New Memories (and Cones) in Historic Gettysburg

This past weekend, I was in the mood to get outside of the city. And luckily for me, so was my good college girlfriend Becca. I proposed different activities (wine tasting in Virginia, perusing the Baltimore Harbor), but Becca had a better idea: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  “Huh?” I thought, “Isn’t that super far away?” A quick glance at Google Maps confirmed that – yes, geography is still not my strong suit – and Gettysburg is a mere 1 hour 45 minute drive from Washington, DC. I guess you do learn something new every day.


Bright and early on Saturday, we dragged our boyfriends out of bed and piled into the car. It was a perfect late-summer day, and the drive to Gettysburg was picturesque. Just 30 minutes outside of DC, I was reminded just how beautiful the Mid-Atlantic landscape can be – full of beautiful, rolling hills and lush, green foliage. The clean, crisp air is refreshing after a week in the office.


Welcome to PA!

Just before noon, we found ourselves in the historic town of Gettysburg. The boys were hungry (shocker!), so we strolled down one of the major streets, Steinwehr Avenue, in search of some lunch brunch. Before settling on Lincoln’s Diner (greasy-but-tasty food at low prices), we passed by several cute, touristy ice cream spots. While ice cream sounded like a fine meal to me, the rest of the group wanted omelets and pancakes. In the spirit of American history, we compromised: lunch now, ice cream later in the afternoon.

With full bellies, we drove over to Gettysburg National Military Park. Per the website instructions, we began our visit at the Park Museum and Visitor Center. For over two hours, we soaked up information about Gettysburg and the Civil War (I re-remembered a lot from high school U.S. History class). Personally, I could have spent another two hours in the gift shop – it’s massive and filled with interesting trinkets. My companions were not so enthused (out-voted again), so we grabbed a free battlefield map and headed to the car. There are several ways to experience the battlefields. You could take a guided bus tour, hire a professional guide to ride in your car (weird?), or take a self-guided tour. The driving map (found here) hits 16 official tour spots and numerous other sites. My favorite stops included Oak Ridge, the High Water Mark, Little Round Top, and Devil’s Den. It was hard to believe that over fifty thousand men died here in just three days – making it the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Remembering these men made me so grateful that the Union Army was able to change the tide of the Civil War here – successfully ending General Lee’s invasion of the North. Had the outcome been different at Gettysburg, who knows where we’d all be today?
Soaking up so much U.S. history certainly worked up my appetite. Before heading back to DC, we returned to one of the cute ice cream shops in downtown Gettysburg: Sunset Ice Cream Parlor. Honestly, I chose this spot over the others simply because it was so colorful and inviting-looking…
Inside, Sunset was bustling with a late-afternoon crowd. Despite the unique decor, Sunset’s numerous flavor options were extremely traditional. Rum Raisin and Cherry Vanilla were about as “weird” as they got. What is original about Sunset Ice Cream Parlor is their focus on the classic soda-fountain drink known as the “malted” – a mixture of ice cream, milk, and malted-milk powder. One of my best friend’s grandma was crazy about malteds, and I have early childhood memories of her ordering them at Friendly’s restaurants in MA. I’ve never been a fan of malteds, but I was in luck – I heard the man ahead of me order something interesting: a pretzel cone. Sure enough, his ice cream was served up in a cone-shaped hard pretzel. These are the times that I curse my gluten intolerance. But being the nice girlfriend I sometimes am, I decided to order the cone so my boyfriend (a pretzel connoseuir) could try it out. A chocolate-based ice cream sounded like the best compliment to a pretzel cone, so I picked the most interesting one at Sunset: Chocolate Marshmallow. After forking over more than $5 for a small cone (the special cone was a $1.50 upgrade), I was presented with a pretty-looking cone.
Now that’s something you don’t see every day!

The verdict? For the first time, I was more impressed with the cone than what was in it. And I couldn’t even eat the cone! My boyfriend’s review was generally positive, but he thought the cone was a tad too thick. We both loved the little plastic sleeve that the cone comes in – it keeps the pretzel salt intact until you’re ready to eat it. Now the Chocolate Marshmallow ice cream? That was a different story. The ice cream had a freezer burn aftertaste, and the chocolate flavoring was weak. I’d hoped for thick swirls of marshmallow, but I didn’t see (or taste) any. Perhaps a marshmallow extract is to blame for the weak chocolate flavor? All in all, I have to say this place is a “skip” – unless you are craving a malt. After all, there are other ice cream spots to choose from in Gettysburg.

The Stats:
Sunset Ice Cream Parlor
33 Steinwehr Avenue
Gettysburg, PA 17325
(717) 337-3125