trip to Gettysburg and hiring a licensed guide, I have looked at many other comments left by others on this website. I really, really wish that I would have done that before we left and, specifically, before we reserved a guide. It looks like most people had an outstanding experience (which I was hoping for)... unfortunately, I can only rank this entire enterprise based on my personal experience with it, which was less than stellar. Hopefully others can learn from my mistake.

Knowing that tourism in Gettysburg was likely to be heavy this summer due to the 150th anniversary, I contacted the association directly about a week before our travel date. This is a good idea, as you get the discounted rate of $55 for 2 hours rather than the higher rate (I think over $60) which they charge you at the visitor center if you hire a guide the day of your visit. I explained in my message that this would be my 4th trip to Gettysburg, that I have a good knowledge of the battle already, and would really be interested in learning more about the role that Ohio regiments played in the fighting and the activities in the Culp's Hill area. I also asked for a 4 hour tour rather than the standard 2 hours in order to get a more detailed understanding of the nuances of the battle. My expectation and understanding was that this would help the guide tailor their presentation... sadly this wasn't the case.

I received a call back from a licensed guide- Bill Martin- that same evening. After trying to arrange a date and time for our tour, he asked us to pick him up at his house rather than the visitor center (as is customary for licensed guides). My wife thought this was a little shady, but he explained that parking there was at a premium and this would be more convenient. With our plans set, I was eagerly looking forward to our trip.

Unfortunately, things rapidly went downhill from there. On the day of our tour, we picked up our guide. He again asked if there were any specific topics or areas of special interest and I repeated what I had said in my phone message and reminded him this was my 4th time to the battlefield. I'm not really sure why he asked, since during the course of our entire 3.5 hours he referenced one Ohio regimental monument and spent only about 15 minutes at Culp's Hill.

Instead, he started with a long winded explanation about the causes of the Civil War as he drove towards the start of the auto tour. He then proceeded to- literally- talk in a non-stop jumble for the next 3.5 hours about different leaders, units, and events as he "drove" my car (nearly colliding over the course of the tour with a metal chain blocking off a road, almost backing into other cars, and repeatedly stepping on the gas while the car was in park). I think my wife nearly fell asleep after the first 20 minutes. I had hoped and expected that, with the extended tour I requested, we would stop at various sites throughout the battlefield, get out, and walk around as my guide would discuss what happened there. This was not the case, as we spent the entire time in the car (expect for one stop where he suggested my wife and I step out to look at a monument). When I opened the door to take pictures at a few locations where he pulled off to the side of the road to talk, he almost pulled away while trying to put the car in park. After a 4 hour+ drive to get to Gettysburg, another 3.5 hours in the car was not what we were hoping for.

As the hours went on, I think he might have sensed our lack of interest and cut the 4 hours short- by that point none of us were complaining. He did only bill us for 2 hours. Dropping him off at his house, I drove away relieved my car was in one piece and glad that the experience was over.

The disappointment I felt was really made worse the next day, when I visited some of the sites on the battlefield to take a few photos. At every stop, my wife and I saw other guides walking visitors around the battlefield. Some of them were even using detailed maps as they explained what occurred there. That was exactly the experience I had hoped for- sadly it was not to be.

After coming home and reading this other reviews- most of which are glowingly positive- the best advice I would offer to others is not to leave this experience to chance. Find a guide who has received compliments from other reviewers (there are many listed!), call the Association (the number is on their website), and make a specific request. If I ever try this again, that is exactly what I will do!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
13 Thank GozerTheTraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ventura, California
Level Contributor
17 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Fantastic, knowledgeable and dynamic.”
Reviewed July 24, 2013 via mobile

I took two tours with Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides and both were a great experience. Having been to the battlefield several times and having always done the auto tour, I decided to go with a guide who would potentially have a more in-depth insight into the battle. The first, with David Eisenhart, was a Segway tour. David obviously had a passion for the history of the park and was very knowledgeable. The second was a more in depth lecture, part of the LBG summer series "Walks Through History". I took the "Guns West of Gettysburg with Dave Donahue. Dave is very enthusiastic and an expert on artillery. He painted a very vivid picture of the artillery battle on the first day of battle in a compelling presentation.

The guides are extremely affordable at $55 for two hours for 1-6 people. This rate is very reasonable--I've taken private guided tours in Europe at the rates of €50-€100 per hour (roughly $65 to $130). My only complaint is that the special series of walks were held only once per subject with the different walks being held on successive Tuesday evenings. Being an out of town visitor, I only had the opportunity to take one walk and would have loved to do all of them.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank laynabee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palm Coast, Florida
Level Contributor
29 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Great Experience”
Reviewed July 24, 2013

My wife and I visited Gettysburg with two of our grandchildren. We decided to take a private tour from the visitor center with a licensed guide. This is the tour where you use your own car and the guide does the driving. It was wonderful. Our guide, Anthony, was knowledgeable, and was able to explain the battle in depth. He was also able to explain it in a way that was easy to understand. He was great with our teenage grand kids and got them interested in the facts. This is something I would recommend for anyone. If you have 54 people it costs less than the bus tour and you are one on one with the guide.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Stewart S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bayside, New York, United States
1 review
“He Made the Past Come Alive”
Reviewed July 22, 2013

I just returned from a visit to Gettysburg, where by act of fortune, we had Jim as our guide. I have long been a student of history and of the Civil War, but on this trip I met the master. He took us on a three hour journey back in time. He painted vivid mental images of what that day was like and the circumstances behind the events that transpired. His mastery of military history was astounding. He could refer you to sources for all that he talked about. We drove from point to point with Jim explaining the many of the monuments and topographical features of the battlefield. He patiently answered every question my seven year old son posed to him. More importantly he made it so interesting, that he kept a seven year old focused for the whole time. He took us out into the field to show us the terrain Pickett's division had to charge and how it influenced the final outcome. He explained every detail about Little Round Top and even broke down the different weapon used by the different regiments. If you are a serious student of history, or just interested in learning more about the largest battle in North or South America, he, like Grant was to Lincoln, is your man. I hope he completes his book one day.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Joseph T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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