A famous person once said, “I never met a chocolate I didn’t like.”
While many have placed a visit to Hershey Park, Penn on their family’s bucket list, a visit here really has no expiration date, since there is something to do and experience for families with kids of all ages. Suffice it to say, it won’t take much effort to convince your children to go on the sweetest trip of their lives to Hersheypark.
The town of Hershey was literally built by chocolate and still gets much of its support and visitors from the work of iconic founder, famous chocolatier Milton S. Hershey. The park was originally opened in 1907 as an employee perk for factory employees. Today, Hersheypark has expanded substantially to more than 110 acres and 65 attractions. The park boasts every ride imaginable for a range of ages, a water park for hot summer days, ZooAmerica and Hershey’s Chocolate World which is part interactive chocolate museum, part gigantic candy store.
Now to the question: Where to stay? Most people opt for one of two options that offer quick access to park grounds with shuttles, making it easy to whisk the kids back and forth to Hersheypark and still get back to your room for a well-timed nap. When choosing between the extravagant Hotel Hershey and the Hershey Lodge, keep in mind that both offer fun activities and plenty for kids to do and experience on premises. There’s also the Camping Resort for thise willing to veer off the beaten path.
For our purposes, we chose the Hotel Hershey, a AAA Four Diamond rated resort. With beautiful architecture, fine dining and plenty of diversions for the family, this is hands-down the most luxurious option in town. There are many benefits to staying here including enjoying the enviable hilltop position overlooking Hersheypark and gardens. Guests love the small touches here, from the chocolate bars provided at check-in to the spontaneous candy bar character sightings in the lobby. In the winter, the hotel’s indoor pool is a welcome retreat for the kids, while the summer beckons guests to enjoy the outdoor pool and courtyards.
There is also no shortage of restaurants to try out right on premises. The Circular is one of the top restaurants in town, and while a bit too formal for the kids for dinner, its scrumptious breakfast buffet was a favorite with the kids every morning with towers of Belgian waffles, chocolate chip pancakes and gourmet a la carte offerings for the adults. For more casual but equally delicious options, there is the Harvest Restaurant and Italian dining at Trevi 5. Finally, a deluxe spa including indulgent chocolate massages are perfect for adults in need of pampering as is the golfing program for those who want to stay active. There’s even a kid camp on premises!
Located next to the hotel, Hershey Gardens is an experience not to miss. Hundreds of tropical plants maintain the Butterfly Atrium ecosystem where every year different exotic butterflies make their home here. And the Children’s Garden lets your kids run free – hiding in a wooden hut in the Native American garden, making friends with Maisy the Cow and trying their musical hands on the xylophone.
Now it’s time to enjoy the sweet thrill of Hersheypark, one of the most popular theme parks in the country. The kids will be happy to see so many rides on offer with manageable lines for the impatient set. For the chronically impatient, ask about the Sweet Access pass, which provides unlimited front-of-ride access and a personal concierge to take you around the park.
While there are many rules, restrictions and age requirements at the park, they are designed to keep the whole family safe with age guidelines posted on each ride with whimsical candy bar categories. The park itself offers more than 65 rides and attractions, 11 roller coasters, 25 kiddie rides including water and dry rides, and nine water-based attractions, which makes spending a day here perfect for the summer or the cooler months. The park is large but not overwhelming, making it a good choice for parents with little ones in strollers. To make your destination even easier to navigate, download the Hersheypark app that will serve as your personal guide.
Make the mandatory stop at Hershey’s Chocolate World where visitors can start with Hershey Chocolate Tasting Adventure, then proceed to Hershey’s 4-D Show, and finally step into the real chocolate factory to Create Your Own Candy Bar complete with chef’s hat and aprons. Many families love to end the trip with a stop at ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park, an 11-acre walk-through zoo right next door to Hersheypark.
Elina Furman is a seasoned travel journalist living with her family in Westchester. Her work has appeared in Fodor’s, Inspirato magazine, Orbitz and Top Flight Family.
100 Hersheypark Dr.