Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxing and spending time with your family, but too often it turns into running from one activity to another while wilting in the 95 degree heat. Well, stop, its Hammer Time, er, we mean Hershey Time. Take a 3-hour trip to our neighbors a little to the south and visit the Sweetest Place on Earth, Hershey, Pennsylvania.
What to Do in Hershey
Hershey Park (100 W Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, Pa) is by far the largest attraction in Hershey. Compared to other theme parks, it’s not too big, it is not too small, it is just right. Hershey Park seems to have the most rides per square mile of any park that we have been to, which means you won’t have to walk miles and miles pushing a stroller uphill. Here, all the villages are very close together and each of them have multiple rides, sometimes right on top of one another.
Not only does Hershey Park have dry rides, but it also has a water park called the Boardwalk. For the younger set, the Boardwalk has three play areas with slides, splashers and dumping buckets. For the older crowd, there’s a lazy river, bigger water slides, and a splashdown ride. The Boardwalk is only open for the summer season and will close on Labor Day.
We recommend heading straight to the Boardwalk when the park opens. You’ll be able to experience the majority of attractions within this section in a couple of hours. Once it hits midday, it gets very crowded and the lines increase exponentially. Bathing suits are only allowed in the Boardwalk area of the park. So even if you are heading straight to the water park, you must wear a cover-up or clothing over you swimsuit on the way.
If you like shows, then Hershey Park has a pretty good selection of them, including a dueling piano show, a wild west show and an oldies show starring Patty and the Peppermints, an all girl band. Don’t you feel like throwing up your fist and yelling, Girl Power? Well, maybe it is just us. There is also roaming entertainment in the park, if you don’t feel like sitting down in a theater.
Good to Know About Hershey Park
There are a lot of food options in the park, from pizza and chicken strips to barbecue ribs and turkey legs, to please those discerning kiddie palates. We recommend buying a Hershey Park Meal Ticket for $13.75. It allows you to choose set menu items from 20 different eateries in the park and comes with a souvenir cup; refills of the souvenir cup are only 99₵ in the park or at the Hershey Lodge or The Hershey Hotel.
One day definitely wasn’t enough to experience everything there was to do at Hershey Park. We recommend getting at least a 2-day flex ticket. Single day admission costs $57.95 for adults and $36.95 for kids 3-8 and a 2-day flex ticket costs $76 for adults and $58 for kids.
Right next door to Hershey Park, you’ll find Hershey’s Chocolate World (251 Park Boulevard, Hershey, Pa), which, go figure, is all about chocolate. You can learn about it, try it, create it and even package it here.
Insider Tip: A lot of the attractions at Hershey’s Chocolate World are not stroller friendly, so we recommend bringing the baby carrier.
To start, take the Great American Chocolate Tour, which is a free ride showing how chocolate is made. The ride is informational, but at a level that kids can understand and singing cows are thrown in to keep them entertained. After the ride, take in the Hershey’s Great Chocolate Factory Mystery in 4D. Kids can help solve the mystery and save chocolate. Was there ever a more worthwhile challenge?
Next, get creative at the Create Your Own Candy Bar ($14.95 per person). Enter an assembly line area where you’ll done a hair net and apron to create your own Hershey’s Bar from the kind of chocolate and fillings to the label. At the end of the process, your chocolate bar is given to you in a keepsake tin.
At the Dessert Creation Studio, choose a cupcake, cookie or ice cream to decorate with items from the toppings bar. Every Hershey’s product imaginable is available including Symphony Bars, Reese’s Pieces and Rainbow Twizzlers, plus different flavors of icing to put on your cupcake or cookie. While waiting for the canvases for their future masterpieces to come out, kids can paint with edible paint, or eat it if they so desire. The prices at the Dessert Creation Studio vary depending on what item is chosen.
Other Attractions in Hershey, Pa
The Hershey Story: The Museum on Chocolate Avenue – At the Hershey Story (63 West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, Pa) learn about Milton S Hershey and how he created Hershey the business and the town. Take a class in the Chocolate Lab and learn about different kinds of chocolate or how to make a chocolate bar or s’mores. Do the Countries of Origin Chocolate Tasting and taste drinking chocolate from 6 different countries. Museum entrance fee and chocolate lab class is $10 for adults and $7.50 for children up to age 12; kids must be a minimum of 4 years old to take a Chocolate Lab class. If staying at Hershey Hotel or Hershey Lodge, you’ll receive a complimentary entrance ticket. Chocolate Tasting is $9.95 per person.
ZooAmerica – ZooAmerica (201 Park Avenue, Hershey, Pa) is a walk through zoo that showcases animals from five regions in North America, including the southern swamplands and Big Sky Country. See alligators, mountain lions, prairie dogs and owls, among other animals. Entrance to ZooAmerica is included free in your Hershey Park ticket. On other days, the cost to enter is $10.50 for adults and $8.50 for kids ages 3 to 8.
Where to Stay
We recommend staying at Hershey Lodge (325 University Drive, Hershey, Pa) because it’s an amazing hotel for kids, with special amenities from check-in to departure. Some of the amenities for kids included: a separate check-in desk for kids where they can sign the log-book and get their own “key” on a lanyard, a mini-golf course and a wii room. Hershey Lodge also has three pools, two indoor and one outdoor, where kids can go swimming. We recommend the one in the back of the lodge by the mini-golf course. It’s less crowded and has a small splash park. In the rooms, kids will love the sheets decorated with Hershey Kisses as well as the Hershey Kisses wallpaper in the bathroom. Chocolate shampoo and conditioner will elevate hair washing from a chore to a fun experience. Kids will also enjoy dining at the Bear’s Den named after the Hershey hockey team. Eat on the “ice” and watch different sports games while dining.
Good to Know About Hershey Lodge
Transportation to and from Hershey Park and Chocolate World is available free of charge from the Lodge. They will ask to see your room key. If you are going to the Spa at The Hotel Hershey or The Hershey Story, transfer buses at the park. Buses run very frequently; there was never a wait longer than 15 minutes between buses.
Complimentary admission to The Hershey Story and to Hershey Gardens is included with your stay. Ask for the tickets when you check-in.
To get to Hershey, Pa, you can drive, which takes 3 hours from New York City or take the train, which takes 3.5 hours; Amtrak stops at the Harrisburg Train Station which is only 15 minutes from Hershey. If you’re staying at either Hershey Lodge there’s a shuttle that will pick you up at the train station for a minimal charge by calling 717 533-3311.
Have you taken your family to Hershey, Pa? Tell us about your visit in the comments below.
Photos courtesy of Hershey PR.