A Family Travel Guide to Hershey, Pennsylvania

Hershey, Pennsylvania is known the world over as “The Sweetest Place On Earth” and for good reason! Located in Central Pennsylvania, just 90 minutes from Baltimore and Philadelphia, 2 hours from Washington, DC and 3 hours from New York City, Hershey is a popular destination amongst East Coasters.

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Hershey Characters at Hershey Park. Photo Credit: Hershey Park

To know the story of Hershey, one must first learn about its founder, Milton Hershey.
Like many prosperous American narratives, the story of Milton Hershey begins in desperation. At age 26, Milton had failed at two businesses and was penniless. After flopping at the caramel business, meticulous and inquisitive, Mr. Hershey, devoted his money and energy to a different kind of candy; chocolate.

Experimenting diligently with boiled milk, sugar and cacao beans, his goal was to create affordable milk chocolate that could be mass-produced. It took him a few years, but Milton perfected his recipe and by 1903 a new chocolate factory bore his name.

Milton’s vision didn’t end at just a chocolate factory, he actually built a town. Homes, parks, schools, transportation and infrastructure were born from his visualization. He changed lives profoundly.

Your family can discover more about Milton Hershey, his town and his company at The Hershey Story, a state-of-the-art museum located in the heart of Chocolatetown, which gives an insider look at the legacy of one of the 20th century’s most philanthropic and honorable entrepreneurs.

Hershey Park

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Triple Towers at Hershey Park. Photo Credit: Hershey Park

No trip to Hershey, PA is complete without a visit to Hershey Park. Opened in 1907 by Mr. Hershey as a relaxing outdoor area for his employees and their families, the amusement park became a one-price admission theme park in 1971. Today, it is among the most popular parks in the world. Hersheypark has more than 70 rides (20 of them for young kids), including 13 roller coasters. The park recently debuted the first choose-your-thrill drop towers in the United States: Hershey Triple Tower attraction, comprised of three drop towers of different heights: Hershey’s Tower, Reese’s Tower and Hershey’s Kisses Tower. Each tower provides a different ride experience with varying heights, thrill levels and speeds.

Need to cool off? Included in the one-price admission to Hersheypark, is The Boardwalk at Hersheypark waterpark, with 14 exceptional water attractions.

ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park is also included in Hersheypark’s admission. It is an 11-acre, walk-through zoo that cares for more than 200 animals representing more than 60 species. ZooAmerica originally opened as Hershey Zoo in 1910, and closed in 1971. In 1978, it reopened in its present format – a facility that highlights North American animals. Here, you’ll find critters from the Southern Swamps, the Great Southwest, the Eastern Woodlands, the Big Sky Country and the Northlands.

Hershey’s Chocolate World

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Ride Sign Height at Hershey Park. Photo Credit: Hershey Park

When in Hershey, one must eat chocolate! After fun times frolicking through Hershey Park, explore the glorious wonders of chocolate at Hershey’s Chocolate World!

Start off with the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour where you follow cocoa beans on their delectable voyage to chocolatedom. For fifteen minutes, you’ll be able to see, feel, hear and smell the transformation of the infamous beans to chocolate on this interactive tour. Bonus, you get to sit down and get free chocolate at the end!

After you’ve learned how chocolate is made, slip into a lab coat and create your own candy bar! Dive into a genuine factory experience by choosing your ingredients, designing your own wrapper and following your one of a kind bar through the manufacturing line. Your name will even pop up in the line as your bar rolls through.

The 4D Chocolate Mystery will allow for a momentary break from eating and take your family through a fun new dimension! Interact with characters, experiment with 100 different possible variations and help solve the Chocolate Mystery!

Solving mysteries may leave you hungry so next on your list should be the Chocolate Tasting Experience. Let Hershey’s tasting specialists show you how to engage all five of your senses to taste different varieties of chocolates – from milk to dark and everything in between.

Hershey Gardens

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Misting Kisses at Children’s Garden. Photo Credit: Hershey Park

As much as we all love amusement parks and zoos, sometimes the best thing after a few busy days, is to spend some time walking through peaceful gardens.

Hershey Gardens offers 23-acres of botanical beauty. There are six themed gardens, including a Children’s Garden with chocolate-scented plant life. Children of all ages will love walking through the serene, whimsical garden and encountering surprises along the way. The Milton & Catherine Hershey Conservatory serves as the entrance to Hershey Gardens and features a year-round, indoor tropical Butterfly Atrium, where families can learn about the different developmental stages of butterflies as well as see the fanciful creatures fluttering about.

The Hotel Hershey

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Hotel Hershey Formal Garden. Photo Credit: Hershey Park

At the end of a long, active day, everyone in your tribe will enjoy coming home to The Hotel Hershey. Built in 1933, The Hotel Hershey is one of America’s landmark hotels. The exclusive property is a member of Historic Hotels of America and is known for its refined elegance, signature service, and abundant amenities, The Hotel Hershey is exactly where you want to go after a day of roller coasters and chocolate making!

The Hotel Hershey sits atop the town of Hershey and has 276 guest rooms, including 48 cottages.

The hotel offers three full-service restaurants, two casual eateries and a seasonal pool-side café offer numerous dining choices. The 40,000-square-foot Spa At The Hotel Hershey, offers an abundance of relaxing services. The hotel also has a fitness center and indoor pool. Outdoor activities include an 18-hole putting course, a family pool, adult pool, whirlpool and poolside cabanas.

An outdoor recreation complex features basketball, bocce ball, croquet, horseshoes, shuffleboard, tennis, and sand volleyball. The Hotel Hershey is surrounded by more than 5.5 miles of outdoor trails and you can rent bicycles on-site.

All Hotel guests enjoy VIP benefits such as complimentary shuttle bus service to Hershey Park, early park admission, and priority access to rent a cabana at The Boardwalk at Hersheypark waterpark.

There is truly something for everyone in the family to enjoy and sweet memories are sure to be made for decades to come!

About Guiomar Ochoa

Guiomar Ochoa works in the arts and is a freelance travel writer. She has called both Rome and Paris home but is settled, for now, in her hometown of Washington, D.C. with her husband and two young children. Fluent in Spanish, Italian and French, she is adamant about passing down her love of languages, travel and cultures to her kids.. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Click here to read Guiomar's articles

Hershey Pennsylvania has long been a favorite destination for East Coast families. This chocolate-themed town has something for every age.

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