Planning a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania
By Suzanne Rowan Kelleher
Hershey Park in Hershey, PA (Flickr: accidentalhedonist)
Where else but Hershey could you find yourself at the intersection of Chocolate Avenue and Cocoa Avenue, standing beneath a streetlamp fashioned like a Hershey Kiss? The place even smells like chocolate, most noticeably when the breeze is blowing from the 2-million-square-foot Hershey Factory, the largest chocolate plant in the world. But chocolate is only part of the appeal. Hershey is also home to the top amusement park in the Northeast, according to FamilyFun magazine (whose parent company, Disney, knows a thing or two about theme parks).
Hershey has plenty to keep families busy for at least three or four days. The top attractions are:
(MORE: View a family trip plan: 3 days in Hershey with kids.)
You’ll need at least two days to do it all. There are more than 60 rides and attractions, including 11 roller coasters, more than 20 kiddie rides, and several live shows. The Boardwalk is a tribute to the seaside resorts of the Eastern seaboard that features waterslides, interactive water features, and several water thrill rides. Keep in mind that admission to Hersheypark includes entry to ZooAmerica, a North American wildlife park with an entrance from the theme park.
Body Surfing at Hershey Park (Flickr: [email protected])
- Hershey’s Chocolate World
Along with the free Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour, which simulates a tour through a chocolate factory, there are opportunities (for a fee) to go on a trolley tour around Hershey town and watch a 3-D animated show starring the Hershey characters. And at FactoryWorks, kids can don factory caps and work on a Hershey Kisses assembly line. The Hershey megastore is the best place in town for souvenirs.
- Hershey Gardens
These 23-acre themed botanical gardens include an interactive children’s garden and a butterfly house (open only in summertime). Free or discounted admission for guests of the official Hersheypark resorts.
- Hershey Museum
Full of fascinating trivia and artifacts, this museum offers a terrific history lesson on Hershey—and American culture. Free or discounted admission for guests of the official Hersheypark resorts.
Child with the famous Hershey Kiss (Flickr: donhomer)
When to Go: Come during the summer season, which runs May through September. Hershey may bill itself as a year-round destination, but you need to come in the summer to get the most out of Hersheypark. You definitely don’t want to miss The Boardwalk and its water-play zone, which you can only experience in the summertime.
The park is closed in January, February and March. It reopens for one weekend in April for “Springtime in the Park.” Hersheypark opens for the summer season for weekends only in early May, and then ramps up to a daily schedule for the summer season (in 2008, May 21 to September 1). After Labor Day, the park reverts to a weekends-only schedule until the end of September. Hersheypark is open three weekends in October for “Halloween in Hershey,” and in November and December for “Hersheypark Candylane.”
Want fewer crowds? Hersheypark’s web site reports that the busiest day is Saturday. If you can plan a weekday-only stay, you’ll be way ahead of the game. July and August are busier than May and June. There is also a dip in attendance on the following holidays: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day Monday, Father’s Day, July 4th, and Labor Day Monday.
Where to Stay: There are three official resorts of Hersheypark:
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Hershey Chocolate Avenue (Photo: booking.com)
The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Hershey Chocolate Avenue has refrigerators and microwaves in every room, and suites also include couch beds. Additionally, they have free WiFi and a flat-screen cable TV.
Most fantastic proximity: It takes 5 minutes to get to Star Pavilion and Hersheypark Stadium by car. This hotel, which is 1.6 miles from Hershey Amusement Park, offers a daily continental breakfast and an indoor pool.
Convenience for all visitors: The Hershey Fairfield Inn & Suites has an on-site fitness center where guests may exercise. There is a snack bar open 24/7 and laundry facilities for your convenience.
Tru By Hilton Hershey Chocolate Avenue (Photo: booking.com)
Tru By Hilton Hershey Chocolate Avenue is an excellent option if you need a modern and convenient place to stay. Hersheypark is 5.4 miles away and Hershey’s Chocolate World is 3 km apart from it.
The amenities provided: The hotel provides a 24-hour front desk, an indoor pool, and a fitness center. The 3-star hotel features air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi and private bathrooms. It also includes a communal lounge.
Location is great: 18 kilometers away from Tru By Hilton Hershey Chocolate Avenue is Harrisburg International Airport, which is the closest airport.
The National Civil War Museum and Pennsylvania State Capitol are both located 21 kilometers from the lodging.
Good for a foodie: A buffet or an American breakfast is available at Tru By Hilton Hershey Chocolate Avenue. Visitors have access to the business center and may unwind in the snack bar.
Days Inn by Wyndham Hershey (Photo: booking.com)
Days Inn by Wyndham Hershey is a wonderful accommodation option. A free continental breakfast is offered each day at the Days Inn by Wyndham Hershey, as well as free WiFi. The indoor pool and the fitness center are available to visitors. This motel welcomes pets and has a gaming room and laundry facilities.
Located perfectly: This Hershey, Pennsylvania hotel is close to Chocolate World, ZooAmerica, and the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center. It is a non-smoking establishment.
Convenience in every room: The Hershey Days Inn by Wyndham has rooms with microwaves and mini-refrigerators.
Choosing one of the official Hershey resorts means that you’ll get some nice privileges, including preferential pricing on tickets to Hersheypark and free or discounted tickets to Hershey Gardens and Hershey Museum; early access to Hersheypark one hour before the official park opening; and a free shuttle service to and from Hersheypark, Chocolate World, and Hershey Museum.
(MORE: Find more places to stay in Hershey, PA.)