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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Gettysburg and Hershey, Pennsylvania: Boardrooms and Battle Fields

It’s one of those getaway places: free from the restaurants and stores that you’re used to, free from the hectic pace of the city.”

That’s how Carl Whitehall, director of communications at Destination Gettysburg, described the area that he calls home.

The capital region of Pennsylvania is made up of Gettysburg, Harrisburg and Hershey. Unlike the east and west metropolises of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the cities in the capital region provide, as Whitehall said, respite from urban life.

Learning Leadership in Gettysburg

Gettysburg, the farthest south and west of the cities, cannot be divorced from its Civil War fame. The 1863 battle still influences the town and business travelers headed to the area. And the conflux of famed presidents, generals and other historic figures who played a role in the city’s rise to fame has bred several local organizations focused on leadership and education that are well suited to serve the needs of the business community.

Three of the most prominent organizations capitalizing on this historic setting are the Lincoln Leadership Institute, the Tigrett Corp. and the Gettysburg Foundation.

“Each of these organizations has worked with Fortune 500 companies,” said Whitehall, who mentioned that the leadership courses are also popular with small companies, colleges, universities and numerous other business groups. Whitehall said some sessions include trips out onto the battlefield, where groups are walked through team-building activities.

Whether attending a leadership seminar or not, any business groups coming to the area will want to make a point of visiting the battlefield, which can be toured by horseback, car, bicycle or foot.

Outside of the battlefield, Gettysburg offers myriad dining, recreation and meeting venue options, from recognizable hotels such as the Wyndham to local spots such as the Federal Pointe Inn or the Battlefield Bed and Breakfast, which at one time served as the headquarters of General Wesley Merritt.

Visit Gettysburg can connect planners with more than 50 venues in the area, depending on the size and needs of the group. The bureau also keeps close ties with the major leadership organizations and can act as a liaison for planners interested in incorporating educational sessions into their event.

Sweet Times in Hershey and Harrisburg

Pennsylvania’s capital city, Harrisburg, lies 45 minutes north of Gettysburg. Harrisburg’s next-door neighbor [15 minutes away, to be precise] is a capital of a different kind; Hershey is the chocolate capital of the world. Though one is saturated with political savvy and the other the flavor of cocoa beans, the two cities, closely bonded by geography, are complementary meeting destinations.

“The most common response from those planners unfamiliar with our area is how clean, quaint and connected the two pillars of the region are: Hershey and the urban eclecticism of Harrisburg, the capital city,” said Audrey Bialas, director of sales for Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitor’s Bureau. “A planner can come and see it’s possible to have an event that shares the aspects of Hershey and the amenities of Harrisburg.”

In Hershey, naturally, the namesake candy company takes center stage, so much so that even the streetlights in this iconic town are shaped like Hershey’s kisses. Visitors can see how chocolate is made and sample a variety of candy products at Hershey’s Chocolate World. Nearby, Hershey Park offers amusement rides and carnival games in a chocolate-themed environment. It should come as no surprise that the town is nicknamed “The Sweetest Place on Earth.”

The park’s parent company also operates a resort in the town that is an excellent venue for meetings of all sizes, the Hotel Hershey. This building boasts 25,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, 276 guest rooms, and all of the industry extras one would expect from a larger, chain hotel. From this point, guests can also embark on a Segway tour of the town, play golf at the resort’s course, visit the spa and even participate in the hotel’s signature falconry experience.

In Harrisburg, a larger variety of meeting venues abounds, including traditional names such as Wyndham, Best Western and Hilton, the latter of which is undergoing a massive renovation. This 341-room hotel sits at the corner of Harrisburg’s downtown and, once reopened, will provide a fresh venue for groups wanting to be close to downtown attractions and still be privy to all the conveniences of a major chain hotel.

For a drastic departure from conventional spaces, planners may look to the State Museum of Pennsylvania. This museum features artifacts from the time of the dinosaurs to the Civil War and beyond, and has a fully equipped auditorium, along with banquet space, to accommodate multiple types of events.

Also in Harrisburg is Roundtop, one of the areas well-known ski resorts that is open year-round to groups seeking conference space. Here a variety of adventurous team-building activities can be baked into a group meeting package.

For post-meeting or premeeting eats, Harrisburg locals will recommend Official BBQ and Burgers, which lays claim to the title “Best BBQ in Pennsylvania.” Also highly recommended is Pastorante, an Italian joint whose atmosphere is conducive to networking.



Hershey and Harrisburg


Central Pennsylvania


I-81, I-76 and I-83

Major meeting spaces

Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, Hotel Hershey, State Museum of Pennsylvania

Hotel rooms


Off-site Venues

Stocks on Second, Second Street Comedy Club, Hershey Park

Contact Info




South-Central Pennsylvania


I-81 and I-83

Major meeting spaces

Federal Pointe Inn, Gettysburg College, Courtyard by Marriott Gettysburg

Hotel rooms


Off-site Venues

Indian Echo Caverns, H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center, Appalachian Brewing Co.

Contact Info