Last month I had the pleasure of spending a weekend away exploring Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Probably you saw me moaning about the fact that it was snowing in April on Instagram –an experience I still am not entirely recovered from.
Fortunately, the wonderful city has so much to offer visitors, rain snow or shine, that I was only mildly deterred from having a blast in the chocolate city.
I mean, after all, chocolate cures basically every single kind of thing and, as someone who isn’t used to being surrounded by the stuff, I made the most of my time in residence…
For those who’ve not had the pleasure, Hershey, as one can correctly assume, is the birth place of Hershey’s Chocolate, named for its creator, Milton S. Hershey.
It is a small town, in a small township that has accomplished some seriously big things. From the chocolate factory and amusement park that people around the world are familiar with to the philanthropic efforts all of their financial exploits go to support, Hershey has a lot going on.
And chocolate, so, so much chocolate…
Thinking you need to make a trip to the Sweetest Place on Earth?
Here are some things to know before you come.
Hershey, Pennsylvania: 20 Things to Know About A Hershey Family Vacation
You can actually visit year round. No need to even wait until summer. While the amusement park and some of the other destinations operate on a different schedule in the winter months, Hershey has wonderful holiday events that you can enjoy outside of the more popular summer months. Their Christmas time celebrations are particularly enjoyable.
Hershey owns 3 hotel properties –Hershey Lodge, The Hotel Hershey, and the Hershey Park Camping Resort campgrounds. And by campgrounds I mean cabins, y’all know I can not even with sleeping in a tent (but they have that option too if you’re about that life).
Each of the properties offers a unique experience for visitors. I stayed at The Hotel Hershey which I found to be an upscale option for those with older children and/or bigger budgets. The Lodge seemed the perfect fit for a rambunctious family like ours and the campground is perfect for the outdoorsy type that wants a little roughing it (and economy) for their summer vacations.
The Lodge is soon to be home to a massive splash park. The addition is slated to open on Memorial Day, 2016. We will be visiting again to enjoy that awesome!
And, let’s not ignore the elephant in the room anymore –there is chocolate. So much chocolate. They cover everything in it –cookies, popcorn, bacon, all of the things. And it sits freely around the hotels, at the attractions, just every single where.
They even put it in your grown up lady drinks. A joy I had many, many times.
They have characters. Personally, I was surprised to discover them, but there they were, all tasty looking. Great photo ops for the family, or for selfies, as the case may be. And, they aren’t just in the park. I ran into Miss Hershey Kiss in the lobby of the Hershey Lodge.
Chocolate World is separate from the park. You can enjoy it without ever entering the park.
You can tour Chocolate World for free but the other exhibits, like the chocolate tasting and the 4D theater and, of course, the stacks on stacks of chocolate require a separate fee. I used my spare change for a milkshake, because that is the life I live.
Hershey Park admission is relatively affordable. And, if you stay at a Hershey property you can enjoy a magnificent discount.
They have an allergen-friendly restaurant inside of Hershey Park. It is called the Outpost and all of their options are gluten free, nut free, and fish/shellfish free. They made to order items as well so you can order something that meets your needs.
Hershey Grill, in The Lodge, is a great place to catch an affordable breakfast with the kids. They are have this cool old school diner vibe that made their food and their atmosphere feel inviting and family friendly.
And, if you are looking for a more formal brunch option, The Circular in the Hotel Hershey is renowned. It is a more expensive option, but it is so very worth it. They have all of the things and it’s a nice place to enjoy special occasion too.
You can see some pretty awesome live entertainment in Hershey as well. Giant Center and Hershey Park Stadium offers big name concerts (Beyonce is gonna be there this summer!) and the Hershey Theater provides space for other performing arts and stage plays.
And hockey. The Hershey Bears are kind of a big deal around there.
Don’t miss ZooAmerica. I know, you’re basically like OMG, Amanda, like I haven’t been to the zoo before. If you’ve seen one zoo you’ve seen basically every zoo. I feel you, totally. But, here are a couple of differences that make this zoo worth a stop. It’s not massive, so you don’t have to worry about exhausting yourself while you walk through. Second, it features all North American animals (shout out to the USA & Canada) so your kids can learn about the animals that our actions as humans are truly impacting. Finally, the after hours tour is the shiznitz. I don’t care what you think about zoos (honestly, I can’t, they have a place because there is just no way the animals living there are going to make it in the wild because WE WON’T LET THEM) the education you and your family can get from that tour is amazing. I learned SO much. And, it was darn fun too.
Hershey, the man, was about so much more than chocolate. He gave back to his workers in countless ways and founded the amazing Milton Hershey School that serves disadvantaged students from all over America. It is truly inspiring to learn about how this foundation he created with his wife has impacted the lives of countless young people since its opening in 1909. I implore you to research his story and read about his philanthropy.
Take the Hershey Trolley Works tour. You get to know Hershey outside of the chocolate quite well. It was a super interesting tour, the guides were amazingly informative and charismatic, plus chocolate. So much chocolate!
You can play with butterflies. I didn’t get to, but if you’re planning a trip anytime in Summer ‘16, you should be able to. Their brand new Butterfly House and conservatory at the Hershey Gardens will be opening to the public in May, 2016.
Hershey, PA is a great site to learn more about the city and plan your visit. They are super knowledgeable and eager to help.
Disclosure: I visited Hershey, PA as part of a media excursion. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions and irrational obsessions with chocolate are my own.